Posts Tagged ‘Abortion’

Realism about the Supreme Court and Abortion

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

The President is about to announce his nominee to fill the newly vacant seat on the Supreme Court. That will set off a bruising confirmation battle that will stretch into September at least. The rhetoric will be heated and likely ugly, and may even include a large dose of religious intolerance. As this maelstrom kicks off, it’s important that we have realistic expectations about what this will mean for legalized abortion.

It is a clear sign of the debasement of our American political society that so much energy and effort are going to be devoted to a Supreme Court nomination. The loss of a proper understanding of natural law and the dominance of a sense of moral agnosticism have left our government and courts without a moral and legal compass to guide them in interpreting and making civil law. The centralization of power in Washington, which was never envisioned by the Founders of our nation, has given the federal government and especially the courts a disproportionate control over public policy, when compared to the states. One consequence of this has been the constitutionalization of what should be political questions, as we have seen in the issues of abortion and marriage. Another consequence has been the increasing intrusion of politics into areas that are rightly protected personal liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, religion and association.

The worst consequence has been that the Supreme Court — and particularly the “swing vote” that was exercised by the retiring Justice Kennedy — has become our de facto ruler when it comes to essential questions of the separation of powers between the branches of government and crucial social issues relating to life, family and religion. It is truly bizarre that the last few weeks in June is a time of great anticipation, as the Supreme Court’s term comes to an end and we citizens passively wait for rulings that will define our lives. This is why I often derisively refer to the Court as our “Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers” — a role that Washington, Hamilton and Madison would be horrified to see.

These trends are so deeply rooted that we have to have realistic expectations. None of the nominees to the Court will change this sorry situation. None will restore the correct separation of powers or the federalism that were built into our constitutional structure as a defense against the abuse of power. None will stop the trend of constitutionalizing political questions.

We particularly have to be realistic when it comes to the momentous issue of abortion. There is no question that Roe v. Wade decision was wrongly decided as a matter of morality and legal reasoning, and that it has had a corrupting effect on the law, the legal profession and the judicial confirmation process. It is imperative to see it and its progeny overruled (particularly Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which really is the controlling law now, not Roe), and for the constitutional rights of unborn children to be recognized and protected. But that isn’t going to happen any time soon, no matter who the President selects.

Regardless of who the nominee is, it is far from clear that that there would be enough votes on the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Of the current judges on the Court, four are certainly never going to vote to overrule or even meaningfully limit abortion; only one, Justice Thomas, has ever said that he would vote to overrule; Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch both called Roe “settled law” during their own confirmation hearings, and Justice Alito has said that it has added strength as a precedent because it has survived prior challenges and people have come to rely on it. So it’s not as if Roe and Casey are hanging by a thread and just need one more vote to be overruled.

It’s also important to understand that the “conservatism” of some of the Justices would suggest that they may actually shy away from overruling Roe and Casey, even if they believe that it was wrongly decided. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and it would already appear Justice Gorsuch, have a strong tendency to minimalism in their rulings — deciding questions on the most narrow grounds available, and choosing, as Justice Alito once wrote, to “leave broader issues for another day.” You can see that trend in some of the major decisions of the last term, for example the Masterpiece Cakesdecision, where the “conservative” justices supported a narrow ruling and completely ducked the critical free speech issue.

This minimalism is particularly important when one realizes how deeply embedded Roe and Caseyare in Supreme Court jurisprudence. Roe didn’t spontaneously emerge fully formed from the brow of Justice Blackmun, nor did the infamous “mystery of life” passage in Casey come out of nowhere. They were the result of decades of prior decisions, reaching back to the 1920’s, in which the Court recognized or invented “privacy” and other rights that are nowhere enumerated in the Constitution, many of which have no basis in history, tradition or natural law. Some of these decisions were actually correct, but many were perverse (like the contraception decisions Griswold and Eisenstadt), and all of them laid the groundwork for Roe and Casey. They also stemmed from a theory of absolute personal autonomy that evolved from the political liberalism on which America was founded and that produced the culture of sexual libertinism and moral relativism that we currently inhabit.

