Archive for May, 2010

Experts Rebuke Pro-Abort Prof. Claim that “a Fetus is Not a Person”

Experts Rebuke Pro-Abort Prof. Claim that “a Fetus is Not a Person”

By Patrick B. Craine

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, May 7, 2010 ( – A philosophy professor at Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax is drawing rebuke from experts in bioethics, medicine, and philosophy for a Monday column in which he advocates abortion based on the notion that “a fetus is not a person.”

If pro-abortion advocates can show that the unborn child is not a person, argues Dr. Mark Mercer in an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen, then a woman’s reason for aborting him or her “cannot be outweighed by the fetus’s right to life, for, not being a person, the fetus has no such right.”

But according to bioethicist Dianne Irving, who ripped into Mercer’s column in a Tuesday essay, Mercer’s science is “grossly objectively erroneous” and his concept of “delayed personhood” is “deceptively achieved by means of using academically indefensible ‘philosophy’.”

Mercer admits in his article that “abortion involves the deliberate killing of a human being,” but maintains that that is “no reason for abortion to be illegal,” and that one should not be “morally troubled by it.”

It would normally be unacceptable to kill a reader of the Citizen, he says, for example, because the reader is “a creature richly aware of its environment and full of beliefs and desires, including the desire to continue living. … To kill a reader of this paper would be to destroy a self-aware locus of experience, one, moreover, that prefers not to die.”

“A human fetus, on the other hand, though human, has only a rudimentary awareness of its environment and lacks self consciousness entirely,” he continues.  “It has no interest in living, for it can have no interests at all.”

While he admits that an unborn child is “potentially a person,” he claims that this fact is only a concern “if it is better to have that particular future person walking around than it is to respect a here-and-now person’s autonomy.”

“The overall point is that abortion is not in any degree a morally fraught option,” he concludes.  “A woman considering whether to have an abortion or, instead, to raise a child is making a practical decision, not a moral one. This is what we who are pro-choice have to make more widely known.”

Irving points out that Mercer’s arguments have been used by pro-abortion bioethicists, such as Princeton’s Peter Singer, for decades, “regardless of their fatal faults.”

If Mercer is right about the unborn not being a person based on the fact that they don’t have “rational attributes,” she says, we must also accept that the following are not persons: “the comatose, the mentally retarded, the mentally ill and depressed, drug addicts, alcoholics, a lot of teenagers, etc. – even Mercer, or the Readers when they are sleeping!”

In fact, she points out that Singer does indeed say that the mentally disabled and others are not persons.  Are Mercer and the readers, just like Singer, willing “to argue seriously that all these same living adult human beings could be intentionally killed, used in destructive medical research, dismembered and then pitched into mass graves, etc.,” she asks, “since they are just human beings but not ‘persons’ who actively exercise ‘rational attributes’?”

“We should demand no less than an immediate response from Mr. Mercer. Come on, Mr. Mercer – if Peter Singer has the gall to so conclude, why not you?” she adds.

Irving argues that “in the real world, there is no real distinction between a human being and a human person.”

In fact, Professor Michael Schintgen, the chairman of philosophy at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, pointed out that Mercer “takes a definition of person out of thin air – assuming without argument that what distinguishes a person from a non-person is awareness.”

Irving, on the other hand, relies on the traditional definition of person, as introduced by the philosopher Boethius in the 6th century, that a person is “an individual substance of a rational nature.”

“A human being, simply by virtue of being a human kind of being, with a specifically human nature, is a human person precisely because he/she is an individual of a rational nature,” she writes.  “If allowed to grow, develop and flourish, these human persons hopefully will be able to eventually actively express ‘rational attributes’ and ‘sentience’ if possible.”

But even if the human being does not reach Mercer’s established attributes, Irving continues, they are still “innocent living human persons who possess a rational nature,” and who thus also possess “the same inherent rights as all other human persons – socially, ethically, legally, etc.”

Professor Schintgen noted that Mercer’s arguments are “just warmed over ideas from the Disco Era.”  “Mercer dredges up arguments used by Peter Singer, J.J. Thomson, Mary Anne Warren, and others from the 70s. The only thing missing is the bellbottoms,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Schintgen also said that Mercer assumes a false notion of autonomy.  “Even if we grant that the fetus is not a person, why should I be allowed to do what I want with it?” he asks.  “A great deal of modern talk about rights assumes this idea of autonomy without giving any reason for it.  Does wanting to do something automatically give me a right to do it? I might like to have lobster for breakfast. Does that mean I have the right to have lobster?”

“One would expect a professor of philosophy to have arguments that meet the objections raised to these arguments in the past 30 odd years, but none are in sight,” he concluded.

Mercer also got a rebuke from Dr. Paul Claman, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Ottawa, who wrote in a Thursday letter to the editor that Mercer’s argument “does not hold water.”  “Extrapolating Mercer’s argument would make a parent’s decision to kill a month-old baby or a dependent parent with severe Alzheimer’s disease only a practical and not an a morale one,” he said.

Despite his abortion advocacy, Mercer did take a stand on behalf of pro-life students at his university in 2009, when he told media that SMU had given in to mob rule by allowing pro-abortion activists to silence a speech by Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.  “I don’t want to defend what he said as non-hate speech because I think that’s irrelevant,” Mercer told the Chronicle Herald. “Even if he was saying ‘Black people suck,’ people who shout him down should be carried away.”

“We’re not to silence anybody on campus, not to prevent people from listening, not to prevent people from expressing themselves,” he added.

Saint Mary’s University was the first Roman Catholic university established in Canada, dating back to 1802, though it has formally separated from the Church.

Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax, who sits ex officio as a ‘Visitor’ on SMU’s Board of Governors, told LifeSiteNews: “My personal position on the question of abortion is that of the Roman Catholic Church.  I hold and uphold these views, knowing that everyone neither shares nor accepts this point of view.”

“As for the ideas expressed in the article in question, I do not agree with them professionally or pastorally,” he added.  “No doubt there are professors at Saint Mary’s University who also hold views quite different than those in the article.”


Incompatible With Life? Some Children Die in Abortions, But Bella is Now Two

by Rick Santorum

May 5, 2010 Note: Rick Santorum represented Pennsylvania as a member of the House and then the Senate. He was the sponsor of the partial-birth abortion ban and is widely considered one of the pro-life leaders in Congress during his tenure. He is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

“Incompatible with life.” The doctor’s words kept echoing in my head as I held my sobbing wife, Karen, just four days after the birth of our eighth child, Isabella Maria.

Bella was born with three No. 18 chromosomes, rather than the normal two. The statistics were heartbreaking: About 90 percent of children with the disorder, known as trisomy 18, die before or during birth, and 90 percent of those who survive die within the first year.

Bella was baptized that day, and then we spent every waking hour at her bedside, giving her a lifetime’s worth of love and care. However, not only did she not die; she came home in just 10 days.

She was sent home on hospice care, strange as that sounded for a newborn. The hospice doctor visited us the next day and described in graphic detail how Bella would die. In sum, she could die at any time without warning, and the best we could hope for was that she would die of the common cold.

Karen and I discontinued hospice so that we and our amazing doctors, James Baugh and Sunil Kapoor, could get to work focusing on Bella’s health, not her death.

Like so many moms of special kids, Karen is a warrior, caring for Bella night and day and, at times, fighting with health-care providers and our insurance company to get our daughter the care she needs.

Being the parent of a special child gives one exceptional insight into the negative perception of the disabled among many medical professionals, particularly when they see your child as having an intellectual disability. Sadly, we discovered that not only did we have to search for doctors who had experience with trisomy 18. We also had to search for those who saw Bella not as a fatal diagnosis, but as a wanted and loved daughter and sister, as well as a beautiful gift from God.

We knew from experience that Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was such a place. Fourteen years ago, we had another baby who was diagnosed as having no hope, but CHOP’s Dr. Scott Adzick gave him a shot at life. In the end, we lost our son Gabriel, but we will always be grateful to Dr. Adzick for affirming the value of his life.

When Bella was 3 months old, she needed some minor but vital surgery. Some doctors told us that a child like Bella wouldn’t survive surgery or, even worse, that surgery was “not recommended” because of her genetic condition – in other words, that her life wasn’t worth saving. So we again turned to the Children’s Hospital and found compassion, concern, and hope in Dr. Thane Blinman. He told us he had several trisomy 18 patients who did well – and so did Bella.

Next week, we will mark Bella’s second birthday. Over these two years, we have endured two close brushes with death, lots of sleepless nights, more than a month in CHOP’s intensive care unit, and the constant anxiety that the next day could be our little girl’s last.

And yet we have also been inspired – by her fighting spirit, and by the miracle of seeing our little flower blossom into a loving, joyful child who is at the center of our family life.

Most children with trisomy 18 diagnosed in the womb are aborted. Most who survive birth are given hospice care until they die. In these cases, doctors advise parents that these disabled children will die young or be a burden to them and society. But couldn’t the same be said of many healthy children?

All children are a gift that comes with no guarantees. While Bella’s life may not be long, and though she requires our constant care, she is worth every tear.

Living with Bella has been a course in character and virtue. She makes us better. And it’s not just our family; she enriches every life she touches. In the end, isn’t that what every parent hopes for his or her child?

Happy birthday, Isabella!

Buzz up!

Poll Shows 70% of Irish Oppose Abortion – Boosts Pro-Life Election Campaigners

By Hilary White

DUBLIN, May 4, 2010 ( – A recent poll showing that 70 per cent of the people of the Republic of Ireland support keeping the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn, has bolstered the work of pro-life lobbyists in Northern Ireland in the build-up to the UK general election on May 6.

The poll by PLC/Millward Brown found that 70 per cent of Irish people favor retaining a prohibition on abortion, while allowing the existing practice of intervening to save a mother’s life in accordance with medical ethics.

The poll was published as abortion activists, including the Irish Family Planning Association, affiliated with Planned Parenthood International, are taking the country’s pro-life laws before the European Court of Human Rights in the “ABC case,” in which three anonymous women are petitioning to have them overturned.

Pro-life advocate Dr. Seán Ó Domhnaill, who works with the group Youth Defence, called the result the fruit of “persistent, committed pro-life educational work.”

“Pro-life volunteers in Youth Defence have been holding public street information stalls every week, rain, hail or snow, for almost 20 years, throughout the country,” he said. “It’s a marvelous achievement, and the commitment and the educational effect achieved, is paying rich dividends.”

Youth Defence’s Rebecca Roughneen said that the pro-life views of the Irish is the result of a “huge number” of voluntary hours in creating advertising, education projects in colleges and on the internet that are “showing great results amongst young people.”

“But at the end of the day, the commitment to the daily and weekly work at abortion and referral agencies and on the street is so important.”

The poll has encouraged pro-life lobbyists who are urging Northern Irish voters to consider candidates’ positions on abortion and related life issues. The group Precious Life says its campaign, urging the public to vote only for candidates who will oppose abortion, is gathering speed.

The group has distributed thousands of its Vote For Life leaflets across the north. The group is encouraging the millions of pro-life voters in Northern Ireland and Britain to bombard the political parties and their candidates with telephone calls, emails and letters, asking them to oppose abortion.

Video Slideshow of Pro-life Freedom Rides