My Take: Culture war overtakes budget battle
An antiabortion ran in several publications on Thursday.
April 8th, 2011
09:15 AM ET

My Take: Culture war overtakes budget battle

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Anyone who still believes that the Tea Party is about economics is not paying attention to what Tea Party partisans are drinking.

When it comes to money, the difference between the budgets that Democrats and Republicans want are miniscule - a few billion or so in a budget that will eventually come in at roughly $3.8 trillion. So why is this tiny difference worth shutting down the government? Because this game of chicken is not about money.

The old Religious Right put its cultural agenda front and center. It staked its identity on resisting the sexual libertinism of the 1960s. So it opposed abortion and homosexuality and stem-cell research.

Tea Party partisans have the same cultural agenda, but this incarnation of the Religious Right proceeds by stealth, in this case with riders to a budget bill - riders they know no Democratic president or Senate can ever accept.

So the current stalemate isn’t about the money. It’s about the determination of Republicans to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio and the Environmental Protection Agency - efforts that have absolutely nothing to do with the deficit.

Of all these hot button issues, the hottest concerns Planned Parenthood, a network of approximately 800 women’s health centers.  Some of these centers (fewer than half) offer abortion services, but none actually uses federal funds to perform abortions, since using those funds for that purpose is already illegal.

All told, Planned Parenthood receives $330 million annually from the federal government. Assuming a budget of $3.8 trillion, cutting Planned Parenthood loose would reduce the federal budget by a whopping .0087%. To put that figure in perspective, A proportionate cut in the annual budget of the median American household would save each family a whopping 45 cents per year.

So we are not talking real money here. The ad that ran yesterday in Politico, Roll Call, The Hill and other publications calling for the "privatization" of Planned Parenthood and attacking its founder Margaret Sanger has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with an effort to revive the culture wars - to return to the bedroom politics of the old Religious Right.

I have no objection to cutting the budget. I am not sure this is the time to do it, given how precarious the economy is. And I do find it hard to take budget cutters seriously when they refuse to consider raising revenues, since when my household budget comes under strain I always try both to cut back on spending and to find a little more income.

But that is not my complaint here. My complaint is that the people the American people have sent to the Capitol to pass a budget are not focusing on that task. They are not following the money to be budgeted for 2011. They are following a script written by social conservatives in the early 1980s.

As the Bible says, there is a time and a place for everything: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Regardless of what you think about the abortion question, you have to admit that this is not the time to revisit that question. It is not the time to debate Planned Parenthood. And it is not the time for an 11th-hour effort to prohibit the District of Columbia from using Medicaid funds to pay for abortions—something all states are permitted to do.

So please don't tell me that the Tea Party is focused like a laser beam on lowering taxes and cutting the budget. And if the government shuts down tonight, please don’t tell me it’s about the money. It’s not the economy, stupid.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Abortion • Culture wars • Economy • Opinion • Politics • Tea Party • United States

soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Artist

    I would gladly burn in hell, rather than praise a pathetic god.

    April 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Kenneth Frasse

      Fortunately, you won't have to do either.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Artist

      Ken, I know lol but if we had to measure acts of Satan vs God....god is much more violent and destructive.

      April 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  2. Mike

    Christians need to stop declaring cultural war on society. The courtroom (or budget-room) in this case is not the right way to go about things. How can you with one hand expect to bring love and healing to the world and with the other hand declare war against the very group you were sent to heal?


    April 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Artist

      The christies are our American Taliban. God,Zues,Santa,Easter Bunny help us if all the churches organize and become one.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Ralph

      By attempting to legislate morality, they prove to the world that their Bibbles are worthless and do not work as a guide to moral living. They have given up trying to live by the bible and must now try to turn our laws into religious laws.
      As if the religious laws were working in the first place! HAH~!
      They keep failing to show a moral compass even while brandishing a bible. How pathetic can you get, people?
      And now we must all join their particular religious cult or die, it seems.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Ron

      Don't worry about all churches joining together, it will never happen. There is too much of a division in Christianity on beliefs.
      Conservative Christians, from my experience, are always declaring what god thinks and the amusing thing is other Christian denominations don't agree with them but that's ok, conservatives will tell you that they're "not real Christians."
      Personally, I think that conservative Christians will have their collective hind sides handed to them because they're always pushing their beliefs on everyone. Of course, they take the martyr road and claim it's all 'prophesied'. Never mind that they brought it on to themselves. People in glass religions really shouldn't throw bibles around.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Ron

      I also wanted to add Artist, not all Christians are like the conservative (taliban) Christians. They vary a lot and many really try to follow the teachings of Jesus rather than constantly telling 'god' what he believes.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  3. Artist

    Wouldnt it be nice if the left religious ideology out of the government? We have our own American Taliban here alive and well in our government.

    April 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Artist

      p.s. I also detest the Dems as well

      April 8, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • W247

      Artist –

      That doesn't make sense. Your personal ideology is what helps you make decisions in every day life, including in your work situations. If my job told me to do something which I would find truly repugnant, I would have a hard time setting aside my personal ideology. I would probably quit instead.

      April 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • ScottK

      @W247 – "Your personal ideology is what helps you make decisions in every day life" And theres nothing wrong with that. I like peanut butter so i have it on my sandwhich for lunch, I just don't take it to work and force others to eat it. They might be allergic or not like the taste or texture. You can keep your religion to yourself, and if someone asks you to do something against your beliefs you can politely refuse. No harm done. But when you bring your religous beliefs into say, your job as the President and you make decisions like signing an arms deal with Israel because you think they are "gods chosen people" you are no longer living your life according to your beliefs, you are forcing others to live your beliefs.

      April 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  4. sam

    People will have to pay a price for the mistake they did last november by giving a huge majority for the hypocratic( aka republican) party. They destroyed the country for 8 years and put it in a huge ditch that we are trying so hard to get out. Now saying they want to reduce deficit, they try to promote their religous extreamism to take back this country to the dark ages again. Defict that they helped to create in the first place now is being used as a cloak to deceive American people. In the months ahead, we will see more of this coming. I wonder why American people were so ignorant and keep giving chances to these hypocrats to ruin this country.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You are my brother! We share the same fear. Read my comment on the soon to be, Christian Theology.

      People were voting against the bad economy.


      April 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • ScottK

      Don't forget to lay some of the blame on the deregulation of the banking industry during the Bush years while he kept saying "Don't worry about these here wars, and we won't have a draft, you guys just keep shopping!" and lowered the bank interest rate again to help the "new home shoppers". So out the American people went, off to their house sized ATM machines, lying all the way on their "stated income" loans.
      The fact is a large part of our massive debt is because the American people were encouraged to lie, and so they did, in massive numbers, which led to the huge numbers of defaults that eventually burst the bubble. Anyone out there who fudged the numbers to get the house they wanted, even though it was really out of their income range, is also at fault, along with the banks and the government who encouraged it.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  5. Adeline

    The Tea Party looks like the only and last hope for USA.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Adeline

      The Adeline above is not the real Christian Adeline, who used to be Justina and Frederica. SOmeone has stolen my laset new name, and they will burn in hell for it. I have lots of fans out there, a big following, so it is very important that my made-up name identify the real me.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Luke


      Burn in hell for copying your name? Talk about Christian justice. How do you treat your kids when they talk back? Stone them? Calm down lady.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      I wouldn't trust the Tea Party with emptying out its own chamber pot, and it's already overflowing plenty.

      April 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  6. Gary

    The Tea Party is acting like a bunch of bullies and it's going to backfire on them. They don't represent the majority of Americans and if they remain on this path, they will be thrown out of office as quickly as they were put there.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  7. Eric G.

    Budget crisis? Government shutdown? What a bunch of hooey. If you want to make a real dent in the spending, cut defense spending by 10%. That is where we spend the most money.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Yep!

      And end those pointless wars in the Middle East. How stupid to get entangled there! What a waste of good lives and massive amounts of money, for no real gain in security.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  8. Reality

    Suggestions on how to reduce the budget deficit (all suggestions are welcomed and make sure you forward yours to your congressional representatives)

    1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcoholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, high caloric/fatty foods??)

    2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay signficantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).

    3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.

    4. No universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs.

    5. No universal health coverage for abortions unless the life of the mother is at significant risk and judged to be so by at least two doctors.

    6. No universal health coverage for euthanasia.

    7. No foreign aid given to countries who abort females simply because they are female.

    8. No more foreign aid for Israel or Egypt. Israeli banks have over a trillion dollars in assets and Egypt will probably end up an Islamic theocracy.

    9. Start taxing all non-profit groups to include the Republican, Democratic and Tea Parties. Many non-profits are simply fronts for the "non-profit" managers'/president's stock and bond portfolios e.g. the ACLU has an investment portfolio of over $250 million. Capital gains, dividends and interest on these portfolios should be taxed.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • sam

      I like these ideas. The main problem that I had with the health care bill was that it does not go far enough to punish those reckless people who live unhealthy purposely and reward those who do everything to lead a healthy life. Most people in this country need high cost health care for the self-inflicted problems and not for the naturally caused illnesses. So I would also say no universal healthcare to those who fail to take personal responsibility for be healthy.

      April 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ralph

      Reality keeps showing his true colors. He is narrow-minded, conservative, bigoted, and does not think about the consequences of his actions. Maybe he should have been aborted, as it seems he was not brought up intelligently.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • ScottK

      10. Remove the tax exept status for Churches and all religious organizations.

      11. Reinstate the inheritance tax

      12. Add term limits on senators & representatives with 8 year maximums, no more career politicians

      13. Cut military spending in half, stop making ANY weapons that we are unable to use in our current conflicts.

      14. Stop all pensions for ex-presidents, they make enough off speaking tours. Reduce pensions for ex-senators or representatives.

