Alvaré, Helen
29 Articles at

Culture of Life Foundation Helen Alvare, J.D., Senior Fellow in Law


A 'right' without constitutional foundation

Today, nearly 50 years post-Roe v. Wade and 30 years post-Planned Parenthood v. Casey, it is plain to see that both cases are political, not constitutional, decisions. In its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, therefore, the Supreme Court should return the question of abortion to the states.

Date posted: 2022-06-06

Why happily married women need to talk about sex

Younger women are hearing about it all the time, but they are not hearing much sense.

Date posted: 2017-04-17

Should Government Talk More About the Risks of Hormonal Contraception?

A recent study suggesting a link between depression and hormonal contraception raises larger questions about the significant role that contraception plays in government programs offered largely to poor and young women.

Date posted: 2016-11-27

Women's leverage in the mating market

More than a few feminists rather conceive of women's "power" in the "market" for relationships, sex and marriage, as the ability to have casual sex without strings, and without children. The problem with their vision, however, is that the evidence is stacked against them.

Date posted: 2016-08-10

Is "infertility default" really the preferred option?

Long-acting contraception targets the poor and minorities

Date posted: 2015-03-30

We Need a Real Women's Agenda, Not Government-Funded Abortion

By passing HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, Congress could settle the matter of federal funding for abortion once and for all, and start addressing the real needs of American women...the federal government has collected no dispositive data about the relationship between abortion and women's health. When it addresses women's health priorities, it rather offers advice to women about caring for their unborn child, and says nothing about abortion as health care. Credible studies indicate an association between abortion and mental distress for some women.

Date posted: 2014-03-11

Without Words to Describe

Those of us who value life over death, vibrant religious exercise, and the good of natural marriage need to find our voice again even though the powers-that-be are redefining words arbitrarily and avoiding reason.

Date posted: 2013-10-15

Bad Science and Failed Freedom Protections in the HHS Mandate

The latest proposed amendment to the HHS mandate still draws on empirically unsound data and violates religious freedom.

Date posted: 2013-04-09

Contraception and Women's Wellbeing: Physical Health, Happiness, and Religion (Part 3)

Poor women will bear the brunt of government promoted contraceptive programs, along with its problematic side-effects. While contraception does not manufacture female happiness as its proponents suggest, religion can. The third in a three-part series.

Date posted: 2013-02-09

Contraception and Women's Wellbeing: NFP, Disillusionment, and the Poor (Part 2)

Contraception isn't the only way to plan a family, and it certainly isn't cost-free: contraception leads to sexual disillusionment and weakens the marriage culture at the expense of the least well-off women. The second in a three-part series.

Date posted: 2013-02-08

Planned Parenthood and the Government v. Religious Liberty and Women's Wellbeing (Part 1)

An unprecedented campaign against religious liberty, characterized by a formidable alliance between the White House and Planned Parenthood, bolstered by money, power, and market branding, is threatening women's well-being. The first in a three-part series.

Date posted: 2013-02-07

Contemporary Family Law: Divorcing Marriage from Children (Part II)

The first part of this series summarized two centuries of Supreme Court opinions identifying the state's interest in marriage with its interests in children, their formation for self-government, and the building of a decentralized society. Today, however, those who demand state recognition of same-sex marriage either ignore or minimize the relationship between marriage law and children's welfare. In light of the Supreme Court decisions discussed here yesterday, this seems a foolish strategy, bound to fail.

Date posted: 2012-02-19

Traditional Family Law: Connecting Marriage with Children (Part I)

Why is there a gulf between those who see same-sex marriage as an impossible legal and cultural revolution, a bridge too far, and those who see it as the logical next step on a path well-trodden in family law? In part, it is the difference in perspective between those familiar with classical expressions of the goods and goals of marriage found in over a century of Supreme Court decisions, and those with their eyes fixed upon more recent legal developments that call those goods into question or ignore them.

Date posted: 2012-02-19

Contracepting Conscience

The new, pro-contraceptive recommendations by the Institute of Medicine endanger the health and well-being of women.

Date posted: 2011-08-25

Repelling the Attack on Conscience

There is no need to view the matter of conscience protection in health care as a zero-sum game between conscience-driven healthcare providers and the patients they serve, particularly the most vulnerable. Opponents of conscience protection often portray the situation this way, but the opposite is true. It is by protecting conscience, and thereby elevating the value of respect for life in health care, that we are likely as a nation to serve and reflect the values of most Americans, particularly the vulnerable. There are four primary points that underscore the compatibility of conscience and care.

Date posted: 2011-04-18

'Femaleness' and U.S. Family Law

Social welfare policies failing to give "credit" to women's domestic roles (e.g. social security does not accrue for childrearing), and to women's inclination to take lower paying service jobs, sends a message to women about the value to the community of these undertakings; it tells them the tasks are worthless. It will also likely skew women's choices away from the socially valuable work toward which they incline and toward work that may detract from the well-being of their family and society.

