Moral Decisions 5

Author: Rev. Msgr. James J. Mulligan

Article #78 MORAL DECISIONS Necessary Evils By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan In July of 1832, President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bank bill. In his comment on exercising that right to veto a decision made by Congress, Jackson wrote: There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. A Statement such as that presents a truly high ideal for government. Yet equal protection for all is a consummation devoutly to be wished. I suppose that if ever legislator, judge and executive (as well as the citizens who put them in office) were perfect, then it would be a reality. Alas, both the governed and the governing being all imperfect human beings, they will all have their own axes to grind. We might even be justified in suspecting that they will be tempted to use those same axes on each other when it comes to chopping out a niche for the protection of their own "rights" as opposed to those of others. No one can deny that there may be room for honest disagreement at times as to just who is in the right. That leads to debate (with or without the axes) and eventually, one would hope, to resolution or at least compromise. This may be the case even in issues that are vital and essential. There may be honest differences of conscience as well as of opinion -- and even perfectly justifiable compromises. In a democratic system, the elected official is one person whose position can be very precarious. And I am thinking here of far more than just the struggle to get elected and then stay in office for more than a term. I am thinking more of the responsibilities of office and the decisions of conscience which may attend the proper exercise of those responsibilities. The politician has a conscience of his own, but he also represents a constituency formed of any number of people with any number of opinions and positions of conscience. It is by that group that he hopes to be elected and re-elected. It is to them that he must answer -- at least on election day. But they are not the only ones to whom he must answer, because he is more than just an elected official. He is also a human being and a child of God, and so he must answer to humanity (which, of course, is an abstraction) and to God (who is absolutely not an abstraction). His election, his reputation and his salvation may all depend on the choices he makes about very public matters. How does he reconcile himself to the fact that he represents a group which may include people whose ideas of basic moral right and wrong may differ from or even be in conflict with his own? The problem, of course, is all the more complex in that anyone who runs for office must count on pleasing the people, if he intends to stay in office. It sounds like an almost impossible balancing act, and one would expect that it would make most officials quite happy to get out of office. Yet, as Voltaire remarked, "The pleasure of governing must certainly be exquisite, if we may judge from the vast numbers who are eager to be concerned with it." There is, of course, more than that to it. The politician has the potential of doing enormous good, and may be in government for just that purpose. Can it be done without loss of integrity? We will begin looking at that next time. Article #79 MORAL DECISIONS Fudge, Anyone? By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan An all too frequent part of the political diet is fudge. Fudging the issues is an act practiced to perfection by many who hold office and intend to stay there. We are constantly being served whole trays of fudge when it comes to governmental stands on questions of "reproductive rights" (a patriotic sounding phrase which usually refers to making sure that reproduction is stopped dead in its tracks). There can be no doubt that such questions are matters of conscience. They are of essential interest to the Church and to those who have honestly examined the issues. They should be every bit as essential to government and politicians. One problem that every person must at some time face -- and the politician perhaps more than most -- is just how far compromise can be taken before it comes to the point of real abnegation of conscience. There is a boundary beyond which lies loss of integrity and moral self-destruction. For the politician, even very early in a career, this may become an acute problem. We need good government and we will never have it unless we have good men and women in office. To get there, they must be elected. How they go about that will be crucial to the amount of good that they can later be able to accomplish. Even those whose honest intent is to do good may be tempted to compromise on almost any issue, no matter how important, in order to achieve the political success of attainment at length to an office in which it is possible finally to "do some real good." The problem with that approach is that what really gets compromised most of all is the person doing the compromising. If a candidate is willing to compromise on even the most basic issues in order "to do some good," then that is a candidate who should not be in office at all. How much faith are you really willing to put in a person who has no conscience or, having one, does not follow it? Of course there are matters of policy in which people may agree on the results to be attained and yet disagree on just how to attain them. Compromise may mean finding a way to cooperate to the satisfaction of both without violating the conscience of either. Both the end and the means to it may be good. It may even be a matter of practical action and not a question of conscience at all. Issues like these are no problem. But what, for example, of the candidate who deals with so basic an issue as legal abortion, who claims to be morally opposed to it personally, but who will not be opposed to it as a public official. It's enough to make you wonder if this stuff he's passing out is even fudge. No candidate is worth electing if he is not honest with his constituents and honest to his own moral principles. Honesty demands that you speak the truth about what you hold in conscience and that you live it both in private and in public. If that costs the election, then so be it. This is a hard choice, but it is the only right choice. If you try to live otherwise, then you will soon have no conscience left. As Samuel Butler said, "Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it." The man willing to compromise his own conscience on one issue would also do so on others. I would not want him to represent me. I could not trust him. The bitter loss of conscience may, for a time, be sweetened with that bit of fudge. The question of the right to life, however, is so basic that there is little room, if any, for compromise. Article #80 MORAL DECISIONS Isn't Death Wonderful? By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Do you realize how often our culture proposes death as the answer to problems? Is a child inconvenient? Kill it. Is it going to be deformed? Kill it. Are you faced with cancer or Alzheimers? Kill yourself. Will this patient never regain consciousness? Kill him. How altruistic we can be in recommending the death of someone else. Wouldn't he or she be better off dead rather than unwanted, deformed or incapacitated? The failure to protect life is the beginning of the end for any society. Once we accept the precedent that any group of persons can be killed, then, like it or not, that same treatment can be extended to any other group too small or too helpless to defend itself. That is precisely what happened in Nazi Germany when rights were denied to Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the insane, the retarded and anyone else who could be declared less than human. Every atrocity was soon perfectly legal. It happened in the United States when our own Supreme Court decided that slaves had no rights they were less than fully human. It happened again in Roe v. Wade when the unborn were declared less than human. It is the direction many would like to take in regard to the aged, the retarded, the deformed, the unconscious, the disabled newborn and anyone else who does not meet some arbitrary standard of "full" human life. Anyone elected to public office in this country will need to face a problem of conscience that deals with the most basic values of human life itself. Legislation is being or will be contemplated and promoted in everyone of the areas that I mentioned. The person who runs for office will have to face the fact that election may well depend on positions that are literally matters of life and death. What does a candidate do if popular opinion runs contrary to the voice of true conscience? For the moment I would like to limit my consideration to this question of the Catholic candidate. Of course, the same or similar problems of conscience will exist for any other candidate Catholic or not when he finds himself having to frame or interpret civil laws which run contrary to the truth. However, some problem areas may seem more clearly delineated for the Catholic candidate. The Catholic Church has a clearly defined hierarchial structure and teaching authority. Its moral positions have been stated clearly and publicly. In many very basic moral issues both candidates and voters will have little or no doubt about just what the position of the Church is. In some difficult areas the question themselves are so complex that no candidate can or should give a flat yes or no as representative of his position. For example, the problems related to legal norms for treatment of terminal patients or even for the feeding of various types of unconscious patients are sufficiently complex that various situations may demand varied responses. The politician should not be expected to offer a simple answer to a question filled with both ethical and medical complexities. Answers will need explanation. That, however, is far different from the tack taken by politicians who purposely respond with ambiguity, thus disguising their own positions while attempting to woo voters on both sides of an issue without satisfying the doubts of either. One issue that is not nearly so complex is whether the intentional killing of the unborn is right or wrong. And, if one says that it is truly wrong, then is it not just as wrong for government to legalize it and even promote it by offering funds to supply it? These answers may demand explanation to show why a position is as it is, but they can be answered without hedging, fudging, hiding or ambiguity. We have a right to that sort of clarity before we vote for someone and we have a right to know whether a candidate, who presents himself as Catholic, will in practice follow the conscience to which he lays claim. Article #81 MORAL DECISIONS A Rare Bird By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan How much have we heard in past decades of "single issue" candidates or "single issue" voters? Of course it is foolish generally to run or to vote on one and only one issue since there are many things in government which demand considerable attention. Often enough, however, that issue has been the question of abortion and those who want to know a candidate's clear position on it are accused of a "single issue" mentality, when in fact it is the candidate who makes it a single issue by being willing to come clean on all the issues but that one. Abortion gets sidestepped, clouded over or purposely fudged. It is a rare candidate who tries to tell the public not only what his position is on a given issue, but how and why he has come to hold it. It is a rare bird indeed who would try to do so on a really hot issue such at that of abortion. On September 13, 1984, in a talk given at Notre Dame University, Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York proved himself to be one of those rarest of birds. He entitled his lecture, "Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor's Perspective." His position was basically this: A Catholic public official can, in good conscience and remaining faithful to the teaching of his Church, be personally and conscientiously opposed to abortion, and yet be able to vote in favor of legislation which provides funding for the performance of abortions. I can hear many saying, "1984? That's ancient history! Why go into it all at this late date?" First of all, it still remains the one coherent effort by a Catholic politician to make a clear and cogent statement on this topic. Secondly, the Governor himself never treated it as ancient, but referred back to it often enough to justify later actions and statements and, in doing so, was setting a tone for other Catholic politicians as well. Third, since it does represent a position easily adopted by others, it deserves a response to warn others of how it misleads. In this article and the next eight or nine as well I will look at what the Governor has to say and I will offer a response. I am in no way implying that the Governor was dishonest or deceitful in what he said. The fact is that he was quite clear and forthright. But I am just a fully convinced that his arguments are full of serious flaws and that he is dead wrong in the position he describes and supports. I am encouraged to respond in view of the fact