Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Cavalier Attitudes Toward Abortion

Several recent posts have highlighted the casual approach to abortion by many segments in our society. Here is another example - Planned Parenthood sells an "I had an abortion" t-shirt.

Planned Parenthood says: "Planned Parenthood is proud to offer yet another t-shirt in our new social fashion line: "I Had an Abortion" fitted T-shirts are now available. These soft and comfortable fitted tees assert a powerful message in support of women's rights."

July 27, 2004 in Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

City Comforts blog

I don't think I've linked to this blog before: "City Comforts Blog" is, its blog-masters say, devoted to "cities, architecture, the 'new urbanism,' real estate, historic preservation, urban design, land use law, landscape, transport etc etc from a mildly libertarian stance. Our response to problems of human settlement is not 'better planning' and a bigger budget for local government. But alas, conservative and libertarian (not the same, to be sure) response to shaping our cities is too often barren and in denial. Our goal is to take part in fostering a new perspective. But not too earnestly."


July 25, 2004 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

"Spies in the Pews"

This Associated Press story describes the work of a group called "The Mainstream Coalition", "a group monitoring the political activities of local pastors and churches. The coalition, based in suburban Kansas City, says it wants to make sure clergy adhere to federal tax guidelines restricting political activity by nonprofit groups, and it's taking such efforts to a new level." The story also describes the related efforts of Rev. Barry Lynn's group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


July 25, 2004 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Happy Birthday

Today, Susan and I will celebrate our son Peter's third birthday. As many participants on this blog know, we became Peter's (and his younger brother Philip's) parents through adoption. And it is because of this experience, being the father of children who could have easily been exterminated in utero, that I find myself reacting to stories concerning abortion in a much more visceral way than before. Rob's post the other day concerning the story in the NYT regarding the woman who chose to abort two of her three children was deeply troubling for a host of reasons, including as Mark pointed out in his post, the seeming lack of appreciation of the gravity of the matter.

Rob's story of moving to New York and of being asked in an open and matter-of-fact way whether his pregnant wife intended to have the baby reminded me of a similar experience we had. Like many couples who ultimately adopt, my wife and I experienced problems trying to conceive. We consulted with fertility specialists both in Chicago and in Michigan where we lived for two years. Like many women in the same situation, Susan was put on a hormonal drug therapy. She had a great response to these drugs, so great in fact that the chances of conceiving large numbers of children is a single cycle were high. As a consequence, some months we opted not to try and have a child. On several occasions, including one that was particulary vivid, we were told that "If you're worried about multiple births you can always do selective reduction." The way in which the nurse said this was so banal and inconsequential that if she had been a waitress she might as well have said "The sandwich comes with soup and salad, but you don't have to get either of them if you don't want to."

Today, Peter is a happy, smiling three-year-old. He is the joy of our life! We thank God every day that Peter's birth-mother had the courage to see the pregnancy through so that he could now enjoy the life he has. But was it her decision that made him a human being? Was it her decision that bestowed "personhood" upon him? Certainly his life span would have been different if she had chosen otherwise, but would he have been any different? I have trouble seeing how an affirmative answer to any of these questions can be squared with how we respond to questions concerning identity, humanity and personhood in other settings.

If his birth-mother had opted for another decision, a decision which our culture encourages and defends as emblematic of true freedom, no one would have ever seen his face, except of course those who would have brought about his death . . . and they would have averted their eyes! Today we look into his eyes with joy and thanksgiving.

July 24, 2004 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Life, human being, person: two out of three ain't bad?

The following is an excerpt from Peter Jennings' interview yesterday with John Kerry:

Peter Jennings: You told an Iowa newspaper recently that life begins at conception. What makes you think that?

Sen. Kerry: My personal belief about what happens in the fertilization process is a human being is first formed and created, and that's when life begins. Something begins to happen. There's a transformation. There's an evolution. Within weeks, you look and see the development of it, but that's not a person yet, and it's certainly not what somebody, in my judgment, ought to have the government of the United States intervening in.

Roe v. Wade has made it very clear what our standard is with respect to viability, what our standard is with respect to rights. I believe in the right to choose, not the government choosing, but an individual, and I defend that.

