LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Justice for Babies and Turtles!

By Sister Clare Hunter

Teaching high school Catholic morality classes, I always feared parent-teacher conferences. The first year, I braced myself for heated debates with parents concerning the issues of marriage, premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. Oddly, those issues never came up. What did keep coming up was the class where I said that humans have higher intelligence than animals, and animals don't make moral choices. In short, that human life is higher than animal life. That is what they wanted to debate.

Many a parent came prepared to prove I was wrong with amazing stories of the intelligence and love exhibited by their dogs. More than once I was tempted to agree that it was indeed possible that their dog was more intelligent and loving than their teenager. However, what I had discussed with the students was not merely my opinion but fact: humans have a higher intelligence and can do what animals cannot do ? the capacity for self-reflection, love, and moral choices. Your dog is not wondering why it exists or if God exists, wondering how much you love it and how it can love you better. As imperfect as we are, and as doggone cute as animals can be, humans are a superior form of life. Of course, one could wonder as our "furry fecal friends" (credit to a friend) have trained us to pick up and walk through our neighborhoods with their "waste" swinging from our wrists.

It is imperative for Christians to be good stewards and care for creation, protecting it through actions and laws. But then I think we should be consistent and do the same for human life. I took some time to look at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It is a wonderful site, and I learned a great deal about endangered species and ways to protect them. A man from Georgia will spend 6 months in prison for unlawfully acquiring loggerhead sea turtle eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. Imagine 6 months in prison for taking potential turtles. You will also go to jail if you kill the Florida salt marsh harvest mouse, if the mouse is pregnant! Average litter size 10-12 ? yikes! The American Bald Eagle ? one conviction, per bird, per egg. Take a look ? plants are protected, too!

I was struck when I read that endangered species are protected under the Lacey Act. I recalled another law that was named after the pregnant woman killed by her husband, the "Laci & Connor Law," or the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Same name, different spelling.

Under this law, it can be double homicide if you kill a pregnant woman. Or murder if a miscarriage occurs or the baby dies because the mother is attacked. Though varied and with many qualifiers, it is law in some form in 36 states.

I can see why the other 14 states would hesitate to enact the Laci & Connor Law. It is already confusing and controversial in light of abortion laws ? sometimes it is murder to kill unborn life, and sometimes, it is a choice. It is understandable that Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and NARAL all fought this law.

Yet, what a blessing the Laci & Connor Law is for our nation, as Ariel Castro, according to prosecutors, will be charged with murder in the beatings that killed five unborn babies from one of the women he held captive. And the latest good news is that Dr. Kermit Gosnell is convicted of three counts of murder. Yes, we are on the right track for justice and protection for humans too!

This article has been reprinted here by permission of the author after original publication at Encourage and Teach, published by the Diocese of Arlington.

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