Thursday, January 31, 2008

February Meeting

Please join us for the first meeting of the semester, Wednesday, February 6 at 8pm in the Montgomery Auditorium! Come learn about this semester's events and share ideas. Mass will follow at 9:30 in the Log Chapel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Embrace Life

Embrace life

The Observer: Viewpoint
By: Charles Rice

Posted: 1/23/08

Would you call it an exercise in futility? On Jan. 22, Notre Dame and Saint Mary's students joined the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., calling for reversal of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling on that date in 1973 which mandated, in effect, elective abortion at every stage in pregnancy. The Court defined the unborn child as a nonperson who is therefore not entitled to the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution to persons.

The Supreme Court will not reverse that holding of Roe. Even the Justices who say that Roe should be "overruled" define that as a "states' rights" approach that would allow the states to permit or forbid abortion. That would affirm the holding of Roe. If your life is subject to extinction whenever a state legislature so decrees, then, so far as the United States Constitution is concerned, you are a nonperson.

Depersonalization is the theory of the Nazis' treatment of the Jews and of the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott case in which the Court held that freed slaves could not be citizens and said that slaves were property rather than persons.

Abortion is not simply a legal issue. It is embedded in American culture. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that from 1973 to 2005, more than 45 million surgical abortions occurred in the United States, with 1.21 million in 2005, down from 1.31 in 2000. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion. These figures do not include the uncountable number of early abortions by abortifacients, including most "contraceptive" pills.

Abortion is a symptom of what Pope Benedict XVI called "a dictatorship of relativism… that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the 'I' and its whims as the ultimate measure." The secularism, relativism and individualism of that culture affect the most fundamental human activity, the generation of life.

Abortion is a product of the contraceptive ethic. "[D]espite their differences," said John Paul II, "contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree…. rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and … a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment."

Until the Anglican Lambeth Conference of 1930, no Christian denomination had ever said that contraception could ever be objectively right. Contraception deliberately separates sex from procreation. It affirms that there is such a thing as a life not worth living, and that man (of both sexes), rather than God, is the arbiter of whether and when human life shall begin. If you claim the right to decide when life begins you will predictably claim the right to decide when it ends, as in abortion and euthanasia.

With the marketing of the pill in the 1960s, Roe v. Wade was inevitable. A contraceptive culture needs abortion as a back-up. The meltdown of that culture is accelerating.

Francis Fukuyama called the introduction of the contraceptive pill "The Great Disruption" in relations between men and women. In the nature of things, sex is reserved for marriage, and marriage is permanent, because sex has something to do with babies. The contraceptive separation of sex from life leads to the separation of sex from marriage and to the irrelevancy of marriage. In 2006, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control, a record 36.9 percent of all births were out of wedlock. Out-of-wedlock births are 80 percent of births to teens and 60 percent to mothers in their early 20s. In 2006, they were 26.6 percent among non-Hispanic whites, 70.7 percent among non-Hispanic blacks and 49.9 percent among Hispanics.

Government officials, including educators, throw fuel on the fire by promoting contraception even among pre-teens. Not surprisingly, the birth rate to teens rose three percent in 2006, the first rise since 1991. Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, the STDs for which reporting is required, continue to rise.

In such a Copulation Explosion, you have to expect a rise in pregnancies and that many will end in abortion. The "morning-after pill," an abortifacient, is available over-the-counter and is easily, if illegally, obtainable by minors without parental knowledge.

Neither the law nor politics can get us out of this mess. Contraception and abortion are a subset of the question: Who is God? Who decides whether and when life begins and when it ends? Abortion is an aspect of our contraceptive rejection of God's gift of life. Before he became Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said, "[T]he ultimate root of hatred for human life… is the loss of God. When God disappears, the absolute dignity of human life disappears as well…. Only this divine dimension guarantees the full dignity of the human person…. In the struggle for life, talking about God is indispensable."