Jennings: Could you explain again to me what do you mean when you say "life begins at conception"?

Kerry: Well, that's what the Supreme Court has established is a test of viability as to whether or not you're permitted to terminate a pregnancy, and I support that. That is my test. And I, you know, you have all kinds of different evolutions of life, as we know, and very different beliefs about birth, the process of the development of a fetus. That's the standard that's been established in Roe v. Wade. And I adhere to that standard.

Jennings: If you believe that life begins at conception, is even a first-trimester abortion not murder?

Kerry: No, because it's not the form of life that takes personhood in the terms that we have judged it to be in the past. It's the beginning of life. Does life begin? Yes, it begins. Is it at the point where I would say that you apply those penalties? The answer is, no, and I believe in choice. I believe in the right to choose, and the government should not involve itself in that choice, beyond where it has in the context of Roe v. Wade.

As an admittedly unenthusiastic Kerry voter, I'll let readers supply their own biting commentary.


July 23, 2004 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Pay or Pray?

Via Marginal Revolution, we are alerted to a paper by Jonathan Gruber (unfortunately available only for a $5 charge), which finds:

Using data over three decades from the General Social Survey, as well as confirming the impact of such subsidies on religious giving using the Consumer Expenditure Survey, [there is] strong evidence that religious giving and religious attendance are substitutes: larger subsidies to charitable giving lead to more religious giving, but less religious attendance, with an implied elasticity of attendance with respect to religious giving of -0.92.
It would be interesting to know whether Gruber's data could be fine-tuned. In particular, I wonder whether the substitution effect is stronger or weaker in churches adhering to sola fide. I've emailed Gruber to ask.

July 21, 2004 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

"Ethics and the Market Economy: Insights from Catholic Moral Theology"

Here's a link to a new paper by the Acton Institute's Samuel Gregg. And, here's the abstract:

The ethical dimension of market solutions to problems is often neglected by their proponents. This article examines the market from the standpoint of orthodox Roman Catholic moral theology. It illustrates how Catholic theologians have contributed to thinking about the market, draws attention to Catholicism's positive assessment of entrepreneurship, and outlines paths for future Catholic reflection on the market.

Thanks to Larry Solum.


July 21, 2004 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

It's Never Too Early . . .

Abortion politics aside, what sort of parents would send their fifth-grader to learn about sex at a Planned Parenthood "boys and girls" conference from which parents are banned? Approximately 350 parents in Waco, Texas apparently believe that the best way for their preteens to learn about sex is sitting in an auditorium learning how to become sexually active through the unabashed ideological slant of perfect strangers, according to this report.


July 21, 2004 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lupu & Tuttle on the Notre Dame / Americorps Case

Two of our best law-and-religion scholars -- Professors Lupu and Tuttle -- have posted a helpful analysis of the recent decision in American Jewish Congress v. Corporation for National and Community Service. That case involves Notre Dame's "A.C.E." (Alliance for Catholic Education) program, and about the participation of "A.C.E." volunteers in the federal Americorps program.

In a nutshell:

The case raises two constitutional questions of great importance for the Faith-Based Initiative. First, under what conditions will a method of public finance be deemed "indirect,” and thus permit the organization receiving the funds to intermingle religious and secular services? Second, when may an individual whose position is financed by the government, and who performs secular services in that position, also perform religious functions in a role closely connected to the government-funded position? Judge Kessler answered these two questions in ways that impose much greater restrictions on public financing of religious organizations than those found in current federal policies.

Well worth reading.


July 20, 2004 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Conference Announcement

The Journal of Law & Religion has announced its Fifteenth Annual Law, Religion and Ethics Symposium. On October 21 and 22 at Hamline Law School in St. Paul, an intriguing and diverse lineup of scholars (including MoJ's Michael Perry) will tackle the heady topic, "The Sacred and the Secular: Encountering the Other From the Interpersonal to the International: Three Conversations in Law, Religion and Ethics."


July 20, 2004 in Vischer, Rob | Permalink | TrackBack (0)