Overruling Roe and Casey would thus mean that the “conservative” Justices would be repudiating an entire body of law and a political and moral philosophy that is so deeply entrenched in our society that most people find any alternative view virtually incomprehensible. They would also set off a political explosion that would undermine the legitimacy of the Court in the eyes of a large number of Americans and many powerful elected officials. Such a momentous decision would be virtually unprecedented in American history, with the only prior examples that I can think of being Brown v. Board of Education and Roe itself.

Even if the Justices mustered the fortitude to overrule Roe and Casey, abortion would not suddenly be made illegal across the United States. The issue would then return to the states for regulation. A number of states already have laws on the books that would essentially permit abortion on demand for some, if not all of pregnancy. New York’s statute, for example, permits abortion on demand prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy. According to one expert on abortion law, if Roe and Casey were overruled, only eleven states have laws that would completely outlaw abortion, and over 80% of Americans would live in states where the situation would be essentially unchanged — abortion would still be legal for all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason and with little effective regulation.

It is also likely that state courts would step into the breach and declare a constitutional right to abortion. Iowa’s Supreme Court did so just last week, and as many as twelve other states had previously done so. We would also expect increased pressure in solid liberal states like New York to expand abortion rights through legislation.

This is not to say that we should expect that nothing will change for the better. I fully expect that the new Justice will be a legitimate constitutional originalist, which means that they would interpret the Constitution according to its actual original meaning. I also expect that they will show greater respect for the separation of powers and federalism. And I believe that at least in the short term they will vote to permit states to have greater leeway in regulating abortion, and to protect religious liberty and freedom of expression. Those would all be good developments, and may begin the process of rolling back Roe, Casey, and the terrible decisions that underlie them.

A new nominee to the Supreme Court will not be a magic bullet that will make all things new. Our challenge is to continue to press for social and legislative change that would increase respect for human life. We also have to work harder to create a social infrastructure that would replace the culture of contraception and abortion and promote a vision of women’s health that truly respects her fertility and genuine freedom. We still have a lot of work to do.

A Time of Decision in Ireland

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

A momentous decision is looming in Ireland. They have a choice between life and death. Once made, there will likely be no going back.

At issue is a referendum on May 25th that would repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.  The amendment currently guarantees the right to life for the unborn child and ensures equal legal protection to both the mother and the unborn child. It reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” This is a humane and sensible expression of the natural moral law that every human life deserves to be protected in law, and that no life is more valuable than another.

The amendment was originally adopted by referendum in 1983, with an approval vote of almost 67%. One would have thought that the matter was settled, but that wouldn’t account for the relentless pressure of pro-abortion organizations in Europe and elsewhere. Ireland has been consistently targeted by pro-abortion groups, who cannot stand the notion that a nation in the supposedly enlightened West could possibly believe that an unborn human being has human rights and deserves legal protection.

They have pushed forward other referenda that have weakened the 8th Amendment by guaranteeing the right to travel for an abortion (which primarily means to the UK, which has very liberal laws) and the right to receive information about foreign abortions. Other referenda to expand abortion were defeated. Advocates have turned to the courts, and won decisions that guaranteed the right to an abortion if the mother’s life was in danger — but the court included the notion of a risk of suicide, which just invites cynical manipulation by the amoral abortion industry to create a de facto right to abortion on demand.

They have now pressed the issue with this referendum, which would repeal the 8th amendment and permit the government to enact legislation regulating abortion.

This point is essential to remember. The referendum isn’t the only thing at stake here. The pending legislation is what ultimately matters the most, because it shows what repeal will really mean  to unborn Irish children. The government has released the bill that it proposes to enact if the 8th Amendment is repealed. It is a radical bill that would give Ireland among the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, and arguably as liberal as the United States. The bill would allow abortion:

  • Prior to 12 weeks for any reason;
  • Prior to viability “when there is a risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman”;
  • At any time when “there is an immediate risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman”; and
  • At any time when “there is present a condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before birth or shortly after birth”.

The bill defines “health” as “physical or mental health”, without any further specificity. The courts in Ireland, or subsequent legislation, could easily interpret “mental health” as broadly as our Supreme Court has interpreted the term “health”. This means that the bill could legalize abortion on demand at least prior to viability and it could also open the door to abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy. And nobody could possibly believe that the pro-abortion advocates will ultimately be satisfied with any limits — as we’ve seen here in the US, they countenance no limits on abortion, no matter how reasonable.

The campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment is supported by the Irish Prime Minister, most of the major political parties, and major Irish and international abortion rights organizations (such as Amnesty International). Prominent celebrities such as Liam Neeson and U2 have come out in favor of repeal. The traditional media (print, television and radio) are very heavily in favor of repeal — they have been notably biased against the opponents and have even frozen them out of advertising and news coverage. None of this should surprise us here in the United States, since we face the same monolithic opposition of our supposed betters in the media and government.

The pro-life effort opposing repeal is a real David v. Goliath battle. It is led by the major pro-life organizations, particularly the Pro-Life Campaign (using the slogan “Love Both”) and the Life Institute ( “Save the 8th”). The Irish Bishops’ Conference, as well as dozens of individual bishops, have issued strong and eloquent statements urging a “no” vote, but their influence has been badly damaged by past scandals. No major political party has come out in opposition to repeal. That is a truly remarkable and tragic state of affairs — not a single major Irish political organization is willing to defend unborn children.

The campaign for repeal is generally considered to be far better funded than the anti-repeal campaign. Both Google and Facebook have suspended any advertisements about the referendum, which will unduly hurt the pro-life side. The lack of any outrage over this effort by powerful American corporations to interfere in a foreign election to remove legal protections for human life should be noted any time anyone suggests that corporations aren’t legal “persons” or that they are forces for social good. This is the kind of thing that the Holy Father is referring to when he speaks of “ideological colonialism”.

There is little that American pro-lifers can do to impact this election, since Irish law bans foreign money from their political campaigns. Of course, that’s only because we respect the law, and it hasn’t stopped pro-abortion groups like Amnesty International from pouring money in.

But we can and should certainly pray for wisdom for the Irish voters, that they will uphold their nation’s honorable and admirable protection for all human lives. Since the vote is on the 25th, perhaps people could join me in praying a special Novena to Our Lady of Knock, the Queen of Ireland, beginning on May 17th. Here is the prayer:

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”. Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.

Abortion Expansion is Still a Threat

Friday, April 6th, 2018

I have written before about the threat posed by Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion proposal, which he introduced earlier this year as part of his budget. See my blogs ” The Governor’s Cruel Abortion Bill” and ” New York’s Insatiable Abortion Appetite“. This was a very dangerous threat, because by law a budget must be passed by April 1 and the only way to remove an item from the proposed budget is in the secret behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Governor and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

Thanks be to God, the pro-life members of the Senate and the Republican Senate Majority Leader, John Flanagan, held firm and the proposal was not included in the final budget bills that were passed on Good Friday. We have to be so grateful for all the efforts of the New Yorkers for Life coalition, particularly the New York State Catholic Conference and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. And we are extremely thankful for all the work done by our pastors and parishioners, especially those in the key Senate districts that we concentrated our efforts on.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. The abortion expansion threat is still very real. The Governor insisted in his post-budget press conference that he would continue to press for abortion expansion during the rest of the legislative session.

So we now have to focus our attention on the so-called Reproductive Health Act (A 1748/S 2796). This bill, in various forms, has been around for over a decade, and its current manifestation is virtually indistinguishable from the Governor’s budget proposal. It is a radical proposal that would give New York the most liberal abortion laws in the world — in fact, it would remove any limitations on abortion from our laws. It would:

  • Encourage more late-term abortions by removing our current law’s limit on abortions after 24 weeks there will be more late-term abortions in our state.
  • Permit non-doctors to do abortions by giving State bureaucrats unlimited discretion to grant a license to perform abortions to anyone they wanted.
  • Eliminate all criminal penalties for abortions so even if an abortion was involuntary or coerced, or if an unborn child is deliberately targeted for an act of violence, it could not be prosecuted. This would basically legalize domestic violence against unborn children.
  • Endanger children even after birth by eliminating a law that requires that a baby born alive after an abortion be given adequate health care. Instead, this bill would allow abortionists to leave those children to die of neglect and starvation.

For more detailed information about the bill, see our Office’s information page and this bill memo from the New York State Catholic Conference.