that in his presentation Governor Cuomo said: "I hope that this public attempt to describe the problems as I understand them, will give impetus to the dialogue in the Catholic community and beyond, a dialogue which could show me a better wisdom than I've been able to find so far." And so (as the correspondents of the last Century used to say), I take pen (or word processor) in hand to offer my thoughts on the topic. The arguments to which I will respond in the next articles are those of the Governor, and I will at times remind you of that. Yet I have no intention of saying what I have to say as though it were addressed to the Governor personally. It is not. That sort of discussion would serve little purpose and would simply reduce matters to some sort of contention with one person. I have no reason to doubt his honesty, no reason to doubt his sincerity and certainly no reason to doubt his intelligence. There is no question of personality in what I have to say. In fact, from what I have read of the Governor and what I have heard him say in interviews or speeches, I would say his personality is quite engaging and his ability to present his case quite impressive. His arguments are not all rhetoric. They are serious and well thought out. They deserve equally serious and well thought out response and that is what I shall offer. Clear as they are, his suppositions are frequently wrong, and his conclusions just as wrong also. Article #82 MORAL DECISIONS A Good Beginning By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan An old English proverb holds that "A good beginning makes a good ending." It is equally true to say that a bad beginning makes a bad ending and may even send you off on the wrong journey. If all of our space exploration had started out with the old geocentric theory that the sun revolves around the earth, none of our space exploration would ever have gotten off the ground. Or, even if it did, it would certainly not have ended up in the right place. When Governor Mario Cuomo began his 1984 presentation of thoughts on the question of the Catholic politician and abortion legislation, he set off from a beginning that took the whole journey in a totally wrong direction. Yet, what he says seems at first to make eminent sense. "To be a Catholic is to say 'I believe' to the essential core of dogmas that distinguishes our faith." Yet we live in a pluralistic society and the Catholic who holds public office "bears special responsibility. He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones sometimes contradictory to them." All who assume public office take an oath to preserve the Constitution which guarantees this freedom. In fact, to assure our own freedom, we must allow others the same freedom. "We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might someday force theirs on us." The constitutional amendment which forbids the establishment of a State Church also "affirms my legal right to argue that my religious belief would serve well as an article of universal public morality." Even the public office holder has this right and must be allowed to attempt to convince others of the rightness of his position. "And surely, I can, if so inclined, demand some kind of law against abortion not because my Bishops say it is wrong but because I think that the whole community, regardless of its religious beliefs, should agree on the importance of protecting life..." "I accept the Church's teaching on abortion. Must I insist you do? By law? By denying you Medicaid funding? By a constitutional amendment? If so, which one? Would that be the best way to avoid abortions or to prevent them?" These questions constitute the beginning of the Governor's approach. But it is in that very beginning that the problem lies, and it will necessarily send us off to a bad conclusion. He, like so many others, reduces the whole problem to religious beliefs versus religious freedom. However, that is not the case. Yes, it is true that the Catholic Church argues against abortion, but it is absolutely not a matter of "specifically Catholic" belief. The moral position is that human life has value and deserves to be protected by the State. That is certainly not peculiar to Catholics. Nor is it a peculiarly Catholic teaching that the unborn child deserves that protection. The evidence of science leaves no doubt that the fertilized ovum, the embryo, is new life, individual life, human life. There is no doubt or question of its humanity that can claim scientific support. To begin with the notion that this is a specifically Catholic position is to make a very bad beginning indeed. The whole line of thought is then colored by a basic error which, intentionally or not, fudges the whole issue and avoids the real question. Article #83 MORAL DECISIONS The Meaning of Words By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Quite some time ago I ordered and received a copy of the transcript of arguments in the famous Roe v. Wade case the case in which the Supreme Court opened the door to the wanton abortion of infants on demand. One of the things which I found most intriguing was the use of words. Among them was the very important word, "person." Those who argue that the court based its decision on the ground that the unborn child is not a person, might be in for a surprise if they were to read what actually took place in the presentation of the case. Those who support abortion differ in their views. There are, indeed, some who would say that the embryo is a person, but that the woman's right to kill it takes precedence over its right to life. However, even the judges who made the Roe v. Wade decision were not having any of that. In fact, in the course of the hearing, one of the Justices said that the acceptance of such a position should then logically lead to the legal acceptance of the killing of a husband because he was in some way a threat to his wife's health. Instead, they made their ruling on the ground that the fetus is not a person. What is interesting, is that their words might not really mean quite what think. Their position was not really in terms of the true humanity or real personhood of the unborn child. It was based, instead, on the fact that the fetus, even if a real person, was not a legal person (i.e., a citizen with rights to be preserved), because the Fourteenth Amendment extended such rights only to those who are born or naturalized as citizens. In that sense, it was a decision based on the rankest sort of legalism. Mrs. Sarah R. Weddington, the counsel for "Jane Roe," argued that a law which accepted the rights of the fetus was merely a statutory and not a constitutional protection (since to be a citizen deserving of the full protection of the Constitution, you must be born). In her words, "You do not balance constitutional rights of one person against mere statutory rights of another." Even she is clearly speaking of both mother and unborn child as persons, but not both as citizens! There are others, of course, who support abortion on the ground that a fetus is not a person, by which they mean person in a real sense and not only in a legal sense. The problem with their position, however, is that it has to fly in the face of every shred of observable scientific evidence from which the inference of personhood could and should be drawn. In other words, the real question at the heart of the matter is not a question of religious belief, but of evidence observable and producible by scientific procedure. It is from this evidence that the inference of personhood of the fetus follows immediately. It would not even be questioned, were it not for the desire to abort. To act in favor of abortion is to act contrary to science and reason. For the Catholic, of course, it also happens to mean acting against his Church as well. But the Church is making no demand for an act of blind faith in a dogmatic position. Rather, the Church, with its authority, simply supports what one can see as truth even without an act of faith. The problem involved in the abortion issue is not one of Church versus State. It is a problem of truth versus error. What the Church adds to the discussion is that the life of the unborn is sacred as well as valuable. Article #84 MORAL DECISIONS Pluralism By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan One of the battle cries of the abortionists is that we live in a pluralistic society a society in which there is the freedom for multiple opinions and beliefs to live side by side. A society in which no one is to be coerced into acting against what he holds to be the truth. (Of course, that is not totally true. There are those who can and should be coerced. What, for example, would you do with Satanists who advocated infant sacrifice?) However, we can and should accept a pluralism which recognizes the need for freedom, when that freedom is not detrimental to and destructive of basic human rights which still leaves quite a bit of room for discussion at times. There is a problem, however, when we begin to think of pluralism as meaning that we are all entitled to our opinions, that every opinion is a good every other one and that we never have a right to contradict what another says. There is an even deeper problem when use the word "opinion" but are really talking about things that are far more than mere matters of opinion. To live in a pluralistic society does not mean that we have to hold back from stating and supporting what we hold as truth. Even if the abortion issue were completely a matter of religious belief (and it is not), we would have every right to attempt to persuade others to accept and see the truth of our position. Please note, I say persuade and not coerce or impose upon. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we can be persuasive if we say one thing but do another. In the last century slaveowners who argued against slavery could hardly have been very convincing. In Nazi Germany in the 1940's a legislator who argued against killing Jews, while still voting funding for better crematoria, could hardly have been a powerful voice for the truth. So it is even now. The Catholic office holder who says that he is personally opposed to abortion and then votes to fund it for others is offering no persuasion at all and I would begin to doubt the sincerity of his own convictions. To fund abortions while saying that it is the taking of human life means either that one does not really believe this or that one does not really mind murder. Real pluralism means the freedom both to state and to live by what I believe, and to do otherwise is simply to mislead. For the Catholic legislator it also means the freedom to state his position in conscience and to vote by that position as well. To do less is not pluralism. It is sad neglect. We might note, however, that the real coercion is not on the side of the pro-life advocates. It is the pro-abortionists who have been the guilty parties. Is it not a perfect example of coercion for me to be forced, under penalty of law, to pay taxes which legislators are then going to use to pay for abortions which both faith and reason tell me are immoral? I am forced to act against my conscience. I am of the opinion that the mere passing of laws against abortion is not the final answer to the problem. We need to bring about changes in more than legal structure. There is a need for change in minds and hearts. This does not mean that a change in the law is useless or negligible, but even a change of legislation in our country will not come about without a change in the outlook of the majority. But isn't that what persuasion is all about? And it cannot be emphasized enough that we will never persuade anyone if we say one thing and do another. Article #85 MORAL DECISIONS The Famous Right to Privacy By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Whenever we enter into the realm of civil legislation, we are faced with real questions of individual rights, and those rights should not be taken lightly. Much has been said in these last few years about the "right to privacy" guaranteed by the Constitution. In fact, no such right is mentioned in that document. The courts, however, have construed it as being implied in the Ninth Amendment, which says: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The implied "right to privacy" would mean that the State cannot intervene in the life of the individual in areas which are that person's business and should not be the concern of the State. There are, of course, some obvious limits to that right when it interferes with the legitimate rights of others. If I steal or murder, then I cannot claim that it is my business and the State should stay out of it. In abortion, however, precisely that claim is being made. It is the woman's "right" to decide if she shall or shall not end her pregnancy by killing her child. It is justified on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment does not recognize her child as a citizen with constitutional rights. If ever a legal situation demanded change, this is it! When Governor Cuomo addressed this, he did so in terms of the notion that "the values derived from religious belief will not and should not be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus." That would, of course, place the question into the realm of private