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Abortion a ‘human rights issue’ more than a religious issue, Archbishop Naumann says

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, speaks from the floor during a Nov. 17, 2021, session of the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the first in-person bishops' meeting since 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

St. Louis, Mo., Jul 18, 2022 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

Responding to claims that Kansas Catholics are seeking to impose their religion on their neighbors by voting to exclude a right to abortion from the state’s constitution, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas says “reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”

Kansas is set to become the first state to place abortion policy on the ballot after the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. Currently, Kansas restricts abortion after 22 weeks, but Kansas state lawmakers are generally prohibited from passing any type of new abortion restriction because of a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling which found that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s “right” to abortion.

The “Value Them Both” amendment, if approved by voters on Aug. 2, would enable state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion. The amendment would not itself change the legality of abortion in the state, but would, among other things, ensure a ban on state taxpayer-funded abortion.

Writing in the Wichita Eagle July 8, Naumann responded to claims made in a recent op-ed by a Kansas rabbi, Mark Levin, who argued that the amendment amounted to an effort to enshrine Catholic doctrine into Kansas law. Levin wrote that Catholics encouraging their neighbors to vote for the amendment are seeking to “compel all Kansans to conform to their religious idea of the origin of individual lives [conception], and to enshrine that belief in law.”

“Our neighbors have, sadly and tragically, declared a quiet and cold war against our religions, attempting to coerce the behavior of all other Kansans according to their personal religious faith, through minority rule,” Levin argued.

Naumann took issue with Levin’s characterization of opposition to abortion as solely a religious issue.

“From a Catholic perspective, abortion is not primarily a religious issue but a fundamental human rights issue,” he wrote. “Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”

Moreover, “The mere fact that a law coincides with religious beliefs does not mean it is an impermissible imposition of religion,” Naumann pointed out.

“Value Them Both is not a Catholic issue. Preserving current laws and reclaiming the authority of the people of Kansas to determine public policy on such an important societal issue is something every Kansan should be eager to support,” the archbishop concluded.

Naumann also related the story of former abortion doctor Bernard Nathanson, an ethnically Jewish man who identified as an atheist. Nathanson personally performed thousands of abortions and was politically active in pushing for the legal protection of abortion. However, Nathanson’s reverence for science eventually helped to change his heart, as he eventually recognized the humanity of unborn children when he saw them using ultrasound technology. Nathanson became a pro-life advocate and later admitted that when he had advocated for abortion he used a strategy of appealing to anti-Catholicism and promoting the views of pro-abortion Catholics.

Naumann asserted that Levin had used similar tactics in his op-ed.

“The rabbi accuses me of trying to deprive Kansans of personal choice regarding their destinies. Yet, this is exactly what the Kansas Supreme Court did by making the outlandish claim that a right to abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution, taking abortion policy out of the hands of the people and their duly elected representatives and putting it in the hands of the court,” Naumann wrote.

“Several months ago, I made an appeal to every Catholic in the archdiocese to donate to a special Respect Life Fund to provide additional support for abortion alternatives, post-abortion healing ministry, the expansion of our efforts to help children in foster care, and support for the Value Them Both amendment. I am proud of the generous response of our Catholic people,” Naumann continued.

“I am also very proud that the Value Them Both coalition includes many other faith-based and secular leaders and organizations, including the Lutheran Missouri Synod, the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, James Dobson, the Family Research Council, Democrats for Life, 200-plus Kansas medical and mental health professionals, Concerned Women for America of Kansas and Kansas Family Voice,” the archbishop added.

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  1. Natural rights to life, liberty, and access to the means of acquiring and possessing private property are, and have always been, a human rights issue. Within the traditional Aristotelian framework, natural law is a religious issue only in regards to the source of natural law itself — an issue that is of no concern to civil authorities except as private persons or in their official capacity in guaranteeing freedom of conscience. As far as human positive law is concerned, all human beings have these rights and they cannot be taken away except for just cause and after due process. For civil authorities or anyone else to assert that a natural law is not binding because it is a religious issue is not merely bad jurisprudence, it is bad logic and contrary to reason. The first principle of reason is the law or principle of (non) contradiction: nothing can both “be” and “not be” at the same time under the same conditions. A claim or argument that contradicts reason is automatically invalid and if used as the basis for law is invalid as it posits an impossibility, such as holding a person guilty until he proves himself innocent. Proving a negative is logically impossible; you cannot, as Fulton Sheen commented more than once, prove the existence of non-existence. To assert, therefore, that the natural right to life is invalid because it is religious contradicts the definition of natural law itself and subverts the purpose of human positive law. Claiming a constitutional basis for a right to an abortion contradicts any constitution that has a natural law basis, and automatically invalidates any interpretation of a constitution or amendment that makes such a claim.

  2. It seems to me that anyone who believes in God must be opposed to the murder of Holy Innocents in the womb. It must be admitted that the creature in the womb is a Being. It is human. Thus a human being. One may argue that perhaps this human being in the womb has not yet a soul and thus is expendable but no one may rationally say they have certain knowledge that this is so. So they must take upon themselves the authority of God over Life or simply dismiss God as a factor. This is Materialism of the sort equivalent to all the massive human massacres committed by totalitarian governments all over the world. If it is the Will of God that creates Life then it is patently obvious that anti-life is demonic and many are caught in its thrall.

  3. “Reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life” (Archbishop Joseph Naumann). This, as has been my position, that abortion is first a Justice issue, not a religious issue. The reason as suggested by Naumann is reason, that is, right reason consistent with the Natural Law Within that reveals this to us. Innocent life, its inviolability, is a long standing principle of justice going back to the Common Law, in America’s instance the Common Law of England adopted by most states post War of Independence.
    It is a justice precept with long tradition in our culture wrongly adjudicated in Roe on false principle, one being privacy, and the falsehood of the justices’ claim, the inability to define a human person. It’s this pretense of lack of knowledge that now has become standard self deception in a culture that will continue to destroy itself within by removing all just definitions of what a human, what a man, and what a woman is.
    Catholicism at this moment stands as the bulwark of reason and justice, except the Vatican is actually undermining this, not by actual repudiation in formal pronouncement, rather by suggestion and acts appointments.

  4. “An unborn baby designated a ‘rodef’ is ‘pursuing’ her mother and can be killed up until birth,” so says the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72b. Modern feminists have called the baby a “parasite.” It boils down to the same idea. Abortion is a fundamentally religious issue, where Catholic defend the right to life and Talmudic Jews (who could be classified as modern-day Pharisees) make exceptions. Certainly, such Jews have dominated the leadership of the abortion movement, according to Bernard Nathanson, who helped found NARAL and admitted to setting up Catholics as the bad guys in controversy. Recall how Sen. Diane Feinstein grilled Supreme Court candidate Amy Comey Barrett over abortion, saying that ‘dogma lives in her,’ as if no dogma lived in Feinstein. Biology, physics and other sciences have nothing to say about Human Rights, but religion does. Catholics believe in God-given human rights.

  5. When we view the matter as God does, we will choose life.

    Genesis 9:5-6 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

    Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

    Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

    Matthew 18:14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

    Though obedience is always better, repentance restores the sinner.

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