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Panelists advocate for ‘culture of life’ in wake of Dobbs decision

Participants in the panel “A Culture of Life in Post-Dobbs America” advocated against abortion and for a pro-life movement that places equal emphasis on the life of the mother and child Wednesday afternoon.

The panel, which was hosted by the Notre Dame Office of Life and Human Dignity and the Notre Dame Right to Life club, consisted of: Danielle Brown, associate director of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Charles Camos, professor of medical humanities at the Creighton University School of Medicine; Angela Franks, professor of theology at St. John’s Seminary in Boston; O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at Notre Dame; and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the diocese of Fort Wayne — South Bend.

Snead began the panel by emphasizing the importance of the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision for their movement.

“Before we could even have any substantive conversations about how to shape the law, Roe v. Wade had to be overturned,” Mr. Snead said, arguing that the Roe v. Wade decision was “pursuant to an illegitimate power grab by the court that didn’t have any sources in the text, history or tradition of the Constitution.”

Now that the Court has tossed the power to regulate abortion to the states, Snead said “it’s our responsibility to take that authority and to care for mothers, babies and families and build a culture of life and a civilization of love.” 

Snead advocated for policies that outlaw abortion while also supporting mothers, pointing to the state of Texas as an example.

“Texas has not just extended the protections of the law to the to the unborn child but at the same time, authorized $100 million … for alternatives to abortion programs to try to support pregnancy resource centers … to help support women in terms of poverty, health care [and] addiction,” he said.

Brown then spoke, drawing connections between abortion and racism.

“There are … two thirds as many abortions in the Black community than amongst our sisters in the white community,” she said.

While African-Americans make up roughly 12% of the American population, Brown said, “some figures report that without abortion, the population and the communities would be double that percentage.”

But Brown said it is not enough to simply point out the issue of race with abortion — she said action must be taken.

“The problem that I see most within the pro-life movement is that we are all stats when it comes to the Black American and no heart. [We are] not caring about health care disparities, food deserts, safe and affordable housing, educational choice, and the Catholic Church is rapidly withdrawing from city centers. Why don’t we care?” she said.

While Brown argued that laws must be enacted to stop abortion, she also argued that a shift in the culture is necessary.

“Men and women today, really, we just want to be God. We lack a proper anthropology of the human person and a definition of true freedom,” she said.

Franks then talked about the role that abortion has played in feminist movements over the past 100 years. 

While the first wave of feminism, Franks argued, was mostly about “moral exhortation” and changing social structures to benefit women, second and third wave feminism evolved to the point where “the problem was female fertility.” The solution for these feminists, Franks argued, was abortion.

This view of feminism, Franks said, was out of touch with basic biology and “just doesn’t work.”

“Women cannot simply follow a male timetable when it comes to pursuing education or pursuing a career if they also want a family,” Franks said.

Franks argued that a worldview that pushes motherhood to the side in favor of monetary gain should be rejected by the movement.

Camosy turned the focus of the conversation to the future of the anti-abortion cause.

“Just as a quarterback needs to lead his receiver and throw the ball, not where he is now, but where he will be in a few seconds,” Camosy said, “so we as a pro-life movement need to think about not where the culture is now, if we want to be persuasive in the public sphere, build alliances, appeal to people with different sources of ultimate concern, but think about where we’re going.”

Like other speakers, Camosy stated that in a post-Roe world, “the goal of radical equality for both mother and child” should be the priority.

Camosy argued that in order to do this, anti-abortion advocates must not be afraid to use the government to achieve their goals.

“We have been led, in my view, by far too tight connections to a Reagan-style Republican Party that rejects the role of government in favor of virtually only private solutions. There is nothing Catholic about this approach,” Camosy said.

After the four panelists spoke, Rhoades came to the stage and praised the work of the panelists and the Right to Life group on campus, saying that “respect for the life and dignity of every human being” is the “foundation of what makes a university truly Catholic.”

Rhoades touted the work of pregnancy and women’s care centers in the diocese, which give material assistance to women during and after their pregnancies.

“It’s remarkable the number of women who’ve been helped, and many African-American, many Latinas and many who are lower income people. And the method is love,” Rhoades said.

“The number of abortions in our diocese has been cut in half,” he added.

Concluding his remarks, Rhoades emphasized the importance he places on the fight against abortion.

“Life is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others. To guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends,” he said.

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‘Still a lot of important work to be done’: Hundreds of Notre Dame students to join annual March for Life

For the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, thousands of students — including roughly 500 Notre Dame students — will coalesce on the U.S. Capitol for the March for Life.

