Speakers for O’Connor Conference

The speakers list is now posted for the 2015 Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life on January 24 at Georgetown University, in conjunction with the March for Life. The conference is co-sponsored by UFL.

The keynote speaker will be Cardinal Sean O’Malley, of Boston.

Among the other speakers will be:

  • Panel: “The End of Intelligent Debate”
    • Mona Charen, syndicated columnist and political analyst
    • Mary Hasson, EPPC Senior Fellow
  • Jennifer Lahl, founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network: “The Ethics of the New Modern Family


Beckwith website redesigned

Frank Beckwith has had his web page redesigned.  It features his writings on Law and Ethics and on Religion and Culture, as well as his contributions to reference works and his book review.

Catholic midwives can be forced to supervise abortions

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom today rejected the right to conscience claims of Mary Doogan and Connie Wood. Doogan and Wood are midwives who “are practicing Roman Catholics who believe that human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offence against human life.”  Doogan and Wood may now be forced to supervise abortions carried out by other members of the hospital staff. Links to the Court’s opinion and a press release are provided below.

The Abortion Act of 1967 (as amended) sets forth a right to conscientious objection. The Act protects persons who have a conscientious objection to participating in abortions allowed by the statute. In this case, the Supreme Court interpreted the scope of the conscientious objection provision narrowly. A lower court had ruled in favor of Doogan and Wood, finding that the exemption extended to “any involvement in the process of treatment, the object of which is to terminate a pregnancy.” The Supreme Court rejected that view and found that the statutory protection only extended to hands-on participation in the treatment, and not supervising the process, which is the role that Doogan and Wood objected to performing.

The Court did not consider the argument that Doogan and Wood’s rights under the European Convention of Human Rights and another statute (the Equality Act of 2010), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of religious belief, had been violated. The Court said that those issues were more subject to resolution in a proceeding brought by the midwives in an employment tribunal.



Richard M.

Supreme Court refuses to review decision invalidating Arizona abortion restriction

On Monday December 15, 2014, the Supreme Court refused to review a Ninth Circuit ruling that held unconstitutional an Arizona “law that requires abortionists to use federal standards in administering chemical abortions.” http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2014/12/supreme-court-declines-to-review-decision-blocking-enforcement-of-arizona-abortion-law-but-other-appeals-courts-have-upheld-similar-law/#.VJBBXNjjjcs  The FDA protocol, which was developed in 2000, calls for RU-486 to be used only in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.  Since that time, many abortion clinics have departed from the FDA standards and the Arizona law was designed to prevent these “off-label” uses.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is inconsistent with rulings from other federal courts that have upheld similar laws in Texas and Ohio. The courts have disagreed about whether these laws are consistent with the “undue burden” standard the Supreme Court developed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Arizona law is not a ruling on the merits and does not have precedential effect. That has not stopped speculation about the Court’s refusal to review the case.  Many observers believe that the Supreme Court will soon agree to hear a same-sex marriage case and it may be that the Court is not inclined to consider an abortion case at the same time it considers same-sex marriage.

Richard M.

William E. May, RIP

William E. May, moral theologian and UFL member, has died at the age of 87. He was a long-time professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., holding the Michael J. McGivney Chair in Moral Theology. His contribution to moral theology was substantial and influential. He was the recipient of UFL’s 2012 Rupert and Timothy Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions to Pro-Life Scholarship.

Grondelski on artificial reproductive technology

UFL member John M. Grondelski has written an article, “The Family & Biology: Challenges of the Artificial Reproductive Technologies,” in Teologia i moralność (Theology & Morality), 15:1 (2014), 149-65.  The journal is published by the Theology Faculty of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland.