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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The bishops, abortion, and the Democrats: a response to Steve

Steve asks, "is it the Bishops’ position that the Constitution should be . . . amended . . . to embrace a constitutional right of the unborn not to be killed?"  It is, in fact, the position of the American bishops (and not merely the position of a few renegade conservatives) that a pro-life strategy should include "passage of a constitutional amendment that will protect unborn children's right to life to the maximum degree possible".  More here.  (This is, in my view, the correct position, as opposed to the position that the Faith dictates what the Constitution's content in fact now is.) 

He also asks, "[t]o what extent is the question of whether laws should be passed against abortion a prudential question?"  My understanding is that it is the bishops' (and the recent Popes') position that the basic question whether unborn children should be protected by law is not a "prudential" one.  See, e.g., EV par. 57 ("Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo"; par. 71 ("While public authority can sometimes choose not to put a stop to something which -- were it prohibited -- would cause more serious harm, it can never presume to legitimize as a right of individuals . . . an offence against other persons caused by the disregard of so fundamental a right as the right to life.")

Steve then suggests that there is a "pattern of specific criticism against Catholic Democratic politicians." In fact, Archbishop Egan (Rudy Giuliani's bishop) criticized the latter's pro-abortion-rights position.  With respect to the abortion issue, I would think the reason that Democratic politicians are coming in for more criticism than Republican ones is that there are relatively few prominent Catholic Republicans who support abortion rights, while (pretty much) every prominent Catholic Democratic politician supports abortion rights.


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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