Friday, November 20, 2009

Abortion and Universal Human Rights

This fall, we continued our new dinner series for students, Bread of Life, which is designed to educate Notre Dame students in the mission of the Fund to Protect Human Life and to provide an opportunity for them to reflect upon and discuss their attitudes toward beginning-of-life issues. We particularly hoped to attract students who might not already be strongly committed to the Church's teachings on these issues but who were open to exploring them.

On November 19th, students and professors gathered under the beautiful vaulted ceilings of the Oak Room of the South Dining Hall to hear a thoughtful reflection by Paolo Carozza, associate professor of law at the Notre Dame Law School, on the emergence of the concept of universal human rights and the role of witness. Carozza traced the foundations of the concept of universal human rights to Christian scholastic intellectuals. He gave the example of Bartolomé de las Casas, a sixteenth-century Spanish Dominican priest, who argued for rights and respect for the native-American peoples. Carozza said the argument for universal rights for unborn humans is very simple. The premises are that all human beings deserve universal rights, and that unborn human beings are, in fact, human beings. These arguments are not enough, however, Carozza said. Only through our personal witness to affirming life will we be able to bring about change.

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