Letters 02.14.2010


Personhood amendment articles show there is much interest in getting amendments on state ballots regarding the personhood of the unborn child. However, there is also confusion on wording, with some being long and difficult to understand.

Too many “fingers” in the pie, and the devil is in the details. In this case, that is really true, with the devil being involved and thus confusion. This should be kept very simple and straightforward, such as: “In this state, the unborn baby shall have the same legal rights as those given to the newborn baby.”

Anyone can understand this, and the great majority of Americans will agree with this.

The Dred Scott decision (Supreme Court, 1857) ruled that slaves and their descendants had no constitutional rights. They did not say they were not humans or persons, but that they had no legal rights. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment (1868) to the Constitution gave broad definition for citizenship, equal protection, civil and constitutional rights. In 1973, Supreme Court ruled (Roe v. Wade) that the unborn baby or fetus did not have civil or constitutional rights, as they were not mentioned in the 14th Amendment. The court did not say the fetus was not a person or a human, but that it did not have legal rights, was not a “legal person.” If only one state would pass an amendment to its constitution and enforce it, that might lead to a challenge that would advance to the U.S. Supreme Court for a re-evaluation of the Roe v. Wade decision. Most likely, this would result in extending equal legal rights to the unborn baby throughout the U.S.A.

This idea of an amendment to a state constitution would appear to be a good way to have Roe revisited. It is not a reasonable decision, but has been left alone since 1973.

William V. Johnson, M.D., ret.

Sellersburg, Indiana

Bay State Surprise

Regarding coverage of Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts: With the recent surprise election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate seat previously occupied by Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts, I find myself feeling something close to pride for my state, a sensation not felt for a long, long time. As a “recovering liberal” and observant Catholic, I have often felt ashamed of the disgraceful anti-life and anti-family politicians representing this state, particularly since so many identify themselves as Catholics.  

Last year, I was part of a group praying that the ill Sen. Kennedy would recant his pro-abortion position before his anticipated death. What an incredible statement it would have been to hear the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate proclaim the pro-life message of hope, and at his death in August of 2009, it looked like our prayers were not answered. But God Almighty, how great thou art! Our prayers were answered in some fashion, in God’s time and in his way. Although Sen.-elect Brown is not a perfect pro-life politician, he backs sensible limits on abortion and has defended traditional marriage in the state where “gay marriage” was foisted upon the populace by a narrow (4-3) state Supreme Court vote several years ago. Brown has resisted the herd mentality in the Massachusetts Legislature on many important issues, and I trust that he possesses the personal integrity to lead our state and nation as a U.S. senator, as a counterbalance to the abortion-loving ultra-liberals currently in control.

I hope that God will judge the deceased Edward Kennedy with the mercy we all, as sinners, anticipate.

  Eileen Guerin

Boxford, Massachusetts

Small Victory in Mass.

As reflected in Joan Frawley Desmond’s Jan. 20 article (Register Exclusives, “Mass. Catholics Bank on Scott Brown”), it is an occasion to be thankful that Martha Coakley lost her bid for the Massachusetts senatorial position to Scott Brown.

Even though Scott Brown is not for the protection of all unborn children, I am grateful that at least there will not be another Catholic serving under this administration who consistently fails to live his or her Catholic faith by speech or action in such a scandalous manner.

With this Massachusetts victory and in a number of other significant ways, I was reminded to never give up hope in God. I recall the Mass readings for the second week in Ordinary Time (1 Samuel 16:1-13) as especially noteworthy, when God says to Samuel: “Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.”

And the ultimate reflection for me (1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51): the story of young David overcoming the Philistine in battle, and Goliath being soundly defeated unto death. In Massachusetts, I believe “David” defeated the political agenda of a “Goliath” pro-death political party.

My heart will continue to hope and pray that someday in the future we will be able to truly rejoice when a Catholic believer is elected who lives his or her faith for the benefit of all Americans, be they unborn or just trying to live and work in the health-care field according to their own properly informed conscience. May God continue to bless America.

