Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, is in the limelight now for her decision to deprive Jenkins of his fig-leaf over his invitation to honor Obama on May 17, 2009. I am not surprised by this development. She has long been an eloquent defender of the unborn in a completely hostile environment. She has written many articles on the subject.
Here is a link to one which was written in 2003 for First Things: The Women of Roe v. Wade.
“I have to admit that, back in the 1970s, I was rather uncritical of such phrases. I remember asking the former dean of Boston College, a Jesuit priest, “Father, what do you think about this abortion issue?” He said, “Well you see, Mary Ann, it’s very simple. According to Vatican II, abortion is ‘an unspeakable moral crime.’ But in a pluralistic democracy, we can’t impose our moral views on other people.” “Oh,” I said, “OK.”
I know this story doesn’t reflect any credit on me, but I mention it to show that many of us just didn’t focus on the issue all that closely. I know now that I should have questioned the word “impose.” But it took some time before growing numbers of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews stepped forward to point out that when people advance their moral viewpoints in the public square, they are not imposing anything on anyone. They are proposing. That’s what citizens do in a democracy–we propose, we give reasons, we vote. It’s a very strange doctrine that would silence only religiously grounded moral viewpoints. And it’s very unhealthy for democracy when the courts–without clear constitutional warrant–deprive citizens of the opportunity to have a say in setting the conditions under which we live, work, and raise our children.
It was only after I started to look into how controversial issues like abortion and divorce were handled in other liberal democracies that I realized how my dean’s slogan has been used not only to silence religiously grounded views, but to silence all opposition to abortion. I should have asked the dean why citizens should have to withhold their moral views on abortion but not on other issues where he did not hesitate to advance religiously grounded moral viewpoints–the Vietnam War, capital punishment, civil rights, and relief of poverty. Years later, I put a related question to the former dean of Harvard Law School. In the mid-1980s, after I had given a talk to the Harvard faculty comparing American abortion law unfavorably with the approaches taken in several other liberal democracies, Dean Al Sacks took me out for lunch and said, “You know, no one in that room agrees with you.” Since he had put the point in a friendly, avuncular way, I asked him about something that had long puzzled me. “Why,” I asked, “did you and so many other constitutional lawyers stop criticizing the Court’s abortion decisions after most of you had been highly critical of Roe v. Wade?” He sighed and gave me a very candid answer that had the ring of truth. “I suppose,” he said, “it was because we had been made to understand that the abortion issue was so important to the women in our lives, and it just did not seem that important to most of us.”
Today, thirty years after Roe and Doe, polls tell us that the abortion issue is still more important to women than to men. But they also tell us that women’s and men’s views have changed. For one thing, many of the unintended consequences of the cultural revolution of which these decisions were part have come into clearer view. There is growing awareness that the moral ecology of the country has suffered something like an environmental disaster, and that we are faced with a very complicated clean-up operation.”
Academia is overwhelmingly pro-abortion in this country. Jenkins and Notre Dame have capitulated to this fact. Mary Ann Glendon has rebelled against it.