NEW YORK—In a lecture to U.N. diplomats and staff in early June, Michael Uhlmann, former policy advisor to U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, called abortion-on-demand little more than an update of the “barbaric Roman tradition whereby a father could take the lives of his family for any reason at any time.” The old Roman tradition, called paterfamilias, Uhlmann said, had only become in modern times materfamilias.

Uhlmann spoke at U.N. headquarters in New York for the third installment of the Jacques Maritain-United Nations lecture series on the natural law.

He contended that the rights of humans must come from somewhere and “if they do not come from our God-given nature as human beings, where precisely do they come from?”

He said that “abortion advocates claim that our rights come to us solely by the will of our mothers. If [the mother] chooses to kill us, the law in the United States, and in many other countries, says that is all right. Not only is the unborn child not a rights-bearing creature by nature, but its mother is under no moral or legal obligation to convey those rights.”

Uhlmann says this makes the mother no better than a despot whose will becomes the law.

He contended that this argument cannot be confined only to the context of abortion, because the mother's authority to take life can only have come from positive law which is decided upon by legislators. Uhlmann warned of the danger of relying on positive law when it comes to life issues, instead of on God-given rights.

“I have yet to encounter an argument for taking the life of the unborn child that could not also be used to justify taking the life of anyone in this room,” he said.

Uhlmann explained that the arguments for euthanasia are grounded in the same three principles as abortion — autonomy, compassion, and utility. And since the arguments are so nearly identical, Uhlmann expects it will be impossible for the U.S. Supreme Court not to eventually uphold a person's “right” to kill themselves for any reason.

Author George Marlin also addressed the noon-day crowd, telling them that the roots of the current abortion and euthanasia questions grew from the eugenics movement of the early 20th century.

“It was the desire of certain wealthy people in America, the Rockefellers, Harrimans, Eastmans, and others, to get rid of those whom they called the undesirables.” He said it was only a short step from these beginnings to the present day practice in Norway of the “angel-of-death-squads” that roam the Norwegian countryside “coercing the sick into killing themselves.” (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute)