Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Imposing My Religion … Not!

By Deacon Vince Bernardin

Here are three names you’ve probably never heard of – Kelsey Hazzard, Serrin Foster and Cecily Routman. Aside from their general anonymity, they all hold one thing in common … they are all adamantly pro-life.  So I guess that makes them all deeply committed Christians, right? Wrong!


Hazzard is an atheist and president of Secular Pro-Life. Routman is the founder of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation.  While Foster may be a Christian, that’s hardly her calling card. She is the president of Feminists for Life.  


The list goes on and on. There are quite a few pro-life organizations with memberships that span the spectrum of religious affiliations. Examples include the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, Lawyers for Life., Doctors for Life International and Students for Life.

So, why is it that the abortion debate is always couched in terms of imposing a particular religious viewpoint on civil society? I suspect it is a smokescreen to divert attention away from the inconvenient scientific truth that there is a new life at the moment a sperm penetrates an egg; that this life is neither the same as that of the mother or the father; and that this life is human.

These facts are indisputable. We all learned in high school Biology that male and female gametes carry exactly half the number of chromosomes as all the other cells in a human body. When the sperm and the egg come together, those two halves are merged into a complete individual with an entirely new chromosomal structure that will remain unique and unchanged until death.

To contend that this new creature is just a specialized part of the mother’s body is scientific nonsense; and, if this little being is not “human”, then what is it?

Those chromosomes belong to the human family, nothing else. Some contend that they are too small to be human. So what if this little person is small? So was each of us at one time. And, so what if this little person cannot take care of himself or herself? The same could be said of a 5-year-old and most 100-year-olds. Yet, none would deny the humanity of the kindergartner or the centenarian.

It comes down to this: The Declaration of Independence enshrined the “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal” and that they are endowed with certain “unalienable rights” including the right to life.  Our forefathers went on to adopt a Constitution that was intended to protect the weak from the strong. More than any other right, the right of a person to livetrumps all other rights. Read the Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be… deprived of life … without the due process of law.”

We are a nation built on the constitutional right to life. Unfortunately, since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, we have been sliding down a slippery slope through embryonic-stem-cell research, euthanasia, school shootings and homemade bombs. As a society, we are gradually moving toward anarchy because the biological fact of life is no longer viewed as the bedrock of our legal system.

There is a sound basis on which to assert the primacy of life over all other rights without making any reference to religion at all. So the next time someone tries to hijack the abortion debate with the specious argument that you don’t have the right to force your religious beliefs on them, try agreeing with them. Then, move on to the rarely-mentioned reality of the personhood of the littlest people and the protections that our laws were intended to provide.

Editor’s note – the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops proclaims October as Respect Life Month.