About Dr. Patrick Lee

Dr. Patrick Lee, the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville

The Right to Redefine Marriage?

The main argument proposed by those seeking to redefine marriage so that same-sex couples can be legally declared married is that homosexual persons are being unjustly denied a fundamental right. Everyone has a fundamental right to marry — the argument goes — but homosexuals are denied this right.

But this argument simply begs the question; it presupposes a particular — and false — answer to the question: What is marriage? A right to marry does not give people the right to compel everyone else to treat an entirely different kind of relationship they might have as if it were marriage.

Say No to Physician Assisted Suicide

Howard Ball’s lead essay on this issue is clear and helpful. Yet I think the term “Physician Assisted Death” is evasive and euphemistic. Physicians have for centuries helped patients to die—that is, to endure the process that ends in their death. The question is whether physicians should help them kill themselves—and whether the law should allow physicians to do so. Thus I will use the term Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). This raises a moral question (Is PAS morally right?), and a legal question (Should PAS be against the law?).

Read more at Cato Unbound.

HHS Mandate: Unjust (as well as Illegal)

To recap two major problems with the HHS mandate: it restricts the natural right of religious freedom and imposes a false view of religion.

In addition to being illegal by violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (see Ed Whelan’s posts at National Review Online about this starting here), the Health and Human Services contraception mandate is unjust for at least two reasons: it infringes the natural right of all citizens to freedom of conscience and religion (see Melissa Moschella’s Public Discourse article); and it attempts to impose on society a false—overly restrictive—definition of what religion actually is (see Gerard Bradley’s Public Discourse article). Here I want to sum up and defend these two crucial points.

First, on the right to religious freedom. The rightful authority of the political community is limited: it does not extend to every aspect of human life. We form political community only to promote the public good, that is: to protect natural rights, and to promote ends that serve all within society, and can effectively and appropriately be pursued by the political community (as opposed to ends—such as the adoption of a particular religion—that can best be pursued only by individuals, families, and voluntary associations). The protection of natural rights—grounded in genuine human goods or aspects of human flourishing—is an essential component of the public good, and part of what citizens consent to when they consent to the political community.

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Marriage and Procreation: The Intrinsic Connection

There is an intrinsic link between marriage and procreation, but this does not mean that infertile couples cannot really be married.

By Dr. Patrick Lee, the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville;
Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University; and
Dr. Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

Activists seeking to redefine marriage typically claim that it is unfair—even arbitrary—for law and public policy to continue to honor the historic understanding of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. Believing that marriage has a degree of malleability that our legal tradition has heretofore failed to recognize, they maintain that “excluding” same-sex partners from marriage violates a moral right possessed by every individual to marry a person of one’s choice (with that person’s consent). Defenders of conjugal marriage reply (in part) that marriage is not malleable in the ways that their opponents suppose.

Read article at The Public Discourse.