Patrick Craine

Pro-abort prof argues babies not ‘persons’ til 18 months, not an ‘offense’ against child to kill it

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, March 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-abortion activists sought, unsuccessfully, to disrupt a debate on abortion at Dalhousie University Tuesday night by ripping down ads, setting off stink-bombs, and covering the ceiling with helium balloons featuring pro-abortion slogans.  In the end, they even turned on the pro-abortion speaker.

Representing the pro-life side of the debate was Stephanie Gray, co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.  Facing Gray was Dr. Mark Mercer, chairperson of the philosophy department at Halifax’s St. Mary’s University, who has in the past won the ire of pro-abortion activists for defending the rights of pro-lifers to express their opinions on university campuses.

While Gray argued that the unborn should be protected in law because abortion is the violent killing of innocent human life, Mercer argued that there is nothing ethically troubling about abortion, at one point suggesting that a baby isn’t a “person” until around 18 months of age.

The event, which was organized by the new student group Pro-Life at Dal, attracted about 150 students and members of the public.

In her remarks, Gray pointed out that the scientific community is unanimous that life begins at fertilization.  At fertilization, she explained, the child “has everything she needs within herself to direct her growth and to move to the next more mature stage of her development.”

Mercer agreed that the unborn are human beings, and that abortion is the deliberate killing of a human being, but argued that the notion of “human being” is not a “morally relevant concept.”  Individuals are not special by virtue of their “species membership,” he said, but become “persons” and worthy of protection because they possess certain “ethically salient properties” such as the ability to experience pain or pleasure, self-consciousness, and rationality.

Gray, however, maintained that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deliberately speaks of ‘human’ and not ‘person’ rights because the powerful have often sought to subjugate or kill the vulnerable by claiming they are not persons.  She pointed to examples like the Holocaust and the enslavement of African Americans.

“We have a nasty history as human beings of denying our fellow human beings the right to live because we divorce the concept of human and person as to treat them as two separate things,” she said.

She said the criteria used to define personhood come down to non-essential differences - namely size, level of development, environment, and dependency - and that these criteria are constantly changing for an individual.  “Human is an objective term that we can determine scientifically,” she explained.  “Person is a philosophical or legal term which has had a changing definition throughout history.”

“Our humanity, our right to life, should be based on that which is unchanging, which is our human nature - rather than that which is changing, which is our functions and abilities,” she added.

Gray argued that all humans carry intrinsic worth because of our common human nature, by which we are “moral, rational agents.”  If an individual doesn’t exhibit signs of rationality, such as a developing baby or a disabled person, they nevertheless have the “inherent ability,” even if they don’t have the “current ability.”

“I don’t understand what this thing humanity is or the property of being human,” retorted Mercer, “such that an anancephalic infant is a rational being just as the rest of us. ... Here’s a creature who doesn’t have a capability and yet it’s still in the essence of that creature that it has that capability.  That makes no sense to me.”

Gray said, however, “just because some humans are damaged, so to speak, I would say that doesn’t mean that we can end their lives because they’re not as developed or ‘perfect’ as we are.”

According to Mercer, a child likely only gains personhood at around 18 months to two years of age, and he also suggested at one point that adult pigs might be persons.  Though he said he couldn’t imagine a reason to justify killing a born child given the availability of adoption, he said upon further questioning that “if the child isn’t a person, it’s not an offense against the child to kill it.”

A principled vegetarian, he agreed that it could be wrong to kill a pig even though he believes it’s acceptable to kill a child in the womb.

Asked by Gray how he justified defining a person based on his list of properties, Mercer responded, “Why should I take humanity to be ... a morally salient property?”

The most vocal pro-abortion voices at the event were obviously displeased with Mercer’s presentation, slamming him in the open forum at the end of the evening.  “You didn’t even attempt to make any arguments that would convince anybody of anything,” said one activist.  “You did not represent the pro-choice position at all.”

Though inviting them to e-mail him better arguments, Mercer nevertheless defended his view as the only cogent approach.  He dismissed arguments based on “women’s struggle for equality” saying that that they fail to address the “moral status of the fetus,” and disagreed with approaches that claim a woman’s “right to choose” outweighs the unborn child’s “right to life,” saying that these only come into conflict in a “narrow range of cases,” such as rape.

Another pro-abortion advocate even suggested that the pro-life group had deliberately brought in a poor representative for their side, while flying Gray in from Calgary.  Yet Mercer noted that he has published his arguments in national newspapers, and local pro-life advocates insist he’s been the only one willing to even debate the issue, despite efforts to find a representative through local university pro-abortion groups.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Pope Francis eases forgiveness of abortion for Jubilee Year of Mercy

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

ROME, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- In an announcement today, Pope Francis said that he is enacting an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy from December 8, 2015 through November 2016. As part of the Jubilee, the pope has allowed priests to forgive the sin of abortion, which St. John Paul II taught in Evangelium Vitae (paragraph 58) is “murder.”

The statement marks the most extensive remarks on abortion that Pope Francis has made during his pontificate. Rather than downplaying the seriousness of abortion, as some media contend, in the statement the pope encourages the millions of women who have aborted their children to go to confession and seek God’s forgiveness.

In the Catechism, the Church calls abortion a “criminal” practice, and imposes the penalty of excommunication on those who do it -- essentially, removing those who commit abortions from the Church. In the past, typically re-entry into the Church for those who have separated themselves from it by excommunication can only be undertaken by a bishop. However in much of North America priests have already been given standing permission by their bishops to forgive abortion.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained in an email sent to LifeSiteNews today, “For many years now, parish priests have been given permission to absolve the sin of abortion here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia archbishop, who will play host to Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit later this month added, “But the practice has not been common in various other regions of the world.”

