Bishops oppose ‘personhood’ question
From this book comes the catch-phrase “tilting at windmills.” It is all too easy for us, like Don Quixote, to mistake windmills for giants and to ready our lances to joust with them. That’s why we sometimes need someone to take the role of Sancho Panza and bring us back to reality.
Four years ago, Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah had to play Sancho Panza with regard to Georgia House Resolution 536.
This measure would have proposed to the people the following amendment the state constitution: “The rights of every person shall be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. The right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person. With respect to the fundamental and inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word “person” applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, sex, health, function or condition of dependency, including unborn children at every state of their biological development, including fertilization.”
As the Catholic bishops of Georgia, Archbishop Gregory and Bishop Boland agreed “with the objective of HR 536 to defend human life at all stages and share(d) the conviction that human life begins at the moment of conception.”
Nevertheless, they concluded “that the approach taken by HR 536 to amend the state constitution does not provide a realistic opportunity for ending or reducing abortion in Georgia.”
The amendment is designed to change the Georgia Constitution, while U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the U.S. Constitution contains the right to abortion.
As Archbishop Gregory and Bishop Boland pointed out in 2008, “since the federal constitution always ‘trumps’ a state constitution, this effort, while well-intentioned, can have no legal effect.
We have, and will continue to support, efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect the right to life of all whose lives have in fact begun.
Devoting the time and energy needed to amend the Georgia Constitution when that amendment would be inoperative from the moment of its adoption, unless and until the Supreme Court reversed itself on Roe v. Wade or the U.S. Constitution were amended to overturn that decision, seemed to our bishops to be fruitless, a tilting at windmills.
Georgia Right to Life and others are still soliciting support for a “Personhood” or “Life” Amendment. They have approached Catholic parishes to garner support for Ballot Question No. 5, which will be proposed to voters in the Georgia GOP primary on July 31. [More]