The march began in 1974, the same year the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion in the U.S.

Half a century later and after a historic ruling overturning the federal right to an abortion, Notre Dame’s Right to Life club will march alongside tens of thousands of fellow pro-life and anti-abortion activists. The club has attended the march since it began.

Yet one thing distinguishes this year’s march from those of years past. This past summer the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that abortion is not a constitutional right, effectively overturning their prior decision in Roe v. Wade. Now that overturning Roe is no longer a rallying cry, Right to Life club leaders say they will campaign for other anti-abortion policies and support for pregnant women.

The Notre Dame Right to Life club is partnering with the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture to plan the event, including coordinating bus transportation for those participating. Right to Life club president Merlot Fogarty said the center is “crucial in helping us to execute this large-scale event and making it a success each year.”

The club will also host a mass in D.C. for alumni and others in the Notre Dame family to attend, Fogarty added. 

“[The mass] allows us to remain grounded in the true mission of our community, to promote and protect the sanctity and dignity of all human life in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Fogarty said.

Many members of the club have made the trip before and are excited to do it again this year, including first-year Martha Cleary who has gone twice. 

“If there’s one thing that stands out in my memory of the march, it’s how joyful people were,” she said. “It’s a long walk, typically in the middle of really bad weather, and yet the sense of joy and community was contagious. I’m really looking forward to experiencing that same enthusiasm and community with Notre Dame Right to Life.” 

Fellow first-year Theo Austin, who has attended the march “at least seven times,” says that his favorite experience from the event in previous years has been reaching the top of Capitol Hill before getting to the Supreme Court and looking back. 

“You can see over the entire crowd of Americans who are standing together with one mission, to save the lives of the most vulnerable,” he said. “I find peace and strength in that.” 

Historically, the march has placed great emphasis on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Cleary said one of the most common chants in previous years has been, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!” Currently, abortion legislation varies by state.

Yet students like the club’s sophomore class representative Frankie Machado are undeterred. 

“This year has obviously been big for the pro-life cause,” Machado said. “But there is still a lot of important work to be done.” 

The sentiment is echoed by anti-abortion advocates across the country, including here on campus. 

“Our club wants to emphasize its commitment to supporting women in this post-Roe America,” Fogarty said. “We demonstrate this commitment through our partnership with Saint Joseph Fertility Care Center in Mishawaka, our service through the Women’s Care Center and so much more. We want to create a culture in which abortion is never necessary, and no woman ever feels pressured to take the life of her child.”

Contact Matthew Broder at mbroder@nd.edu.

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College Republicans and College Democrats trade jabs over inflation, abortion in midterm debate

College Republicans representative Shri Thakur and College Democrats representative Blake Ziegler sparred over inflation, abortion and crime in a debate hosted by BridgeND ahead of the midterm elections.

(Editor’s note: Ziegler is a Viewpoint columnist for The Observer)

Ziegler spent much of the debate defending President Joe Biden’s presidency and highlighting “one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent history,” while also painting the Republican Party as extremist and lacking a clear vision for the country.

Thakur criticized the Biden administration, especially for its handling of the economy, and focused primarily on cultural issues relating to education, abortion and crime.

“The Democrats have spent the last few years and really the last few decades waging a war on the American way of life and the institutions that once sustained it,” Thakur said.

On the economy, Thakur blasted the Biden administration for the record levels of inflation seen in the past year. 

“Democrats enacted a prolonged lockdown of our economy causing over 200,000 small businesses to close while ballooning total billionaire wealth by $1.7 trillion. And to make matters worse, they then went on to print $6 trillion in two years and declare war on American energy, halting the new drilling of oil and gas blocking permits and sending the price of basically everything skyrocketing,” he said.

Ziegler framed inflation as a worldwide problem not caused by any Democratic policies and highlighted the Inflation Reduction Act as a boost to the American economy. 

“The Inflation Reduction Act will lower healthcare costs and energy prices while raising Social Security payments,” he said.

The debate then turned to crime, a key talking point in the 2022 elections. Thakur blamed Democrat policies for the rise of crime in cities.

“In dozens of Democrat-run cities across the nation homicides have increased by 50%, assault by 36%,” he said. “In New York and San Francisco, Democratic prosecutors are abolishing cash bail, refusing to prosecute theft and defunding the police.”

Ziegler instead focused on root causes of crime. 

