Archives Volume 1 No. 1 March 2000
In this Issue:
Gone is the America we used to know, replaced by one in which meaning is shoved to the back of the campaign bus and off the public stage. Alan Keyes is the only candidate to talk meaning -- not merely instrumentally -- but Meaning as in what guides and motivates us. But meaning bigotry has kept even so-called conservatives away from him. Keyes is the only candidate who dares warn us that moral rot is eating the hull of the ship of state. The rest only talk of how to make a leaky ship better. The crowds love Keyes most of all. The politicians, even those self-professed conservatives and even of his own race, run from him as though he had the plague.
Are we conservative of what? Of a thoroughly materialistic state which only uses God when it suits -- a banner to wave over our heads as a state religion flag? Greece and Rome both failed because their state gods were inadequate. Only Keyes addresses the direction to which we must return, not to attempt to pull the real God down to our level, but refocus our wills towards the principles He gave us in the Natural Law and which were recognized by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence. Conservatism stripped of this meaning is dead.
Bill Kristol (the neo-conservative editor of the Weekly Standard) is right about the failure of the conservative movement -- but he misses the mark. Both conservative and liberal causes are essentially religious. Conservatism has implicit within it Godly principles. Liberalism is essentially the worship of man and his highest institution -- government. Liberals will win as long as we keep ourselves "big tent" by ignoring the spiritual realities, and fail to get back to our spiritual roots. Of all the politicians only Keyes seems to understand that. And that is, perhaps, why the rest avoid him so.
Anyone having the misfortune to drive along state Route 669 toward Brandy Station lately is acutely aware that something is really rotten in Culpeper County, Virginia. It was not surprising to see a number of skunks with clothespins affixed to their noses headed out of Culpeper away from the putrid odor.
Well, perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement, yet the stench is truly breathtaking.
Some of the farmers around Culpeper County are using bio-solids as fertilizer, which has a most distinctive smell as well as questionable benefits. This fertilizer (a combination of human waste and chemicals) could be as safe as the contractor claims, and yet again, it might not be. It wasn't that long ago that DDT was considered safe.
According to a white paper presented by Henry J. Staudinger at the county Planning Commission meeting in Culpeper, there are more than 60,000 toxic substances in any particular land application of the bio-solids, and only a few of these substances are tested. Not only is it possible that these toxic substances seep into the groundwater, but it is known that people with respiratory problems are particularly at risk from the pungent smell alone.
It has been reported that each time a person flushes the toilet without first closing the lid, tiny pieces of human waste spray and pollute the air. If this is so, is it not logical to assume that bio-solids placed on farmland are contaminating the air as well.
According to contractors supporting this type of fertilization, the smell dissipates when it dries, or within a “little while.” Aware of the dampness of the blackjack soil upon which much of this stuff is applied, one has to wonder how long that little while might be. It is a fact that “little while” has been over a month in the Brandy Station area.
Another thing to consider: This fertilizer is rarely placed in close proximity to the residence of the farmer applying the bio-solids, but most often close to his neighbor’s boundary. The septic stench permeates the air both inside and outside the house of the person who did not use the fertilizer, along with everyone driving in the vicinity.
Although, the contractor stated this fertilizer is placed in “secluded” areas, that secluded area could be the back door of an adjacent neighbor. Secluded to some, but not to all.
A bio-solids contractor told me that a 600-acre farm could have this horrendous odor for 18 months and it will be reapplied within three years. If that is true, and if this method of fertilization travels from farm to farm, it is predictable that Culpeper County will be stinking somewhere all the time from bio-solids.
How will this smell affect the tourism trade promoted by Virginia? It's doubtful anyone will stand for any length of time staring at battlegrounds with the odor of human feces polluting the light spring breezes.
How about health safety? Are we really sure bio-solids don't spread disease or poison our wells? Are proper precautions always applied? Are there continuous safety checks and monitoring of this product? I doubt it.
Although rights of farmers cannot be questioned in this situation, before this bio-solid method becomes prevalent, residents of Culpeper should evaluate the dangers of toxic waste and consider the ramifications to the people and the livelihood of the community.
Of course, the contractors claim their product is safe. There were documented reports saying DDT was safe once upon a time, and we know how true those reports proved to be.
