The Catholic Association
Ep. 261 Digging Into Dignitas Infinita & Supreme Court Takes Up EMTALA

Episode Description

As the latest papal document continues to make waves, Leigh and Grazie of the TCA team chat about the clear line Dignitas Infinita draws on issues of abortion, gender ideology, and assisted suicide. On the topic of surrogacy, the document declares, “every child possesses an intangible dignity that is clearly expressed…at every stage of his or her life,” and that the practice of surrogacy violates the child’s dignity, as well as the mother’s.

Just ahead of oral arguments at the Supreme Court next week on EMTALA, John Bursch of Alliance Defending Freedom discusses Idaho’s Defense of Life Act. Bursch makes plain that there is no conflict between the law that protects women and babies and EMTALA, as well as how the Biden Administration is hijacking a life saving measure to help pregnant mothers to advance abortion.

Father Roger Landry also offers an inspiring homily in preparation for Good Shepherd Sunday! Catch the show every Saturday at 5pm ET on EWTN radio.


John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the world’s largest legal organization protecting religious freedom and free speech, family, and sanctity of life. Bursch has argued over a dozen cases at the Supreme Court and successfully litigated cases with over $1 billion at stake. He served as solicitor general for the State of Michigan and represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, public officials and industry associations. Busch is a member of the American Law Institute and was inducted into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

Father Roger Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Harvard and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and was Attaché to the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the UN in New York. He writes for numerous publications, speaks on radio and TV, and is the author of the book, Plan of Life: Habits to Help You Grow Closer to God. Father Landry is slated to embark on the full 1500-mile Eucharist Pilgrimage this summer to commemorate his 25th anniversary as a priest.

Episode 261 Transcript

GrazieHello friends, and welcome to Conversations with Consequences. We are the radio show and podcast of the Catholic Association where we aim to change the culture one conversation at a time. You can listen to conversations with consequences on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. Eastern, or catch the encore at 5 p.m.. We are also on Sirius XM Channel 130.
LeighThank you. So glad to be here. Yeah, I think you're exactly right. I think it it says really firmly some things that maybe we've heard or that we know, but it really addresses, I think, the idea and of what our ontological dignity, what that means, because I think a lot of people use dignity in lots of different ways and it gets misinterpreted by everyone.
GrazieWell, let me say so in the beginning of the document, a good part of the document has to do with understanding what human dignity means. And you use the word ontological. So they even describe four different kinds of dignity. And the most important one is ontological dignity. And I'll say what it is that the indelible ontological dignity is indelible and remains valid beyond any circumstances in which the person may find themselves.
LeighAbsolutely. Absolutely. All the time. Yeah. In their in their speech and in their actions. Absolutely. People are dismissed. And, you know, I think people use, you know, just the word dignified or acting in undignified manner, which I think sort of takes away from what the you know, what Pope Francis is saying here in terms of our ontological dignity.
GrazieAnother kind of dignity is moral. And that has to do with the way that people exercise their freedom. Right. So human beings are free to act on their will, to use their will to act in this world. They have freedom. And when you lose, you can lose your moral dignity, unlike your ontological dignity. When you use this freedom to act against the law of love.
LeighRight. Exactly.
GrazieSo they have all this beautiful dignity that's attached to them because they're human. But then the way they're forced to live by these, you know, by by severe poverty keeps them. It contradicts that beautiful dignity. And then the last one is existential. So that one to me was a little harder to understand. It has to do, I believe when the person they they feel that their existence feels undignified.
Leighsure. Yeah. Well, you know, I think, too, that recalling this idea that our ontological dignity reminds us that, you know, we're embodied beings, that, you know, we don't subscribe to a dualistic philosophy, that, you know, we are our bodies are an expression of who we are, and we are created that way. And as embodied beings where dependent upon one another from, you know, conception til natural death.
GrazieWell, I know it's sanctified my father. So suffering has that wonderful effect on us. And sometimes we have to thank God for it, Right. Even though it's very painful. You mentioned a word you just said a word you said relational and part of the document. And really, I recommend and everyone to read this document. It has beautiful it has pearls of wisdom in it all over and one of that one of them is the relational structure of the human person.