      15. Release any and all prisoners serving time for non-violent drug possesion with requirements that they attend some form of rehab paid by them much like the penalties for a DUI. There is a huge State savings but also Federal money as well.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Aset

    It may be that the time of cultural glasnost is over as the pendalum swings back. I think only God knows what will happen next and I may be totally wrong.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  10. Adeline

    America is the last battle ground where rightousness might win. May God bless America only if she does what is right.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • David Johnson

      Who determines what is right?

      Curious in Arizona

      April 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Adeline

      David, the Word of God, the Bible determines it.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • W247

      DJ –
      That is the main crux of everything here. Who does determine what is right? Where does our moral line lay in our society? What is right for you, may not be right for me, or right for them. As a country there has not been a clear foundation to turn too.

      Just because 51% of the majority deems something acceptable, doesn't make it the right thing to do.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Adeline

      The Adelines above are not the real Adeline. I am.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Luke

      What a lovely comment. Do you care to share what in the world it has to do with the budget or the topic of this thread? I'm interested how your brain works.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I asked: "Who determines what is right?"

      You answered: " the Word of God, the Bible determines it."

      Is something right or good because god commands it, or does god command it, because it is right or good?

      Still Curious

      April 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Adeline

      All of the Adelines above are not the real Adeline, including the one who said she was the real Adeline. I am the real Adeline.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • W247

      "Is something right or good because god commands it, or does god command it, because it is right or good?"

      DJ – It is right or good because it is part of God's nature, not because it is an arbitrary decision made by Him.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I asked: "Is something right or good because god commands it, or does god command it, because it is right or good?"

      You answered: " It is right or good because it is part of God's nature, not because it is an arbitrary decision made by Him."


      So are you saying that everything that god commands is good?

      Where does god's nature come from?

      Even more curious, in Arizona

      April 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • W247

      DJ – God doesn't get His nature from someplace else. God's nature just "is". That is why He is called "the great I Am". He is, He exists, He always has existed and always will exist. It's sounds a bit convoluted but I am hoping to find a way to explain it to you a little clearer that you can truly understand. Is that your goal with your questions, to understand Him?

      April 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      W247 – where do you get such preposterous nonsense?

      This make-believe god of yours, one of many during the course of man's existence, is nothing but a phony instrument used in the attempt at controlling the gullible. Always has been, always will be...

      April 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • W247

      Whether or not you call Him make-believe is your choice, it doesn't really bother me. We all have to make a choice at one point. Yes, Man does choose to worship a lot of different god's and idol's through out their life time and through out history.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: " God doesn't get His nature from someplace else. God's nature just "is".

      Hmm... But, wouldn't that mean that "good" or "right" is anything that conforms to the nature and will of God and evil or "wrong" is that which does not conform to the nature and will of God?

      Would god ever command evil or wrong doing?

      Curious Still

      April 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Free Thinker Seeking Reason

      * Face Palm *
      Believers are such tools.
      Skipped science class much?

      April 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  11. David Johnson

    Planned Parenthood should be funded. Women should be allowed abortions, paid for by taxpayers.

    Cheaper to abort than to support for 18 years.

    The Lord Himself, defined when life begins:

    And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. – Genesis 2:7 (KJV)

    My King Jimmy says it, and I believe it! End of discussion.

    If abortion is illegal, women will seek back alley remedies. We, as a society, must take away as many of the reasons women seek abortions as possible.
    We need to make adoption easier and make it financially possible for a woman to keep and care for her baby.
    Obama has a program to do this. More needs to be done, but with the Republicans controlling the House, funds won't be forthcoming.
    Most of all, we need to make birth control available free of charge, to all women. We need to educate the women on these birth control methods. Remember, the best way to prevent an abortion, is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
    Planned Parenthood provides birth control and advice.

    Psalm 127:3 – Children are a gift of the LORD
    Hmmm... Well, the bible says it, so I believe it. Children are god's gift!

    Notice how god doesn't check to see if a woman is capable of raising a child, before he gives a baby to them?

    Women in poor countries bear children, only to have them die, because Mom has no food.

    Women addicted to drugs are given babies, when they are totally incapable of taking care of themselves, much less a child.

    Girls are blessed with a baby they don't want. Why are babies given to women who don't want them?

    If god would be more careful with giving out gifts/children, abortion wouldn't be needed.

    And remember, there are a lot of women, who god refuses His gift. They would be overjoyed with god's gift. No abortions in their homes!

    God works in mysterious ways.

    We should start real $ex education in school. Not abstinence only. Real education about the use of birth control.

    We will never totally eradicate abortions. Only a god could do that, and he either does not care, or does not exist.


    April 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  12. David Johnson

    I prophesied this would happen, when the Republicans won the House.

    Christian Right Agenda – Christian Theocracy

    The Texas history books are rewriting history to give the conservative slant. The objective of this effort, is to create a Christian Nation, a theocracy with Jesus as head.
    A huge campaign is underway, to convince the American people, the founding fathers never intended a separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson's role as a founding father is played down. In some cases Jefferson is smudged.

    Expect an attack on the 1st and 14th Amendments. The founding fathers will weep.