This horrible piece of legislation has already passed the Assembly, by the absurdly lopsided vote of 93 to 44. Of the forty-four Assembly members who represent parts of the Archdiocese, it is a disgrace that only seven cast pro-life votes against it — Kevin Byrne (Westchester/Putnam), Ron Castorina (Staten Island), Marcus Crespo (Bronx), Mike Cusick (Staten Island), Kieran Michael Lalor (Dutchess), Nicole Malliotakis (Staten Island) and Al Taylor (Manhattan). Kudos to them, and shame on their colleagues.

The Governor already displays an Ozymandias-like level of exaggerated self-esteem about his alleged accomplishments in office. He is in a tough primary race against a very liberal opponent, so it’s likely that he will push very hard for passage of the Reproductive Health Act to prove his “progressive” bona fides.

We can’t let that happen. We owe it to women, to unborn children yet conceived, and to all of our society to deny the Governor bragging rights for the passage of this horrendous and deadly bill.

The Governor’s Cruel Abortion Bill

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

All abortions are acts of terrible cruelty. Late-term abortions are particularly barbaric – they are typically done by dismembering the child while she is still alive and capable of feeling pain. There is no civilized way to kill a child in her mother’s womb – or anywhere else, for that matter.

Our laws do little to temper this cruelty. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s perverse jurisprudence, there is virtually no effective ban on any abortion at any stage of pregnancy. The one ban that has survived judicial nullification, the partial birth abortion ban, has likely had no real effect, since it left abortionists free to choose another method, equally cruel, to kill the child.

The innate cruelty of the abortion mentality has been brought into clear view by Governor Cuomo’s proposed abortion expansion scheme. This is the same approach he unsuccessfully tried a few years ago, which was thwarted by sustained opposition by pro-lifers. This time, the Governor has gamed the legislative system by squirreling his abortion expansion bill in one of his budget bills. This corrupt and anti-democratic maneuver makes it very difficult to eliminate the abortion proposal, which would remove any restrictions on the reasons for late-term abortions, permit non-doctors to do abortions, and eliminate any protection for the unborn child against a direct assault. I’ve outlined elsewhere the dangers of this proposal.

There is one provision in the Governor’s bill that is so cruel and so inhumane that it deserves separate attention and special condemnation.

In our current Public Health Law, there is a section that is called the “Baby Doe Law” (section 4164). Enacted in 1974, this law requires that whenever an abortion is performed after 20 weeks, a second doctor must be present whose responsibility is to take care of the child in case she is born alive. This should surely be uncontroversial – it is an element of basic humanity to provide care to a helpless vulnerable person. In fact, a related federal law, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act was passed in 2002 by the House by a wide margin and the Senate by unanimous consent.

Yet the Governor’s bill would repeal the Baby Doe Law. In other words, he would deny health care to a vulnerable helpless child, crying for her mother and struggling to survive. He would leave her fate in the hands of an abortionist, whose primary job is to kill her.

This is not an academic discussion. Babies are born alive after abortions and abortionists do nothing to care for them. Some abortionists, like the infamous Kermit Gosnell, deliberately murder them. A study published by a highly respected medical journal has estimated that over 5% of babies survive abortion at 21 weeks and almost 10% survive a 23 week abortion – at a time when many of them would be able to survive if they were given proper medical care. According to official New York statistics, there were 2,106 abortions after 20 weeks in 2015. That means that there could be over 100 and perhaps as many as 200 babies born alive in New York after abortions, many of whom were viable. There’s no way to know how many of them received decent medical care.

This horrifying reality was brought into the light in the recent Congressional investigation into the alleged sale of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. One Planned Parenthood doctor testified:

I can tell you that none of our Health Centers provide obstetrics care. So they don’t deliver babies. So they don’t have anyone who can provide care, nor do they know what that care is. . . . We don’t deliver babies at Planned Parenthood. . . . [O]ur affiliates don’t provide obstetrical care. So therefore, they don’t know how to manage a term infant or a premature infant. (emphasis added)

Another doctor from a university hospital in New Mexico, who performs late-term abortions and trains other doctors to do so, testified:

Q: So does your curriculum call for training of doctors of what to do if a child is born alive because of an induced abortion?
A: No.
Q: No training at all?
A: No.
Q: There’s no resuscitation training?
A: OB/GYN doctors do not resuscitate neonates. (emphasis added)

Reflecting on this and other chilling testimony from abortionists, the Congressional panel concluded,

The testimony… suggests a lack of medical training and of any sense of obligation to be trained to preserve the life of an infant that survives the abortion procedure. It reflects a philosophy that a right to abortion somehow carries a guarantee of the death of the infant expelled during the procedure.