LeighYeah. And that's why I think it's so great that we have the mass that we don't, you know, at least a weekly reminder of that relational aspect of our being and that, you know, we're not just worshiping in a quiet corner by ourselves, although obviously quiet prayer alone is very good. But, you know, we get together with, you know, the other members of our Catholic community and we celebrate the mass together.
GrazieWell, one of the great plagues of modern man today is his atomization, right? The way that he is very radically alone and how that destroys the dignity of the person we are back to dignity. It I think that loneliness is an assault against our dignity because it it it keeps us from flourishing in relationship which is where men and women are meant to flourish.
LeighRight. And we have I mean, that there's always that temptation because other people make things even messier than we can make things in ourselves.
GrazieAnd yeah, I don't know what I don't know what you're talking about.
LeighLEIGH So, you know, it's easier. Does this kind of, you know, do things on your own? And now we have this this whole fake world where you can feel like you're connecting through screens.
LeighGet yourself that you're in community when you know there's no flesh and blood, There's, you know, you really could just be some bread in a jar somewhere. You know, it's it's not.
GrazieYeah, you're right Like false like you think your existing on a relational basis and you're really not because it's so removed through a screen and maybe also because you don't form responsibilities towards these people because they remain strangers. Right? They're not the people around you that you have to keep getting up to rush to serve, which is what makes you human.
LeighRight. And what makes everyone mean on Twitter. yeah. So you and your husband are both Catholic and both physicians. What do you think? Do you think this is going to be especially important to Catholic physicians, this document? You think it's bolstering the way you take.
GrazieCare of people? Absolutely. Because, again, as I think everyone has experienced it, every Catholic, every Christian has experienced the last few decades of the explosion of so many ways of that that are often tied to medicine. I think as a cover now for some far unethical things, we we need to we need explanation. We need to understand and we need to we need to have that that that that backbone that the church gives us to say, no, here I draw the line.
LeighAnd you don't even get a chance to, you know, use the language to explain why rights, all coding for insurance and everything.
GrazieAnd you get you get dragged into it against your will. So let's talk about some of the some of the the the important parts of the document that have to do with specific violations of human dignity. And the document lists a list, the several and some of them are very obvious. So there's poverty and we talked about that already.
LeighYears on their mother.
GrazieYeah, and usually for convenience, let's say. Yeah. Okay, So but let's get to and I'll just mention also euthanasia and assisted suicide, which I think is pretty pretty clear to everyone. But the ones that and Margaret.
LeighSaid this, if I can just pause numbers, I except that they use the word death with dignity.
Grazieyes, thank you.
LeighI mean what I mean, you know, that's again, that that sort of misuse and abuse even of the of the word in that case. I mean, because people don't want to embrace that dependent as they have on other people and the guild model and our rights. I forget what the name of the essayist, but he talks about how he wants his kids.
GrazieMe too. Me too. Yeah.
LeighI mean, it's it's. I mean, it's amazing. I mean, it's just like. It's like. Yes, of course. Like people say, I don't want to be a burden. No, he wants to be. And it's like, yes, we should all have that urge, you know? You know.
GrazieWell, you know why I say me too. Because my own experience with my father, he was a tremendous burden on all of us. And we bloomed and flowered and flourish.
GrazieCarrying that burden. It yeah, it was painful. I cried a lot. Yeah. And I hurt for him. But wow, what a develop what a development of our personalities and our character and our and our virtues that we wouldn't have had the chance to absolutely. To develop if it weren't for having to carry that burden. I'm so glad you brought that up.
LeighSo it's all cerebral. It doesn't have anything to do with the whole person as we see it anyway.
GrazieRight. So ending someone's life again, like abortion or in euthanasia or assisted suicide, it goes contrary at its own, at its foundation to ontological human dignity.
LeighBut it's easy. It saves money. It's all these sort of very practical terms that completely ignore what you're saying. The oncological dignity of a says, you know, created in God's image. And I don't know how to, you know, how to explain that in ways that don't involve, you know, the light of crush because that's the life we live.