    Most of the Tea Party are for a Christian Theocracy.

    The Republicans are the puppets of the Religious Right and the Rich
    You will see an amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. Gay rights will dwindle and die.

    Roe Vs. Wade will be reversed. Women will once again be forced to seek back alley remedies.

    Stem cell research will stagnate. The hopes of damaged and sick people will be dashed.

    P_ornography will be illegal. The Religious Right will decide what is p_ornographic , as well as what is art. You will watch television programs approved by the Evangelicals. Lots of reruns of "Growing Pains", starring that Evangelical darling Kirk Cameron. Thank you Jesus!

    Creationism will be taught in school, most likely alongside evolution rather than instead of, but no guarantees.

    Little Johnny will believe in talking snakes and trees that bear knowledge and everlasting life giving fruit. *sigh*
    The rest of the world is spending their time learning real science and math. Good luck Johnny. Can you say: "Would you like fries with that?"

    Prayer will be back in school, but only the one true god, the Christian god, will be given homage. The non-Christians will be allowed to put their heads down on their desks, during the morning worship. They can contemplate their damnation, for not accepting Jesus.

    $ex education will consist of abstinence only. Studies have shown it is a worthless concept. Ladies, cross your legs!!!

    Jesus will be the Head of State! And only the Evangelicals will be able to hear His voice. They will tell the rest of us His will. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

    We will be a slave to a make believe god. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.


    April 8, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • RFBJR

      God is not one to be mocked. Oh, wait. I forgot you don't believe in him.

      I guess your monkey ancestors would be proud of you.

      April 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Nonimus

      "God is not one to be mocked."
      He is free to show up in person and defend himself. Oh, I forgot you do believe in Him.

      "I guess your monkey ancestors would be proud of you."
      No one's ancestors are monkeys. However, I for one am proud be descended from a long line, 3+ billion years, of successful animals, including the common ancestor we all have with monkeys.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • JPopNC

      David Johnson: It's readily apparent that you believe any/all the BS the Liberal press feeds you because you're practically quoting from their manual here. Truth-be-known your atheist/evolutionist lifestyle is just as much a "religion" as Christianity and those ideals have been pushed down our throats for years now and frankly I'm sick and tired of being fed this crap.

      Let's take Planned Parenthood since that was your leading comment. Since 1973 there has been over 52 million abortions done in the US alone. Of those, how many do you think were done as result of some violent crime? Probably less than .01%.

      How about other factors of abortion people don't hear about:

      – Abortion hasn't helped prevent crime against children. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, the number of reported cases of child abuse has increased by 1,497%, from 167,000 in 1973 to 2.5 million in 1991.

      – Abortion hasn't helped couples. Researchers studied over 400 couples with women who had made a decision to have an abortion. 70% of the relationships ended within one month of the abortion.

      – Abortion has increased the number of unwanted pregnancies. Since Roe v. Wade, the number of pregnancies ending in abortion has increased, from 12.9 per cent (of total pregnancies) in 1972, to 24.6 per cent in 1990.

      – Abortion hasn't helped prevent crime against children. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, the number of reported cases of child abuse has increased by 1,497%, from 167,000 in 1973 to 2.5 million in 1991. (Recent evidence indicates many women harbour strong guilt feelings long after their abortions. Guilt is one important cause of child battering and infanticide.)

      So...quit focusing on the the simplistic approach of what Planned Parenthood says they contribute and start looking at the real results of abortion. It destroys the lives of more than just the innocent infants being murdered every minute.

      And you realize Margret Sangers pther viewpoints were very similar to someone else in history who valued controlled populations: Hitler.

      And as an aside, did you know the famous "Jane Roe" in the Roe vs Wade is one of the key people filing to have Roe vs Wade overturned? That's right, even she has seen the catastrophe abortion brings into people's lives.

      April 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Just to clarify, views on abortion whether pro-life or pro-choice, have nothing to do with atheism or biological evolution. Atheism is a lack of belief in deities and evolution is a scientific theory on how the natural world works, neither is a philosophy or "lifestyle" as you put it.

      April 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • ScottK

      "views on abortion whether pro-life or pro-choice, have nothing to do with atheism or biological evolution." Unfortunately that is not quite true. Those who believe in God have the unfounded, unproven, unverified notion that when the egg and sperm collide a magical soul is created in the universe that cannot die so what you do with it from that point on is more important than the rest of us think. However, If I & a large group of people firmly believed that every plant, animal and rock on the planet had an everliving soul as well with no burden of proof, I don't think I would see a downturn in the number of buckets of KFC ordered. People who believe in invisible beings are either not very smart or been brainwashed and deluded by those who would take advantage of their lack of knowledge.