The February 9, 2000 Culpeper Star-Exponent contained a letter from Lyn Graybill in which she blasted her local delegate for his vote in favor of HB 1079 which requires abortionists to have medical malpractice insurance and to give women information about the abortion procedure prior to the operation. Ms. Graybill said, "This is an example of the male-dominated General Assembly's attempt to erode women's reproductive rights." Ms. Graybill's lament was that the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the Informed Consent bill with a bipartisan vote of 64 to 35.
Later in the month, the February 25th, 2000 Richmond Times - Dispatch had a front page article reporting that "Senate Panel Again Rejects Abortion Bill". The Informed Consent bill died in the Senate Education and Health Committee by a vote of 8 to 7. The chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee is Sen. Warren Barry (R-Fairfax). The Richmond paper reported that "as a nervous silence fell over the packed hearing room, [Barry] said: "It puts me in a predicament in that I've always been a strong believer this matter is so important that it should be decided by a woman in counsel with her family, her doctor, her clergy - not by layman legislators. Any effort to obstruct that, I'm opposed to." Sen. Barry was the deciding vote against the bill.
Truth in the marketplace of ideas is a powerful tool. When legislators and voters know the truth about a bill, or when a woman knows the truth about her abortion operation, all of them are better able to make an intelligent and informed decision.
Here, in its own language, is what HB 1079 says: "A. The Board of Medicine shall promulgate regulations to ensure that, on and after January 1, 2001, a woman considering abortion is fully and appropriately informed of the alternatives available to her, the medical indications and risks to her, and the services available to her both during and after her pregnancy and after an abortion and that her consent to the abortion is freely and voluntarily given. The Board's regulations shall also require every physician to obtain such consent at least 24 hours prior to performing the abortion.
B. Further, on and after January 1, 2001, every abortion performed or induced in the Commonwealth shall be performed by a health care provider who has in effect a liability insurance policy covering the abortion services being provided or who has admitting privileges at a hospital at which health care services sufficient to meet the patient's health care needs can be provided."
Contrary to Ms. Graybill's criticism and Sen. Barry's stated fears, a vote in favor of HB 1079 is a vote in favor of women's reproductive rights and is one which helps her in her discussions with her family, etc. That is not a personal opinion, that is the opinion of the United States Supreme Court which has previously decided this exact issue. "The decision to abort, indeed, is an important, and often a stressful one, and it is desirable and imperative that it be made with full knowledge of its nature and consequences." Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 67 (1975).
The Supreme Court has ruled that the abortion providers who opposed informed consent were actually opposing a woman's right to make a decision against an abortion. "What is at stake is the woman's right to make the ultimate decision, not a right to be insulated from all others in doing so." Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 112 S. Ct. 2791, 2821 (1992).
The Court has said that, of course, it is right and proper that a State pass an informed consent law to protect a woman's right to know. "In attempting to ensure that a woman apprehend the full consequences of her decision, the State furthers the legitimate purpose of reducing the risk that a woman may elect an abortion, only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences, that her decision was not fully informed." Casey at 2822.
The sixty-five Republicans and Democratics in the House of Delegates who voted in favor of HB 1079 were simply making sure doctors complied with that part of their oath which requires them to "first, do no harm". If, in the course of the abortion the abortionist did do harm to the woman, HB 1079 would have made sure that they had medical malpractice insurance to protect the woman. The super-majority, bipartisan House vote of 64 to 35 shows that this is an abortion bill on which pro-choice and pro-life should agree.
Editor's note: Delegate Bob Marshall e-mailed the following note regarding this article.
"In the article in your recent newsletter about informed consent you mention my bill, HB 1079. There was information given about my bill that was incorrect. My bill was killed in House Courts of Justice on the 13th of February. I believe you have mixed my bill up with Delegate McDonnell's bill, HB 1482, which passed the House 64-35 and it was killed in Senate Education & Health by a vote of 7-Y to 8-N. While I certainly supported Delegate McDonnell's Bill it was not identical to my bill. I just wanted to clarify the issue so that there was no cofusion on the part of your readers. Thank you for your time."
Mr. Sharman noted, "I got my information from the papers and the General Assembly's web site, but Delegate Marshall would be the best source of information about his own bill."