GrazieWell function well. You know what we have found in general you have found I have found people have found talking about euthanasia and assisted suicide, that people really do understand the slippery slope argument, because even if they start from a point which I think is wrong, but at least as closer to the truth, that that people who are suffering insanely should maybe like a mercy killing.
LeighYes. Well, I think it's a good sign that that's making some headlines, you know, But it's you know, it's not just us worrying about it that if it if it becomes an actual news item for the mainstream media. I like where you were going, though, with some of these obvious things that I think can appeal to everyone across the board.
GrazieThey see it as a generosity and a gift. Like the child is a gift. A child is always a gift. So how can you say that This means of acquiring a child.
LeighRight. And if they can, if a woman, the woman's being, you know, has consensually agreed to do this or she's being, you know, compensated monetarily, how can it be against her, you know, innate dignity to to be just the the incubator?
GrazieWell, let me give you the words. Let me give you the words from the document. Let's hear it, because they're very, very good. So this is from Pope Francis, where they quoted him, The path to peace calls for respect for life for every human life, starting with the life of the unborn child in the mother's womb, which cannot be suppressed or turned into an object of trafficking.
LeighYeah. No, it's really beautiful. It's a really beautiful document.
GrazieYeah. So I think this is the crux of where people misunderstand surrogacy because they, they don't understand that for that child to have their fully human origin. Now that their, that their dignity, the child's dignity necessitates their fully human origin, that we can't take away from the child's fully human origin and turn them into a manufactured product. Right?
LeighSo it's really great this document.
GrazieThis puts paid to the idea that surrogacy ever dignifies the child. Right. And it's a it's a complete violation of the ontological dignity of the child. And then they finish by talking about the dignity of a woman, whether she's coerced into it or chooses to subject herself to it freely. For in this practice, the woman is detached from the child, growing in her and becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others.
LeighWow. A lot of people getting injured in this process.
GrazieSo the woman becomes an instrument instead of someone expressing her full ontological dignity. Now living in living in dignity and the horrible detachment from the child.
GrazieIt's you know, you and I both have adopted children. Yeah. And we, we think very much we consider very much their, their birth parents especially their mothers who held them in their wombs. You know, they were, they were, they were part of their mothers and then they were detached and their mothers lost them. And that that's a horrible hurt.
LeighYeah. And I think that I think, too, it's important to say that when we say that the child is robbed of that inherent dignity that comes from, you know, created through to sex beings, we certainly don't mean that a child who is, let's say, a victim of surrogacy. Right. Because that they were born that way. They are God's creation, too.
GrazieOkay. But then but then the comment starting with the definition of dignity, starting with the ontological dignity, there is nothing that can take away from any human being's dignity. Yeah, we can. We can we can contradict it. Right. By forcing them to live in poverty or by trafficking them or by using them, using them as surrogate mothers. So we can we can contradict it, we can abuse it or dirty it, but we can't.
LeighDo it to ourselves by acting against our conscience.
GrazieExactly. We can we can abuse our own dignity and abuse the dignity of others. But we cannot obliterate it. We cannot remove it because.
GrazieThat attaches to the person, because they're made in the image of God.
GrazieWow. You know, that makes so much sense.
LeighYeah. It's all coming together. I've got to say, I think everyone should take a look at this document, but also the pillars coverage I found to be very interesting and very helpful. They had a few people weigh in. Charlie, Mercy, Abigail, family. I can't marry who else? But anyway.
GrazieThere's been very great. Yeah, the pill has been very good on this. We only have 5 minutes left, so let's focus on on the thing that's raising antennas everywhere. And that's the the very good attack on gender theory on behalf of on behalf of the church here. So on gender theory, they start, of course, by saying that there is there is this is not this is about theory that every human being, again, ontologically has dignity, no matter what their sexual preferences are or their sexual practices.
LeighIt's so much dualism that it can, you know, that it's something that you think or you know, that you decide without any relation to your body. These two separate things, which is one thing altogether. But then again, when you start, you take this dualistic idea about what gender and sex mean, and then you separated brain and body, but then you want to also change the body to match.
