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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 16, Issue 4, Winter 2016

Mary Shivanandan
Pages 577-585

Relativism or Relativity
Religious Freedom and the Family

This article addresses the issue of whether the Church has the right, even the duty, to inform public debate on reproductive issues. It argues that to deny this right is an infringement of religious freedom. Drawing on the writings of Pope St. John Paul II, it shows how truth, freedom, and the good are intrinsically related. Legislating against the good of human life detaches it from both truth and freedom. When secularism separates freedom from any relationship with God, it tends toward individualism, utilitarianism, and hedonism. The relativism at the heart of Roe v. Wade, which enshrined abortion in the Constitution, struck a blow at the dignity of the human person and the family. If the child is seen as an object to be manipulated, not a gift, a pseudo freedom prevails, which ignores the relational character of the human person. This endangers not only the family, but democracy itself.