      @JpopNC – "Probably less than .01%. " It's actually 1% but I'll agree, it certainly is not the excuse to be used for abortion. The excuse is "I DON'T BELIEVE IN YOUR GOD, SO GET YOUR HANDS & YOUR GOD OUT OF MY BODY". Thats it, period. If you don't like it, move to a country where its still banned, like Iran.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Luke


      Monkey ancestors? You've clearly displayed your lack of understanding of established scientific theory, therefore everything you state from now on should be mocked and/or ignored. You should have said primate ancestors. That being said, they are your ancestors too and they are oh so proud of you as well, showing them and us that you are of equal mentality still.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I think I understand what you're saying, but an atheist can still be pro-life, they just wouldn't use God to justify their position. What I'm saying is that atheism by itself does not imply any ethical code by which to say abortion is right or wrong, that would be the atheist's own ethics based on something other than supernatural foundations.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I am a liberal. I am pro-choice and a supporter of gay rights. I am also an atheist. So, that out of the way, let's talk abortion.

      "Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a const_itutionally guaranteed unqualified right to abortion in the first trimester of her pregnancy.

      She also has a right to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, although the state may limit that right when the procedure poses a health risk to the mother that is greater than the risk of carrying the fetus to term.
      In making its decision, the Court ruled that a fetus is not a person under the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Const_itution." – Wikipedia

      Some also think the 13th amendment would also prohibit making abortion illegal.

      "However, the Court also maintained that the state has an interest in protecting the life of a fetus after viability—that is, after the point at which the fetus is capable of living outside the womb.
      As a result, states were permitted to outlaw abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy except when the procedure is necessary to preserve the life of the mother. " – Wikipedia

      Hence, states allow abortions anywhere from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. The majority being 24.
      The reason the 24 week max is chosen, is because the fetus in not able to live outside it's mother until 21 to 24 weeks, with 24 being the usual.

      The fetus, less than 24 weeks is not a person. The fetus is not capable of feeling any pain until 24 weeks:
      Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, consists of a review of studies conducted since 1997 on the neuroanatomical and physiological development of the fetus. It concludes that fetuses at the 24-week stage of development do not possess the wiring to transmit pain signals from the body to the brain's cortex. Even after 24 weeks, the fetus likely exists in a state of "continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation," due to the presence of chemicals such as adenosine in the surrounding amniotic fluid.

      The womb belongs to the woman. The fetus, in her womb has no legal rights until it reaches a stage that it is able to live outside it's mothers body. This would be in keeping with the bible's idea of when life begins:

      And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. – Genesis 2:7 (KJV)

      "One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives."
      — Ayn Rand ["A Last Survey — Part I", The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. IV, No. 2, 1975.]

      Which brings us to this:

      13th Amendment : "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convictecd, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

      Women or any part of their bodies, cannot be owned. Not by the government. Not by religious nuts.

      We can't legally force somebody to donate blood to save somebody else; it thus makes no sense to legally force a woman to continue a pregnancy that she doesn't want.

      Women are not broodmares. They have the right to abort the parasitic fetus, until the fetus is viable.

      This is not really a religious debate. It is about a woman's right to do what she will, with her own body.

      Remember this little ditty: Woman's body. Woman's choice.


      April 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Actually, in practice, abortion is an issue of economics more than anything.

      Should abortion be mad illegal in this country, nothing will prevent those who can afford it from going abroad to terminate their unwanted pregnancies. It's the poor who will be forced to produce more babies, leading to a perpetuation of their social standing.

      Personally, I'm against abortion, so I promise to never have one... (of course, I'm male... )

      April 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • W247

      David Johnson – "The womb belongs to the woman. The fetus, in her womb has no legal rights until it reaches a stage that it is able to live outside it's mothers body. This would be in keeping with the bible's idea of when life begins:

      And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. – Genesis 2:7 (KJV)"

      You completely used that verse out of context to promote your idea of what you think the bible says about life. If you are going to use verses from the bible ( that you even don't agree from) let me offer this one:
      Psalm 139:13
      13 For you created my inmost being;
      you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
      14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
      your works are wonderful,
      I know that full well.
      15 My frame was not hidden from you
      when I was made in the secret place,
      when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
      16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
      all the days ordained for me were written in your book
      before one of them came to be.

      And to say that a baby is not human until it can live outside of their mother's body is a horrifying thought. What about babies that are born prematurely and have to live on an incubator for the first weeks or month's of their life? Are you calling them non-human?

      April 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • ScottK

      @W247 – "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." So I guess that means that we are people even before our parents meet, since we are written in your God's book before we "came to be". This would mean that if you c o c k block someone you may have just performed an abortion. If you fall asleep cause you were too drunk when your wife was ready and willing, you may have just performed an abortion.

      Another glaring example of why religion needs to go, or at least the mentally challenged people who believe in it.

      April 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You asked: "And to say that a baby is not human until it can live outside of their mother's body is a horrifying thought. What about babies that are born prematurely and have to live on an incubator for the first weeks or month's of their life? Are you calling them non-human?"

      Even with new advances, prematurely born infants with a gestational age much less than 24 weeks, do not survive. 24 weeks is the cut off time for abortion in most states. Some at 21 weeks.

      A tomato seed has all the necessary DNA to become a tomato plant. But the seed is not a plant.

      A chicken egg, contains all the DNA necessary to develop into a chicken. But the egg is not a chicken.

