“The Disappearing ‘Undue Burden’ Standard for Abortion Rights”

That’s the title of a recent comment by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker. See http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/disappearing-undue-burden-standard-abortion-rights

Toobin describes the “undue burden” standard as the Justice O’Connor’s “most important triumph during her long and consequential tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court” and laments the prospect of the test’s impending demise.  Toobin wrongly states that O’Connor’s views roughly mirrored those of most Americans.  As Clarke Forsythe pointed out in his book on Roe v. Wade: “What makes abortion uniquely controversial is that the Justices have sided with a small sect–7 percent of Americans–who support abortion for any reason at any time. And the Justices have for forty years prevented the 60-70 percent of Americans in the middle from deciding differently. The conflict between public opinion and the Supreme Court’s nationwide policy is one key reason why Roe is uniquely controversial.”

Toobin focuses on the increasing number of state restrictions on abortion and notes, in particular, the Texas law requiring that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers that was recently considered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. See  http://www.texasrighttolife.com/a/1342/Fifth-Circuit-Court-hears-arguments-on-injunction-delaying-Texas-ProLife-law#.VBnu_Njjjcs.

Toobin speculates about how the U.S Supreme Court will treat this law and ends with this question: “O’Connor has been gone from the Supreme Court for nearly a decade. The question, now, is whether her great achievement will soon be gone, too.”

We can only hope.

Richard M.

amicus brief filed by pro-life organizations in pregnancy discrimination case

Here is a link to a good post by Tom Berg about an amicus brief filed by pro-life organizations in an important case involving pregnancy discrimination. University Faculty for Life was one of the pro-life organizations that joined the brief. Counsel included UFL President Teresa Collett. Tom Berg’s post contains a link to the brief.

Here’s a bit from Tom’s post–

“The case raises an important issue concerning the effectiveness of the PDA’s protection for pregnant employees, since many employers make accommodations for some but not all employees with physical limitations.  The pro-life organizations’ brief argues that pregnancy should be treated as well as conditions the employer deems important enough to accommodate, not as poorly as conditions the employer refuses to accommodate.  The brief points to the background of the PDA, which had support in 1978 from pro-life groups and pro-life members of Congress.  Their rationale was that protecting pregnant women from discrimination reduced pressure on economically vulnerable women to abort their children, and strengthens the fundamental right to bear children and raise a family.  The brief makes those arguments as well.”


Richard M.


UFL in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars proceedings

I just received in the mail the proceedings from the 2013 convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Freedom and the Moral Law, held in Philadelphica, PA.  It contained pieces by three UFL members: “HHS Mandate Litigation: A Supreme Court Showdown in the Making,” by William Saunders; “Exploring the Christological Nexus between the Ascetical Life and the Moral Life,” by Rev. Thomas V. Berg; and “Veritatis Splendor: A Prototype of Renewed Moral Theology,” by Rev. John J. Conley, S.J.

Matthew Bulfin Educational Conference at Georgetown

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists announces that registration is open for its Matthew Bulfin Educational Conference at Georgetown in February 2015.  Please see:


Grondelski interview with Jennifer Lahl

UFL member John M. Grondelski (moral theology) recently interviewed Jennifer Lahl about her three documentaries on artificial reproduction, surrogacy, artificial insemination, and egg donation. “Breeders: A Subclass of Women? — John Grondelski Interviews Jennifer Lahl on Her New Documentary,” in Human Life Review, 40:2 (Spring 2014), 105-12.

National Personhood Alliance and Incrementalism

Recently a debate has sprung up in the pro-life movement about the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable legal incrementalism. The newly-formed National Personhood Alliance is promoting a version of incrementalism that excludes bills which explicitly mention exceptions where abortions would be allowed, such as rape and incest. Their argument is that any bill that explicitly excludes a category of unborn from the protection due to persons is immoral and unacceptable as a form of incrementalism. They do allow, however, bills that only protect some unborn, but do not mention exceptions. An example of this kind of bill would be the 20 week abortion ban. For the NPA, a bill is acceptable if it would not be overturned by a personhood-from-fertilization amendment.

The NPA works in cooperation with Personhood USA. According to LifeSiteNews.com, Notre Dame Law Professor Emeritus Charles Rice has endorsed the NPA, as has Catholic Bishop Kagan, of Bismarck, North Dakota.