This is what the Governor wants to enshrine in New York law. The deliberate killing by neglect of babies who have already been born and who can survive with basic care. To bring us back to the level of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who left unwanted children out in the woods to die of exposure and neglect.

Infanticide is the technical term.

It is cruel and barbaric by any name.

The Abortion Resistance Continues

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The sad anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision is once again upon us. Our nation continues to live under the shadow of one of the greatest injustices in our history — a legal regime that holds that unborn children have no rights that born people are bound to respect. It is a legal system that violates all notions of human rights by permitting acts of lethal violence with impunity against an entire class of human beings, solely because of their age and vulnerability.

The radical nature of our abortion laws is woefully misunderstood. The news media and commentators frequently mislead people into thinking that Roe merely legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, and permitted many restrictions thereafter. The fact of the matter is, and always has been, that Roe struck down the abortion laws of every state in the Union, and guarantees the right to an abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever. This is important to understand, especially when demagogic public officials like the Governor of New York trumpet their desire to enact Roe into law.

Here in a very liberal state, it is sometimes easy to forget that abortion is not as widely supported in the rest of America. A new poll from the Knights of Columbus and Marist College demonstrates the depth of pro-life feelings in our nation. Only a bare majority of Americans (51%) call themselves “pro-choice”, while 44% say they’re “pro-life”. But labels are deceptive — they conceal the real pro-life majority. This can be seen when the poll asks more specific questions about people’s actual beliefs:

  • 76% of Americans support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy.
  • There is strong support for this limit across the political and ideological spectrum — Republicans (92%), Independents (78%), Democrats (61%) and even those who call themselves Pro-choice (60%).
  • 63% of Americans would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 60% oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion.
  • 56% of Americans continue to believe that abortion is morally wrong, and 64% believe it’s immoral to abort unborn children with genetic ailments like Down syndrome — a position that even 49% of those who are Pro-choice agree with.
  • In a sign of hope for authentic conscience protection, 54% of Americans agree that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be required to be involved in abortions or cover them with health insurance.
  • Abortion continues to be a major issue in how people decide to vote for President (42%), Congress (45%) and local races (38%).
  • And despite decades of pro-abortion propaganda intended to establish that abortion is a positive good, a strong majority of Americans (52%) say that abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run, while only 29% have bought the lie that abortion improves a woman’s life.

It has proven frustratingly difficult to translate pro-life support in polls into public policy and judicial decisions. This is especially true in our current dysfunctional political system, especially here in New York. But what this new poll demonstrates is that however deeply embedded abortion may be in our law and society, the pro-life position is still strong in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.

The cause of life can never be defeated, because it is the cause of truth and it’s the cause of God. And so on this Friday, January 19, we once again march to give witness to our belief in the sanctity of every human life, confident that there are millions of others who can’t be with us but who share our beliefs.

The Resistance goes on.

The Higher Law and Our True King

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Every so often, there is a remarkable confluence of events that reminds us of God’s will and His activity in our world. In just the past few days, we’ve seen another example of that, one that reminds us of the dire consequences if we continue to forget that God’s law is the highest law and that Christ is our true King.

Last week, a federal District Court judge ruled that a Texas abortion law was unconstitutional. The bill prohibited “dismemberment abortion”, which is defined in stomach-churning terms as:

dismember[ing] the living unborn child and extract[ing] the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slices, crushes, or grasps, or performs any combination of those actions on, a piece of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip the piece from the body.

This horror is known in the medical world as a “D&E” abortion — “dilation and extraction”. Such cold clinical terms are used to avoid acknowledging the reality of what is done to a living human being.

It should go without saying that any body of law that fails to protect human beings from this form of cruel torture — a practice once universally condemned as a crime against humanity when it was done in the death camps — is uncivilized and unworthy of respect or obedience. Sadly, in the Culture of Death that has perverted and desecrated America and our constitutional law, such a barbaric practice is not only legally protected but is held up as one of the highest values in our law. That a prestigious court would grant legal protection to an act of human vivisection is a symptom of a profound cultural and civic sickness.