GrazieSay, going backward and forward over the same ground.
LeighYeah. And I've been thinking about that and thinking about how that exactly works. And I don't, I don't know.
GrazieBut I know because I thought I'm not. Well that's boredom. It's not logical or rational. It has to do with these fragmented desires and fragmented personality, right?
LeighThat's right. And they're not considering they're not worrying about whether or not they're being like good Cartesian dual. It's all right when they talk, when they're making these decisions and policies.
GrazieAnd then the document goes on to talk about the fact that gender theory erases it attempts to erase the difference between the male and the female. And here this is pretty this foundational difference is not only the greatest imaginable difference, but is also the most beautiful and most powerful of them in the female. In the male female couple, the difference achieves the most marvelous of reciprocity.
LeighYeah, I loved that part too.
LeighYeah. And it. It reminds you too, about how with the surrogacy, how I mean, because, like, even in our children's cases, you know, they were made in a natural act bullet, you know, and, and the way, you know, the sexes are designed to welcome these wonderful gift babies, you know, these miraculous things that happen. It's, it's, it's part of creation.
GrazieYeah. Yeah. This is pretty.
GrazieOnly by acknowledging and accepting this difference in reciprocity between the male and female can each person fully discover themselves, their dignity and their identity. So we're back to dignity. If you are male, that you can't flourish in and you can't be fully dignified if you are, I mean, you always rename dignified, you always remain with your dignity, but you're assaulting your own dignity when you when you refuse to accept your body as a gift.
LeighI know. Yeah. But now it's all toxic, right? So. Well, no wonder people want to ditch it. I mean, I don't think it's toxic, but.
GrazieI know we love our voice. We love our. We love our young men, yet who are so wonderfully masculine and. And, you know, and women with their there's the genius of their femininity. It's really this document is very needed in a in an age which is trying to erase the differences between male and female. They got the document goes on to talk about sex changes and and how this is just an assault, a total assault on the dignity of the person because the soul and the body both participate in that dignity and and characterize both the soul and the body, characterize the human person fully like all feeling through in all their selves, you know,
LeighI know.
GrazieI thank you for for joining me, Lee and to our listeners, you can look at you can Google it. It's called Dignitas Infinite time. You can put PDF and and it's really, really worth reading and and thank you to the church, I'd like to say for giving us a wonderful document to to to quiet our anxieties and and back us up when we need to go out there and be John Jones of Art Clark, R.S..
LeighIt's not always easy.
GrazieThank you, Leigh.
LeighAll right. Thank you.
JohnThank you. So great to be back.
GrazieSo that's sort of a mouthful. Well, we'll call it M Tala from now on, But I wanted to say it. I wanted to give all the the words because part of it is the Active Labor Act. And it's a very interesting federal law that was passed in in 1986. Tell us all about it, please, John. Give us give us the the short version of and Tala and what the Biden administration has tried to do with this great federal law.
JohnSure. And Tala was a bipartisan law that was enacted by Congress in the 1980s. President Reagan signed it into law and it was addressing a very specific problem. Sometimes if an indigent person, no money, no insurance, showed up at a hospital emergency room and they were in critical condition, the hospital would not take them in and provide them care or find another facility that could care for them.
GrazieSo, John, when I went to medical school, I trained at a very busy public hospital in Miami. And Taylor had just been passed maybe four years earlier when I started my medical school training and I worked for on and off. I worked at the Lee on the labor floor and I knew I'm taller and I heard it talked about because in our public hospital we took care of all the the indigent and uninsured women of Miami who were giving birth.
JohnThat's exactly what it was supposed to do and what everybody understood it to do until the Biden administration reinterpreted it after Dodds. So imagine that you're working at your hospital down there in Miami and instead of a pregnant woman coming in in labor because you want to take it out of the abortion context, imagine that the indigent woman needed a kidney transplant in order to stabilize her.
GraziePatient was losing the fair, John.