“This action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion,” concluded Chaput. “What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart.”

The pope declared that all priests may forgive the sin of abortion for “those who have procured it and who with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.'"

The pope says in his letter that abortion is a “tragedy” wherein “extreme harm” takes place, and calls it “profoundly unjust.”  He admits however, as does the pro-life movement, that it is an “agonizing and painful decision” and many women “believe that they have no other option.”

In order to be forgiven by God of such a serious offence, the pope says the one who has procured the abortion must be made aware of the “gravity of the sin committed” and be truly repentant. They must come, says Francis, with a “contrite heart, seek forgiveness for” the abortion and hoping for “reconciliation with the Father.”

The full statement from the Pope on the matter of abortion follows:

One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured itand who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

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TLC stars Kody Brown and his four "wives"
Fr. Mark Hodges

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Surprise, surprise: New suit says gay ‘marriage’ ruling laid ground for legal polygamy

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – When "The Pill" was made available to the public in 1964, Christians warned it could lead to promiscuity and disassociation of sex with marriage and children.  They were ridiculed as religious fanatics.

When abortion was made legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy in 1973, Christians warned that it would not save women's lives, but would instead lead to devaluing all human life, especially children's lives. They were dismissed as moral-legislating hate-mongers.

When euthanasia was legalized in Oregon and other states, Christians warned that the non-terminally ill and eventually the mentally handicapped, or simply the unwanted, would be killed in the name of mercy. They were mocked as right-wing crazies.

When sodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere were stricken from the books in 2003, Christians warned that societal approval of that harmful practice would lead to an increase in disease and further perversion. They were ignored and vilified.

When DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) rules for the military were reversed, Christians warned that the epidemic of rapes in the armed services would increase, not decrease, and that combat readiness would continue to diminish. They were called bigots, their words "hate speech."

And so on. Recent history is rife with examples of conservatives warning against societal degradation being vilified as "slippery slope" straw man creators, who want only to legislate morality.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

That's how those who warned that the Supreme Court's same-sex "marriage" decision would lead to legalization of any and all kinds of "marriage," such as a man and several wives or vice versa.

And, as in every case cited above, what Christian conservatives warned is exactly what has now happened.

In a U.S. 10th Circuit court filing, reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his wives point to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage to buttress their pro-polygamy case.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, summarized to LifeSiteNews, "The left's chaotic cultural agenda knows no boundaries. Once 'marriage' could be redefined to accommodate sexual perversion, it would be impossible to stop other perversions from being recognized." 

The American Family Association's Ed Vitagliano told LifeSiteNews, "It has been clear for decades that sexual radicals in America have been targeting the God-ordained institution of marriage for destruction. Toss in a handful of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, beginning in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), and ending with this summer's debacle (Obergefell v. Hodges), and we are on the verge of seeing the secularists succeed." 

The AFA executive vice president concluded to LifeSiteNews, "We have no doubt that the polygamists will be next to step into the federal courts."

Indeed. Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, have asked the court to uphold a judge's ruling striking down part of Utah's law against polygamy. To prove their case, they cite precedents involving same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges), and a case that struck down a ban on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas).

"From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence, to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to ... punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions," Brown's filing states. "This case is about the criminalization of consensual relations."

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that the move to legalize polygamy is no surprise. "Once the argument for homosexual so-called 'marriage' became 'Love Is Love,' it was only a matter of time before multiple-partner activists would start defending the 'right' to have THEIR [perversion of] 'love' legitimized by state-recognized 'marriage.'"

The Browns, who appear on the television show "Sister Wives," sued the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy, which Brown calls "plural relationships." They argue that the law violates their right to freely practice their religion and their right to equal protection under the law.

Specifically, Brown is challenging the state's assertion that polygamy is harmful to societies that condone it.

Brown argues that the state should not have "the right to impose criminal morality codes on citizens, compelling them to live their lives in accordance with the religious or social values of the majority of citizens."

LaBarbera concluded, "Social conservatives and Christians must work to overturn Obergefell, just like homosexual activists worked to overturn the Supreme Court's Bowers v. Hardwick decision in 1986 that allowed anti-sodomy laws. Otherwise, we are guaranteed to lose more and more freedoms as 'gay' power grows, using legalized 'marriage' as leverage."

Arguments in the Brown polygamy case could take place before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver before the end of the year.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD, on March 6, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Sen. McConnell: GOP won’t push Obama on Planned Parenthood defunding

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Planned Parenthood won't lose its funding for at least 18 months, says America's top senator.

Speaking on WYMT TV, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, said, "The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood."

“We just don’t have the votes to get the outcome that we’d like,” he said. “Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. But, yeah, we voted on that already in the Senate, we’ll vote on it again, but I would remind all of your viewers the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”

McConnell's comments came despite pressure from Senators and Representatives alike, as well as pro-life groups, who want Republicans to make defunding a priority.

"If the president of the United States and Harry Reid think it's more important that Planned Parenthood get your tax dollars than to pay our troops, then they are shutting down the government,” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan, R-OH, told CNN last week.

Jordan and others have pushed GOP leaders to attach defunding efforts to must-pass pieces of legislation, such as a highway bill earlier this summer and the upcoming Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government running. GOP leaders have generally opposed this strategy, which has created a schism within the party.

Conversely, Democrats have been largely united. Leaders and rank-and-file members in both parties have generally supported taxpayer funding of the abortion giant, despite the possibility of illegal abortions being done to illegally harvest fetal organs and other body parts.

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