May 01, 2012
more on St. Joseph
Thanks to Susan for calling our attention to the important feast we celebrate today. Here is a link to an underappreciated apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph written by Blessed Pope John Paul II. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_15081989_redemptoris-custos_en.html
April 19, 2012
Teresa Collett defends Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts
Here is a good article on the Public Discourse website by Teresa Collett (president of University Faculty for Life) defending Pain-Capable Child Protection Acts. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/04/5176 Teresa explains: “These laws are premised on the idea that an unborn child’s capacity to feel pain, independent of fetal viability, is sufficient to establish the humanity of the child and to sustain a limited prohibition on abortion. Like partial-birth abortion bans, these laws advance public recognition of the unborn child’s humanity and should be supported.” The article discusses the evidence supporting the view that unborn children can feel pain at about 20 weeks post-fertilization. It also discusses the constitutionality of these bans. On the constitutional issue, Teresa concludes:”
Recognition of a compelling state interest in the protection of pain-capable unborn children does not require the Court to reject a woman’s liberty interest in obtaining an abortion or the balancing framework of Casey. It only asks the Court to recognize the legislature’s ability to use new scientific evidence that supports a strong state interest in regulating abortions at twenty weeks after fertilization. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts modestly expand upon the states’ interests in the protection of fetal life and affirm the value of unborn life as recognized in the latest Supreme Court cases addressing abortion.”
March 30, 2012
Teresa Collett on CIANA
On the Public Discourse website, here is a good commentary by Teresa Collett (University of St. Thomas law professor and president of University Faculty for Life) on CIANA (the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act). CIANA is designed to prevent the transportation of minors across state lines to obtain abortions without complying with the parental involvement laws of the minor's home state. (Some years ago, I testified on some of the constitutional issues raised by CIANA. See.) Teresa's commentary and her congressional testimony focus on why parental involvement laws promote the health of young women.
March 16, 2012
Winter 2011 issue of the NCBQ
I just received in the mail the latest issue (volume 11; no. 4; Winter 2011) of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. The NCBQ, edited by Ted Furton, typically includes excellent scholarship on bioethics issues. This issue is no exception. I wanted to call particular attention to a piece by Rev. Kevin Flannery SJ entitled "Vital Conflicts and the Catholic Magisterial Tradition." In this article, Father Flannery discusses the Phoenix abortion case and takes issue with the moral analysis of Therese Lysaught, which was largely based on the analysis of Father Martin Rhonheimer. Father Flannery presented an earlier version of this paper at the University Faculty for Life conference at Notre Dame in June 2011. (I should note that the 2012 UFL conference is scheduled for June 1-2, 2012 at BYU Law School.)
February 21, 2012
Supreme Court of Canada rejects parental opt-out claim
The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected the claim that the refusal of the school board to allow an exemption from the controversial Ethics and Religious Culture Program voiolates the rights of the parents who sought to exempt their children from the ERC program. The case, S.L. v. Commission scolaire des Chenes, is basically the Canadian version of the Mozert case. The parents argued that the program, which they contended promoted relativism, interfered with their ability to control the education of their children. The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the mere exposure of the children to the program did not infringe their freedom of religion because the children were not forced to join any of the religions discussed in the program.Richard M.
Alabama Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade
On February 17, 2012, the Alabama Supreme Court decided Hamilton v. Scott. The case involved an interpretation of Alabama's wrongful death statute. The Court held that Amy Hamilton had a claim under the statute even though her unborn child died before viability. The most interesting aspect of the case is a special concurrence written by Justice Parker. The concurrence presents an extended critique of Roe's viability standard. Here is the conclusion:
"Roe's viability rule was based on inaccurate history and was mostly unsupported by legal precedent. Medical advances since Roe have conclusively demonstrated that an unborn child is a unique human being at every stage of development. And together, Alabama's homicide statute, the decisions of this Court, and the statutes and judicial decisions from other states make abundantly clear that the law is no longer, in Justice Blackmun's words, "reluctant ... to accord legal rights to the unborn." For these reasons, Roe's viability rule is neither controlling nor persuasive here and should be rejected by other states until the day it is overruled by the United States Supreme Court." David Smolin comment on the opinion is instructive. Smolin noted--"It is philosophically, morally and ethically problematic to consider a human as a person for some things and not for others. It makes us uncomfortable with elective abortion. The more places where the law puts them as a human person, the more it makes us think about what we are doing with abortion." Richard M.
