Sunday 26th June 2022

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . What Should Be The Basis For The Supreme Court’s Abortion Decisions

June 9, 2022 Frontpage No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

Since the leaking of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in the abortion cases currently before the Supreme Court, there has been much excitement among pro-lifers about the distinct possibility that the Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that had the effect of legalizing abortion, essentially until birth, would finally go into the dustbin of history. It should be understood, however, that it appears that the best that will happen if reversal occurs is that abortion will become a states’ rights issue.
That would essentially put the country back to where it was in the 1960s, when the push got underway to “liberalize” and then repeal outright the restrictive abortion laws then in place. Already, some states are enacting restrictive abortion laws or saying that the ones they have kept on the books from before 1973 will be enforced anew. So, reversing Wade and Bolton will certainly substantially reduce the number of abortions and protect the lives of many of the unborn nationwide. What will almost certainly occur, however, is that some states will become abortion meccas: those on the coasts and such other states as Illinois — where Chicago’s mayor is already acting to facilitate abortion access — Colorado, and possibly New Mexico.
Even a “states’ rights” decision will be desirable if it occurs, but we should understand that the only truly correct decision, which is most in line with the American constitutional tradition, would be a declaration that the unborn, like all other persons, have an inherent right to life. So, states then would not be free to decide to permit abortion for any reason just like they cannot permit other innocent persons to have their lives intentionally taken away.
The Supreme Court’s opinions in Wade and Bolton presented a drastically twisted picture of the history and common law background of abortion. They followed the skewed writings of the major scholarly advocate of legalized abortion of that period, Professor Cyril Means of New York Law School, who was cited by the Court. Probably the Court’s majority wasn’t so concerned about being faithful even to their flawed conception of the common law background, however, as they were using it as a justification for their predetermined position driven by ideology.
In fact, when one seriously examines the common law background on abortion a strong case can be made that it recognized the unborn child’s right to life. The thinkers who were probably the most authoritative sources on the common law, Edward Coke in the seventeenth century and William Blackstone in the eighteenth, both asserted this. In his great legal treatise, the Institutes, Coke wrote that under the principles of the common law — which form the background of our constitutional law tradition and were the foundation generally for American law — if someone struck a pregnant woman and caused her unborn child to die, that person would be guilty of a “great misprision.”
Some commentators wrongly translated this to mean a misdemeanor, a lesser criminal offense. In fact, a misprision was a high crime almost bordering on a capital offense. Blackstone followed Coke’s understanding about the common law on abortion and in his great work, the Commentaries, said that the right to life “begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.” For Blackstone, the right to life was part of the right of personal security, which he called an “absolute right.” Following the biology of the time, people believed that the unborn child’s life began at “quickening,” when the child first moved in the mother’s womb.
It was only with the advanced biological understanding of the early nineteenth century that it was understood that life began at conception. It was at that point, as statutory law was generally replacing the common law as the means of stating what were criminal offenses, that criminal statutes punishing abortion were enacted (although, as stated, the common law historically punished it as well). The point is that our legal tradition recognized the unborn person as having the right to life as soon as it was understood that life was present. The early American statutory law against abortion was not enacted just to protect the woman from incompetent abortionists — as Means and the Wade/Bolton Court claimed (and so they held that with medical advances abortion now was supposedly safe and so should be legalized) — but also, as pro-life legal scholars have pointed out, to protect the child.

Persons Have The Right To Life

If the Justices on the Supreme Court seeking to overturn Wade and Bolton don’t want to go back to the common law, they can look to the history of the Fourteenth Amendment enacted after the Civil War. Legal scholar Joseph P. Witherspoon pointed out that the history of that period — particularly the fact that the Fourteenth and the other post-Civil War amendments and the state anti-abortion statutes (triggered by the new biological understanding of when life begins) were being enacted at the same time — provides a definitive conclusion that the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment understood the unborn to be persons under the Constitution. So, like other persons they have the right to life.
Moreover, in the pre-Wade/Bolton era, courts in various states had accorded what effectively were legal rights in different areas of the law, such as torts and property law, to unborn children. It goes without saying that they have the right to life in the first place if they are going to have other legally enforceable rights.
So, even if a “states’ rights” decision by the Supreme Court will have the virtually certain effect of reducing the number of abortions, it will not give the unborn the legal protection they are entitled to under our constitutional and common-law tradition. That requires a decision that will acknowledge and specifically be grounded on — and will stand as a firm, ongoing precedent for — the fundamental right to life of any person, born or unborn.
Such a decision will bring legal abortion to a grinding halt across the country.
(Stephen M. Krason is professor of political science and legal studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville, associate director of the University’s Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and a lawyer. He is the author of Abortion: Politics, Morality, and the Constitution and other books.)

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Archbishop Cordileone . . . A Courageous Bishop Stands Tall - https://t.co/fTWI6jkrro

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Catechism

Today . . .

US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in historic ruling

The long-awaited victory for the pro-life movement means that abortion will be effectively banned in more than 20 states immediately. WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Supreme Court finally issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Monday, upholding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and confirming months of speculation that it would be overturning Roe v. Wade on a 5-4 vote and delivering the pro-life cause its most transformative victory since Roe unleashed nationwide abortion-on-demand in 1973.