“The failures of our economy and social welfare programs have forced millions of Americans, who are disproportionately people of color, to resort to crime,” he said.

While discussion over economic policy and crime remained relatively civil, the debate became more contentious as the questions shifted toward abortion and education.

“We are two men talking about a decision we will never have to make,” Ziegler said. 

Ziegler also condemned Republicans for attacking the right to an abortion that “has been in place for 50 years” and stated that Roe v. Wade should be reinstated.

To begin his segment, Thakur began by declaring that “abortion is murder.” He argued that the unborn are “genetically distinct” human beings worthy of equal consideration and supported a federal ban on abortion justified by the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.

“Policy making is about pragmatism. It’s about your interests. It’s not about imposing your own personal or religious views on others. I’m Jewish, I shouldn’t have to listen to Christianity to tell me when life begins,” Ziegler rebutted.

“He brought religion into this,” Thakur said in response. “You don’t need to be religious to understand the fact that human life begins at conception and that we should not be killing innocent human beings.”

On education, Thakur criticized Democrat-run states for closing schools during the pandemic and for including transgenderism into school curricula. 

“This is a war on reality and the children are the causality,” Thakur said.

Ziegler touted the Biden administration’s efforts to improve education and blasted Republican rhetoric about education as “homophobic and transphobic.”

The polarization of the debate went on full display when both debaters were asked to recognize something they believed the opposite party had done well in the past two years. Zeigler praised some Republicans for voting for President Biden’s legislation, while Thakur thanked Democrats for ensuring “there will be a Republican majority for the next 10 years.”

Both candidates then gave their concluding remarks and articulated their vision for the country.

Ziegler framed the Republican Party as a threat to democracy and painted the election as a choice between authoritarianism and democracy.

 “This midterm election has a pivotal role in the state of American democracy and whether it will continue for future elections. Election denialism cannot win, hatred cannot win, authoritarianism cannot win. What must win is democracy, equality and freedom,” Ziegler said.

Thakur urged voters to reject Democrats’ vision for the U.S. and to defend American institutions.

“The Democratic Party has waged war on everything good. And the result is a society that is more antagonized, more self-destructive and weaker than ever before,” Thakur said. “We are going to defend our culture and put Americans first in the name of God, family and country and we are going to make America great again.”

Contact Liam Kelly at lkelly8@nd.edu.

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Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone

“Do not fear, for I am with you, be not afraid, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

These words echo in the hearts of many of us in the Notre Dame family. The past few years have been strenuous, to say the least, both for our school and our country. We students have never before experienced such unrest, turmoil and division. In the challenges and hardships of our everyday lives, it is so easy to forget that our Lord God is with us in all things.

We as a nation overturned an immense court decision that will have an effect on the lives of our families, our friends and our peers. In a world filled with death, we have truly taken the first step toward building a culture of life. For those unaware of the existent networks of support, protection, dependence, radical hospitality and abundant love for women in crisis, this decision understandably evokes a lot of fear.

In a post-Roe world, our society must remember the responsibility we have to each other: to support and protect the dignity and value of every human life, mother and child. We as human beings are intrinsically dependent on one another. We must rely on others for support and care, providing them the same in return.

We must learn to be not afraid. We must embrace the understanding that we are not alone. We must embrace the call to abundantly love and serve one another. In the words of the Gospel, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (John 4:18).

We see the division on our campus, and in our nation, on the issue of abortion. We understand the fear and anxiety of those who are uncertain of what the future holds. It is with all this in mind that we call each and every one of you to join us in reflecting upon our role in creating a society with respect and support for all human life.

As stated by Professor O. Carter Snead, Director of the Notre Dame De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, in a post-Roe America, it has never been more important to ensure the “intrinsic equal dignity and value of every human life and to create a society where every child (born and unborn), mother and family is welcomed into a network of support and protection and loved unconditionally, from conception throughout the human lifespan.”

In accordance with the mission of the University and the Catholic Church, we embrace the fact that “appropriate and effective programs of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae).

By supporting local and national organizations and initiatives, maternity leave policies, childcare benefits, adoption and foster care, education, housing, employment and health care, we are prepared to show women that they need not be afraid and that they will never be alone. We reflect this sentiment in our theme for this year’s Respect Life Week programming: Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone.

This Respect Life Week will feature prayer, service and educational initiatives as we remind one another to trust in God, remain peaceful in uncertainty and support one another in our needs both big and small. Supporting each person’s unique and intrinsic dignity begins with recognizing the gift that your life is to others. God is with you in all things, He has a plan for you and He will never leave you alone.