This sad conclusion is made even clearer by the other event that happened in the last few days. Our liturgical calendar sets aside the last Sunday before Advent as the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It is worth looking back to the magnificent encyclical letter, Quas Primas, by which Pope Pius XI inaugurated this celebration.

To begin with, the Holy Father stated that “It would be a grave error…to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power.” (17)

He then recounted some of the consequences of this failure to recognize the authority of Christ as law-giver, judge, and administrator of all societies:

… the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. (24)

Does this sound familiar? The Holy Father was writing in 1925, in the aftermath of the devastating Great War, yet he could have been commenting on the catastrophe we see all around us today. He then went on to outline the benefits of recognizing our true King as the source of all law and authority:

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent… Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished. (19)

It’s not popular to speak in these terms these days, because one is usually accused of being a theocrat or a religious fundamentalist. But it is nothing like that at all. It is a simple recognition that if our society were governed by the laws of God, then we would have true peace and justice. And no horror like a dismemberment abortion would be tolerated or even contemplated. But that is only possible if we recognize the authority of God’s higher law and Jesus Christ as our true King.

Human Rights Failure at Fordham Law School

Monday, September 25th, 2017

The United Nations General Assembly has been holding its annual session, with this year’s theme being “Focusing on People: Striving for peace and a decent life on a sustainable planet.”

The notion of “focusing on people” naturally brings to mind the struggle to protect the fundamental human rights of everyone on our planet. Human rights, of course, is a highly fraught issue, particularly at the UN where it is frequently honored more in the breach than in the observance.

But you can always count on the representative of the Holy See to make sure that human rights are understood in their full and correct sense. Today, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher presented the Holy See’s contribution to the debate. In his remarks, he said the following:

Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in a specific way, the rights to life and to freedom of religion from which all other rights flow and which are therefore the common foundation of the pillars of peace and security and integral human development. These two human rights are indivisible from those other rights and fundamental freedoms relating to a dignified spiritual, material and intellectual life for each citizen and for their families – among others, the right to food, the right to water, the right for housing, the right to a safe environment and the right to work.

One would think that this understanding of human rights, which is so deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching, would resonate clearly with all Catholics and Catholic institutions, as well as all persons with good will. It is in keeping with the best aspects of the UN’s tradition, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Tragically, Fordham Law School has apparently decided to reject that vision of human rights.

While Fordham University as a whole continues to assert its self-understanding as a “Catholic and Jesuit” institution, one would be very hard-pressed to find evidence that the Law School views itself that way, or that it sees value at all in Catholic legal tradition or jurisprudence.

The latest example of their abandonment of a Catholic understanding of law comes in a particularly egregious way. Last week, Fordham Law’s “Leitner Center for International Law and Justice” hosted a presentation by a representative of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, entitled “Using the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to Advance Sexual and Reproductive Rights”.

Now let’s be perfectly clear about something. The International Planned Parenthood Federation openly boasts in their 2015-2016 report of being the perpetrator of approximately 1.1 million abortions worldwide, and “counseling” and “consulting” with several million women about having an abortion. They brag about having provided almost 5 million “abortion-related services”. They distribute hundreds of millions of doses of chemical contraceptives that can cause further early abortions. They systematically work to undermine or eliminate legal protections for unborn children around the world, under the Orwellian guise of “reproductive rights” — a code word that includes legalized abortion.

In other words, IPPF is likely the single most prolific killer of human beings in the world — a massive violator of the fundamental right to life of every human. They work for the oppression of the weakest and most vulnerable among us and seek to eliminate legal protection of an entire class of human beings whose only offense is that they haven’t been born yet. It is an evil organization.

To celebrate IPPF in a forum dedicated to law and justice is perverse in the extreme. But this is not an isolated event by the “Center for International Law and Justice”. Its list of events and publications demonstrate a consistent advocacy for legalized abortion, with never a dissenting voice being heard. Nor is that an isolated event for the Law School in general, which encourages students to concentrate studies in “reproductive rights” but doesn’t offer a single class in Catholic legal studies.