Fr. James Martin to host LGBTQ conference with ‘transgenderqueer Two Spirit’ doctor

(LifeSiteNews) – Heretical pro-LGBTQ Father James Martin, SJ, will be hosting a June conference through his newly founded LGBTQ organization “Outreach.” Speakers will include various advocates of homosexuality and transgender lifestyles, all in open dissent of Catholic teaching on sexual morality.  “Outreach” is especially trying to convince churches to support LGBTQ “pride” month, which increasingly involves aggressive sexualization of young children and public displays of nudity and sex acts.

Oklahoma governor signs Texas-style abortion ban, vows to ‘do everything we can’ to defend life

OKLAHOMA CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law Wednesday a measure the press is calling the strictest abortion ban in the nation, on top of other tough pro-life laws that could take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks. HB 4327 bans any procedure that “cause[s] the death of an unborn child” except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life.…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone bars Nancy Pelosi from Communion until she ends abortion support

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced on Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion. Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” and came after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to…Continue Reading

Justice Clarence Thomas Defends Draft Overturning Roe v. Wade, Tells Abortion Activists We Won’t be “Bullied”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a message for the radical abortion activists who think they can bully the Supreme Court into revising its draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade: You can’t bully us. Abortion activists plan to “raise hell” at churches across the country on Mother’s Day with protests and, some fear, violence as outrage grows in response to a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade. But Justice Thomas…Continue Reading

Horseback Punishment

By BARBARA SIMPSON If you saw the photographs in the news from last September, you will not forget them. Bold pictures of Border Patrol agents, on horseback, using reins to control their horses, and surrounded by Haitian aliens who were trying to get into this country illegally.The agents were doing their duty — attempting to…Continue Reading

The Swamp Vs. America… Biden Policies Are Making America Poorer

By STEPHEN MOORE I’ve been struck by the opinion divide on the state of the economy between people with real jobs in America and the elite opinions in Washington.Gallup and other primary and reputable pollsters find that the public is very worried. About 2 in 10 respondents rate the U.S. economy as good or great.…Continue Reading

But Has It Lost Its Sovereignty? . . . The Order Of Malta Has A New Head

By ANDREA GAGLIARDUCCI ROME (CNA) — Pope Francis appointed a new head of the Order of Malta on Monday, June 14 even before the funeral of its previous leader Fra’ Marco Luzzago, who died suddenly on June 7.The Canadian-born lawyer Fra’ John T. Dunlap will serve as the lieutenant of the Grand Master, a role…Continue Reading

AOC And Democrat “Squad” Members… Voted Against Protecting Supreme Court Justices

By GABE KAMINSKY WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeNews) — Democratic “Squad” members in the House voted against a bill Tuesday, June 14 extending security for Supreme Court justices despite spending a combined six figures on private security in 2021, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records and House Disbursements.Missouri Cong. Cori Bush, Massachusetts Cong. Ayanna Pressley, Michigan…Continue Reading

Beware: 100 Percent Green Energy Could Destroy The Planet

By STEPHEN MOORE The untold story about “green energy” is that it can’t possibly be scaled up to provide anywhere near the energy to replace fossil fuels. (Unless we are headed back to the stone ages, which is what some of the “de-growth” advocates favor.)Right now, the United States gets about 70 percent of its…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on Apologetics is based on the book Catholicism & Reason. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. You can send them either to the postal mailing address or to the email address below, and we will interrupt this series…Continue Reading

Dangerous Scams And Scandalous Men

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I anticipated a coming storm with pleasure on this early morning as I write. I welcomed the sounds of approaching thunder as a sign of beneficence. I had decided late this spring, after some initial hesitation, that I would participate in the seasonal ritual of sowing and growing after all.There are days it seems the…Continue Reading

One And One And One Are One By MSGR. CHARLES POPE

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this article on June 11. It is reprinted here with permission.) + + There is an old spiritual that says, “My God is so high you can’t get over Him. He’s so low you can’t get under Him. He’s so wide you can’t get around Him. You must come in,…Continue Reading

The Yoke Of Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings:1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21Gal. 5:1, 13-18Luke 9:51-62 In the first reading today, the Prophet Elijah walks up behind Elisha and puts his cloak over Elisha’s shoulders. The cloak, or mantle, was the sign of a prophet, so this gesture showed that Elisha was to be the successor to Elijah.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. A recent Mass reading from chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles talked about the decision of the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem not to require Gentile converts to become Jews before becoming Christians. They decided to send a letter to Gentile converts telling them “to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Saints For Corpus Christi

By DEB PIROCH Corpus Christi, the solemnity instituted by Pope Urban IV, is over seven hundred years old. In 1263, the year prior to its declaration, a miracle occurred in the Italian city of Bolsena, which acted as a catalyst for the event.By coincidence, I have been to Bolsena, approximately an hour from Rome by taxi, and I knew of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Bosco

By DEB PIROCH Don Bosco (1815-1888), who became a spiritual father to hundreds of fatherless boys, lost his own father at the age of two. The youngest of three brothers, one a stepbrother, he was born to Francis and Margaret Bosco, peasant farmers in Italy. His father caught pneumonia and died suddenly, leaving his wife a widow at 29 to…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)