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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

Panelists advocate for ‘culture of life’ in wake of Dobbs decision

Participants in the panel “A Culture of Life in Post-Dobbs America” advocated against abortion and for a pro-life movement that places equal emphasis on the life of the mother and child Wednesday afternoon.

The panel, which was hosted by the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity and the Notre Dame Right to Life club, consisted of: Danielle Brown, associate director of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Charles Camos, professor of medical humanities at the Creighton University School of Medicine; Angela Franks, professor of theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston; O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at Notre Dame; and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the diocese of Fort Wayne — South Bend.

Snead began the panel by emphasizing the importance of the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision for their movement.

“Before we could even have any substantive conversations about how to shape the law, Roe v. Wade had to be overturned,” Mr. Snead said, arguing that the Roe v. Wade decision was “pursuant to an illegitimate power grab by the court that didn't have any sources in the text, history or tradition of the Constitution.”

Now that the Court has tossed the power to regulate abortion to the states, Snead said “it's our responsibility to take that authority and to care for mothers, babies and families and build a culture of life and a civilization of love.” 

Snead advocated for policies that outlaw abortion while also supporting mothers, pointing to the state of Texas as an example.

“Texas has not just extended the protections of the law to the to the unborn child but at the same time, authorized $100 million ... for alternatives to abortion programs to try to support pregnancy resource centers ... to help support women in terms of poverty, health care [and] addiction,” he said.

Brown then spoke, drawing connections between abortion and racism.

“There are ... two thirds as many abortions in the Black community than amongst our sisters in the white community,” she said.

While African-Americans make up roughly 12% of the American population, Brown said, “some figures report that without abortion, the population and the communities would be double that percentage.”

But Brown said it is not enough to simply point out the issue of race with abortion — she said action must be taken.

“The problem that I see most within the pro-life movement is that we are all stats when it comes to the Black American and no heart. [We are] not caring about health care disparities, food deserts, safe and affordable housing, educational choice, and the Catholic Church is rapidly withdrawing from city centers. Why don't we care?” she said.

While Brown argued that laws must be enacted to stop abortion, she also argued that a shift in the culture is necessary.

“Men and women today, really, we just want to be God. We lack a proper anthropology of the human person and a definition of true freedom,” she said.

Franks then talked about the role that abortion has played in feminist movements over the past 100 years. 

While the first wave of feminism, Franks argued, was mostly about “moral exhortation” and changing social structures to benefit women, second and third wave feminism evolved to the point where “the problem was female fertility.” The solution for these feminists, Franks argued, was abortion.

This view of feminism, Franks said, was out of touch with basic biology and “just doesn’t work.”

“Women cannot simply follow a male timetable when it comes to pursuing education or pursuing a career if they also want a family,” Franks said.

Franks argued that a worldview that pushes motherhood to the side in favor of monetary gain should be rejected by the movement.

Camosy turned the focus of the conversation to the future of the anti-abortion cause.

“Just as a quarterback needs to lead his receiver and throw the ball, not where he is now, but where he will be in a few seconds,” Camosy said, “so we as a pro-life movement need to think about not where the culture is now, if we want to be persuasive in the public sphere, build alliances, appeal to people with different sources of ultimate concern, but think about where we're going.”

Like other speakers, Camosy stated that in a post-Roe world, “the goal of radical equality for both mother and child” should be the priority.

Camosy argued that in order to do this, anti-abortion advocates must not be afraid to use the government to achieve their goals.

“We have been led, in my view, by far too tight connections to a Reagan-style Republican Party that rejects the role of government in favor of virtually only private solutions. There is nothing Catholic about this approach,” Camosy said.

After the four panelists spoke, Rhoades came to the stage and praised the work of the panelists and the Right to Life group on campus, saying that “respect for the life and dignity of every human being” is the “foundation of what makes a university truly Catholic.”

Rhoades touted the work of pregnancy and women’s care centers in the diocese, which give material assistance to women during and after their pregnancies.

“It's remarkable the number of women who've been helped, and many African-American, many Latinas and many who are lower income people. And the method is love,” Rhoades said.

“The number of abortions in our diocese has been cut in half,” he added.

Concluding his remarks, Rhoades emphasized the importance he places on the fight against abortion.

“Life is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others. To guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends,” he said.