Fully Informed About Consent, by Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Well-intentioned efforts to "do something" about abortion are sometimes based on tragically flawed premises. A desperation to save the lives of the innocent preborn in their mothers' wombs leads a lot of pro-life activists and public officials to embrace policy measures that actually wind up further corrupting our law and our national discourse. Thus, many efforts to "limit" abortion are founded in legal concessions that women have the right to kill their children in certain circumstances and that third parties, such as grandparents, may give their consent to their minor children to murder their grandchildren.
Human law may never licitly permit the destruction of any innocent human life. Human law must be conformed in all instances to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. One of the ways that the pro-aborts pushed for the decriminalization of baby-killing in the 1960s was by citing the fact that many states permitted abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and alleged threats to the life of a mother. Some states permitted only the latter "exception" while others permitted all three. The pro-aborts argued that the exceptions were really loopholes for the wealthy and for the famous to procure a "legal" abortion in a state that did not permit abortion-on-demand. Women who were rich enough to consult a physician and/or a psychologist to qualify for one of the "exceptions" could obtain an abortion without threat of arrest and under "safe" medical conditions. Why not make those "safe" medical conditions available to all women? Thus, the existence of "exceptions" in many states' pre-Roe abortion laws actually wound up giving us abortion-on-demand, first in California and Hawaii and California and New York and New Jersey before the decision of the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, in the case of Roe v. Wade.
As I have noted on many other occasions, supporting legislation that includes "exceptions" to the sanctity of innocent human life is not only morally illicit. No, it is also prudentially stupid. Not one single life has ever been saved by any legislation that permits an "exception" to the primacy of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Not one. Do we really think that those who kill for a living are not low enough to lie in order to qualify a women for an "exception"? If one can kill with impunity, he can lie with more impunity.
That is why, for example, the partial-birth abortion ban that will be passed by Congress early next year is tragically flawed. It contains a needless life of the mother exception (and it will probably have a health of the mother exception to pass muster with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor). Not one child will be saved by this flawed bill. It will make many pro-lifers feel good. Professional politicians will convince themselves that they have done all they can do in light of the circumstances that exist in our culture at present. Not one child, though, will be saved. Baby-killers will use the exceptions to their utmost. Failing that, however, they can always turn to the other methods of child-killing (the hysterotomy, the dilatation and evacuation, the saline solution abortion) in the later stages of pregnancy that will remain perfectly "legal" even after the "feel-good but do-nothing" conditional ban on partial birth abortions is passed by Congress and signed into law with great fanfare by President George Walker Bush next year.
The National Right to Life Committee has orchestrated the machinations with respect to the conditional ban on partial birth abortions from 1995 onward, resisting mightily all efforts to remove the needless life of the mother exception from that bill. It is also the National Right to Life Committee, which supports the killing of the preborn in cases where it is alleged that a mother's life is in danger and which does not oppose the chemical abortions induced by contraception, that is responsible for promoting "Parental Consent" laws at the state legislative levels. As horrible as the conditional ban on partial-birth abortions is, the parental consent laws are actually worse in that they use human positive law as the mechanism to concede that it is licit for a grandparent to consent to the murder of his grandchild. It is bad enough that needless exceptions to the sanctity of innocent human life find their way into one "pro-life" bill after another both in Congress and in state legislatures (with almost no effort at all to educate legislators about the importance of being totally pro-life and thus seeking to push for solid no-exceptions legislation). It is tragically worse that good men and women, people who really do mean well, believe that the corruption of the law can produce good results.
No human being may licitly give his consent for another to be murdered. Parental consent laws, such as the one pending now in the state legislature in the Commonwealth of Virginia, are morally illicit. As noted earlier, they concede in law the right to consent to the murder of another. Advocates of such legislation believe that some lives may be saved by such laws, believing that parental suasion might be successful in convincing a minor girl not to have an abortion. As Judie Brown, the President of the American Life League noted to me, however, parental consent laws need to have a "judicial bypass" provision in order to pass constitutional muster. That is, the intent of the law to secure parental consent is vitiated if a girl believes that she absolutely wants to have an abortion despite being denied "consent" by her parents. All she has to do is to appear before a judge and plead her case. Lest we forget that it was a Virginia judge who consigned Hugh Finn to his death by starvation and dehydration in October of 1998, it is highly unlikely that any judge will turn down a girl's request to bypass her parents' refusal to consent to the murder of her child.
Additionally, there are instances in which parents actually convince their children to have an abortion. I speak from personal experience as one who has been involved in the pro-life movement from my early days as a college teacher of political science in the 1970s. I was informed by a student of mine in 1994 that she had killed the little baby in her womb. She was a Catholic who had been living with her boyfriend for five years. She told me that her parents, church-going Catholics, convinced her that "having an abortion was the right thing to do." Another student of mine, from St. John's University in New York nine years ago, killed her child after a Vincentian priest told her that 'abortion is a matter of personal conscience.' These are not isolated instances at all. Parental consent laws are two-edged swords that cut all too frequently against the babies they are intended to save.
Apart from their inherent illicitness, parental consent laws further corrupt the law by reducing the killing of a preborn child to the status of a mere "surgical procedure" for which parents of minor children can licitly provide consent. Pro-aborts have been trying to convince the world for the last forty years that abortion is simply a "surgical procedure" that is a part of a woman's non-reproductive "health." Abortion is no different than corrective heart surgery for an older woman or ear-piercing for a minor child. Abortion, however, is not a matter of surgery or health to which a parent can (and in some cases must) give his consent to aid his minor child. Abortion involves the killing of a human being who belongs in the womb of his mother. Parental consent laws wind up ceding the pro-aborts' argument that abortion is just like any other form of surgery, which, of course, it is not.
The ends never justify the means, not even to save innocent human lives in the womb. Morally illicit means always wind up corrupting the law, clouding the truth, and further institutionalizing the very evils they are meant to retard. Always. Without exception, pun intended.
There is a general rule of thumb, my friends: if the National Right to Life Committee is behind some legislative proposal, it is usually full of moral and prudential flaws. Parents may be notified that their minor child is considering having an abortion, which provides them with the opportunity to counsel her against having one without having to consent to the murder of their grandchild. They cannot, as noted above, licitly give their consent. A Catholic has got to think and to act as a Catholic, which means he has to subordinate all human laws in all instances to the unchanging precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. To do otherwise is to cede ground to the Devil himself, who loves to use the horror of abortion to cloud people's judgment as they rush to do things that wind up giving more "rights" to more people to participate in the death of the preborn.
Mind you, this is not to condemn good people who want to do good in the legislative realm. However, it is to remind them that no good at all comes from that which is flies in the face of authentic justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, pray for us.