      A spiders eggs contain all the DNA necessary to become a spider. But, the egg is not a spider.

      Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

      A fetus is not a baby. It has the potential to become a baby, just as a carrot seed has the potential to become a carrot.


      April 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • ScottK

      @W247 – "And to say that a baby is not human until it can live outside of their mother's body is a horrifying thought. What about babies that are born prematurely and have to live on an incubator for the first weeks or month's of their life? Are you calling them non-human?" News Flash!! That would be a baby living outside the mothers body!! There have been no, again NO babies born that survived earlier than 21 weeks, including incubator babies. So, either go do some research or go have "faith" that everything your priest or pastor or Faux News has told you is true. Sadly, without faith, none of your sources would have any footing.

      April 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  13. Truth

    The truth is that for all their years of claiming to be the party of the balanced budget, they have often spent more than the Democrats when in power. Reagan and W were two of the biggest deficit expanders of the last 50 years, THE biggest until Obama. Where were these Tea Party heroes then? They were screaming at liberals for being totally unAmerican by disagreeing with the president. They don't want less government; they want more government for things they don't agree with and less government over themselves.

    It's called hypocrisy, and everyone in politics are masters of it.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  14. Sajepress

    Heroic Congressional Act under looming threat of U.S. Government Shutdown.
    Includes video http://bit.ly/HeroicCongressionalAct

    April 8, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  15. Bill in Jax

    The Tea Party is just a rebranding of the same old Republican nonsense we've heard over and over. Conservatism offers nothing new, just the same old failed policies and bickering that got us into this economic and social unrest.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Luke

      I actually welcome this nonsense. Uber conservatism failed in the 70s and 80s and will fail again. Remember their national campaigns to rally against gay people from being teachers? Yeah....I can't wait for that to arise again. I welcome the time when they continue to show their true colors.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • ScottK

      It's right there in the name. The reallity is that they are failed policies that they want to "conserve" because they want to go back to the old days, when they didn't have to share the lunch counter with the darkie or have their tax dollars go to poor people or wait in line at a hospital behind a bunch of immigrants and all their little anchor babies. What they want to conserve is the worst of their humanity, the greed, the selfishness and righteous indignation of those who don't believe in the same invisible man in the sky. Sadly, it will take a long time before they fade away into history. Our great great grandchildren will be wondering how we even made it through the 21st century with all the religious violence and hate.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  16. Brian

    " So the current stalemete isn't about the money. It's about the determination of the Republicas to cut funds for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio and the EPA – efforts that have nothing to do with the deficit."
    Thank you! This is the best and most succinct explanation for the BS that is driving the shut down. Now is not the time to get into raging social issues. It's the BUDGET, stupid!

    April 8, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Nonimus

      course you can make the reverse argument, why are the Dems holding up the budget over these issues. If it's important to defend then someone may feel it's important to attack.
      Personally, I think we should keep PP running, but whatever.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree with you Brian.
      The GOP is using this to show the RR how "moral and godly" they are...Bull hockey!
      What I found interesting was back in the 1920's, the government used to sterilize people not deemed worthy, for various reasons, to produce off spring. Then came Hitler, who did the same thing and suddenly, the U.S. stopped as it didn't want to be seen as another Hitler.
      Personally, I'm glad the GOP pulling these stunts because in 2012, people won't forget and suddenly the GOP is going to realize that they did it to themselves, which is why Carl Rove is telling the GOP to back off...for the exact same reason.
      Please, GOP, keep going...I want to see your party destroyed!

      April 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • st louis

      It's not a question of whether someone finds it important to attack, clearly they do. What is at question is whether you can really say that you want to cut funding to planned parenthood because of concerns about the deficit and not because of concerns about planned parenthood. I see protecting funding to planned parenthood as more defensible from a budget perspective because you can reasonably argue that cutting funding to it does virtually nothing to repair our deficits, meaning that the only real reason to try to defund it is because you disagree with the organization in the first place.

      April 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  17. TCS

    This is the perfect time to bring up this particular issue. It would never pass unless the Dems had a political gun to their head.

    April 8, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  18. Nonimus

    @Stephen Prothero,
    How exactly does the Ad tie to the Tea Party and then to the budget bill fiasco? The ad was place by some "Susan B. Anthony List" organization, a Pro-Life women's group, not a Tea Party org.

    @More Common Sense,
    Generally, the term "stem cell research" refers to embryonic stem cell research. Other forms are referred to as 'adult' stem cell, 'cord' stem cell, etc. research. Oh, and currently Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use federal funds to perform abortions, so YOU AIN'T PAYING FOR IT NOW!

    All that being said, I think this budget bill fiasco, if driven by policy riders, is complete nonsense. The new Representatives were voted in, in my opinion, because there were too much politicking going on in the first place, now they add more? They aren't doing what they were voted in for.

    April 8, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • More Common Sense

      Dude, they get federal funds. They also perform abortions. However, they don't use these federal funds to perform abortions? C'mon, man.