religious opinion and the "right to privacy" should apply. The flaw, of course, is in the assumption that we are dealing with values derived from one particular set of religious beliefs. We are not. The Governor, like many others, does not seriously take up the question of the evidence for the humanity of the unborn child. Perhaps we cannot blame him. He says that he is a lawyer and politician and not a theologian or a philosopher although, as one might expect, he does deal in his talk with theological and philosophical concepts. Neither is he a doctor or an embryologist, but he had better with those issues as well. It is as easy for a politician as it is for anyone else to be misled by the pro-abortionists who do not want us to look at embryology at all. Instead, they will try in every instance to insist that this is a Church-State issue. It is not. The fact that so many religious people and religious leaders (and they are not all by any stretch of the imagination Catholic) are opposed to abortion makes it easy, perhaps, for many to discount what they say as being just "religious stuff." That is as ridiculous as taking the comments of Governor Cuomo or any other politician as just "political stuff" or "legal stuff." Applying a derogatory name does not negate the reality of the issue. The Governor spoke of those "who say there is a simple answer to all these questions; they say that by history and practice of our people we were intended to be and should be a Christian country in law" and therefore we should impose purely Christian norms. He rightfully rejects that concept. But that is not what the question is about. (In fact, I might find it terribly hard to pin down very much evidence at all to prove that the country is Christian.) The problem is that a basic human right is being discounted under the guise of being no more than a religious squabble. Article #86 MORAL DECISIONS Settling for a Wet Hen By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan In reference to compromise, Time, in 1958, quoted Nikita Khrushchev as having said: "If you cannot catch a bird of paradise, better take a wet hen." I suppose there are some areas in which you should be willing to settle for less than you bargained for. But that does not make much sense in matters of life and death. It may well be a temptation for those in government to think that they have done enough provided that they have at least reached a compromise. That is not always true. In 1984 Governor Mario Cuomo spoke of the fact that what we believe to be best cannot always be put into effect and that even the modes of political persuasion vary and are not at all a matter of faith. In reference to the abortion issue, this was taken to imply that even if new laws were the best way to proceed, and even if our faith demanded that we look toward such laws, faith would not be able to supply for everyone the best way in which to work toward such a goal. He said: "That is, while we always owe our Bishops' words respectful attention and careful consideration, the question whether to engage the political system in a struggle to have it adopt certain articles of our belief as part of public morality, is not a matter of doctrine: it is a matter of prudential political judgement." Furthermore, "on divorce and birth control, without changing its moral teaching, the Church abides the civil law as it now stands without making much of a point of it that in our pluralistic society we are not required to insist that all our religious values be the law of the land." These statements sound like the basis for some sort of justifiable compromise even on abortion, but they are not. There is still the same basic false supposition that we are dealing merely with the belief of a particular religion. That is not the case. The reality is that we are legally killing millions of people each year because of a legalism that fails to look at the truth. What is at issue is not a matter of Catholic theology, but a matter of the most basic human right to life. It may seem both easy and reasonable to speak of the Church's tolerance of civil law in regard to birth control or divorce, and then equate these with the issue of abortion. The argument then proceeds: Just as the Church does not propose a political plan to bring about laws on divorce or birth control, so it should leave to individual politicians decisions on the best political plan to do something about abortion. From one point of view, that makes eminent sense. The Church does not dictate to Catholic politicians the way in which they should go about their political efforts to achieve the greatest good for their citizens (apart, of course, from the concern of the Church that what they do should be moral and honest). From another point, however, our conclusions must be quite different. The Catholic politician who says that he is opposed in conscience to abortion, but then votes for its legality and even for its funding, is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He cannot claim that he is merely finding the best political way in which to do something about abortion. He is, whether he admits it or not, advocating abortion and offering it his active support. He is not only settling for the wet hen. He is making sure that the bird of paradise will not even survive. Article #87 MORAL DECISIONS Dreams and Reality By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan The Church does teach that artificial birth control is wrong, but it does not invoke the need for civil sanctions against those who do it. Yet it does promote the need for legal restrictions in regard to abortion. In the Roe v. Wade hearing of October, 1972, Mr. Robert C. Flowers, the attorney for the State of Texas, quoted from an earlier case in which judges had argued from the fact that the state allows birth control to the fact that it could therefore not rule against abortion. A dissenting judge had written in the minority opinion: "In other words, in their view no distinction can be made between prohibiting the use of contraceptives and prohibiting the destruction of fetal life, which, as explained above, can be construed to be a human life. I find this assertion incredible. Contraception prevents the creation of new life; abortion destroys the existing life. Contraception and abortion are as distinguishable as thoughts and dreams are distinguishable from a reality." Abortion is a far greater evil than either divorce or birth control. It destroys life. Even then, if it occurred but rarely, one might not demand a general law against it. But in the United States it happens on the average of 4000 times each day. Someone had better do something about it! Governor Cuomo argued that it is not the function of the Church to define a particular political plan to achieve such goals. "There is no Church teaching that mandates the best political course for making our belief everyone's rule, for spreading this part of our Catholicism. There is neither an encyclical nor a catechism that spells out a political strategy for achieving legislative goals." That sounds good, but it is wrong. It is not simply a matter of "part of our Catholicism." It is a matter of killing innocent persons. The Governor also argues that legal prohibition of abortion by civil government is not a "plausible possibility." It wouldn't work. It would be "'prohibition' revisited, legislating what couldn't be enforced and in the process creating a disrespect for law in general." "Nor would a denial of medicaid funding for abortion achieve our objectives." "The hard truth is that abortion isn't a failure of government. No agency or department of government forces women to have abortions, but abortion goes on... Collectively we Catholics apparently believe and perhaps act little differently from those who don't share our commitment." He says that we could accomplish more by good example and lack of hypocrisy. I could hardly argue with that. We must both say and do what is right. Beneath all the rhetoric, however, is the real crux of the issue. The Church cannot and should not mandate one precise political plan as though such a plan were a matter of faith. In fact, I am not aware that it has done so or ever showed signs of doing so. But it has tried to make it quite clear that no one can live with two heads in disagreement with each other and still claim to be one person. It is ridiculous to say, "I am personally opposed to abortion," while at the same time saying, "I will pay for abortion and I will do nothing to stop it." The great political plan of doing something about abortion while keeping it legal and paying for it is the ultimate hypocrisy. Article #88 MORAL DECISIONS Political Credibility By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan When a politician speaks in support of the "right" that a woman has to abortion and then even helps to fund the carrying out of that "right," he cannot then claim even a shred of personal or political credibility when he says that he is personally opposed to abortion. Some politicians would like to create the impression that they are opposed to abortion as a personal belief, but that they are law abiding citizens who are not able to do anything to stop it. Many of them really mean that they will not attempt to stop it. Of course, there are real limits to what any single legislator or judge or executive may do. The very least that can be done, however, is not to promote it. The legislator who votes for pro-abortion bills or funding is doing wrong no matter what he says. He may, in good conscience and with good political reasons, vote for a bill which places further restrictions on abortion, even if it does not completely prohibit it, since that may be the best that can be accomplished at a given time. An executive may sign such legislation into law for the same reason. The executive is in a particularly crucial position if he has the power to veto. He can veto bills that offer funding for abortions and should do so. Of course, they may be later passed over his veto; that is also part of the process of government. The executive cannot change that; but if he fails to use his own power properly, then he should be honest enough to admit that he does indeed favor abortion and its funding. Otherwise, he acts to preserve his job, but he can no longer claim to be really opposed to the killing of the unborn. Governor Cuomo introduced still another argument into this discussion. It is his contention that, in spite of Roe v. Wade, there is still much that we can do. He said: "While we argue over abortion, the United States' infant mortality rate places us sixteenth among the nations of the world. Thousands of infants die each year because of inadequate medical care. Some are born with birth defects that, with proper treatment, could be prevented. Some are stunted in their physical and mental growth because of improper nutrition... there is enough work for all of us. Lifetimes of it." What he states are, indeed, facts deplorable facts. They are all problems which need to be addressed and which we keep putting off or attempting to solve in dreadfully inadequate ways. It is almost as sad a situation as one can imagine to think that thousands of children die needlessly each year when our efforts might have saved many or most of them. It is frighteningly sadder still to realize that there are also 1,600,000 children purposely murdered each year before they have a chance to draw the first breath. It is ridiculous even to suggest that we should satisfy ourselves with caring for the terrible needs suggested above, while ignoring or even being asked to pay for the millions of murders made legal by the courts and legislators. Of course, we must care for all of these problems and do what we can to solve them. