Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Humanists of Rhode Island called "radical promoters of death"

Father Healey, left
The Rhode Island Catholic website ran an unsigned editorial entitled “Planned Parenthood’s War on Women” on April 19th that specifically accused the Humanists of Rhode Island (though we were misidentified as he Humanist Society of Rhode Island) alongside The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Rhode Island Medical Society, Brown Medical Students for Choice and Catholics for Choice of being “radical promoters of death” because of our pro-choice stand on abortion. 

The ire of the editorial was directed at these groups because they all had representatives at the House Judiciary Committee meeting that was convened on April 11th to testify against the seven bills introduced this legislative session that sought to erode a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion and birth control services. I have written about my experience testifying here, and don’t wish to rehash it, but some of what I witnessed while waiting to testify may be relevant, because I specifically called out the Catholic Church’s lobbyist on his behavior.
Father Healey, who I mentioned earlier, is the lobbyist for the Providence Diocese of the Catholic Church. He arrived late, and did not have a seat. So one of his faithful Catholic followers, an elderly man, gave up his seat so that Healey would not be forced to wait in the overflow room and watch the proceedings on closed circuit TV. This process, where an elderly man gives up his seat to a priest and is forced to wait outside, was done without a moment's consideration by either party. Of course the elderly man would give up his seat, and of course the priest would not only accept it, he expected it.
I also had this to say about Father Healey:
Healey spoke first, about the Catholic Church's long standing opposition to abortion (and, I might add, condoms, the pill, or any other form of birth control that works.) It surprised me how inelegant his words were. they were rote and delivered in an almost bored manner. Could this unpleasant man really be the point person for the Catholic Church's political power in Rhode Island? Is this who our legislators listen to when it comes time to deal with issues like marriage equality, reproductive rights, poverty relief and immigration?
So I was hard on the guy. But is that any reason to call my group “radical promoters of death”? The Catholic Church is one of the first to cry foul (through their wonderful Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights under the pleasant Bill Donohue)whenever anyone points out that the Catholic Church has for decades (if not centuries or millennia) been covering up and abetting the ritualized rape, torture and mutilation of children.

I have no idea who wrote the editorial for the Rhode Island Catholic website (I suspect Father Healey, though I have no evidence to support this), but if they want to start slinging stones of insulting, de-humanizing and polarizing invective towards groups like the Humanists of Rhode Island who hold human rights and values in the highest regard, they might want to make sure that they are not doing so from houses made of glass.

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