JohnNo. Or even if the second patient was willing to donate it, you likely have a state medical board that decides who is entitled to get a kidney transplant. Maybe it should go instead to, you know, a 20 year old young woman who has a long life ahead of her instead of a patient who's already in her late seventies and has terminal cancer because the state medical board determines that that that kidney has a better use.
GrazieSo this strange schizophrenic aspect of this, to me, reading it, reading the Biden administration's brief, is that the administration or the Department of Justice is trying to take a life saving law and turn it into a mandate for abortion, which correct me if I'm wrong, but it would seem to run counter against many states defense of life regulations and laws.
JohnAbsolutely. Idaho is just a test case for them, but they've also promulgated regulations that require this in every state that has a pro-life law and that would include states unlike Idaho, which have just bans on late term abortions, you know, say someone was at 25 weeks and a state law prohibited any abortions after 22 weeks when the baby was viable, the government would say that they have to perform abortions, too.
GrazieThe government's brief describes two or three situations which they say would require an abortion on an emergency basis. And I would say as a physician, that's completely wrong. So, for instance, they mention pre-eclampsia, which when a woman, a pregnant woman has has dangerously high blood pressure. The treatment for that is delivery of the child, which is not an abortion.
JohnThat's exactly right. And the administration's view abortion is always the necessary treatment. So to say that you had a woman who came in and she was 18 weeks pregnant and she had a premature rupture of her membranes, and that's a very serious condition for mom in the baby. You know, for the mom, it's possible that she could develop an infection which could be fatal.
GrazieSimple. You've really shocked me, John. I hadn't I hadn't imagined that scenario. That's absolutely heinous, that that that could and I'm not I'll tell you why. I'll tell you why. It is because as a physician, I know many physicians of all different stripes, emergency room doctors, radiologists. I mean, we come in all flavors, but most of us do not participate in abortion and we refuse to participate in abortions.
JohnYeah, I think that's right. And you can imagine the situation with a pro-life OB-GYN who might spend most of their time on the labor delivery floor. But they're a hospitalist. And so they also will come down to the emergency room to help with a pregnant women's emergencies. And she may have already spoken to the hospital administration about her conscience and got an exemption from all the right people.
GrazieWhen when a woman comes to the E.R., for instance, and she's in process of miscarrying, whether it's natural or provoked by mifepristone, if the child has a heartbeat still and and hasn't begun to emerge and the cervix is closed any.
GrazieThat child has a right, that the child is alive and could very well continue and be born later, making emergency room doctors interfere in that specific case, I think is exactly what the Biden administration wants to do. And the and the the their interference would be a formal abortion, a surgical abortion. And there's and there's really no need for that because if the woman is is has is bleeding, she can be transfused.
JohnBecause the states and the Catholic Church don't even recognize that situation as an abortion, where the primary purpose is to save the mother's life. And it's not an intentional taking of the child's life that's exempted from the definition of abortion in every single state. But the Biden administration wants to have more abortions, and they want to coerce pro-life doctors to violate their conscience, as we were talking about.
GrazieWell, John, thank you for joining us. And I really, really hope I'll pray and I hope that all our listeners will pray along that cooler heads prevail and logic and sense and just compassion and generosity of the Supreme Court and that. Thank you. Yes. And Idaho, in their case.
JohnThat's our prayer as well. And for those who want to pray specifically, well, the argument is happening. It will begin shortly after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 24th, and we will take all the prayers that we can get.
GrazieAnd now Father Roger Landry offers a short and inspiring homily for this Sunday's gospel.
Fr LandryThis is Father Roger later, and it's a joy for me to be with you as we enter into the consequential conversation the risen Lord Jesus wants to have with each of us. This Sunday, the fourth sunny of Easter each year is called Good Shepherd Sunday, because on this day, the church focuses on the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Saint John, which Jesus reveals the relationship he has with each of his faithful followers.
GrazieThank you, Father. To learn more about Father, check out his website. It's called Catholic Preaching dot com and make sure to catch his writings at EWTN National Catholic Register. He's a regular contributor. With that, I leave you and thank you again for being our listeners and we continue to pray for you always.