Fr. Pavone: It’s up to us to protect the personhood of the unborn

TITUSVILLE, FL — Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said it “should not be surprising” that the Supreme Court today declined to hear a case about the personhood rights of unborn babies.

“We know the unborn are persons,” Fr. Pavone explained. “And in the Dobbs decision of June 24, the Supreme Court gave us – the people, and our elected representatives at every level of government – more of an opportunity to bring public policy into line with that truth than we have had in 50 years.”

“In other words,” Fr. Pavone continued, “contrary to the fearmongering of abortion supporters, the Court did not take a position on the rights of the unborn. Rather, the Court has just told us that this is a matter for the people to decide. In fact, the Court in Dobbs went out of its way to point out that the door is open for the law to define personhood from conception. The decision states:

A law regulating abortion, like other health and welfare laws, is entitled to a ‘strong presumption of validity.’  It must be sustained if there is a rational basis on which the legislature could have thought that it would serve legitimate state interests. These legitimate interests include respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development…” (emphasis added) (p.77-78)

In another section of the opinion, the Court took aim at flawed concepts that deny personhood to the babies. It states:
If, as Roe held, a State’s interest in protecting prenatal life is compelling ‘after viability,’ why isn’t that interest ‘equally compelling before viability?’  Roe did not say, and no explanation is apparent. This arbitrary line has not found much support among philosophers and ethicists who have attempted to justify a right to abortion. 

Some have argued that a fetus should not be entitled to legal protection until it acquires the characteristics that they regard as defining what it means to be a ‘person.’ Among the characteristics that have been offered as essential attributes of ‘personhood’ are sentience, self-awareness, the ability to reason, or some combination thereof.  By this logic, it would be an open question whether even born individuals, including young children or those afflicted with certain developmental or medical conditions, merit protection as ‘persons.’  But even if one takes the view that ‘personhood’ begins when a certain attribute or combination of attributes is acquired, it is very hard to see why viability should mark the point where ‘personhood’ begins” (p. 50-51).

Fr. Pavone concluded: “The door has been opened for us to protect the personhood of the unborn. The Court will no longer stand in our way, nor will the Court decide for us. We have to do the hard work of persuading, voting, and lobbying. It starts with these midterm elections and with good next steps like Senator Graham’s bill to protect babies at 15 weeks or more. That is not where we end, but where we begin.”

SOURCE Priests For Life