Pro-Choicer Appointed to Key Vatican Pro-Life Think Tank

By John Zmirak Published on June 14, 2017

Imagine how we would feel if Planned Parenthood appointed to its board of directors someone who:

  • Opposed late term abortion.
  • Affirmed that unborn children are full human persons at some point during pregnancy.
  • Used her credibility as a pro-choice feminist to discredit the central pro-abortion arguments.

How would we feel about that? I think we’d be excited. We’d see that as progress. We’d think that public pressure was moving the needle a bit in our direction. Even more encouraging if Planned Parenthood had fired the rest of its board. Purged it of purists. If empty spots on that board looked like they might go to other “moderates.”

Unexplained Purge at the Vatican’s Pro-Life Thinktank

Now flip that situation around, to see what is really happening. Pope Francis has purged the entire faculty of the Pontifical Council for Life. It was founded by Pope John Paul II as a thinktank and action center to combat what he called the “Culture of Death.” One of its first appointees (and its leader) was the great Dr. Jerome Lejeune. That pioneering researcher had discovered the genetic basis of Downs Syndrome.  But Lejeune had been purged from mainstream academia and starved of research funds. Why? Because he opposed what he called the “genocide” aimed at unborn handicapped children. The Council for Life offered him a haven, a place full of allies, a nerve center where the fight for human life could be mapped out throughout the world.

Pro-Choice Philosopher Appointed

All wiped out. Gone. For reasons that are not public, the pope made a clean sweep of the Council for Life. Now he’s filling its positions again from scratch. So far he has reappointed a few of the solid people who were (for unknown reasons) dismissed. But he has made one pick so far that deeply troubles prolifers. As LifeSiteMews reported:

Among the 45 new members Pope Francis has appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life is an Anglican minister who has argued that abortion should be legal until “18 weeks after conception.”

He said that “it is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder.”

University of Oxford Professor Nigel Biggar, who was appointed to the Academy for a five-year term, stated in a 2011 dialogue with pro-infanticide ethicist Peter Singer that a preborn baby is “not … the same kind of thing as an adult or a mature human being” and therefore does not deserve “quite the same treatment.”

“I would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness,” he said as reported by Standpoint magazine.

Then, one year later, when he was the keynote speaker for an event at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he said that “it is not true that all abortion is equivalent to murder.”

Pope Francis began his overhaul of the Academy last year by creating new statutes, that among other things, no longer required that members sign a declaration to uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. The Pope’s next move was to then remove all of the academy members while promising to make new appointments himself. 

Former academy member Judie Brown wrote in an article earlier this year that she was shocked by what she called Francis’ move to “deconstruct” the Academy that was once considered a bastion of orthodoxy. 

“The Pontifical Academy for Life is undergoing an overhaul by Pope Francis and his political operatives within the Vatican’s hierarchy, and it is one of the most heartbreaking events I have seen in my lifetime. But given the politics of the Vatican, it is not surprising,” she wrote at that time. 

A Moderate on Abortion

Now, Biggar is not an extremist. (Unlike Paul Ehrlich, the population crank invited to a recent Vatican conference on biodiversity.) Biggar doesn’t favor abortion for all nine months, or forced sterilization. Biggar is well-known for opposing assisted suicide. That’s good to hear.

On abortion, he dates the beginning of life by the presence of brainwaves. That’s the same criterion we use for the end of life. If we protected all babies with brainwaves, many thousands would be saved. Many women do not even realize that they are pregnant by 18 weeks. For a secular intellectual unconvinced that man is made in the image of God, there is a certain internal logic here: Make brainwaves the “bookends” that mark off what’s fully human and alive from what is not yet or not any longer. Yes, it’s wrong. But it’s a long way from the Democratic Party’s support for abortion for all nine months for any reason.

So if Biggar got appointed to the Planned Parenthood board, that would  be progress. It would mean that those leaders in the fight for untrammeled “reproductive rights” were losing confidence. They were responding to public pressure. Maybe they were ready to offer some compromise. Prolifers would rightly see it as blood in the water.

Under previous popes the Vatican stood prophetically (and almost alone) against the destruction of unborn children for our sexual convenience. Catholic laymen led the fight against abortion.

Of course, those pro-abortion groups are making no such appointments. Planned Parenthood, instead, is shoveling money to politicians like Kamala Harris. Before she was a U.S. senator, Harris prosecuted journalists. Why? For documenting Planned Parenthood’s crass trade in unborn baby parts.

A Loss of Nerve or Change of Direction?

No, it is the Vatican that is purging its ranks and appointing “moderates.” This institution under previous popes stood prophetically (and almost alone) against the destruction of unborn children for our sexual convenience. Catholic laymen led the fight against abortion. We were thrilled when millions of evangelicals discovered the issue and joined the fight. Even now, public opinion seems to be swinging in our direction.

But the Vatican under Francis wants to strike a different note of prophecy. Instead of resisting the culture of death, with his actions with the Pontifical Academy of Life the pope has struck a note of compromise. But not on all issues. He also boldly stepped forward … and condemned the very same things that secular progressives like to condemn:

  • An “unrestricted capitalism” that doesn’t even exist.
  • A future apocalypse caused by Westerners using our air conditioners.
  • A wave of “xenophobia” among nations already overwhelmed by immigrants and led by multiculturalists.

Without invoking (or imperiling) the infallible authority that Catholics believe a pope has, he can still make policy decisions that are very damaging indeed.

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