MAY 5, 2009
Killing People vs Aborting Fetuses:
An Open Letter to Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon
by Myriam Miedzian
Dear Professor Glendon,
You were recently awarded Notre Dame University's Laetere Medal, to be given to you at the university's upcoming commencement at which you were to speak. You decided not to accept the award because President Obama who supports women's right to abortion would be giving the commencement speech, and would be awarded an honorary degree. In your rejection letter you stated your disapproval of the university's decision " to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."
As a former philosophy professor committed to bringing philosophical thinking to issues of public concern, I am baffled by your decision. How could you have accepted President Bush's 2006 nomination to represent the United States and his government as ambassador to the Vatican? By the summer of 2006, it was perfectly clear that President Bush had knowingly led our nation into a completely unnecessary war, and that in order to do so, he and members of his government had lied repeatedly to Congress and to the American people.
President Bush's callous and unethical decision to start an unnecessary war has led to the deaths of close to 5,000 of our young men and women. Tens of thousands have suffered often crippling injuries, and large numbers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The most conservative estimates indicate that approximately 100,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of our invasion. And since you have such a deep concern with fetuses, let me point out that among the Iraqis killed there were no doubt numerous pregnant women.
In a January 2009 Catholic Exchange interview, you mention that while you were ambassador to the Vatican, you arranged a conference on "human trafficking as a modern form of slavery." According to an article by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, in the August 25, 2008 issue of The American Conservative, many young Iraqi women in Syria have become prostitutes in order to keep themselves and their families from starvation—our invasion led to approximately two million Iraqis being forced into exile. At the same time, Vlahos informs us, sex traffickers in Iraq are now selling girls and women into prostitution. A recent Time magazine article points out that, "The years of war and instability after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 have provided unfettered opportunities for criminal elements, including traffickers, to profit. Nobody knows for certain how many Iraqi women and children have been sold into slavery since then. Some Baghdad-based activists put the figure in the tens of thousands..."
Do you — and the Catholic Church — not hold that killing people unnecessarily and causing such intense suffering is contrary to "fundamental principles of justice?" If you do, how could you have agreed to represent a government that was responsible for all this?
In your Catholic Exchange interview, you commented that "it was an unforgettable experience to be at the airport with the President as he welcomed the Pope." So you were thrilled to stand side by side with President Bush who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings, but you refuse to share a platform with President Obama because he does not share your views on abortion!
Professor Glendon, I just don't get it. You are obviously an exceptionally intelligent woman, how can you fail to realize the contradiction implied by your behavior? If preserving human life is a fundamental principle of justice, how can you be morally outraged by the abortion of fetuses — in the case of the morning after pill there are no existing fetuses only "possible" fetuses — and not be outraged by the death and horrendous suffering of hundreds of thousands of human beings?
I realize that the contradictions in your behavior reflect those of the Catholic Church. And I admit bafflement here as well. In your interview, you applaud the fact that while you were ambassador, "President Bush came to the Vatican where he was given an ... extraordinary welcome." Like you the church seems much more concerned with the survival of fetuses and "possible fetuses" than with human beings.
As hard as I try, I cannot see what I am missing in this. Perhaps you will enlighten me with a response.
Dr. Myriam Miedzian
Myriam Miedzian author of Boys Will Be Boys, writes frequently on social and political issues.