I am responding to Professor Thomas Kelly’s Aug. 23 Midlands Voices op-ed in which he suggested that “neither U.S. political party fully follows Catholic values.” In reading the article, it appears to me that Kelly leaves people nowhere to go if they consider themselves to be “pro-life.”
On the one hand, you have pro-lifers who he indicates are “single-issue voters,” while on the other hand, you have people who are for a whole variety of other issues that could also be considered “pro-life” but usually leaves out or de-emphasizes the abortion issue. In turn, he cites St. John Paul II in a way which appears to suggest that he cites his thoughts on these issues when, in fact, Professor Kelly actually was citing “Vatican II.” Here is what St. John Paul II actually said:
In his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1995) addressed to “all people of good will” on the value and inviolability of human life, St. John Paul II writes: “The present encyclical, the fruit of the cooperation of the episcopate of every country of the world, is therefore meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability … To all members of the Church, the people of life and for life I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope and work to insure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love … No less critical in the formation of conscience is the recovery of the necessary link between freedom and truth. As I have frequently stated, when freedom is detached from objective truth, it becomes impossible to establish personal rights on a firm rational basis; and the ground is laid for society to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority.”
I have been personally and professionally motivated by not only Evangelium Vitae but also the encyclical Humanae Vitae written by St. Paul VI. It has changed my life dramatically and for over 20 years I was a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life appointed by Pope John Paul II. In a personal statement that then Pope John Paul II made to Archbishop Curtiss on his visit to Rome, he said: “The Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha gives me great hope for the future!” Life is at the very core of all of our rights. Without human life there are no human rights. They do not exist because life does not exist.
Working for the establishment of the very right to exist is not “single-issue voting” as Professor Kelly suggests, but is at the very foundation of the rights we believe have been given to all of us by God. If we destroy human life (lethalistic nascephobia), we destroy that foundation.
Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D., is director of the Saint Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and is a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Creighton University School of Medicine.
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