Cheap Seats 2018
Respecting Life - 10/10
By Rich Trzupek
This past Sunday was “Respect for Life Sunday” in the Catholic Church. We Catholics have taken our lumps lately, some deserved, some not, but Respect for Life Sunday is one of our many programs of which I am extremely proud.
Respect for Life Sunday is not, as many non-Christians commonly believe, an occasion for Catholics to denounce Roe v. Wade, the Pro-Choice movement, assisted suicide or any of the other life/death issues that the church expresses an opinion upon. It’s simply a call to respect the wonder of human existence, in all its forms, and to think about that wonder before making decisions that may impact the existence or non-existence of a fellow human being.
Yeah, we Pope-followers don’t think abortion is right – ever. Here’s why (from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops):
“From your first moments of existence, you had all the DNA that would determine your sex, facial features, physique, and the color of your skin, hair, and eyes. At 24 days, your heart began beating. By 8 weeks, all your organs were present, and your unique fingerprints were forming. Ultrasounds show that by 18 weeks, you could swim, somersault, suck your thumb, and even cover your ears if you heard loud music. If you’d been born just 23 weeks after conception, your chance of survival would be 50-80 percent; by 25 weeks, it’s over 90 percent, and that’s still months before full-term birth.”
Roe v. Wade didn’t allow the states to allow abortion in every case. The decision allowed the states to prevent abortions when the development of the fetus had reached the point that the fetus could be reasonably expected to survive outside the womb, the concept known as viability. Justice John Paul Stevens decision allowed for one exception: “…when (abortion) is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
In a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the court defined “health” to include “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the wellbeing” of the mother. Doe v. Bolton effectively invalidated Roe v. Wade’s reliance on fetus viability. According to Doe v. Bolton, practically any claim could be used to invoke the “…preserve the life or health of the mother” exception.
While the general principle of Doe v. Bolton remains in place as settled law, the degree to which Doe v. Bolton may be used to allow or prevent abortions when the fetus is reasonably capable of living outside the mother’s womb remains unsettled. What kind of emotional issue should be deemed sufficiently impactful on the mother’s life to justify the abortion of a viable fetus? Those types of questions have yet to be officially settled and it’s the answer to those types of questions that Pro-Choice advocates so fear.
I don’t believe they honestly expect a Supreme Court that includes Justice Brett Cavanaugh to overturn Roe v. Wade. Sure, that’s what they say in public. It’s a nice, understandable message that energizes their supporters. But that won’t happen. They know it and we know it. What’s at stake here, with a Supreme Court that has a conservative majority, is the sweeping breadth of Doe v. Bolton.
This new SCOTUS can, and probably will, limit the scope of Doe v. Bolton. While that will not eliminate legal abortion in the United States, such a decision will certainly limit them. The Pro Choice movement will certainly howl when and if that happens. For those of us who believe life begins at the moment of conception, it will be a small step in the right direction – one we hope will get more people thinking about respect for life.