This blog started out as a collection of scripts for an online radio show of the same name. It riffed off of my 2004 book, Musings from the Christian Left, now republished as The Conscience of a Catholic Radical.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Another Catholic Voice in the Public Square - May Edition

The May 2017 of our parish pro-life newsletter was included in the bulletin today.  It is not cross-posted on the St. Mary’s webpage and I do not have permission to scan it, so you will have to go to Mass there this week if you want the original text.  At any rate, here is my response to the authors, which I also delivered by e-mail.
Attacking Planned Parenthood funding has become the Pro-life movement's latest attempt at looking busy.  While Trump paid lip service to this effort, in the end he signed the FY 2016 Omnibus that continued it.  If the 2017 Maryland law excludes fungibility restrictions (it likely does not or the MCC would be all over it), then the pro-life move has to be supporting Federal funding.  I love the irony.
The whole body parts issue, that was never a real thing.  Both aborted and miscarried tissue is extracted for research.  It would take federal law to require parental consent, although my guess is that it is already in the forms you sign for both voluntary and therapeutic abortions.
As to when a pregnancy cannot be terminated, it was only in the nineteenth century when even the Catholic Church abandoned quickening for conception.  This is a natural law decision, not an absolute, and it affects personal morality and science, not law.
The science does say conception is important, but it also says that gastrulation is more important.  From The Encyclopedia Britannica:

Gastrulation and the formation of the three germinal layers is the beginning of the subdivision of the mass of embryonic cells produced by cleavage. The cells then begin to change and diversify under the direction of the genes. The genes brought in by the sperm exert control for the first time; during cleavage all processes seem to be under control of the maternal genes. In all cases of hybridization, in which individuals from different species produce offspring, the influence of the sperm is first apparent at gastrulation; paternal characteristics may appear at this stage; or the embryo may stop developing and die if the paternal genes are incompatible with the egg (as is the case in hybridization between species distantly related). (Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropedia, Growth and Development, Vol 20, page 394, col. 2, paragraph 1.)
If you follow the footnotes, the text written by the author is even more definitive on this point.  To ignore this is to spread error.  By the way, it is not until gastrulation that the offspring of parents of differing species are eliminated.
As for what the Constitution says, that there is a right to life for all persons is beyond question.  That the unborn are excluded from this status under the Constitution is also beyond question.  Roe v. Wade analyzes the issue, which is definitively addressed under the 14th Amendment.  From Part IX of the decision:
The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment contains three references to "person." The first, in defining "citizens," speaks of "persons born or naturalized in the United States." The word also appears both in the Due Process Clause and in the Equal Protection Clause. "Person" is used in other places in the Constitution: in the listing of qualifications for Representatives and Senators, Art. I, 2, cl. 2, and 3, cl. 3; in the Apportionment Clause, Art. I, 2, cl. 3; 53 in the Migration and Importation provision, Art. I, 9, cl. 1; in the Emolument Clause, Art. I, 9, cl. 8; in the Electors provisions, Art. II, 1, cl. 2, and the superseded cl. 3; in the provision outlining qualifications for the office of President, Art. II, 1, cl. 5; in the Extradition provisions, Art. IV, 2, cl. 2, and the superseded Fugitive Slave Clause 3; and in the Fifth, Twelfth, and Twenty-second Amendments, as well as in 2 and 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. But in nearly all these instances, the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally. None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application. 54   [410 U.S. 113, 158]
All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn. 55 This is in accord with the results reached in those few cases where the issue has been squarely presented. McGarvey v. Magee-Womens Hospital, 340 F. Supp. 751 (WD Pa. 1972); Byrn v. New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., 31 N. Y. 2d 194, 286 N. E. 2d 887 (1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-434; Abele v. Markle, 351 F. Supp. 224 (Conn. 1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-730. Cf. Cheaney v. State, ___ Ind., at ___, 285 N. E. 2d, at 270; Montana v. Rogers, 278 F.2d 68, 72 (CA7 1960), aff'd sub nom. Montana v. Kennedy, 366 U.S. 308 (1961); Keeler v. Superior Court, 2 Cal. 3d 619, 470 P.2d 617 (1970); State v. Dickinson, 28 [410 U.S. 113, 159]   Ohio St. 2d 65, 275 N. E. 2d 599 (1971). Indeed, our decision in United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971), inferentially is to the same effect, for we there would not have indulged in statutory interpretation favorable to abortion in specified circumstances if the necessary consequence was the termination of life entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection.
In part X, the Court concludes that viability is the ability to be born, so that viable fetuses are protected. Doe v. Bolton added the health of the mother as an exception, but it is up to Congress to define this if it wants that to change.  That it can is obvious under the Partial Birth Abortion Case, which overruled Doe for purposes of that procedure.
It does the movement no good to lie and to claim that all abortion are homicides is a lie.  They are killings, certainly, but until personhood is granted to the unborn at some stage earlier than viability (and hopefully after gastrulation to be scientific), saying abortion is murder is to play fast and loose with legal definitions, which is fraud (Thou Shalt Not Defraud).
Under the fifth section of the Amendment, Congress has enforcement powers.  The Civil Rights Act of 1875 empowered the Courts, but that does not mean Congress can not further enforce the amendment by moving personhood to assisted viability or even the start of the second trimester.  While it good go earlier, it does not have the votes, since granting all first trimester embryos legal personhood would not be limited to those who are aborted, it would include all embryos, including the miscarried, opening up the doors for Tort lawsuits by every Ave Maria and Liberty Law School graduate out for a payday and would require investigating every miscarriage.  It will never pass.
Of course, the last thing the movement wants is to settle this issue legislatively.  It would end the ability of opportunists like Palin and Trump to pander to the Catholic vote by saying the magic words without understanding them.  The fact that the movement is about electoral politics more than the unborn is proven by text from the May issue itself, "Our six senators should know their 'Pro'Death' voting will have serious consequences for them at the next election."  I am no obligation as a voter to go along with a Republican scam.