The March for Life is not a futile exercise. It focuses on abortion, the ultimate secular sacrament. The March is an in-your-face, on-site reminder to the Executive, the Court and the Congress of their derelictions and of what they ought to do. Under the leadership of Washington attorney Nellie Gray, the March, from its inception, has also been an act of prayer. The message: Human life is sacred because it is a gift of God. The students in the March bring honor to the Notre Dame community.

Professor Emeritus Rice is on the faculty of the law school.
He can be reached at (574) 633-4415 or
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

© Copyright 2008 The Observer

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Club joins March for Life

Club joins March for Life
Right to Life travels to Washington, D.C. to protest legalized abortion

The Observer: Frontpage
By: Marcela Berrios

Posted: 1/22/08
More than 230 students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross have made the 12-hour bus trip to Washington, D.C. to join thousands of other pro-life advocates at the March for Life on Tuesday.

The march is an annual demonstration against Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.

The Notre Dame Right to Life Club offered students three travel options, ranging in length from 36 hours to four days. Students on the two longer trips participated in service projects and mini pro-life conferences as a prelude to the march.

"So far everybody seems to really be enjoying themselves," Right to Life president Mary Liz Walter said Monday night. "And tomorrow should be even better. I think for most it'll be such a powerful experience to be in the heart of the nation's capital next to hundreds of thousands of other people, all united for one cause."

More than 200,000 people attended last year, according to the Right for Life Web site.

In addition to a 27 percent increase in the number of Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross participants, Walter said there are about 30 students from Purdue University who registered to attend through Right to Life. She said the club's travel options were affordable and convenient for many college students.

Tuesday's itinerary will include attending a youth Mass, rallying at Capitol Mall and finally marching from the Mall to the Supreme Court building, the Notre Dame Right to Life Web site said.

"Hopefully this will be an opportunity for everyone to be in solidarity with other people who are also fighting for the dignity and the respect for human life in all of its stages," Walter said.Notre Dame students traveling to Washington, D.C. for the march have been excused from classes by the Office of Residence Life and Housing because the march represents an integral part of Right to Life's mission, Associate Vice President for Residence Life Bill Kirk said Monday.

"Right to Life is a recognized student organization and like many other student organizations with national conferences and events that are critical to their underlying purpose, they were granted excused absences to be able to participate in the march," Kirk said.

The decision to allow these students to miss their classes, he said, is in accordance with the absence policy outlined in duLac, which says members of groups that officially represent Notre Dame may receive excused absences when they are away from campus performing duties for the University. Like many students involved in varsity or club athletic events, mock trials, choir tours, honorary society national conventions and student union board national conferences, among other events, participants of the Right for Life March were eligible for an excused absence from their classes through Kirk's office.

"This is not the first year that excused absences have been granted for participants in the Right to Life March," Kirk said. "Our office only maintains class absence records for the immediately previous year, so I am unable to say with certainty for how many years excused absences have been provided, but I do recall excused absences being granted for at least the last several years," he said.

Last year, about 120 students took advantage of this option and filled three Right to Life charter buses to Washington, D.C. This year, as the number of participants surpassed 100, Kirk was "delighted" to approve their absence from class.

He said he hopes these students will be "a very visible sign" of the University's commitment to its Catholic mission.

"I can think of few better ways to do so than through this march," Kirk said.

The students on the four-day trip, which came with a price tag of $85 per person, have been lodged at the St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, Va. since Saturday morning. The second batch of students, who paid $75 to cover the cost of transportation and some food at the parish, arrived one day later. The third and final group, which contributed $50 per person to cover the cost of the buses, arrived this morning after an overnight drive.

But for many students, spending the night on a bus is a minor inconvenience for a chance to make their voices heard.

Senior Ana Laura Virzi said she just wants to protest abortion on behalf of "all the unborn souls that didn't have the opportunity to protest themselves."From the bus carrying the third group to Washington, D.C., she said that though she is a Panamanian citizen, she thinks it's important to make a difference in the United States - a country that may well serve as an example for other countries in Latin America and the world on the abortion issue.

© Copyright 2008 The Observer