Being pro-life is far more than just being about the protection of the dignity and rights of the unborn child. It’s also about addressing the spiritual, emotional and psychological health of men and women in our culture.
That was the message brought to Ontario earlier this year as Camille de Blasi Pauley, co-founder and president of the Healing the Culture organization, spoke at a meeting of Hamilton Right to Life. Healing the Culture is a non-profit educational organization that seeks to build a pro-life culture by inspiring individuals to uphold the intrinsic dignity of every human person and helping them to live for deeper meaning and purpose.
In Hamilton, de Blasi Pauley said the pro-life movement needs to better articulate to society at large why it is pro-life in the first place. “Your job as pro-life people is so essential. It’s not just about (the fact that) the baby has a right. It’s about: what is the meaning of life in the first place? … We are for the deepest meaning, the most pervasive and enduring meaning of the human person. We are for expressing to this culture with as loud a voice as possible: you are worth the transcendental goodness of love, truth, beauty, being … because you are made for that and you are capable of that.”
The Healing the Culture concept is based upon the Life Principles and Four Levels of Happiness as outlined by co-founder and chairman Father Robert Spitzer. de Blasi Pauley began by explaining that there is objective truth and reality, whether people choose to believe it or not.
“You are designed in a particular way and when you go contrary to your nature, it will hurt you or kill you … It’s true not only for your body, but it’s also true for your heart.”
The concept of rights occurs in two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. The former are alienable, meaning they can be taken away (for the common good or not), are given by an outside source and don’t infringe on the dignity of a person. The latter are inalienable, meaning they are ours by our very nature, are a part of who we are as human beings and are a duty of respect we owe to others.
Life, liberty and property (or the pursuit of happiness, as it came to be known later) are intrinsic rights. In the case of abortion, two intrinsic rights come into conflict – life and liberty. The proper way to resolve that clash, said de Blasi Pauley, is to invoke the principle of necessity – that is, to look at which right is pre-conditional for the other to exist. When that is done, life becomes a necessary precondition for liberty.
Unfortunately, courts in Canada and the U.S. have failed to see it that way. In both the Roe v. Wadedecision and the 1988 Morgentalercase, the respective countries’ Supreme Courts inverted the priorities of those two rights and declared a woman’s right to liberty supersedes her unborn child’s right to life.
de Blasi Pauley described both these situations as “bad public policy,” because they ignore the objective ordering of rights and thus, eliminate the very foundation of rights in the first place. Rights are now “based on a subjective whim. That’s very dangerous,” she said.
These policies also ignore the “silver rule” of “do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.” In the case of a pre-born human being, “The silver rule dictates you have to err on the side of assuming a person is present. Assuming one is not present could be committing an egregious harm.”
But our culture continues to function under the fallacy that the pre-born are not human persons. That state of affairs must be addressed by pro-lifers first, said de Blasi Pauley. “If people don’t believe that’s a human person, they’re not going to attribute rights to it.”
In changing the culture to make it accept the humanity of the pre-born, de Blasi Pauley said it has to be raised from working within the first two of Fr. Spitzer’s levels of happiness (physical pleasure/possessions and ego gratification) to the third and fourth (commitment/contribution to others and unconditional, infinite, perfect and unrestricted love, truth, justice, peace and unity).
“Our culture is stuck in levels 1 and 2,” she said. “If we, as a culture, show people that meaning in life is levels 1 and 2, not only is this going to lead to profound personal unhappiness, but people are not going to know how to identify important cultural words like ‘freedom.’”
At levels 3 and 4, a woman would look upon an unplanned pregnancy more as an opportunity to learn how to give greater love than as a threat to her physical or material well being, as she would at levels 1 and 2.
If the culture is transformed in this way, “people will begin to see human dignity in a deeper way,” said de Blasi Pauley. “When they do that, the idea of an inalienable right, even when it means giving up (one’s) own, will begin to make sense.”
“We need to begin with human meaning and human happiness,” she concluded. “Our job resides in the heart and in the soul. If you can transform that, you can transform the entire culture.”
More information on de Blasi Pauley’s organization, the Life Principles Program and the Four Levels of Happiness is available at the website: www.HealingtheCulture.com.
An audio version of an earlier interview with de Blasi Pauley for the Culture Watch radio program is available at the website of Radio Maria at: www.hmwn.net/audioarchive. An audio version of her presentation in Hamilton will also be added to that site in the near future.