New York State stands poised on the edge of an abyss. Our State Legislature is contemplating enacting an evil law, called “The Reproductive Health Act”. As with all acts of the Evil One, this bill is a lie. It has nothing to do with the health of anyone’s reproductive system.
It is instead dedicated to the killing of unborn children, to enshrining that iniquitous practice in our laws to the maximum extent possible, and to forcing compliance with this monstrous practice by all citizens.
I have written about this bill before (see here), and the New York State Catholic Conference has an exhaustive analysis of the bill and an action alert to allow people to contact their legislators. Anyone interested in the details of the bill should consult these sources, and consider what our legislators are on the verge of enacting.
For me, I would like to return to first principles, and contemplate the bigger picture. We have to start talking seriously about the disturbing fact that the legal regime that permits abortion, and this bill in particular, undermine the nature of civil society itself, and call into question the fundamental legitimacy of our current system of laws.
In his great encyclical, The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul had this to say:
The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice, so that all may “lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way” (1 Tim 2:2). Precisely for this reason, civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being. (71)
Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law. (72)
Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection… In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”. (73)
Lest anyone think for a moment that this is merely a Catholic sectarian position, allow me to add another quote, this time from a man who was not Catholic, and is considered so significant a figure in American history that his birthday is recognized as a federal holiday:
… [T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
Those words were written by Rev. Martin Luther King, in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.
Make no mistake. Legalized abortion has pushed America far into a Culture of Death. The Reproductive Health Act would cast us even further into an abyss where death is celebrated, life is denigrated, good is called evil and evil good.
We must stand firm, and oppose this evil.
The New York State Legislature adjourned on July 2 without taking any action on the Reproductive Health Act. However, the state budget has not been finished and it is likely that the Legislature will return during the summer to finalize their fiscal negotiations. As a result, it is still possible that RHA may be taken up by the Legislature when they return into session later this summer. We need to be alert, since we may be called back into action on short notice.