      April 8, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Nonimus

      That is my understanding, if you have evidence otherwise...
      And, "C'mon man" is not evidence.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Danielle

      They pay for the electricity to keep the lights on WHILE they perform abortions. See, it is a really big difference. You are right, there is no way our tax money pays for abortions.

      April 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Luke

      More Common Sense

      I don't know what part you don't understand here. Planned Parenthood does not provide abortion services. Those services are privatized. You do not, in any manner, pay for abortions. There is no debate here. Not even one shred. Disagreeing is disingenuous and boring.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • BobRoss

      Luke – This is from the Planned Parenthood website "Planned Parenthood health centers around the country offer you the health care you need. Our caring and knowledgeable staff provide a wide range of services. These services vary by location. They may include:

      o Abortion
      o Birth Control
      o Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)
      o General Health Care
      o HIV Testing
      o Men’s Health Care
      o Pregnancy Testing & Services
      o STD Testing, Treatment & Vaccines
      o Women’s Health Care"

      So they do, in fact, provide abortions.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Luke


      They do not provide abortions with federal money. You do realize that it is possible have an abortion with your own cash, right? I really don't see how you can't seem to pick up on even the simplest of logic that a 3rd grader can digest and understand fully.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • BobRoss

      Luke – "Planned Parenthood does not provide abortion services. " You were wrong; they do. But, perhaps my reading level is still at that of 2nd grader, and when you wrote "does not" you were meaning "does."

      Regardless of whether they use federal money to fund these services, the tax money still goes to an organization that provides them. I realize it is possible to have an abortion "with your own cash" and to have abortion without ever going to a Planned Parenthood, but that is not what the debate is about.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Luke


      Your arguement is akin to saying that because people die in car accidents, the government should not pay for roads to be paved. Planned Parenthood provides an array of women's healthcare services, some that maybe your own daugher will need one day in order to save her own life. Because people can walk in with their own cash and have abortions or abortion advice does not mean that an other should be shut out of having a cervical cancer screening done. Your argument is draconian and far overreaching and equivalent to me arguming that my federal taxes should not be used for services that you welcome in your part of the world. That is, simplely stated, not how governments function.

      April 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • BobRoss

      First of all, I have not made any argument. I have simply informed you that Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services and that this debate doesn’t hinge on whether or not they use federal funds directly with those services.

      Secondly, you seem to be arguing that because (not sure where you’re getting these facts) Planned Parenthood does not use any of its taxpayer money directly in providing abortions; it should not bother the anti-abortion crowd. However, that is akin to arguing that it is alright to give money to Al Qaeda as long they use it to only buy food and not to perform actual terrorist attacks.

      Would you agree that any monetary funds provided to an organization assist all of that organization’s operations regardless of the specific area it uses that particular money?

      April 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Luke


      I'm pretty sure we already do that through the WHO. The more you know.

      I will pull back marginally as I have gone back and reread your comments. I, unfortunately, misread something originally and confused you with another poster. Apologies. However, the current budget battle is hinding on Planned PArenthood, which received no federal monies for abortion. It does, however, use federal monies for other essential healthcare functions and those that oppose planned parenthood want to shutter the entire organization. Millions will lose access for such things as cancer screenings. Is this something you wish to do?

      April 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • BobRoss

      Luke – No problem. I would not want millions to lose access to cancer screenings, but I think we’ve reached the impasse on this debate. It seems that this ends, as most abortion arguments do, with the question of the definition of human life and when it begins. For the pro-life side, since they view abortion as murder they are far less likely to compromise on the issue. Pro-choice, while they are often just as adamant about their views, it seems would have less of a moral problem with compromising here. So, it seems to me that the onus will have to be on the Democrats. However, I am not sure how this one will turn out.

      Also, I highly doubt that Planned Parenthood would close down if the government funding stopped. According to Wikipedia they have over 700,000 active donors including the Gates Foundation and the Buffett Foundation.

      April 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Luke


      Planned Parenthood would lose $330M in federal monies. No way it stays up and running.

      I, for one, find the abortion debate laughable; mainly because pro-life people cannot find a definition that isn't easily swatted away. The most common, of course, is that abortion is murder and is based on religion beliefs. These same religious beliefs state that their god is in charge of all things. So when a woman has a miscarriage – at any term in her pregnancy – god killed the baby. Seeing that most women on the planet will miscarry at some point in their life (many do without knowing they were ever pregnant), that makes their god the world's biggest abortionist.


      April 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Nunya

      Anyone who claims to believe that every embryo is fully human and that this makes abortion is murder is a hypocrite.

      If you believe that, then an abortion is *precisely* the same as having a building down the block where people would take second-graders in and have them put to death.

      And if this sort of activity were happening on a daily basis all around the country? You can bet that there would be far, far greater outcry and uproar about it.

      April 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Luke


      Yup, no reply from anyone as usual. The religious simply cannot get out of the quandary of having it both ways and still eating your cake too. In this case, their god is either the world's biggest abortionist/murderer or powerless. And they must pick one.