Put aside for a moment the Catholic Church’s unequivocal and unbroken historical denunciation of abortion as an egregious violation of fundamental human rights. Forget for a moment the Jesuit Pope’s repeated condemnation of abortion and of the “ideological colonization” that seeks to impose Western values on developing countries. Clearly Fordham Law School cares little for these Catholic or Jesuit traditions.

All that’s necessary is to look at secular human rights sources. How about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, which states plainly that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Or the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN in 1959, which states as a foundational premise that “the child… needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”, and guarantees that “the child shall enjoy special protection… In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.” Or the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, which reiterates the guarantee of legal protection before birth and says that “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”.

How does killing 1.1 million unborn children a year fit into that tradition of “human rights” or “law and justice”?

The fact is that never, in any document or declaration, has the UN or the international community ever recognized abortion as a fundamental human right. Subsidiary UN agencies and committees have done so, under intense pressure from Western governments and abortion advocates, again under the misleading rubric of “reproductive rights”. But they have not yet been able to revise the traditional understanding of “human rights” to exclude unborn children.

The Holy See’s presentation at the UN was an uplifting and beautiful tribute to true human rights. Fordham Law School has chosen a different direction, one that betrays Catholicism, the Jesuit charism, and even secular human rights.

That is a catastrophic human rights failure.

Is There Room for Pro-Life Democrats?

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

One of the saddest developments in modern politics has been the degradation of the Democratic Party when it comes to issues involving protection of human life. The party once boasted of pro-lfe members like Sargent and Eunice Schriver, Bob Casey Sr., Tom Eagleton and Hubert Humphrey. But sadly, the institutional party’s leadership has now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the abortion industry’s lobbying and political wing.

This development has been going on for many years. But it may have reached its point of no return. Last week, a controversy erupted because Sen. Bernie Sanders, the erstwhile presidential candidate, endorsed a candidate for local office in Nebraska who had previously voted for various pro-life bills. It’s worth noting, though, that recently the candidate had earned a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and had publicly bought into the “I’m Catholic but I won’t let that affect my vote on abortion” charade.

None of that mattered to the abortion industry, which brooks no dissent. The abortion fanatics at NARAL immediately yanked the chain on their Democratic Party subordinates. The new Chair of the party promptly fell into heel and pledged to enforce ideological purity: “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. This is not negotiable and should not chance city by city or state by state.” His rigidity was echoed by other significant Democratic Party officials, like Sen. Dick Durbin, who stated, “I know within the ranks of the Democratic Party there are those who see that differently on a personal basis, but when it comes to the policy position, I think we need to be clear and unequivocal.”

In other words, the official position of Democratic Party leaders has become “shut up about defending life or get out of the party”. Cardinal Dolan, speaking on behalf of the US Bishops, denounced this intolerant extremism:

The recent pledge by the Democratic National Committee chair to support only candidates who embrace the radical unrestricted abortion license is very disturbing. The Democratic Party platform already endorses abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, even forcing taxpayers to fund it; and now the DNC says that to be a Democrat—indeed to be an American—requires supporting that extreme agenda. True solidarity with pregnant women and their children transcends all party lines. Abortion doesn’t empower women. Indeed, women deserve better than abortion. In the name of diversity and inclusion, pro-life and pro-‘choice’ Democrats, alike, should challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position.

This sad development doesn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying attention. Last year’s presidential ticket was ardently pro-abortion; the party in Congress has been in lock-step to continue funding Planned Parenthood, the most prolific abortionist in America; few leading Democrats in elected office at any level will identify themselves as pro-life or support pro-life legislation; and only a handful of Democratic Congressional representatives continues to support the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding for abortion on demand. The party’s platformlast year made its position perfectly clear:

We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood…. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured… We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.

The institutional leaders of the Democratic Party are woefully out of step with their own members, not to mention all other Americans. The remaining pro-life Democrats are rightly feeling excluded and unwanted, even though they make up a sizeable portion of the party. A recent poll shows that:

  • 61% of Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions in the United States, including 39% of supporters of Hillary Clinton.
  • 59% of Americans say it is either an immediate priority (34%) or an important one (25%) to limit abortion to the first trimester, including 47% of Democrats.
  • Among those who call themselves “pro-choice”, 44% say restricting abortion is an immediate priority or important, only 26% believe it should be available at any time in pregnancy, and 33% believe it should only be permitted the first trimester.
  • 59% of Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong, including 37% of Clinton supporters.

