The Cardinal Newman Society broke the story last week that students under the supervision of a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles filed an amicus brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against Costa Rican laws protecting human life from the moment of conception. The Catholic law school is now reportedly saying the incident falls under the auspices of “academic freedom.”
Here is what Pope Benedict XVI told the presidents of Catholic universities(presumably including Loyola Marymount University, which owns the law school) when he assembled them in April 2008:
In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church’s munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.
In Ex corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Pope John Paul II also affirmed academic freedom, “keeping in mind the cited criteria, that is, safeguarding the rights of the individual and of society within the confines of the truth and the common good.” IVF by no means, according to Catholic teaching, conforms to the truth or the common good.
The International Human Rights Clinic at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, filed a brief in support of the right to IVF — a practice which the Church has clearly and unequivocally judged to be immoral.
The L.A.-based Catholic school issued a statement, according to The Catholic News Agency, saying it is “committed to the academic freedom of faculty members and students to participate in the study of different perspectives.”
The statement further explained that their vision of academic freedom is “in harmony with the Law School’s institutional Catholic identity and Ignatian heritage.”
The brief itself is now available on the law school’s website. While it completely ignores the morality associated with destroying human life, it does however argue that “Costa Rica’s ban on IVF constitutes a violation of the right to benefit from scientific advancements.”
It also argues that Costa Rica’s laws protecting life from the moment of conception have “clearly deviated from its duty to protect the women of its country. The IVF ban restricts the reproductive autonomy of women, thus violating their right to personal liberty. The ban further affects the right of all persons to have the inherent dignity of their families protected.”
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