August 29, 2008
Abortion, Economic and Social Policy Issues
I begin by thanking Michael P. for bringing to our attention the recent report prepared by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good entitled “Reducing Abortion in America: The Effect of Economic and Social Supports.” As I recall, last October, one of my favorite authors and contributors to the Mirror of Justice [HERE] had this to say about law making regarding economic and social support that could address and minimize and eliminate the need for abortion:
The moral considerations underpinning Catholic legal theory would enable the law-maker to consider more or all rather than some of the issues that must inevitably intersect abortion laws. Today so much of the law in this country pertaining to abortion permits abortion—with few restrictions—and bases the justification on Constitutional requirement (which I submit results from an erroneous interpretation in the Roe progeny), the argument from privacy, and, more recently, the argument from equality. The focus of abortion law seems to be on the welfare of the mother only. This becomes patent when judges, state and Federal, scrutinize legislation and regulation looking for the “essential” health exception clause to protect the mother only.
Catholic legal theory, in contrast, begins to look at other welfares, too. The mother’s health and welfare are surely important; but so is the health and welfare of the child whose life will be snuffed out should the abortion proceed. But it is also vital to recognize that the mother has other issues that are often ignored or dismissed as long as she can be allowed to terminate her pregnancy. What might these issues be? Well, informed consent is a place to start. Does she really know what is about to happen? Does she really understand what is inside her womb? Would she want to have an abortion if she could see her child? (Ultrasound imaging would provide her with this critical information.) Has she been provided with education about effective parenting skills? Is pre and post-natal care available for her and her child to ensure good health for both? Catholic legal theory would also provide for the welfare of the father? Where is he? Should provision not also be made for encouraging his responsibility for the life he helped promote by developing among other things his parenting skills? It seems that the law-maker is not restrained from including these provisions relating to these matters as well. Cannot the law-maker provide for orphanages, foster care, and adoption services for children whose birth parents will not or cannot properly care for the raising of the child?
Indeed, the law-maker can provide for all these things and more.
But the critic may well argue that the additional elements will cost money. The Catholic legal theorist can respond by reminding the critic that laws addressing defense, environment safeguards, historical preservation, criminal justice, wildlife protection, etc. (all of which have moral considerations) also cost money. But in spite of their cost, laws are made to advance these interests and protections. Why can the law not do the same to preserve young human life and the lives of those responsible for its conception? This is the response of one Catholic legal theorist.
I am grateful that others are beginning to think along these same lines. In the meantime, the grim reaper who uses the pseudonym “Abortion Rights” continues to take its tragic and avoidable toll.
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