This is truly a tragic development for our society, and particularly for a party that has traditionally categorized itself as the voice for the little guy, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Instead, the Democratic Party has not only abandoned the most vulnerable human beings in our society, it has become actively hostile to them.

Let’s March for Science

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Last Saturday, there was a large gathering in Washington called the “March for Science”. I didn’t attend, but I gather that the idea behind the march was a call for society in general and government in particular to rely more heavily on the input of scientists when making public policy in the areas of their expertise. It seemed also to have a lot of messages about accepting the reality of global warming and the adoption of policies that would address it.

All of that is well and good, and I’m all in favor of it.

But while we’re marching for science, how about if we include a little bit of the science of embryology when we make public policies?

Embryology is the study of life at its earliest stages. Human embryology is quite an advanced science, and there is an abundance of amazing resources that have been produced by scientists that can educate us about its truths. A quick Google search will uncover amazing photographs and models of embryonic human life. If we want the quick version, the Wikipedia article is a good place to start.

Here are some of the basic truths that have been revealed to us by the science of embryology: “A human begins life as a fertilized ovum” ( University of Utah medical school website); “The first week of human development begins with fertilization of the egg by sperm forming the first cell, the zygote” ( University of New South Wales, Australia, website); “Human development is a continuous process beginning with fertilization and continuing throughout pregnancy, birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and into old age.” ( the Endowment for Human Development website); “Fertilization is the event most commonly used to mark the zero point in descriptions of prenatal development of the embryo or fetus” (okay, this one is Wikipedia, there were too many medical websites to keep citing them all).

So how does all this science relate to the making of public policy? Consider these quotations:

“During the first trimester, the predominant abortion method is “vacuum aspiration,” which involves insertion of a vacuum tube (cannula) into the uterus to evacuate the contents.”

“D&E is similar to vacuum aspiration except that the cervix must be dilated more widely because surgical instruments are used to remove larger pieces of tissue… Because fetal tissue is friable and easily broken, the fetus may not be removed intact. The walls of the uterus are scraped with a curette to ensure that no tissue remains.”

“Because the fetus is larger at this stage of gestation (particularly the head) [after 15 weeks], and because bones are more rigid, dismemberment or other destructive procedures are more likely to be required than at earlier gestational ages to remove fetal and placental tissue.”

“There are variations in D&E operative strategy… However, the common points are that D&E involves (1) dilation of the cervix; (2) removal of at least some fetal tissue using nonvacuum instruments; and (3) (after the 15th week) the potential need for instrumental disarticulation or dismemberment of the fetus or the collapse of fetal parts to facilitate evacuation from the uterus.”

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists describes the D&X procedure in a manner corresponding to a breech-conversion intact D&E, including the following steps: 1. deliberate dilatation of the cervix, usually over a sequence of days; 2. instrumental conversion of the fetus to a footling breech; 3. breech extraction of the body excepting the head; and 4. partial evacuation of the intracranial contents of a living fetus to effect vaginal delivery of a dead but otherwise intact fetus.”

All of those blood-chilling quotations are from the majority opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck down a state ban on partial birth abortions. That opinion was authored by Justice Steven Breyer and joined by four other Justices. All of those Justices were highly intelligent and educated people, all of whom attended Ivy League or similar prestigious colleges and law schools. Presumably, they were all reasonably well educated (for laypeople) in basic scientific principles. One would expect that at some point their education included the basic facts of human embryology. That opinion was written in 2000, so Wikipedia was certainly easily available for quick reference.

Yet they still upheld the legal right to kill members of the human race in the most barbaric means imaginable — dismemberment while still alive. They obviously knew the science, but ignored it.

So by all means let us march for science. More public policy decisions should be made based on the facts uncovered by scientific research. But we cannot fool ourselves. Science alone is not enough to make good laws and to promote social justice in our society. We need a proper sense of morality, which cannot be discovered by the scientific method. For that, we need to listen to the voice of God, either in the natural moral law written in our hearts or in his revealed Word.

When we ignore the truths of the moral law, we make even worse mistakes than when we ignore the laws of science. Let’s march about that.