Tag Archives: unborn

Pro-life legal effort banishing false abortion mantra

The Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) forged a powerful legal weapon for the abortion industry. By fabricating a new constitutional right, the Court allowed pro-abortion activists to invalidate state laws without the political cost of building legislative coalitions. Fighting under the banner of autonomy, these activists have advanced abortion rights in the courts, costing the lives of many unborn victims.

President Trump’s conservative judicial appointments may have boosted efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and its progeny, bringing the quest to protect the unborn back into the political realm. But in the meantime, the quest to protect the unborn continues in other fronts. With both legal and spiritual weapons in the armory, faithful citizens must work together to achieve this pro-life mission.

Abortion rights have not yet displaced First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly, and religion, which have a much deeper legal provenance. These rights can shield pro-life workers who are exposing the evil residing within the abortion establishment, sharing the truth about the wonders of human development, and offering compassionate alternatives to women contemplating abortion.

 David Daleiden, Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, and other committed truth-tellers have publicly exposed the abortion industry’s crass commercialism, its harm to women and their children, and its covert abuse of racial minorities. Their important work has demolished false narratives that have been used to support abortion: instead of removing a mass of tissue, abortion kills a child with a beating heart and a body like ours; instead of expressing freedom, abortion inflicts death and pain; instead of helping women, abortion is about making money from their distress. As these truths are being shared, hearts and minds are changing. 

Others work quietly in pro-life pregnancy centers and serve as sidewalk counselors, offering prayers and assistance to mothers contemplating abortion. By providing a real choice to women – life for their child and freedom from the lifelong guilt delivered by abortion – their humble witness adds to the chorus of voices declaring that life is a gift from God that is worth protecting. Lives are being saved.

These efforts threaten the business of abortion. The abortion industry can and does fight back very hard, using large law firms to pursue its interests. It can afford the fight, as its coffers are filled by revenues from abortion procedures, charitable contributions from the rich and famous, and government-supplied taxpayer dollars. Proabortion state and local governments often provide additional aid. For example, California’s Attorney General filed criminal charges against David Daleiden which threaten prison time and ruinous fines in response to his undercover work exposing the abortion industry’s role in trafficking in baby body parts. Sidewalk counselors have faced similar threats from state and municipal officials who are intent on stopping them from offering life-affirming alternatives to abortion-bound women.

Good legal strategies are available to resist the abortion industry’s attacks in the courts, but quality representation and a fair defense is costly. Public-interest law firms play an important role here, as their attorneys specialize in protecting those who are carrying out the pro-life mission, deflecting the attacks of the pro-abortion establishment, and cutting away barriers that prevent the pro-life truth from advancing. They also provide important support for efforts to change laws that will advance protections for the unborn.

The abortion industry has many material advantages, including money, political power, and media support. But these advantages crumble when faithful citizens come together to dedicate their prayers, their time, and their financial resources to support the pro-life mission. Not all of us may be called to serve on the front lines of this conflict, but we can all pray and stand in solidarity by supporting others who are working tirelessly to protect the unborn.

EDWARD A. MORSE is a professor of law at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska, and a volunteer attorney and member of the board of directors of the Thomas More Society (ThomasMoreSociety.org), a national public interest law firm based on Chicago and Omaha devoted to restoring respect in law for life, the family, and religious liberty

Vote for real hope and change

As we head toward November, Catholics might profit from recalling a few simple facts. First, surrounding a bad social policy or party platform plank — for example, permissive abortion — with religious people doesn’t redeem the bad policy or plank. It merely compromises the religious people who try to excuse it.

One of the more miraculous (or suspicious) side-effects of the 2004 election was the number of candidates in both political parties who suddenly began talking about their religious faith. There’s no doubt that many public officials, regardless of party, do take their religious beliefs very seriously and do try to live by them. That’s a good thing. So maybe this latest trend implies a new Great Awakening. Or maybe, as one of my skeptical friends says, “it’s just another charm offensive to get the shamans off their backs.” Time will tell. Words are important. Actions are more important. The religious choreography of a campaign doesn’t matter. The content of its ideas does. The religious vocabulary of a candidate doesn’t matter. The content of his record, plans and promises does.

Second, there’s no way for Catholics to finesse their way around the abortion issue, and if we’re serious about being “Catholic,” we need to stop trying. No such thing as a “right” to kill an unborn child exists. And wriggling past that simple truth by redefining the unborn child as an unperson, a pre-human lump of cells, is the worst sort of Orwellian hypocrisy — especially for Christians. Abortion always involves the deliberate killing of an innocent human life, and it is always, inexcusably, grievously wrong. This fact in no way releases us from the duty to provide ample and compassionate support for unwed or abandoned mothers, women facing unwanted pregnancies, and women struggling with the aftermath of an abortion. But the inadequacy of that support demands that we work to improve it. It does not justify killing the child.

Obviously, we have other important issues facing us this fall: the economy, the war in Iraq, immigration justice. But we can’t build a healthy society while ignoring the routine and very profitable legalized homicide that goes on every day against America’s unborn children. The right to life is foundational. Every other right depends on it. Efforts to reduce abortions, or to create alternatives to abortion, or to foster an environment where more women will choose to keep their unborn child, can have great merit — but not if they serve to cover over or distract from the brutality and fundamental injustice of abortion itself. We should remember that one of the crucial things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their rejection of abortion and infanticide. Yet for 35 years I’ve watched prominent “pro-choice” Catholics justify themselves with the kind of moral and verbal gymnastics that should qualify as an Olympic event. All they’ve really done is capitulate to Roe v. Wade.

Third and finally, national campaigns — of every political party — always run on the language of hope, change and the American Dream. This makes sense. Our leaders should inspire us; they should stir our hearts and call us to live the ideals that make America great. But sometimes the answer to the realities we face is not “yes, we can,” but “no, we can’t.” No, we can’t spend money like hedonists and outrun our debts forever. No, we can’t ignore the poor of the Third World and expect to be loved abroad. No, we can’t allow the killing of roughly one million unborn children a year and then posture ourselves as a moral society. No, we can’t make wicked things right by spinning them in a clever way.

Robert D. Kaplan once wrote that “Americans can afford optimism partly because their institutions, including the Constitution, were conceived by men who thought tragically.” The American Founders, most of them Christians, had a hard and unsentimental understanding of the limits of human reason and virtue. The last thing we need in 2008 is the kind of bogus hope rooted in mystical good feeling.

The real world involves hard conflicts and intractable issues that can’t be talked away or smothered under evasive language. Plenty of very good Catholics inhabit both major political parties. It’s our job as Catholic citizens to press our parties and our political leaders to respect the sanctity of human life — all of it, from conception to grave — whether our leaders and party elites like us or not.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is archbishop of Denver and author of “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.” This article, previously published in First Things, is reprinted with permission.