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can ignore the one in favor of the other. It would be as unrealistic as it would have been for German politicians to fund Hitler's atrocities while pointing at the same time to the prosperity that his government could and did bring about. Article #89 MORAL DECISIONS The Litmus Test By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Do you remember litmus paper from high school chemistry? You dipped it into a fluid and it turned blue or pink depending on whether the fluid was an acid or not. One touch of the test paper, and you had the answer. Politicians in the past few years have frequently referred to the dreaded litmus test of their positions. They feared that a direct answer to a question on abortion would be the litmus test of fidelity to their constituents and their religion. Governor Cuomo said: "Abortion has a unique significance but not a preemptive significance... Approval or rejection of legal restrictions on abortion should not be the exclusive litmus test of Catholic loyalty." He is, of course, right. It should not be the only test, but it is one real test. I cannot claim that I am living a good life on the ground that I keep all of the commandments but one. The commandments are not multiple choice. How should the Church and its Bishops act in regard to Catholic politicians who clearly act in favor of abortion on demand, while claiming that they are personally opposed to it? How should they react to those who make an issue of their Catholicism to get elected while, at the same time, making it clear that no one need fear them when it comes to restricting abortion? Bishops are pastors of souls with a most serious obligation to teach and to care for those entrusted to their care. They are obliged to care enough about those politicians to point out to them just how wrong they are. This care can be exercised through local pastors and it can be exercised in private, without becoming a public issue. But what if those politicians will not change? What if they do indeed make an issue of their Catholicism, even creating the impression that their pro-abortion position is not in conflict with their religion? The pastor of souls cannot stand by in silence and allow others to be misled. He may be required to state clearly and publicly that this person is not living out the truth and is not living out the teaching of his own Church. Do you recall the uproar of a few years ago, when one of the Auxiliary Bishops of New York made a perfectly correct pastoral statement? He said that politicians who act in favor of abortion should be concerned about their own salvation. He was accused of consigning them to hell, which, indeed, he was not doing. But he was calling them to look at their own conduct in the light of conscience and not to be satisfied with adopting a politically expedient position. This is not a retreat into fundamentalism, nor a dreadful abuse of authority nor is it even a position which will settle for nothing less than full civil implementation of its own views. It is the care of a pastor for his flock. The prophet Ezekiel said: "If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you fail to warn him if you say nothing to warn the wicked man from his wicked way, in order to save his life he being wicked shall die for his iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand. If, however, you warn the wicked man, and he turn not away from his wicked conduct and his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have saved yourself." The matter of abortion is not simply a specifically Catholic issue; but it is a matter so important and so basic that the Church would be remiss if it did not teach the truth and teach it with authority. Article #90 MORAL DECISIONS Patriotic Funerals By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan We have probably all been to the funerals of veterans and seen the American flag draped over the coffin. It is a sign of respect and of patriotism, a meaningful tribute to the person. In July of 1989 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The decision did not undo Roe v. Wade, but it did accept the right of the individual states to set limits on abortions. The limits were small, but they were at least some effort to lessen the wholesale slaughter of the unborn. Governor Cuomo, in his famous 1984 speech, pointed to the oath of elected officials to preserve the Constitution, and said that part of that preservation consisted in not denying funding for women to have abortions. This he based on Roe v. Wade as an authentic interpretation of the Constitution. "Given Roe v. Wade it would be nothing more than an attempt to do indirectly what the law says cannot be done directly..." Yet he says that he is personally opposed to abortion. You might expect that the Webster decision would have given the Governor some relief. It at least allows for some limits which can be imposed legally and with approval of the Supreme Court the authentic interpreter of the Constitution. The Webster decision was handed down on July 3, 1989. Three days later Governor Cuomo announced his intention to reject any legislation that would limit abortion in the ways set forth by the Court's decision! Of course, the Governor does not make the laws himself, so what he is saying is this: Even if a majority of New York legislators drew up a law totally in accord with the decision of the Supreme Court, he would veto it! In the same speech he spoke of another decision handed down on the same day in which the Court held that "no law could prohibit political protestors from burning the American flag." The Governor affirmed that he would find a way to ban flag-burning. This seems to me a seriously distorted sense of priorities. He will do his all to save the flag, while drawing no limit on abortion in a state which in 1985 (the last year for which statistics were available at the time of this writing) allowed the legal murder of 195,000 babies. This attitude put the flag over a whole host of coffins, but with no attention to respect or patriotism or meaningful tribute to the dead. I cannot judge the internal state of Governor Cuomo or of anyone else. But I can describe my rightful expectations. We have a right to expect our elected officials to act in accord with conscience. We have a right to expect them not to have two consciences, one public and one private. That division leads to ruin and chaos. If a person's conscience says that abortion is wrong, then this should be evident in words and actions. If it says that abortion is acceptable, then words and actions should say the same. No one should hide behind one or the other in order to garner votes. I could not vote for a person of such divided conscience to represent me. I would never be able to be certain just how much evil the public conscience could tolerate. In a society which has the freedom to determine its laws and which allows its public officials to follow their consciences, it is a false patriotism which hides behind a court decision in order to justify setting aside personal conscience in favor of the expediency of the moment. Article #91 MORAL DECISIONS Blind Justice By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Although I have never gone there personally to observe it for myself, I have read that atop the Old Bailey (the criminal court of London) there is a large statue of Justice. In one hand she holds a balance to show that evidence will be weighed. In the other is a sword the threat of legitimate government to enforce its rule. Over her eyes is a blindfold to show that she will judge by the weight of evidence and not by her view of the person who comes before her. The statue is a symbol of the fairness of the application of law in the courts. To bring that symbol into the realm of reality is no easy task. The judge and jury, with all their human weaknesses, are expected in some fashion to bring an ideal to life. The place of the judge is crucial. Blind as justice may be, the judge who hears a case must keep both eyes and ears wide open to the evidence. His mind must also be just as open. If he judges on the basis of his own biases, preconceptions or even misconceptions then he does not do justice. If he does not, cannot or will not grasp the meaning of issues and evidence, then he will be blind to the truth and that is the one thing to which justice cannot be blind. The fact is that we do not live in an ideal world and any judge even a justice of the Supreme Court can be afflicted with blindness. The issue of abortion provides an all too clear example. In 1989 there was a case Webster v. Human Reproductive Services in the course of which some of the Justices of the Court most distressingly exhibited that blindness. Fortunately, at least in that case, they were in the minority. Yet what they said is so blatantly blind that it deserves our attention. It is the typical sort of blindness that comes from preconception and misconception. Webster v. Human Reproductive Services was a case that emerged from a Missouri law which was intended to set some limit on abortion. That limit was modest enough. In 1973 the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court allowed for abortion from the moment of conception up to the moment of birth. That decision stupid as it was did, however, allow that the states do have some right to attempt to protect the unborn. On the arbitrary and sadly unscientific basis of the division of the nine months of pregnancy into three periods of three months each (referred to as "trimesters"), they made distinctions. In the first trimester the unborn had no rights and so the state could do little or nothing to offer protection. In the second trimester it might have some power to act. But it was only in the last three months that the state might try to make some serious effort to limit abortion. In that third trimester the unborn child is viable. That means that the child is capable then of living outside the womb. The Missouri law tried to save at least some babies by demanding that the abortion clinic run tests to see if the child marked for killing was viable. The pro-abortionists, of course, contested even that much protection. In the end, the Supreme Court upheld the law, but not unanimously. Dissenting opinions were written by Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Harry Blackmen (concurred in by Justice William Brennan and Justice Thurgood Marshall). These dissenting opinions were perfect examples of just the sort of blindness that is so deplorable. In coming columns I will address what they had to say. A statue of blind Justice points to an ideal. The blindness of these Justices points to disaster. Article #92 MORAL DECISIONS The Legal Scale By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan In 1978, in a speech at Harvard, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said: "A society without any legal scale is a terrible one indeed. but a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either." In some areas of our legal system we are clearly on our way to this unworthy position. Saddest of all we are getting there in the most basic areas of human life. What does it mean to have no scale but the legal one? It means that morality and legality are taken to be the same thing. Things are considered morally right simply because they are legal. In other words, the law does not try to support what is good and prohibit what is evil. Instead, it tries to make things good merely by proclaiming then to be legal. If you want an example of what this implies, then you can look back to Nazi Germany in the 1930's and 1940's. The law made it right to kill Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and political undesirables. The goodness or badness of death camps was measured only in terms of their efficiency with no reference to the morality of murder. The law made it all right. You could also look back a little further right here in the United States. Prior to 1865 slavery was perfectly legal and quite constitutional. Indeed, in 1857 the Supreme Court declared it so. It was legal and therefore right to buy and sell human beings as though they were cattle. The law made it all right. Even a little thought should tell us there is something wrong here. Yet it took a civil war (and a constitutional amendment) in the United States and the Nuremburg war trials in Germany to point out the stupidity of laws that were, in fact, immoral. The law must be in accord with morality. It does not create it. Yet here we are at the end of the Twentieth Century and we have still not learned the lesson of that history. It is perfectly legal to kill unborn children even though it is absolutely immoral. As in the two examples already mentioned, even now the helpless who cannot defend themselves are destroyed for the benefit of others. In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court took a step which it is difficult to imagine any court doing. Abortion, which until then had been a crime, was now proclaimed to be a constitutional right! How could this have happened? The answer is actually quite simple. The case was judged on "no other scale but the legal one." They ignored moral norms. They ignored scientific evidence. They looked only at the law and that led to disaster. The law in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution said that the rights of citizens could not be abridged by any state, and it defined citizens as those who become such by birth or naturalization. The unborn child is not yet born and therefore not yet a citizen. Therefore it has no constitutional rights and so its mother exercising her rights can kill her own child. Ironically, that same amendment says that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The amendment was clearly never intended to justify abortion. If anything, it is more obviously a rejection of it. But a purely legalistic court declared the unborn child a non-person legally, even if that same child is truly a person in any other sense. A judgment based on "no other scale but the legal one" has turned out to be more deadly even than the court's decision in favor of slavery. And it is every bit as bad as the death-dealing legality of the Nazis. Article #93 MORAL DECISIONS History Repeats Itself By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan History repeats itself. That's one of those adages so old that we are likely to forget how true it really is. In 1857 a case came the Supreme Court of the United States. Dred Scott, a Missouri slave, was taken by his master to Illinois in 1834, then to the Louisiana territory north of Missouri and then back to Missouri in 1838 where he was sold to a man named Sandford. Later Scott claimed his freedom on the grounds of his sojourn in the free state of Illinois. The circuit court of St. Louis county decided in his favor. On appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed that decision. Scott then went to a federal circuit court for damages due to violence Sandford had done to him, his wife and his two children. Sandford claimed the court had no jurisdiction since Scott was a slave and therefore no citizen. The court said that it did have jurisdiction, but it also ruled that Scott was still Sandford's slave. In 1856 the case came before the Supreme Court. At first the court was going to refuse to adjudge Sandford's claim that they had no jurisdiction and merely uphold the Missouri decision as being in accord with the laws of the state. However, after the decision was already in process of being written, the justices decided to broaden their response and write a decision which would once and for all support the presence of slavery in the Constitution and the subsequent Missouri Compromise of 1820. Slavery would become a matter of inviolable law. The Missouri Compromise was an act of Congress which set limits on slavery. It was allowed in those states already allowing it, in the area of the Louisiana Purchase as far north as latitude 36ø30' and in Missouri. This compromise had been agreed upon in Congress, but those who opposed slavery saw it as totally wrong. In 1847 Salmon P. Chase (who later became Chief Justice) had written: "If courts will not overthrow [the pro-slavery construction of the Constitution], the people will, even if it be necessary to overthrow the courts also." His prophecy was more than fulfilled in the American Civil War. But in 1857, when the court made its decision on Dred Scott, the justices were determined that they would restore harmony and remove all opposition by making a decision that would uphold the slavery clauses of the Constitution and the Missouri Compromise. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote the majority opinion in the 7-2 split decision. He wrote that Blacks were "a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them." A decision so shallow, based on ignorance and bias, was certainly no source of harmony and hastened the start of civil war. That decision ignored the humanity of a whole race. On the basis of legal force and blissful ignorance, it imposed upon everyone the selfish interests of the minority. It did not succeed and we can look back now and applaud its failure while we marvel at its stupidity. And then came January 1973, when another court in the case of Roe v. Wade again tried to impose upon everyone the ignorance and selfishness of the few. It too voted 7-2 in favor of the oppression and even death of the most defenseless in society. It reduced persons to non-persons. It made immorality legal. It too may take a constitutional amendment to undo. In any case, let us hope that history does not repeat itself to extent of needing a civil war. Article #94 MORAL DECISIONS Where Slavery Is, Liberty Cannot Be By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Charles Sumner, in a speech given in 1864 said, "Where Slavery is, there Liberty cannot be; and where Liberty is, there Slavery cannot be." In the last article, I wrote about the 1857 Dred Scott decision. In it the Supreme Court upheld slavery not claiming to uphold an evil, but under the guise of securing for slave owners a fundamental freedom to ownership of property. The seven justices who supported the decision did not see themselves as callous buyers and sellers of human flesh. Rather, they said that blacks were "a subordinate and inferior class of beings." They were less human than whites and could be disposed of at will. Their oppression could not stand in the way of the "freedom" of their persecutors. Could anyone now look at that decision and find it fair, impartial and objective? Could anyone truly say that it was a day of glory for the 1857 Court when, in the name of freedom, it reduced human beings to the level of commodities to be bought, sold, used, killed and disposed of? What then of a 1973 Court which in Roe v. Wade did exactly the same thing to the unborn child? Indeed what of certain members of the Supreme Court in 1989? The court, by a vote of 5-4, upheld a Missouri law which offered the most minimal of protections to unborn children once they were viable. Four of the Justices Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and John Paul Stevens refused to support even that much protection, for fear that it would lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That, of course, would undermine every mother's basic freedom to kill her own child. Justice Blacksmun, who wrote a minority opinion, must have been fully aware of the parabllels between Dred Scott v. Sandford and Roe v. Wade. He would no doubt agree that Dred Scott needed to be reversed and was reversed, not only by constitutional amendment, but by implication in every subsequent Supreme Court decision in the area of civil rights. Yet he argues that changing Roe v. Wade would upset the "aspirations and settled understanding of American women." No doubt the overturning of Dred Scott would also have upset the aspirations and settled understanding of slave owners. If he was really serious about his position, then all black Americans should be happy that he never got to vote on an effort to reverse Dred Scott. Justice Blackmun also fears that the effort of the majority of the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade would be "profoundly destructive of this court as an institution. To overturn a constitutional decision is a rare and grave undertaking. To overturn a constitutional decision that secured a fundamental personal liberty to millions of persons would be unprecedented in our 200 years of constitutional history." This argument seems much like what you might scoop up with a shovel after a bull has passed by. The murder of unborn children is no more a "fundamental personal liberty" than was the ownership of slaves. Nor would the Court destroy itself by admitting its earlier error. In fact, that admission could earn it a great deal of respect. A decision that is so blatantly wrong deserves to be overturned at the earliest opportunity. Such was Dred Scott v. Sandford and such is Roe v. Wade. Both supported the reduction of of millions of human beings to disposable property. In fact, Roe v. Wade turned unborn children into disposable tissue available for death, experiment and the raw material for lucrative businesses in clinics and laboratories. The Justice, of course speaks of freedom for women. He ignores their helpless offspring and will not even open his eyes to the fact that they too are persons. Where there is slavery there is no liberty. Where there is legal murder there is no freedom. Article #95 MORAL DECISIONS Ignoring Facts By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan "Practical politics consists in ignoring facts" (Henry Brook Adams). Cynical as that may sound, it has its grain of truth. It is a sad state of affairs, however, when we find Supreme Court Justices ignoring the facts even if they do it out of ignorance. Such is the case with the dissent of Justice Harry Blackmun from the Court's decision in Webster v. Reproductive Heath Services. The Missouri law made it illegal for a physician to abort a viable fetus. It also said that when the unborn child's age had reached 20 weeks, the physician could be required to perform tests to show whether the unborn child was viable or not. Viability occurs at 23« 24 weeks gestational age, but it is not at all uncommon for doctors' estimates (without tests) to be off by as much as four weeks. Justice Blackmun was unhappy with this. He wrote: "By mandating tests to determine fetal weight and lung maturity for every fetus thought to be more than 20 weeks gestational age, the statute required physicians to undertake procedures, such as amniocentesis, that, in the situation presented have no medical justification, impose significant additional health risks on both the pregnant woman and the fetus, and bear no rational relation to the state's interest in protecting fetal life. As written, section 188.029 is an arbitrary imposition of discomfort, risk and expenses, furthering no discernible interest except to make the procurement of an abortion as arduous and difficult as possible." Justice Blacksmun in this same opinion also wrote: "No one contests that under the Roe framework the state, in order to promote its interest in potential human life may regulate and even proscribe [i.e., forbid] non-therapeutic abortions once the fetus becomes viable." The Missouri law intended to exercise that right to protect the viable unborn. It should protect them even before that, but Roe v. Wade prevents that. Blackmun's contention that the tests serve no purpose is ridiculous. The viable child in question is in the womb of a mother who would like to kill it. She and her child are being examined by a physician who makes his living murdering children. The state would be as foolish as Blackmun if it did not require tests! The word of the participants is highly suspect. It is also a fact that the tests mentioned in the law are not extraordinary at all. They are the same ones to be used by an honest doctor to determine viability if he were trying to save a child who had to be delivered prematurely. Age, weight and lung maturity are essential elements for viability, and amniocentesis is the way to determine the presence of surfactants which prove lung maturity. As to Justice Blackmun's fears that the tests would be dangerous to mother and fetus, they are nonsense. The risks to the mother at this stage would be minimal apart from risks caused by a sloppy abortionist. In fact, the risk to the fetus is, at this stage, far less than it would be earlier. However, the real stupidity of the Justice's remarks is in his total disregard of still one more fact. His other statements may have been based on ignorance of medicine, but he abandoned all logic when he expressed his concern that the fetus would run a risk in the tests. He knew full well that without the test it would be killed. The risk of the amniocentesis is nothing compared to the danger posed by the mother and her abortionist. It is sad and yet it seems all too true that the Justice has made up his mind about abortion and that he has no desire to clutter up his judgement with facts. Article #96 MORAL DECISIONS Wrong Rights By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan When Justice Harry Blackmun argued against the majority decision of the Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), he offered not only rather doubtful arguments, but also a very emotional plea as well. At one point he says: "Thus, 'not with a bang, but a whimper,' the plurality discards a landmark case [Roe v. Wade] of the last generation and casts into darkness the hopes and visions of every woman in this country who had come to believe that the Constitution guarantees her the right to exercise some control over the ability to bear children. The plurality does so either oblivious or insensitive to the fact that millions of women, and their families have ordered their lives around the right to reproductive choice, and that this right has become vital to the full participation of women in the economic and political walks of American life." He makes it sound so sad, but what does it all mean? Does the Constitution guarantee a woman the right to exercise some control over her ability to bear children? I should hope so! It should not force her to have any certain number of children. Nor should it forbid her the right to have any at all. Indeed, her control over her ability to bear children should have a great deal to do with her own choice and her common sense. She should make conscious choices in the proper and responsible use of her own sexual faculties. The primary point of responsibility in the process of becoming pregnant is at the point of intercourse. In our present society, this responsibility is consistently ignored. People are thoroughly irresponsible and unrealistic when they look at sex as recreational and totally ignore the fact that its most obvious purpose is procreational. They want to have "fun" with no regard for the fact that they are doing something whose goal, by its very nature, is geared toward the start of a new human life. Does the Constitution guarantee a woman the right to choose to kill someone in order to undo the result of her own irresponsibility? I should hope not! That would be of no benefit to the woman or to society. It is most clearly no benefit to the child, whose life is to be squashed out. The failure to accept the first responsibility in the process is not going to be corrected at all by now encouraging an even greater abnegation of responsibility. Justice Blackmun denounces the majority of the Court as oblivious or insensitive. His reason for this accusation is that millions of women and their families have ordered their lives around their guarantee of reproductive choice. He sees this "right" as essential to insuring the place of women in America's political and economic life. All the while, of course, the Justice remains both oblivious and insensitive to the child who will be put to death to assure these "noble" economic and political goals. To deny that women have "reproductive