Beliefs – and Their Political Traps (What Do You Believe?), by Hadley Arkes

Shock — Some Women Still Choose Motherhood, by Robin Smith
November 19, 2019
ICYMI: Four Exorcists Urge Day of Fasting, Prayer and Reparation Dec. 6, by Bree A. Dail
November 19, 2019

*Image: The Triumph of the Innocents by William Holman Hunt, c. 1883 [The Tate, London]

By Hadley Arkes, The Catholic Thing, Nov. 19, 2019

Note: The Great Professor Arkes reminds us today of something everyone should understand about the distinction between faith and reason, especially in the public square. Faith is addressed to reason, but reason – right reason – is quite capable on its own of telling us truths about public questions such as the duty to protect the lives of the innocent, particularly in the womb. Therefore, while Catholics are and must be pro-life, you can be rational and pro-life without being Catholic. These and other crucial questions perpetually need sorting out, and are likely to be especially so as we enter the 2020 election campaigns. We will be here to comment on what is coming – if we can have your support now. Many “things” come under our purview at The Catholic Thing. You can be part of that by making your contribution. Today. – Robert Royal

The scene:  The Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson, in the late 1970s.  I was invited in to do a debate on abortion with a young woman from the ACLU.   I sought to show, in my usual way, that the argument on abortion could be cast simply in the form of a principled argument, without any appeal to faith or religion.

I drew, as ever, on a fragment that Lincoln wrote for himself in which he imagined himself in a debate with an owner of slaves, and he put the question of why this man was justified in making a slave of the black man.  Was he less intelligent? Then beware, said Lincoln, you may be rightly enslaved by the next white man more intelligent than you.

As the argument moved on in this way, the upshot became clear: there was nothing one could cite to justify the enslavement of the black man that would not apply to many whites as well.

I pointed out then that we simply draw upon the same mode of reasoning when it comes to abortion: why is that offspring in the human womb anything less than human?  Does it not speak?  Neither do deaf mutes.  Does it lack arms or legs?  Well, other people lose arms or legs in the course of their lives without losing anything necessary to their standing as human beings to receive the protections of the law. ….