Friday, October 21, 2011

SF's Catholic Supervisor Mark Farrell on His Crisis Pregnancy Center Vote

The greatest issue facing “a Catholic in elected public office” in the United States is legalized abortion. On October 18, the Catholic Supervisor Mark Farrell was one of 11 San Francisco Supervisors to vote on legislation restricting the message of crisis pregnancy centers. His vote, and his statement about his vote, are interesting because on Tuesday, November 15, he will address the Young Adults Group of St. Vincent de Paul Church in San Francisco. The Young Adult’s calendar of events states: “Supervisor Mark Farrell will be joining the group to share some of his personal stories and reflections as a Catholic in elected public office.”

Here is his statement, taken verbatim from the caption notes to the video of the meeting and vote. Typography in the original; interpolations in brackets added:

"Supervisor farrell: “this has been a tough one for me and I will be supporting the legislation. First, this is not about first resort."

(Who, then, is it about? The only other crisis pregnancy center in San Francisco is the Alpha Pregnancy Center, a much smaller organization).

"I know lot of people have insinuated that. I have a lot of friends involved with the organization and I have great things to say about it. Second, this is a cautionary warning."

(Who is being cautioned? Read on.)

"At the end of the day, I don' t have a problem or regulating advertising and saying false or misleading advertising is wrong. I have no problem doing that and why I will be supporting this today. I have seen a lot of evidence in e-mail change going around looking at google search results and algorithms. All lot of that stuff is not controlled by people to advertise. A clear warning -- I think you could go down a very slippery slope."

(Who is the “you” that Supervisor Farrell is addressing? It can only be his fellow board members--and himself. What is the slippery slope? As Farrell’s colleague, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, the only Supervisor to vote against the ordinance, pointed out: “Four cities have passed ordinances like this. Three of those cities have seen those tossed out. The fourth is in the middle of litigation right now. I do not believe the record is sufficient to beat that threshold.”)

"Google has a provision against false or misleading advertising. To say that by buying certain key words you are doing false or misleading advertising, you' re going after google itself, and we need to take a hard look at the ways we' re going to enforce this law going forward, but I will be supporting it today.”

So, according to Supervisor Farrell:

1) First Resort is a great organization.

2) Google already “has a provision against false or misleading advertising.” Supervisor Farrell’s clear implication is that if First Resort or Alpha Pregnancy were engaged in “false or misleading advertising”, Google, a far more capable organization than the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, would have nailed them already.

3) Supervisor Farrell offers his colleagues (and himself): “A clear warning -- I think you could go down a very slippery slope.”

4) Supervisor Farrell then proceeds to vote for the legislation.

Supervisor Farrell’s statement is hardly a model of clear thinking or a profile in courage. After listing all the problems with the legislation, he then proceeds to vote for it. Hardly a good message for the Catholic Young Adults.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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