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Bad influences from abroad Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 28 December 2012

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One day the Supreme Court will take a case that could overturn the regime of abortion currently allowed by the U.S. legal system.  When that happens, the country will have a legal and political conflagration such as it has never seen or heard of before. Massive armies on either wide will assemble and advance on each other and upon the Court.

The prospect of such a fight and what may follow is likely a reason that some people still poll in favor of Roe v Wade, even though they may believe our current regime of abortion for any or no reason is unjust.

You can be sure abortion proponents will throw the kitchen sink at the high court and at the country. They will include what they consider to be international norms. They will argue that the world is pro-choice and they will point to certain laws and documents to make their case. And they will cite the laws of other countries, particularly those in Europe.

They will invoke decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and U.N. treaties and the conclusions of treaty bodies. They will cite non-binding documents such as those that came out of the Cairo Conference on Population and Development. We may even be treated to lessons from a document of the African Union called the “Maputo Protocols,” the only international treaty that calls for legal abortion.

A case just handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights shows us how this works and gives us a glimpse into our own future.

Last week the court struck down a Costa Rican law that banned in vitro fertilization. Piero Tozzi of Alliance Defending Freedom explains that the court ruled such “restrictions violated rights to privacy, personal autonomy, and ‘sexual and reproductive health’ under the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), commonly knows as the Pact of San José.” He says the Court also “ruled that a human embryo lacks the legal status of a ‘person,’” and that life begins not at conception, but at implantation – even though the ACHR is the only international treaty that explicitly protects the right to life “from conception.”


The glimpse into our future lies in the fact that the Court cited numerous foreign documents including the Cairo Program for Action, the Bejing Platform for Action, reports of the World Health Organization, general observations of a U.N. Treaty Monitoring Body, and cases from the European Court of Human Rights.

This is the long-time legal strategy of the international abortion lobby: to create a body of legal or quasi-legal decisions that courts may quote in striking down or upholding abortion laws. The court then uses these references to supposedly show a growing global consensus in favor of – in this case – in vitro fertilization, but more broadly “reproductive rights” that include a right to abortion.

The problem with these references is that they cannot properly be cited to reach any such conclusions. The Cairo and Beijing documents were non-binding documents and therefore cannot honestly represent any global consensus on IVF, abortion, or any other thing. U.N. Treaty Monitoring bodies do not have any authority to bind states to do anything. Still lawless judges, judges who stand for themselves and not the rule of law, do whatever pleases them.

Here is the problem for us. It is a dead certainty that abortion proponents will use these same documents and bodies when the Supreme Court eventually rehears Roe. Some on the Court will cite them, too, either a majority if Roe is upheld or a minority if it is struck down.

The Supreme Court has already shown a taste for this. Justices cited the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty the United States has never ratified, when they struck down the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of majority. In the same case, the Court cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty we have ratified, but they referred to a part of it, on the death penalty, that we formally rejected at ratification.

When the Court constitutionalized homosexual sodomy, Justice Kennedy cited decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. In that same Lawrence decision, he cited an amicus brief submitted by former U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson that claimed international norms now demand striking down laws against homosexual acts.

The current Supreme Court may very well continue to go this way. Scalia and Thomas are already on record opposing the use of foreign and international law and both Roberts and Alito rejected this practice during their Senate hearings. But the majority of the Court – Kennedy, Sotomayor, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kagan – is fine with it.

The Costa Rica case will not have any direct impact on the United States. We are not a party to the Pact of San José and we already have the most wild and wooly laws on IVF, that is, we have no regulations at all. The case will have an impact on IVF laws around Latin America and will eventually have a profound impact on legal abortion around the continent.

You can be sure, however, that the use of foreign law and international bodies will be noted approvingly by the usual suspects on the Court.

The Costa Rica case shows in great detail what Robert Bork described in one of his final and most important books, Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges, how judges, those he called “Olympians,” look down from on high, contort law, and impose their own private contortions on the rest of us.

It is the sorry and frightening that our own Supreme Court Justices think they have more in common with the judges on the Inter-American Court than with their own people or the founders of our country.

 

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
 
 
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written by Ib, December 28, 2012
This is one of the reasons that many people believe we are already in an Age of Barbarity. The very language of the Founders has been usurped to increase governmental power, the rule of non-elected elites has been imposed through a charade of democracy, Christian faith has been designated as both ipso facto irrational and an impediment to human flourishing, and mass murder has been declared to be a social good. This is an Age of Barbarity in which the ancient notion of a life of virtue (I.e., a holy life) is considered reprehensible.

Alasdair MacIntyre, writing 30 years ago, already saw the signs of it in European governments:

What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms
of community within which civility and the intellectual and
moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already
upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors
of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This
time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they
have been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of
consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are
waiting not for a Godot, but for another -- doubtless very different
-- St. Benedict." (p. 263, pub. 1981)

The barbarians are governing us -- and have been for quite some time. Most of the governmental elites, like the Aryan kings of old, regard Roman Catholicism and other ancient Christian traditions with contempt. It becomes less and less likely that anything but barbarous laws and regulations will emerge from them.

The earlier "Dark Age" lasted three hundred years. May we hope that this new Age of Barbarity will be any shorter?
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written by Ib, December 28, 2012
Typo alert: my earlier post should read "Arian kings" rather than "Aryan kings".

Homonyms sometimes prevail when typing quickly ....
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, December 28, 2012
This is inevitble, as long as well-meaning people embrace the fallacy of law as embodying universal norms.