Rebecca Reeder

Leesburg, Virginia

Cover-to-Cover Reader

You folks are doing a great job. When I get the Register, I read it over to cover and then ponder. Thanks! God bless you and your work.

Kevin Laughlin

Boise, Idaho

Column Worth Sharing

Regarding “A Tale of 2 Stories” (Jan. 17): I’ll share the column with my daughter who volunteers at Pregnancy Center West in Catonsville. Regarding the March for Life, I thought it was another great display for the support of life!

Dale Anderson

Randallstown, Maryland

Redefining Pregnancy?

Professor Maureen Condic has provided a very valuable service by her authorship of the white paper “When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective.”

Nonetheless, Sue Ellin Browder’s interview with her (Dec. 20) does require at least two clarifications. Firstly, Browder states that “cutting-edge biology can answer this question objectively, accurately and definitively.”

The elementary scientific fact that conception marks the beginning of human life was clearly defined in Stedman’s Medical Dictionary (21st ed.), when I began medical school in 1971. Likewise, physician Dr. John Wilke began medical school in 1944 and was taught this elemental embryology, as was his father in 1920 and his grandfather in 1890.

Secondly, Condic states, “I think that defining ‘pregnancy’ as implantation makes perfect sense both medically and biologically. … A woman does not become pregnant until she’s gestating an embryo or a fetus.”

This proposed redefinition of pregnancy is not grounded in science. Moreover, the complex and wondrous maternal-embryo interactions between conception and implantation include crosstalk between the now enhanced uterine endometrium and the embryo, so that proper attachment is made with the embryonic pole of the blastocyst.

Rather than making “perfect” medical sense, Condic’s proposal leads to incoherence. Why is the substance secreted in the first 24-48 hours after conception called early pregnancy factor? Also, how can it happen that a woman who has never been pregnant, as now redefined by Condic (i.e., her early embryo has never implanted into the uterine wall), can develop an ectopic pregnancy?

Pope Benedict XVI said, in 2006, that at the Visitation Jesus had been conceived in Mary’s womb “only a few days earlier.” Thus, if this papal teaching is accepted, not only was the preimplantation personhood of Jesus apparent to the leaping John the Baptist, but so too was Mary’s very early pregnancy apparent to Elizabeth: “And, how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

A. Patrick Schneider II, M.D., MPH

Lexington, Kentucky

No Other Love

In regard to the column by Benjamin Wiker “The Truth Is Out There. Extraterrestrials, Probably Not,” Dec. 13: Yes, God is all-powerful and all-free; he could make some other alien race and choose to love them, but I don’t think he did so.

Rather than start over when the Earth was filled with moral corruption, God preferred a destructive flood to salvage what was left from that corruption: Noah’s small family. In the history of Israel, too, God cast off only to call closer the remnant that remained. Nor did God cast off the promises to the “chosen people” and the privileged of place of Israel when expanding it to include the “adopted” Gentiles.

In fact, in the sending of Jesus himself, it was to redeem mankind — God could have instead started over with some other creation to serve him in a union of body and spirit. The conclusion is obvious to me: God, showing the nature of true love to our level of creation, has chosen to love only us, the human family; there is no one else to love somewhere out in space that is not part of our human family.

Therefore, either extraterrestrials are human, descended from Adam and Eve, temporarily separated from us by some means like the “New World” peoples who first populated the Americas and were separated from the “Old World” peoples for a time, or else extraterrestrial intelligent life as a union of body and soul on our level of creation does not exist. And then also the limits of known physics would place a radius on the reasonable possibilities where extraterrestrial humans might be living: this solar system. As Wiker has pointed out, modern space exploration of this solar system seems to be eliminating the possibilities ... and is going through them rather quickly.

Mark LaPointe

Phoenix, Arizona


In “A Bright Spot in a Dark Anniversary: Pregnancy-Care Centers,” a “Register Exclusives” commentary, a quote was attributed to Justice Harry Blackmun, but it was Justice Byron White who called the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade a “raw act of judicial power.” The Register regrets the error. The website for Apostles of Divine Mercy was incorrect in the Jan. 10 issue: It is DivineMercySunday.com not “.org.”