We invite you to join us in welcoming Robin Sertell, author of Miracles Happen in the Wilderness and known for her story of surviving three separate abortion attempts while in her mother’s womb. Her keynote address, Abortion Isn’t Final: Exposing the secrets that the abortion industry doesn’t want you to know, will be held in the LaFortune Ballroom on September 29th at 7 pm.

Gather with us after 10 am Basilica Mass on Sunday, September 25th for brunch and fellowship in the LaFortune Ballroom. Partner with us in supporting mothers in a post-Roe world as we hold a week-long maternity clothing drive for the Family Resource Center and volunteer at the Women’s Care Center. Pray with us for the lives lost to abortion as we hold a memorial for the unborn on Wednesday, September 28th. A full schedule of the week’s events can be found here.

We invite you to join us on our mission this year, to abundantly and joyfully love and support others and to discover in return the fruits of a society that understands the nature of the human condition: we are dependent on one another, we support one another and no one, truly, is alone.

In life and love,

Merlot Fogarty
President Notre Dame Right to Life

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Students react to the reversal of Roe v. Wade

On June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.

In the original Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court established that women have the right to privacy with their doctor, and therefore states could not interfere with a woman’s choice to get an abortion.

Dobbs v. Jackson ruled that the right to privacy is not explicit within the Constitution, meaning it will now be up to the states to decide if abortions are allowed.

The decision has already had profound impacts across the country, but on a Catholic campus with a number of progressive students, the controversy is even more pronounced.

Campus groups against abortion have signaled their approval of overturning Roe.

One club that has actively spoken about its positive opinion on the decision is Notre Dame Right To Life. Their formal statement on Dobbs can be read on their website. 

Merlot Fogarty, president of Right To Life, said she feels the Supreme Court has now made the right decision.

“I definitely think that Roe was wrongly decided at the very beginning. If you do read the Dobbs decision, the right to privacy really isn’t mentioned,” Fogarty said. 

She said the reversal was important as an admission of mistakes made by past courts. 

“I think this decision definitely opened people up to the awareness that there can be wrongly-decided cases, and there can be mistakes made by the Supreme Court,” Fogarty said. 

Fogarty was in Indianapolis when a new abortion bill for the state of Indiana was debated. It will soon become Indiana law that women cannot get abortions with few exceptions, such as rape, incest, health of the mother and fatal fetal abnormalities, according to reporting by the Indianapolis Star.

Fogarty said she was glad Indiana called a special session to pass this bill. She only wishes the bill were stricter. 

For instance, Fogarty said she feels that rape is “not the fault of the baby” and that abortion punishes the fetus for its father’s crime.

“We’re able to work on getting rid of these exceptions and valuing life, regardless of the circumstances of the conception,” Fogarty said. 

But there is also a side to the debate unhappy with the decision. Irish 4 Reproductive Health, a leading group in support of reproductive health access, declined The Observer’s request to speak in an interview.

“Given the work that we do as an organization and the contentious nature of the political landscape on these issues right now, we would rather not have our positions beyond that up for interpretation,” the group said in an email.

Katie Werner, communications director of College Democrats and vice president of Jewish Club, spoke for the opposing side. She said she is not representing the clubs she is a member of in this interview. 

[Editor’s note: Werner is a former news writer for The Observer.]

Having lived in the southern United States for the past six years, Werner said the Dobbs decision will lead to a harsh reality for her and her friends back home. 

“I’m very concerned, because I think that the nearest abortion clinic, like even Planned Parenthood for cheaper healthcare, is like six to eight hours away,” she said.

Beyond concerns for her female friends, Werner said the decision in the Dobbs case has religious implications. She is involved in her Jewish faith and said she follows certain expectations that her religious texts place on her that do not follow the Dobbs decision. 

“The reformed Jewish sect is pro-choice,” Werner said.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no mention of privacy in the Constitution, Werner worries it will affect LBGTQ+ rights, contraceptive rights and more.

“It’s super dangerous because they’re gonna start taking so many progressive rights,” she said. 

Werner said she and many of her friends share the same view on the situation but are unsure how to move forward because the campus atmosphere are making it hard for people with her views to take a stand. 

“I’m kind of at a loss, and there’s a lot of silence, which is awful. It’s only coming from pro-choicers, obviously, so it’s just so unfair,” Werner said.

The new Indiana abortion bill will take effect on Sept. 15.

Emma Duffy

Contact Emma at eduffy5@nd.edu.