Right to Life, the Catholic Church and Loras College: One in the Same?

In the recent Lorian issue from Nov. 3, Franz Becker argues that Loras should no longer associate itself with Dubuque County Right to Life (DCRTL) because it “uses the Church to further its political agenda,” and I would like to address some of the concerns and arguments that he brought up in his piece.

Firstly, Loras College and DCRTL are neither associated nor affiliated with one another. DCRTL simply has a presence on campus because Duhawks for Life, as a recognized student organization, is permitted to collaborate with community organizations and bring in speakers, displays and information about them. The “Student Organization Resource Manual” makes it clear that the recognition of an organization does not mean that Loras as an institution “supports or adheres to the views held or positions taken” by the student organization.

DCRTL also does not “pick and choose who has dignity” but believes in the dignity of all human beings – the unborn fetus, the Guatemalan prisoner, the mother carrying a child, the homeless man on the street, the Syrian refugee. However, they do not believe this because Catholic Church teaches it but rather because DCRTL believes that the right to life is a natural right that every human being deserves.

By law, DCRTL is an educational, non-sectarian, non-religious 501c3 organization, which means they do not and cannot have a political agenda. Their mission is simply to provide the public with legitimate factual information cited from secular sources in order to prevent the ill treatment of human life at any stage. While some facts may be uncomfortable or generate fear, this does not mean that they are not the truth. In regards to the issue of abortion, many people do not know that the unborn fetus has a heartbeat 18 days after conception or how an abortion is performed. This is information that DCRTL disseminates in order to not only educate the general public, but to also help women who are contemplating abortion. However, because these issues are also sensitive, they only share this information in a positive, loving, audience-and-age-appropriate way with anyone who is willing to let them share the information.

Furthermore, protesting Planned Parenthood was not a way for DCRTL to “intimidate or demean women” or to want to take away their access to health services. Many of the medical services that Planned Parenthood provided can be found at a number of healthcare facilities within Dubuque, such as Clarity Clinic, Hillcrest or any of the clinics and hospitals. The reason for protesting Planned Parenthood was because of their abortion services – which, as I previously alluded to, DCRTL believes is a violation against the right to life. DCRTL wants to help save both women and babies from the pain of abortion by providing support through sharing information about alternatives to abortion. Even if abortion is legal in our country, that does not mean it is morally right or a human right. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

Becker also made the claim that ending abortion is not within the teachings of Christ.  Yet, St. Mother Teresa – a woman who was follower of Christ in accord with Becker’s claim as she welcomed the stranger, fed the hungry, and helped the sick – once said, “Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace” and “nations who have legalized abortion are the poorest nations.”  How can we truly carry out Christ’s teaching of helping others if we don’t even give them a chance at life?  We can only truly love people and live out Christ’s teaching if they are given the gift of life.  While both DCRTL and Duhawks for Life may focus heavily on ending abortion, it does not mean they don’t recognize the value and dignity that all human beings have. Without the right to life, no other rights matter.

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