Friday, March 22, 2013

North Dakota Personhood Amendment

The state Senate of North Dakota passed a bill that would send a so-called personhood amendment to the ballot, and decided upon by the people of the state. This would extend legal rights of personhood to fetuses from the moment of fertilization. The AP coverage, via the Wash Post, can be found HERE.

A state senator says this: “I’m from the group who hates voting on abortion issues and who don’t like to play God." I say this: How are you playing God? Aren't you defending the order of God's universe by upholding the gift of human life, which has been made special through the endowment of a rational soul, unlike all other creatures?

One bill would prohibit abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Another would make North Dakota the only state to prohibit women from having the procedure because a fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome.
Excellent. The first strikes at the heart of Roe vs Wade, which only addresses substantive due process in relation to a woman's right to privacy. It does not anticipate scientific developments, which make it possible to detect pregnancy than ever before, and at points where any difficulties can be safely treated. Roe also misrepresents Aquinas' discussion on ensoulment, and presumes that because this discussion has not been settled-with a variety of opinions proposed over the two millenia of Christianity- it means that abortion can thus be allowed at any point in pregnancy, because some have mistakenly taught that abortion is only wrong when a human with a rational soul is formed.

The second strikes at the warped sensibilities of modern society. It is no wonder we live in an age of mass shootings and terrorism. The weakest, those who test the bonds of love and in fact lead us to more perfect love are killed. They are seen as a burden, and in many cases, as offensive. But, in love we must be willing to take on challenges and to be burdened. In fact, the most perfect love of Christ was made known through the Cross. Love is defined by the Angelic Doctor as willing the good of another, and when we will the good of someone else, it is hard. We sinners rebel against being in union with Christ. Over 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are killed in the womb. The cousin of young Joseph Ratzinger went to the Nazi euthanasia facilities, where he was murdered simply because he had Down's Syndrome. I am touched by the example set by my archbishop, the Most Reverend Joseph Kurtz who loves to talk-and always with a huge grin- about his older brother who also had Down's Syndrome (aside: for all those who think priests ordained in the 70s are doctrinally-whack or are liberation theologians, think again. He wrote his first letter to the editor because he wished to witness to life and to protest the Roe vs Wade decision.). We learn so much about the sorry states of our own souls, and about God Himself through the unconditional love presented by these people who challenge us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. One of the most heroic and inspiring stories of my lifetime is that of Thomas Vander Woude, who quite honestly is a saint and should be declared so by the Church at the appropriate time. Now, if children with Down's Syndrome aren't worth living in the first place, then what a radical notion: jumping in a septic tank to save your son who is at the time 20 years old, and physically large, meaning your life is at risk if you try to save him.

Roe wiped out all state and local restrictions on abortion, and for two decades prevented them from being reinstated in any way, because the Supreme Court decided that localities cannot decide to exclude all practices for the good of the community (never mind that procured abortion is wrong in every time and place!) even if a patchwork of laws now exist. Good for North Dakota to try and reverse this. While I support the Church, I think that the gradual repeal of Roe the wrong way to do things. That decision will never be struck down unless a court is presented with a case that directly contradicts major pieces of Roe, versus trying to justify a law under the terms of Casey vs Planned Parenthood, which allows restrictions on abortion if in they are not overly burdensome. Now, this doesn't neatly fit into the Constitution. But, this does fit into the legal code of every just society for time immemorial. Granted that's not perfect either. The Romans practiced infanticide, as well as those in Enlightenment-era Europe (though the first can be excused by the lack of revelation, the latter needed a chastisement for the deliberate avoidance of following it).

Also, the Catholic Church teaches that abortion, contraception, and IVF are wrong in all cases. That is why I have zero problem with a law without rape and incest exceptions (Those are just inconsistent. They fail both the logic test and the natural law test.) or that outlaws the latter practices, though I would only punish doctors and those who force women into these procedures if that is the case. Pimps and those who sexually assault young/teenage girls, or abusive husbands/boyfriends come to mind. Yes, I know conversion of heart comes first (get to praying Matt!...) but I am a person who needs to see tangible things.

KUDOS to the work done by the Most Reverend Samuel Aquila, formerly Bishop of Fargo and now Archbishop of Denver, for his work in praying for the end of abortion in the state, which is now down to a single clinic that has a huge problem finding doctors to perform abortions.

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