choice" sounds so oppressive and "unamerican." However, responsible choice should certainly not include the choice to kill the innocent in order to further one's own goals. No one has that right. Justice Blackmun merely ignores the reality of the life of the unborn child. He sounds quite sensitive to rights, but he remains thoroughly oblivious to reality. The majority decision did not go far enough, but it does head in the right direction. Justice Blackmun rights no wrong and proclaims the wrong right. Article #97 MORAL DECISIONS Transcendental Chatter By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases of your complicated state of mind. The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter of a transcendental kind. And everyone will say as you walk your mystic way, "If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be." It was Sir William S. Gilbert who in 1881 penned those words for the lyrics of Patience. Depth of a thought is more than the obscurity of its expression. Even a shallow puddle can appear deep if its water is too muddy to let you see the bottom. Language should be a means of expressing the truth. We can all too easily turn it into a tool of obscurity simply by using rich vocabulary to disguise poverty of thought. Think how glorious the humble shovel becomes when an army manual refers to it as an "individual personnel entrenchment tool." Yet there is something far more truthful in simply calling a spade a spade. Doesn't a "pre-owned" car sound somehow better than a "used" one, even when it's still just someone else's lemon? "Removal of the intrauterine products of conception" sounds much better than "abortion" and ever so much better than "killing a baby." Can you imagine what it would be like to live under a government which said that it had no interest in protecting or preserving human life? Of what value would such a government be? In fact, I am not aware that any such government has ever existed. The Communists in their heyday did not fail to present themselves as defenders of human life although they were all too willing to suppress the individual human being in favor of the goals of some sort of abstract "humanity." Even Hitler justified his death camps on the grounds that those who died were somehow less than human and so not worth the interest of the state. How then can our own government escape the fact that in legalizing abortion it is giving up its interest in human life? It does it by words, by "novel phrases" of its "complicated state of mind," by a constant use of "chatter of a transcendental kind." The courts have taken to speaking of the unborn child not as having human life, but as having "potential human life." What does that phrase mean? What do we mean when we see a dangerous situation and speak of it as a "potential disaster"? We mean that there is no disaster yet, but there could be one. What do we mean when we say that some exotic new discovery could be a "potential benefit to humanity"? We mean that it is not yet beneficial, but perhaps it will be. What do we mean when we say that the unborn child in the womb of its mother is "potential human life"? The statement should mean that it is not yet human, but could be. Or it is not yet alive, but it could be. But that is simply not true. The unborn child is already alive! Do dead things grow? Its life has never been in doubt. It is not potential life, it is real life. Or do they mean that it is not yet human? If not, then what is it? Do pregnant women live in fear that they may have puppies or kittens? Of course it is human! The only reason people even call it into question is so that they can justify the killing. "The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter..." But it isn't. It's language totally shallow and pretending to depth. It's the babble of the ignorant, the misinformation of the uninformed and the lies of the dishonest. It is the language of the Supreme Court of the United States. Article #98 MORAL DECISIONS Words Like Leaves By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan "Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found." So wrote Alexander Pope (1688-1744) in An Essay on Criticism. The leafiest trees frequently bear the least fruit and what fruit there is may be completely hidden. That's what pruning is all about. Words are important. What we say should serve a purpose. It should express truth and communicate reality. But have you ever noticed that it usually takes fewer and words when you are sure of what say and you know that what you are saying is true? When you are not comfortable with what you are saying or when you are trying to make the unbelievable sound believable you tend to use bigger words and more complex sentences. When Justice Harry Blackmun wrote his dissent from the Webster decision, he said: "With respect to the Roe framework, the general constitutional principal, indeed the fundamental constitutional right, for which it was developed, is the right to privacy... a species of 'liberty' protected by the due process clause, which under our past decisions safeguards the right of women to exercise some control over their own role in procreation... [F]ew decisions are 'more basic to individual dignity and autonomy' or more appropriate to that 'certain private sphere of individual liberty' that the Constitution reserves from the intrusive reach of government than the right to make the uniquely personal, intimate and self-defining decision whether to end a pregnancy... It is this general principle, the 'moral fact that a person belongs to himself and not to others or to society as a whole...' that is found in the Constitution." The Justice is referring back to earlier cases, such as Roe v. Wade and Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That seems to give added weight of authority until you realize that he also wrote those decisions, and is merely quoting himself. No wonder that his present dissent is so much in argreement with previous decisions. Of course he agrees with the dubious application of the manufactured "right to privacy," since he was himself one of its manufacturers. His description of a woman's "right" to abort her child calls it "basic to individual dignity and autonomy." There is no hint of recognition of dignity or autonomy of the unborn child who is to be killed. How can he see a mother's choice to kill her child as an act of dignity? Our autonomy is never so absolute as to include the right to kill an innocent person. Individual autonomy is always tempered by the rights and dignity of others. He speaks of the decision to "end a pregnancy." That is a perfect example of leafy words without fruit. They sound better than "abort" or "kill." Yet that is what they mean. Bland words do not change the horrible reality. He describes that decision to abort as "uniquely personal, intimate and self-defining." So indeed it is. But that does not make it right nor should it exempt it from the concern of the government. Any decision to take an innocent life is uniquely personal and intimate. It is frighteningly so. Abortion is a decision to stop a life before it has had all but the barest chance to begin. The decision to abort is surely "self-defining." That does not by any means make it right or good. Quite the opposite. It is a choice to define oneself as the killer of one's own child. It is one of the saddest and most self-destructive sorts of self-definition. Don't be fooled by a foliage of words which, in the end, are not even real leaves, but just a glossy cover for the barren branches of a dead tree. Article #99 MORAL DECISIONS I Couldn't Give It Up By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Robert Benchley remarked, "It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous." What he says in humor may be all too real for many people. You can get into a job, spend years at it and learn that you don't like it. But you can't easily get out of it. You can get into the habit of acting in a nasty way and find it hard to change. You can make a bad decision and then find that pride makes it almost impossible to admit how wrong you were. We build things we don't like and then find it impossible to tear them down again. This is the case with the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade. The former Justices made a dreadful mistake and the present Justices find it hard to undo the original error. In the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services in 1989 they had the chance to look again at Roe, but they did not overturn it. In fact, they chose to leave it essentially in place while still affirming the right of the States to set limits on abortion. They accepted the States' interest in defending and preserving the life of the unborn, while leaving intact a woman's "right" to choose to abort her child. This does not resolve the issue, it does a minimum of good, but still does not face head on the real issue that abortion is a crime and not a right. It leaves open a situation in which the abortion "right" can only be removed by taking one case after another and piece by painful piece admitting that limits can be set on killing the unborn. You may be wondering if what I am saying here is indeed the case. I can offer some serious support for my claim. In the Webster case Justice Antonin Scalia concurred with the decision, but did not concur with its being so limited. He held that the Court should have faced Roe squarely and explicitly. He saw the Webster decision as inadequate. It recognized the right of each State to set limits, but left it up to trial and error to discover what those limits might be. Justice Scalia spoke of the harm that many States have seen in unrestricted abortion and he said: "That will continue to occur if the states have the constitutional power to prohibit it and would do so, but we skillfully avoid telling them so." He says of the Court: "...we should decide now and not insist that we be run into a corner before we grudgingly yield up our judgment." He added: "It thus appears that the mansion of constitutionalized abortion law, constructed overnight in Roe v. Wade, must be disassembled doorjamb by doorjamb and never entirely brought down no matter how wrong it may be." Is it pride and not conviction that stops the Court from overturning Roe? In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Court again looked at Roe and again made limited judgment. Justices O'Connor, Kennedy and Souter delivered the majority opinion and expressed their fears that overruling Roe could "overtax the country's belief in the Court's good faith." They said it would be unwise to change Roe, since this could make it appear that they acted under pressure (although there is more organized and influential pressure from the pro-abortionists). They sadly conclude: "A decision to overrule Roe's essential holding under the existing circumstances would address error, if error there was, at the cost of both profound and unnecessary damage to the court's legitimacy..." However, I for one would have a great deal more respect for a court which was willing to face and correct its previous mistakes. Article #100 MORAL DECISIONS Confusion of Facts By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts." Not many of us would actually say that seriously, but all of us at one time or other act on it. We have set our minds and hearts on something and we don't want to face a fact which could dissuade us. Of course, the facts remain facts, whether we want them to or not and our purposeful ignoring of them can lead only to pain, heartache or disaster. In the end, it is only the truth which can set us free, no matter how much we may prefer not to face it. When, in 1989, the Supreme Court dealt with the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, one of the dissenting opinions was written by Justice John Paul Stevens. His opinion is a clear example of the refusal to allow facts to interfere with a mind already made up. Justice Stevens' opinion is a marvel of its kind. In the space of just a few pages he is able to dance away from more facts than most people could in a whole volume. Of course, he begins with full support for abortion; and if he were to accept the facts, he would have to change his mind a mind clearly already made up. He begins by expressing his displeasure at one of the findings in the Missouri law. (A "finding" is a statement of a fact which the legislators accept as true and upon which they are willing to establish certain actions.) What first disturbs him is the legislature's finding that the "life of each human being begins at conception." The law then goes on to say that "unborn children have protectable interests in life, health and well-being." That all seems rather evident. Life does indeed begin at conception and that life is protectable even though so many choose not to protect it and are furiously opposed to anyone who would find it worth protecting. If we say that life does not begin at conception then what in the world is that fertilized ovum? It is growing, it if forming organs. It is doing this even before implantation. It is beyond all doubt alive and, if allowed to live, will grow to adulthood. If that is not life, what is it? Justice Stevens is annoyed to some extent because he does not think that conception occurs when the egg is fertilized! His ideas on this are so peculiar and wrong that I will treat them in a separate article. What so displeases the Justice is that the Missouri statute then goes on to command "that state laws shall be construed to provide the maximum protection to 'the unborn child at every stage of development.'" He agrees with the District Court that "obviously, the purpose of this law is to protect the potential life of the fetus, rather than to safeguard maternal health." He puts it into terms which make it seem a dreadful thing, an imposition on the mother's freedom. First of all, Justice Stevens seems to reject any notion that the unborn child could be a person. For him it has no rights at all. That is probably one preconception that makes it so hard for him to look at reality. He cannot even accept the fact that a human fetus has human life. The needs of a fetus mean nothing to him and are totally outweighed by his concern for maternal health. Perhaps he overlooks one more fact: 99% of the abortions performed every year have nothing to do with maternal health. This means that in all of those cases the protection of the unborn child will not in any way conflict with safeguarding the mother's health. The laws may get in the way of what she wants to do, but they will have no adverse affect on her health. It seems never to occur to the Justice that a law could try to care for both mother and child. But that, of course, is one more fact and facts are not what seem to interest Justice Stevens. As you will see in the next few articles, every time a fact raises its head the Justice tries to knock it down again. Article #101 MORAL DECISIONS Pigs and Parakeets By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan In 1657 Thomas Middleton wrote, "How many honest words have suffered corruption since Chaucer's days!" And that corruption of words still goes on. In 1984 the U.S. State Department announced that, in future reports on violations of human rights around the world, it would no longer refer to "killing" but to "unlawful deprivation of life." The U.S. Army refers to the killing of the enemy as "servicing the target." In 1977 one of the major airlines referred to a crash of a plane as an "involuntary conversion of a 727." None of these statements come from ignorance. They are all willful efforts to deceive. Justice Stevens' poorly written dissent in the Webster case of 1989 also corrupts language. More, I should imagine, from ignorance than from willful malice. He does this in a number of areas. In general, he seems to be a fund of misinformation on physiology, embryology, religion and theology. The problem, of course, is that he, and judges who act on the same misinformation, can do incalculable harm. In this article I will look at the physiology and embryology errors, and will consider the others later. The Justice expresses his distress that the Missouri law "defines conception as 'the fertilization of the ovum of a female by the sperm of a male.'" You may well ask why that should bother him. It is a perfectly accurate definition of conception. But the Justice does not want that to be the meaning of conception. He says that "standard medical texts equate conception with implantation in the uterus, occurring about six days after fertilization." He is wrong and he is corrupting an honest word to make it mean something else better suited to his purposes. There are doctors and medical texts which do equate implantation with the start of pregnancy. I have never, however, come across any who make the mistake of equating conception with implantation. The Justice offers a footnote to explain his position, but when you turn to the footnote you find that it does not do so. It merely explains that implantation occurs a few days after conception. That should come as no news to anyone except perhaps to Justice Stevens. I looked in the Merck Manual a standard and up-to-date medical reference, issued every five years. I found no confusion at all. Conception and implantation are clearly distinct from each other. Conception was defined as the moment of fertilization. This was true in the 15th edition of 1985 (page 1743) and in the 16th edition of 1992 (pages 1836-1837). Why does the Justice want to change the definition? He makes it quite evident. If he can define conception as though it meant implantation, then he can also define contraception to mean "prevention of implantation" rather than "prevention of conception." He prefers this, as do some others, because then they can say that intrauterine devices and "morning after pills" are contraceptive rather than abortifacient. However the fact still remains that they are abortifacient. This you can verify simply by looking them up in the current issue of The Physicians' Desk Reference the standard doctors' manual for drugs and various devices. The Justice may prefer to call implantation conception. That does not make them the same thing. He might even prefer to call a pig a parakeet but that won't make it sit on shoulder and talk in his ear. His statements in this areas are ridiculous and have no relationship to reality. Article #102 MORAL DECISIONS Weeding Out Prejudice By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan Jonathan Swift once wrote: "Some men, under the notion of weeding out prejudices, eradicate virtue, honesty, and religion." Prejudice refers, of course, to pre-judging; that is, prejudice sets up its own judgement before and, sometimes, even in spite of the evidence. This is something that no real judge should do. Yet it is hard for anyone to set prejudice aside, since most of us never realize that we are pre-judging. Still, it can happen even in a court of law, including our own Supreme Court. The dissenting opinion of Justice John Paul Stevens in the Webster case of 1989 is a perfect example. The Justice argued that the 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut had overturned a Connecticut law which made illegal the sale of contraceptives. He then argued that the preamble to the Missouri law in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services must be unconstitutional, because it spoke of protection for the unborn after the moment of conception. This would then open the way to further consideration of rules about intrauterine devices (IUD) and the "morning after pill." Neither one of them prevents conception and both kill by preventing implantation. But, says the Justice, since both of them are referred to by many as contraceptives, the Missouri law must be wrong. This is truly a stupid argument. Life does begin at conception; the IUD and the morning after pill are abortifacient and do not prevent conception. While Justice Stevens might want reality to be different, reality does not change to accommodate his preferences. He writes that since Griswold allows devices "preventing conception," this may interfere with a woman's right to the IUD or the morning after pill. He then tries to shift the argument to religious grounds. He writes: "There is unquestionably a theological basis for such an argument, just as there was unquestionably a theological basis for the Connecticut statute that the Court invalidated in Griswold. Our jurisprudence, however, has consistently required a secular basis for valid legislation... Because I am not aware of any secular basis for differentiating between contraceptive procedures that are effective immediately before and those that are effective immediately after fertilization, I believe it inescapably follows that the preamble to the Missouri statute is invalid under Griswold and its progeny." What a strange argument! He speaks of a theological basis for distinguishing prevention of conception from prevention of implantation. He offers a footnote, but all it says is: "Several amici state that 'the sanctity of human life from conception and opposition to abortion are, in fact, sincere and deeply held religious beliefs!" So what? On that ground you could equally well say that laws against murder, theft and rape should all be overthrown because all of them are sincere and deeply held religious beliefs. Things which are matters of religious belief may at the very same time be matters of plain common sense. He denies a secular basis for distinguishing "contraceptives" that work before and after fertilization. Part of his problem comes from the fact that he has "redefined" conception to be the same as implantation. The proper definition secular or theological is that conception is identical to fertilization. Procedures which prevent fertilization are contraceptive. Those which prevent the fertilized egg from implanting are not contraceptive. They do not prevent conception. They are abortifacient. This information does not come from theology. It comes from science. It is quite clearly stated in the product descriptions in the Physicians Desk Reference. Justice Stevens would prefer that it were different. It is not! That's reality and Justice Stevens' arguments are based on his own rather uninformed prejudgment and not on reality. Article #103 MORAL DECISIONS Facts and Purposes By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan During the Stalin regime in Russia there were areas of science which were completely stifled. This happened, not because knowledge and facts were unavailable to Russian scientists, but because they were not allowed to use certain facts. Strange, wouldn't you say? The reason was that there were facts accepted by scientists worldwide, but they did not agree with Communist philosophy and were ignored because they did not suit communist purposes. When Justice John Paul Stevens wrote his pro-abortion minority opinion in the Webster case of 1989, he quite incorrectly stated that conception occurs not at the time of fertilization but a few days later at the time of implantation. Why would he say something so clearly contrary to scientifically observable facts? He tells us why. He writes: "Indeed I am persuaded that the absence of any secular purpose for the legislative declarations [in the Missouri law] that life begins at conception and that conception occurs at fertilization makes the relevant portion of the preamble invalid under the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution. This conclusion does not, and could not, rest on the fact that the statement happens to coincide with the tenets of certain religions..., or on the fact that the legislators who voted to enact it may have been motivated by religious considerations... Rather it rests on the fact that the preamble, an unequivocal endorsement of a religious tenet of some but by no means all Christian faiths, serves no identifiable secular purpose. That fact alone compels a conclusion that the statute violates the establishment clause." Justice Stevens claims that the Missouri law's preamble is a sectarian theological statement because it coincides with particular religious beliefs. Yet he realizes and clearly states that the mere fact that it coincides with religious belief would not be a reason for the state to reject it. If it were sufficient reason, then the state should also reject laws that forbid murder or theft or rape because all of those laws also coincide with religious beliefs. That is why he adds his other argument the secular purpose of the law. Laws on murder, theft and rape may coincide with religious belief, but they also serve the state's purpose of protection of life, property and personal integrity. He sees no state interest in preserving the life of the unborn. His reasons for this I will talk about in future columns. Right now, however, I will look at one basic and essential flaw which undermines all that he later says. When he talks about a secular purpose, he surely means the goal of a law in terms of what the state has obligations to protect or defend. That makes sense. It is not the function of the state, for example, to try to decide a theological dispute between various churches or sects. The problem is, however, that he is not dealing here with a theological dispute. He is dealing with a simple question of fact. A fertilized egg is alive, it is human. This is fact. It is based not on theology, but on clear, indisputable scientific evidence. He is arguing that because he sees no secular purpose in laws against abortion (at least in the early months of pregnancy), he can therefore deny the clear and simple fact that conception, fertilization and the beginning of life are all the same event. Purposes do not change facts. Indeed, if he opened his eyes to the facts, he should have no trouble in seeing the secular purpose of laws against abortion. If there is no secular purpose in preserving the most basic good of life itself, then the state serves little purpose indeed. Let him face the facts first and then look at purpose. Article #104 MORAL DECISIONS The Devil and Scripture By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan It was Shakespeare, in The Merchant of Venice, who wrote: "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose." I was reminded of this when I read Justice John Paul Stevens' minority opinion in the 1989 Webster case. To my surprise I found him using the writings of St. Thomas Aguinas to support his position. Justice Stevens speaks of certain aspects of the writings of St. Thomas which may