As Pascal pointed out, “He who obeys them [the laws] because they are just, obeys a justice which is imaginary and not the essence of law; it is quite self-contained [elle est toute ramassée en soi], it is law and nothing more.”
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written by Dave, December 28, 2012
This is a hard article that is very fitting for today's feast, of the Holy Innocents. In telling us that a majority of the Court supports the usage of international legal "norms" and "decisions" that prevail against innocent life, it leaves us little hope, on the natural plane, of course. Is there any doubt that we are at something akin to the very first days of the Church, when the faithful would rescue from exposure children left to die and would offer succor to single pregnant women. With the public powers aligned against the Church -- as, perhaps, never before -- it becomes increasingly vital that in addition to Mr. Ruse's good work in the arena of public opinion, exposing the works of darkness, more and more committed Christians have to be more and more engaged in personal apostolate and the works of mercy -- spiritual and corporal. The Faith spread in the first days because, Tacitus tells us, of the way "they love each other." It will spread in our days when this is said of us again. A very wise priest recently twittered that it is time for us to get out of the comfort zone of our cultural Christianity, whatever cultural Christianity we live. I think Mr. Ruse's article points us in that direction. Msgr. Pope blogged earlier this week on the Bloody Octave of Christmas: it is wise for us to remember that Christ comes to us to offer salvation and hope -- and that his offer contains a command to decide, to leave the comfort zone and follow Him come what may, or to die in our sins. There is no faith without works. God make us equal to the tasks before us.
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written by Tony Esolen, December 28, 2012
We should call this what it is: flat tyranny. I would call it "cultural tyranny," with the important reservation, that what it actually does is destroy culture, replacing culture with a drab anti-cultural homogeneity dictated from above. It is the ghastly parody of the real union in the Church, which embraces and elevates all cultures.
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written by Manfred, December 28, 2012
It is important for us to remember that God knows all that is occurring and He is allowing it to happen. We have only to read the Gospels of Christ's early life: Joseph, Jesus' stepfather, being warned by an Angel to flee with Mary and the Child to Egypt as the Child's life is in danger, their stay in Egypt and the Angel returning again to announce to Joseph that he should return home with his family as: Those who desired the death of the Child are now dead themselves. God put His Son, Mary Immaculate and her spouse Joseph through this. As Newman wrote: He has His reasons, He does nothing in vain. God also allowed the slaughter of the Innocents in Christ's time. He has also allowed all the horrors since the beginning of time as the price we pay for Original Sin and our own Sins. "Amen, Amen. I say to you that this world will not pass away until every jot and tittle has been satisfied."
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written by Louise, December 28, 2012
How about legislation that specifically disallows any US court from using any foreign legislation/findings, etc in adjudicating? Perhaps a constitutional amendment?
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written by Jim M., December 28, 2012
It is interesting to me that there is another body of foreign law, promulgated by a well-known international authority and developed over the centuries, that holds the intentional procurement of an abortion to be an intrinsically evil act. According to that body of foreign law, the penalty for such an act, which is in fact worse than death, is automatic excommunication. No doubt, the selective Supremes won't just consider any foreign law...
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written by Manfred, December 28, 2012
Post Script: While John Adams did not use the term, he did not think that a democratic republic was "transferable" to other countries or cultures; as for it to work the citizens had to be religious and moral. Now that we have slid down the slippery slope into secularism and the religious and moral aspects have largely disappeared, we have to deal with an elite leadership which is pragmatic, amoral and calloused toward any religious sense. The Church opened a real Pandora's Box which may never close when it abandoned the de Fide teaching on Hell ( an editor of TCT stated in another venue that Hell is not mentioned by name in any of the sixteen documents of Vat. II). The horrible result of this is not only are the elite no longer fearful of life after death (if it exists at all), but the person who shoots up a mall, office, courtroom or school no longer fears Hell as he/she usually commits suicide to prove it when the authorities arrive. The majority wanted anthropocentric-man focused instead of God focused? Well we have it.
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written by Ib, December 28, 2012
@manfred

Don't let Dr. Francis Beckwith know you think that anything that happens is "the price we pay for Original Sin and our own Sins." He doesn't agree ...
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written by Athanasius, December 28, 2012
Let me offer a word of hope. It seems to me that these sins of the flesh, be they sexual perversion or destroying the fruit of procreation, all ultimately sins against the Incarnation. To counter such sins we can: 1. Practice proper sexuality ourselves, 2. Pray for mercy to the Sacred Heart for those who don't, 3. Perform acts of worship specifically directed to Jesus in His Incarnation. Here I suggest Eucharistic adoration and mass.

Our times do look grim, but we must always hope and trust in The Lord. Let's do what we can and trust in God for the rest.
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written by Dave, December 28, 2012
@ Manfred: what about this?

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the one published by Bl. John Paul II after the Council.
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written by Manfred, December 28, 2012
@Dave:
What about this? "Dare we hope that all men be saved?" Von Balthasar. "The anonymous Christian" While we have to believe that Hell exists, we do not have to believe that anyone is there. Rahner. Both of these men were favorites of the Council. Your citation is correct, but if no one is preaching it from the pulpit, how will the "average Catholic" know this? It becomes just another opinion. See para. 2357 in the CCC and read the last sentence re: homosexual activities: "Under no circumstances can they be approved." Do you find any agreement in the Church on this issue.? My original point still stands: There is no mention of Hell by name in the sixteen documents of Vat. II.
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written by Graham Combs, December 30, 2012
In a Catholic Radio interview Cardinal Wuerl said that there isn't a conspiracy against the Church but there is a mentality in the culture. He never sat in an American law school classroom as I did for three years.As with so much else,the education system creates a so-called "groundswell" for these rights. How do you beat such an institutionally pervasive idea that is so well funded? By being more Catholic is the only way I see. Not as easy as it sounds given institutional push back within Church institutions themselves.

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