"Roe's viability rule was based on inaccurate history and was mostly unsupported by legal precedent. Medical advances since Roe have conclusively demonstrated that an unborn child is a unique human being at every stage of development. And together, Alabama's homicide statute, the decisions of this Court, and the statutes and judicial decisions from other states make abundantly clear that the law is no longer, in Justice Blackmun's words, "reluctant ... to accord legal rights to the unborn." For these reasons, Roe's viability rule is neither controlling nor persuasive here and should be rejected by other states until the day it is overruled by the United States Supreme Court."
David Smolin comment on the opinion is instructive. Smolin noted--"It is philosophically, morally and ethically problematic to consider a human as a person for some things and not for others. It makes us uncomfortable with elective abortion. The more places where the law puts them as a human person, the more it makes us think about what we are doing with abortion."
January 30, 2012
more on the Stolen Valor Act
While the Supreme Court is reviewing the Alvarez case from the Ninth Circuit, the Tenth Circuit (featuring a very good majority opinion by Judge Tymkovich) has upheld the constitutionality ofthe Stolen Valor Act. Here. Although Judge Holmes's dissenting opinion does not reach the same heights (or lows) as Judge Kozinski's paean to falsehood, I am still troubled by phrases such as this one--"little white lies (even those knowingly told and designed to deceive) that season are speech, like beneficent salt, ... preserve the grace and dignity of human relationships."
December 19, 2011
originalism and sex discrimination
Here is a link to an interesting Slate article on originalism and sex discrimination. The article notes that there recently has been much discussion about the original meaning of the equal protection clause. Last year, Justice Scalia expressed the view that the 14th amendment doesn't prohibit sex discrimination, a position he seemed to disavow in congressional testimony. Steve Calabresi and Julie Rickert have weighed in with a lengthy article in the Texas Law Review. That article argues that the original public meaning of the 14th amendment does ban sex discrimination. The Slate article explores some of the implications that this debate might have on the Perry litigation involving California's Propostion 8.
November 14, 2011
USCCB Committee on Doctrine and Sister Elizabeth Johnson CSJ
Here is a link to a news item from the USCCB in which the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine reaffirms its critique of "Quest for the Living God" by Sister Elizabeth Johnson CSJ. The Committee's initial statement was back in March 2011. Sister Johnson published a lengthy (38 page) response. The Bishops Commitee has reaffirmed that it "believes that it is its duty to state publicly that on several critical points the book is seriously inadequate as a presentation of the Catholic understanding of God."
This is another example of the Bishops moving away from a disciplinary approach to dealing with dissent. Sister Johnson is still on the faculty at Fordham. Daniel Maguire is still on the theology faculty at Marquette, even though the Committee on Doctrine issued a statement several years ago explaining that the views expressed by Professor Maguire were erroneous and incompatible with Church teaching.
There is a lot to be said in favor of this kindler gentler approach. It is worth recalling, though, that Charles Curran seemed to have been largely forgotten after he left Catholic U and that one wonders whether Richard McBrien would attract as much attention if he taught at Indiana University-South Bend instead of Notre Dame.
October 19, 2011
NCBQ and the Phoenix abortion case
The most recent issue of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Vol. 11, no. 3; Autumn 2011) contains several articles that continue the discussion about the Phoenix abortion case and related matters. The issue contains articles by Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, OP (Abortion in a Case of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension), Thomas A. Cavanaugh (Double-Effect Reasoning, Craniotomy, and Vital Conflicts), and Rev. Martin Rhonheimer (Vital Conflicts, Direct Killing, and Justice).
The NCBQ (edited by Ted Furton) is always well worth reading and this issue is no exception.