No, Ana Navarro, the Principle of Separation of Church and State Does Not Justify Abortion
Ana Navarro, a co-host of ‘The View,’ recently opined that she would not personally decide to kill her unborn child by abortion because of her Catholic upbringing, but she also believes the principle of separation of church and state prohibits her from imposing that view on others.
Navarro’s is an often repeated but nonsensical argument that should be dispensed with once and for all—especially coming from a self-proclaimed Catholic.
Her comment sadly reveals she understands neither Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion nor the principle of separation of church and state as it applies to our system of government. She also ignores the fact that you don’t have to be religious at all to oppose the killing of unborn children.
Navarro Gets Catholicism Wrong
First, Navarro is wrong from a Catholic perspective. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it crystal clear: "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
Powerfully, the Church adds: “To claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as ‘persons’ (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights.”
In other words, if you believe killing unborn children is just as intrinsically morally wrong as murdering already born children, which is the Catholic Church’s clear teaching, you have no leg to stand on when you say you support pro-abortion laws and a pro-abortion culture. Hiding behind the phrase “separation of church and state” does not legitimize a Catholic’s support for pro-abortion laws.
That makes as little sense as saying you personally oppose homicide more generally, but you shouldn’t impose that moral view on others because “separation of church and state.”
Catholics Are Not Alone in Our Opposition to Killing Unborn Children
But beyond the fact that Navarro, a self-proclaimed Catholic, clearly does not abide by the tenets of her own faith, she also fails to acknowledge the existence of people of several other religions that teach the dignity of the unborn, as well as the existence of secular/non-religious people who have come to the same moral conclusion solely via science and reason.
While a person’s religion can and should guide his or her thinking on abortion, all people, religious or not, can conclude that abortion is morally wrong through science and reason alone—as plenty of people do.
In fact, all opposition to abortion entails is the knowledge—whether based on religion, science, reason, or some combination thereof—that unborn children are innocent human beings deserving of the same basic human rights and legal protections as already born human beings.
For instance, the organization Secular Pro-Life explains, “’Life begins at fertilization’ is a shorthand way to say that the zygote is the first developmental stage of a human being's life cycle. This is not a religious premise; it is a biological fact, attested to in countless biology and embryology texts and affirmed by the majority of biologists worldwide.”
The Catholic Church, whose teachings rely not only on Scripture and Tradition, but also on reason and the natural law similarly states: “Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church's opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person.”
If science alone can prove the humanity of the unborn, which it definitively does, which religion would be established as the official government religion simply by extending legal protections to the most innocent and vulnerable group of human beings? Hinduism, Roman Catholicism, the Southern Baptist Convention, secularism, or something else? None of the above.
Establishing any of these as the government’s official religion would entail a lot more than simply enacting legislation that extends humane, scientifically and rationally based legal protections to unborn human beings.
Navarro Doesn’t Understand the Principle of the Separation of Church and State
The principle of separation of church and state is frequently misconstrued by commentators like Navarro, celebrities, and politicians to mean the banishment of religion and religious moral principles (especially of Christianity) from public debate, politics, and culture. That’s not a reasonable or historically based understanding of this principle.
As Professor Paul R. DeHart explains: The jurisdictional separation of church and state effected by the First Amendment allows people to vote for religious reasons, to make religious arguments in order to persuade others to support particular candidates or policies, and allows political officials and legislators to act for religious reasons.”
It is absurd to suggest that one should check their religiously, rationally, and/or scientifically informed moral beliefs at the door when voting for politicians or crafting policies that touch on moral issues—especially on a matter as grave as killing unborn children.
Navarro and her comrades should at least agree with that! After all, leftists advocate for what they call the “fundamental human right to abortion” with what looks a lot like indefatigable religious zeal.