seem quite unusual to us. Thomas takes up the question of just when in the process of pregnancy the human soul begins to exist. It may surprise you to learn that Thomas says that for a male fetus it happens at about 40 days of pregnancy and for a female at 80 days. He also speaks of the "unformed" and "formed" stages of pregnancy before and after the fetus looks human. When he considers abortion, he treats it as homicide (full murder) only after it is "formed." The Justice then points out that what Thomas wrote was the general understanding of the majority of people in the Middle Ages. He then says: "If the views of St. Thomas were held as widely today as they were in the Middle Ages and if a state legislature were to exact a statute prefaced with a 'finding' that female life begins 80 days after conception and male life begins 40 days after conception, I have no doubt that this court would promptly conclude that such an endorsement of a particular religious tenet is violative of the establishment clause. In my opinion the difference between that hypothetical statute and Missouri's preamble reflects nothing more than a difference in theological doctrine." In other words, Thomas' opinion of ensoulment at 40 or 80 days and the Missouri "finding" that human life begins at conception represent two differing theological doctrines. The Supreme Court, however, is not and should not be in the business of settling theological disputes. Therefore, the Court should not give it approval to either one. That all sounds logical and hard to refute. In fact, it is neither. Justice Stevens has made a mistake so elementary that it could only have come from stupidity (and he is certainly not stupid) or a very basic misunderstanding of his evidence, (I suspect) is the case. Neither Thomas' idea of ensoulment at 40 and 80 days nor the Missouri "finding" of the beginning of life at conception are theological doctrines, nor have they ever been. Both are secular, scientific statements. One, however, is based on scientific progress of the Thirteenth Century and the other on scientific progress of the Twentieth Century. No one can directly observe the soul or the presence of humanity. We can observe the facts and actions which reveal that presence. To the naked eye which was all the Thirteenth Century scientists had the fetus does not look human until about the fortieth day. Because of the way sex organs develop, to the naked eye all fetuses appear to be male until about 80 days. Before the fortieth day the already complex internal organic structure of the fetus cannot be observed unaided. In our day, however, not only can we see that structure, we can also examine the genetic structure of the cells. Science in our Century can have no doubt that the fetus is and has been human from the moment of conception. Saint Thomas never approved of abortion at any stage. He did suggest that on the basis of the science of his time the crime of abortion might have been less than homicide in the first few weeks. Science knows better now. The Missouri law recognized the value of that new scientific knowledge. It seems a shame that Justice Stevens is so unaware of this. Maybe he wants to be. Article #105 MORAL DECISIONS Catch Arguments By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan In his second annual message to Congress, in 1862, Abraham Lincoln said: "If ever there could be a time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity." The catch argument the catchy, clever idea which may or may not be true but easily fools the listener, had no place in the crisis which Lincoln faced. Neither has it any place in our present concerns about the legal murder of the unborn. In his dissenting opinion in the Webster case, Justice John Paul Stevens did not avoid the catch arguments which seem to make sense, but when examined prove to be rather stupid. He said, for example, that the state has little interest in protecting the life of the unborn child except, perhaps, in the last stages of pregnancy. He argues: "There can be no interest in protecting the newly fertilized egg from physical pain or mental anguish, because the capacity for such suffering does not yet exist; respecting a developed fetus, however, that interest is valid." Of course, he also favors the killing of viable unborn children if that be the mother's decision, but he does allow the state some minimal right to intervene. Yet this argument, based on the capacity to feel pain, is a poor argument. Is the state's interest in protecting life applicable only when the victim is capable of experiencing pain or anguish? If so, then it ought to be allowable to commit murder, provided the person being killed is properly anesthetized. What of the comatose or unconscious patient who feels neither pain nor anguish? Can we kill him? The stupidity of the Justice's argument is clear in the stupidity of its logical conclusions. It leads inevitably to wide-ranging legal murder. Perhaps the Justice thinks that this should be the case. This is certainly very much at the center of movements to remove life support systems from patients who are not terminally ill even though unconscious. They are not conscious. They cannot react or respond. They are not conscious. They cannot react or respond. They have not even the capacity to feel those human emotions of mental pain and anguish. Furthermore, they are a burden to those who must care for them. Why not let them starve? And, if that seems cruel, why not just kill them outright? Why should the state have any interest in them? How far can such an argument be taken? What about the very severely retarded? To be sure, they do feel physical pain, but do they experience anguish in the fully human way in which the non-retarded do? Perhaps not. So why not death in their case too? Why should the state have any interest in them? In fact, it would probably be possible to take almost any group and find for it a reason the state should have no interest in preserving the lives of its members. That was the route followed by Hitler, by Stalin and by one dictator after another. That is just why the state should take an interest in preserving the life of each member of society. The alternative is dehumanization and death for any group deemed undesirable. Indeed the state should take the deepest interest in the most helpless. It is then that the state becomes what it is meant to be and does not become the accomplice in the murder of its own citizens. Article #106 MORAL DECISIONS The Big Lie By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan "The great masses of the people... will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one." So wrote Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf and he put that principle infamous to use. It worked then and it works now. Why? I suspect that the big lie works best when it appeals to something that people already want to be true. In Germany, after World War I, people were burdened by defeat and by an economy that kept them in poverty. They needed someone to blame for both afflictions and Hitler offered the Jews. He made them the scapegoat for all of society's ills and then said they were subhuman as well. That justified ridiculing them, persecuting them, taking their property and in the end killing them. We have our own big lie to contend with. It is this: "The unborn child is not human, not valuable, not worth protecting. Kill it, if you want to." What appeal does this lie hold for so many? We are constantly bombarded with the notion that sex is for fun and that children are its undesirable side-effect. We are told that we need money and possessions to be happy. More children mean less money and less possessions. Children are not a gift, they are an inconvenience. Birth control should protect us from them but birth control doesn't always work. What then? Well, if we can proclaim the unborn to be also unhuman, then we can kill them. It's a lie that all too many want to believe. We support the lie when we begin to refer to living unborn children as "potential" life. Science, of course, disproves that. Yet, even when we make so much of scientific progress everywhere else, we are willing to ignore it in this area. This wilful blindness does not affect only the "uneducated." It works as well on those who should know better and have no excuse for their ignorance. It can even happen to a Justice of the Supreme Court. You can see it for yourself simply by reading the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens in the 1989 Webster case. He argues that the purpose of the Missouri law is to protect the potential life of the fetus rather than to safeguard maternal health. He accuses the Missouri legislature of "trying to protect the potential human life of non-viable fetuses by making the abortion decision more costly." He says that the state has no possible interest in protecting the "fertilized egg" (which, of course, is the new person) because it can feel no pain anyway. He even argues that in some whole categories of cases it is national policy to prevent "potential life." (Of that I shall say more in the next column.) He simply ignores all scientific evidence and goes blithely on his way. Instead of accepting hard facts, he pretends it is all a matter of "theological" dispute. He makes the incredible argument that what the life of the unborn child is comes down to no more than a question of what its mother happens to believe it to be what she wants it to be. Would he make so stupid an argument in any other area? Perhaps so I don't know enough about him to say but I suspect not. I do not call Justice Stevens "the big liar," but he surely does what he can to promote "the big lie." Perhaps he is himself one of its victims. In any case, what he says is wrong. If his dissenting argument were a piece of cheese, it would surely be Swiss. Its holes are its most evident feature. Article #107 MORAL DECISIONS Tragedy and Statistics By Reverend Monsignor James J. Mulligan It is Joseph Stalin who is reputed to have said, "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic." He did not mouth empty phrases. He put it into practice. The Russian army, just before World War II, suffered more casualties than have ever been suffered by any army in history. About 43,000 officers and 3,000,000 soldiers were all killed. No enemy was responsible for this horror. It was ordered, instead, by their commander-in-chief, Stalin himself. It was the result of his policy of death as his way of "purging" the military. It was one more statistic. When it comes to statistics of death as a policy, however, poor Stalin was a piker. In his last twenty years the policies of our own government have allowed the legal murder of 32,000,000 innocent, helpless unborn children. There are, of course, those who would say that our own situation is quite different from that of Stalin. He had a policy of killing. We do not make it a policy, even though our laws do allow it to happen. The frightening reality, however, is that we do have a policy of murder or so, at least, says Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. In the Missouri case he seemed incapable of finding any reason why the state should protect the unborn. One of his arguments for his own position is what he sees as a policy of the government and the Court. He says: "There have been times in history when military and economic interests would have been served by an increase in population. No one argues today, however that Missouri can assert a societal interest in increasing its population as its secular reason for fostering potential life. Indeed, our national policy, as reflected in legislation the court upheld last term, is to prevent the potential life that is produced by 'pregnancy and childbirth among unmarried adolescents.'" His argument is almost incredible. The state has no interest in increasing the population, and so it finds it logical to support abortion as a way of controlling its numbers. Our country, with all of its flaws and failings, was at least founded on the intention to protect the lives and welfare of its citizens. The ideal of the American Revolution had at its heart the promotion of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That war was fought with the hope that each individual could find a fulfilling life and not be subordinated to a government willing to preserve itself at the expense of the justifiable and necessary freedom of the individual. If Justice Stevens is serious about his inability to find a "secular" reason for the wrongness of abortion, then he has not looked very carefully. Here it is, staring him in the face. The individual is not a cog in the machinery of the state. The individual has a unique and personal value which the state should be pledged to uphold and protect. Has the Justice no awareness of the value of the individual as the most obvious reason for protecting life right from the start? Indeed, if the state has no obligation to protect and preserve the life of the individual aprt from that individuals value for the state, then our whole concept of government has been perverted from the intention of its founders. If Justice Stevens truly thinks that governmental policy on population includes the right to kill the unborn, then he has no business being on the Supreme Court.