Des Moines’ shrill side strikes back

by Tom Quiner

As the title of this blogpost, I have borrowed a headline that appeared in today’s Des Moines Register on their op-ed page.

It is the headline used for a column written by Rekha Basu. In her piece, Ms. Basu attacks Dowling Catholic High School for allowing an alum to withdraw her name from consideration in receiving a “distinguished alumni” award.

The candidate was Loretta Sieman, a graduate from Dowling’s female counterpart, St. Joseph Academy, some fifty years ago. By all accounts, Ms. Sieman is a great human being.

She has been intensely involved in our community, serving on city councils, boards and lending a hand to numerous charitable causes.

This is good stuff. This is the type of public service promoted by the Catholic Church in their schools and churches.

Here’s the rub: it came to light that Ms. Sieman served on the board of Planned Parenthood in 2004-2005.

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on the respective value systems of the Catholic Church vs. Planned Parenthood.

The Catholic Church believes human life is sacred and begins at conception.

Planned Parenthood believes human life is disposable and begins only at birth.

The Catholic Church believes creation is good and flows from God.

Planned Parenthood believes that creation is problematic and needs to be controlled by man.

Ms. Sieman did the honorable thing and withdrew her name from consideration when her Planned Parenthood association came to light to the Bishop and the President of Dowling Catholic.

Ms. Basu was livid.

She thought Dowling should have formed a “task force” to bring people together seeking common ground on issues.

I might have taken Ms. Basu a little more seriously if she had made the same recommendation a few years ago when a similar situation came up. Only then, it was Roosevelt High School, my alma mater, that disinvited Dr. Alveda King from speaking. Evidently, a couple of parents came forward who didn’t like Ms. King’s pro life views and her religion.

That’s all it took, a couple of parents, and the rug was pulled out from under Ms. King.

Where was Ms. Basu then? I don’t recall any column demanding a task force to help us understand each other better.

For the record, religion wasn’t hidden when I attended Roosevelt, a public high school. They allowed The Fellowship of Christian Athletes to send athletes to talk about their faith, like the great pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Jim Kaat.

But the shrill voices from the Left prevailed, and all vestige of religion was driven from our schools.

Today, those shrill voices work hard at keeping a pro life perspective out of the schools, as they did at Roosevelt.

Ms. Basu suggests that Dowling should have looked at the big picture when it came to Ms. Sieman, and honor her for everything else. After all, asserts Ms. Basu, abortion is a small part of Planned Parenthood’s business model.

That is not true, according to Abby Johnson who used to work at Planned Parenthood in Texas. It’s a huge part of their business model and profit center. But the percentage isn’t the issue.

Ms. Sieman made a statement by being on Planned Parenthood’s board, that she rejects the church’s foundational principals regarding abortion and birth control. She not only rejected them, she publicly worked against them.

Planned Parenthood is at work as I write this trying to strip away conscience protections for Catholic doctors and pharmacists who refuse to aid and abet abortion. How on earth could Dowling Catholic honor someone who so publicly denies her Church’s beliefs?

Ms. Sieman blasted Catholics “hiding behind email, nasty banners and painful words and hit lists.”

In other words, she is angry at Catholics fighting Planned Parenthood’s culture of death. Why is it okay for pro-borts to be politically engaged, but not Catholics who practice their faith?

For the record, I have participated in many life chains and have prayed outside of Planned Parenthood in both Des Moines and Urbandale. The signs and placards on display I hold and I’ve seen held by others convey a positive message. These are seldom seen in the media, since the Register seldom provides news coverage for pro life events.

Ms. Sieman laments that we are not listening to the needs of the people. I don’t see how aborting children in the womb is listening to their needs, do you? And for the record, no organization in the world does more for the the needy than Catholic Charities.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta really puts it in perspective:

“We cannot fight credibly against other social and moral evils, including poverty and violence, while we tolerate mass killings by abortion.”

The Catholic Church would lose credibility in promoting social justice if it honors people who promote abortion.

They can’t be cowed by the shrill voices from the Planned Parenthood mob.





  1. Theresa Dowd on August 31, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Go, Tom!!! This is very excellent!!!

  2. Lisa Bourne on September 1, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Thank you Tom

  3. Lori on September 4, 2011 at 7:11 am

    “They [The Catholic Church] can’t be cowed by the shrill voices from the Planned Parenthood mob.”

    Of course they can’t.