      April 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Robert

      Bob Ross, luke never said that planned parenthood doesn't actually do abortions. He said that they don't PROVIDE them, meaning federal funds won't pay for them. It's that simple.

      April 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  19. PeterVN

    M-C-S, please define what to you const-itutes a "baby".

    April 8, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • More Common Sense

      You tell me, you're probably smarter.

      April 8, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • JPopNC

      What equals a "baby": Let's just start with a simple heartbeat. If your heart stops beating what happens...you die. So when a child's heart STARTS beating it equates to life. That is somewhere around 5-6 weeks (at minimum).

      April 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Luke


      Your definition of life is not necessarily what doctors and the scientific community agree upon. Life, as definted by the scientific community, is something that happened billions of years ago and is one continuous cycle. Your genetic material is simply one link in a chain of trillions of parts of life.

      April 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • PeterVN


      What of the arti-ficial, replacement hear-t: Is a per-son who-se reg-ular heart has failed and been re-placed by one, hu-man, or not?

      Then, what of the case of a real hear-t arti-ficially kept be-ating out-side the bo-dy by electrical signals and substi-tute flu-id. Is that enti-ty a hu-man being?

      And then, what of the arti-ficial he-art outside the bo-dy, pumping blo-od or other flu-id in a test environment. Is that enti-ty also a hu-man being?

      April 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  20. Common Sense

    The Tea Party is the sole reason I no longer associate myself with the Republican Party. The seriously live inside a bubble that believes in my way or the highway, which doesn't work.

    April 8, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • More Common Sense

      The left wing loons are the sole reason I no longer associate myself with the Deomocratic Party. The seriously live inside a bubble that believes in my way or the highway, which doesn't work. So there.

      So let's talk facts. Let's look at this article as one example. Mr. Prothero states in his third paragraph that the Tea Party opposes stem cell research. THAT IS A LIE. The Tea Party opposes EMBRYONIC stem cell research. There is a difference. This gentleman cannot go just a few sentences before he has to twist the facts to make it sound different than it is.

      Also, let me say this...if you want to kill your baby in the womb, then go ahead...BUT I AIN"T PAYING FOR IT! Why should I be forced to aid and abet in a murder you commit?

      April 8, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Middle-man

      Before anyone objects to the targets that the Republicans
      have selected for budget cuts, lets see what the Democrats
      would cut. I don't doubt that they would be just as selective.

      April 8, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • PeterVN

      M-C-S, please define what to you const-itutes a "baby". Try to supply a few details.

      April 8, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • sam

      I do not like America going to war in Iraq that republican embrassed with 100% support. I do not like my tax money to be spend to bomb innocent people. Now I ask the hypocrits in the republican party whether I have a choice in that. The evilness of religious extreamism is the name of the game for tea party. They cloak themselves in this mask of extream religious agenda and try to portray them as trying to cut the deficit. The real question is are we in America so ignorant not to realize the evilness hidden inside that mask ?. If America does not wake up and let these hypocrats take control, this country will never will get out if this huge debt. But we may become something like Taliban where women have no freedom of choice and no education to poor. The way to get rid of debt is to be innovative and compete in the changing global market while empowering the people with right education and cutting down unnecessary things. It will not happen if we allow religious extreamism to creep up into the society and control this country.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • LukeH

      More Common Sense

      You don't pay for abortions now. What are you complaining about?

      April 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Nunya

      "BUT I AIN"T PAYING FOR IT! Why should I be forced to aid and abet in a murder you commit?"

      Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

      That's exactly the point. You aren't paying for it now, because the federal government has made it specifically illegal to pay for abortions with federal funding. The funding that is provided to organizations like Planned Parenthood is required to be spent on other services that they also provide. This makes the true objection not one of having to pay for abortion, but one of wanting to do anything to cut the feet out from under an organization that participates or is even accepting of any abortion rhetorically.

      As far as you objecting to the government paying for something that you find immoral and evil and whatever other adjectives we can conjure up, every one of us has a list of things that the government pays for which we find just as immoral and evil as that one. For some of us, it's anything related to making abortion possible. For some of us, it's anything to do with waging war in anything but a purely defensive context. For some of us, it's the death penalty. For some of us, it's affirmative action. For some of us,it's regulating what choices people make in their own lives. You are not alone or remotely special in objecting to some sliver of government spending.

      April 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Robert

      to more common sense:, ok don't let your tax dollars fund an abortion, let them fund the welfare that has to be spent to raise the child. Did you even read the article?:

      "Of all these hot button issues, the hottest concerns Planned Parenthood, a network of approximately 800 women’s health centers. Some of these centers (fewer than half) offer abortion services, but none actually uses federal funds to perform abortions, since using those funds for that purpose is already illegal." see it? "NONE ACTUALLY USES FEDERAL FUNDS TO PERFORM ABORTIONS, SINCE USING THOSE FUNDS FOR THAT PURPOSE IS ALREADY ILLEGAL." You can read, can't you? Also, anyone with half a brain would be able to take from the article that he is referring to embryonic stem cell research; everyone knows that.

      April 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.