Date posted: 2011-01-18

America the Ambiguous: Evangelizing the Culture about the Family

Cardinal George is correct that in order to evangelize such a culture, work to rebuild the family should come first. Family is the first community, the place where we learn what we use later to build culture; this includes at the very least our hierarchy of values and the means to express them. It would seem that the first task here is to recover America's ideological strengths, as Cardinal George names them, to serve the family instead of undermining it. Currently, in other words, lawmakers and other opinion leaders are twisting our love affairs with freedom, equality and diversity to serve short-term goals which ultimately weaken the family. First and foremost, our love of freedom has been transmuted into a demand for legalizing any sort of sexual intimacy one might choose. It has also been used to support a "right" to choose whether to value or to destroy nascent human life.

Date posted: 2010-01-15

Degrading Sex, Government Style

At the United Nations, the words "safe motherhood" in international agreements, have become code for efforts to mandate legal abortion in countries signing onto such agreements. The logic? Abortion (unsafe for children; destructive of motherhood) is claimed to be safer than childbirth for the mother sometimes. Likewise, in the United States, take no meaning from the title "Safe Schools" czar. It means whatever its inventors claim. In the present case, it seems to mean safe from the influence of those opposing the early and degrading sexualization of minor children.

Date posted: 2009-12-27

Admitting Sex is Procreative

Counterintuitive as it seems, a possible means of helping to curb our nonmarital pregnancy rates is to "put the baby back into sex." It is a means of helping men and women view each other as gifts - not instruments, not enemies, not subordinates - and a way of putting first things first - the well-being of children before our own selfish impulses.

Date posted: 2009-11-19

Jon and Kate plus Eight minus Sane Divorce Laws

Jon and Kate's divorce would appear to be an unusually large train wreck. But in fact it's only a marginally larger train wreck than any divorce where there are dependent children and not a lot of joint income. Divorce reformers have been pointing this out for decades now. They have moved to the point of introducing bills in various states to slow divorce down or require "fault" justification or mutual consent in some instances. They recognize that marriage is in trouble and needs social support to help sustain itself. They recognize that the negative fallout for children is real. The law has become a player in the culture of marriage, but thus far, for ill and not for good. The Gosselin disaster movie is a good time to spread the word that it's time to think about making some real changes.

Date posted: 2009-10-30

"What God Has Joined, Let Not Man Put Asunder"....Unless ....

One of the most respected American sociologists, Andrew Cherlin, has recently published The Marriage-Go-Round: the State of Marriage and the Family in America. True to his role at Johns Hopkins University, he proposes in his new work, not only a sociologically based characterization of the American family, but also a public policy response. The book is as important and revealing as it is overwhelming and discouraging to supporters of children's welfare and the overall strength of marriage and families.

Date posted: 2009-10-25

Health Care and the Push to "Normalize" Abortion

You've heard details from many sources about abortion and current health care reform proposals. You have likely read about what it will do: abolish state limitations on abortion, and trample conscience rights of morally or religiously opposed medical professionals and institutions. You have also likely learned how it will do it: the appointment by the executive branch of a type of health care advisory committee composed of abortion advocates who will have decision-making authority about the package of services which will be deemed "necessary" health care and "essential benefits of coverage."

Date posted: 2009-10-03

Too Soon to Write the "History" of Eugenics?

Eugenics (Greek for "good birth") involves not only end of life decision-making, but decisions about who should be conceived, or even who should be allowed to live after conception is a fait accompli. Throughout U.S. history, citizens, legislators and judges have weighed arguments about eugenics in connection with proposals about involuntary sterilization, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Today, assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) force us to consider eugenics.

Date posted: 2009-10-01

'Femaleness' and U.S. Family Law

The Church has identified herself as an "expert in humanity"1. But who has the temerity to claim to be an expert in the female half of humanity? The complete identity of the female - call it the nature of 'femaleness' - is hidden in the complex body-soul unity which constitutes the human person. And so an understanding of the female body is one key to unlock this complex reality. But an understanding of the body is not enough to understand the person. Although human persons are always bodily and human bodies always personal, persons are not reducible to their bodies. They are their bodies, but they are more than their bodies, because the animating principle that makes their bodies to be living bodies is a non-material soul. But is there such thing as a properly "female soul"? Can spirit per se be engendered? These are weighty questions.

Date posted: 2009-09-19

The "Federal Strategy" to Impose Same-Sex "Marriage": Good News for Defenders of Marriage?

Now setting aside the patent ridiculousness of this latter conclusion (the Roe Court after all upended every single state's abortion ban in one fell swoop), the ACLU's entire statement seems to confirm the optimism often expressed by Maggie Gallagher of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. She has regularly reminded us that the polls are not moving as fast or as far as same-sex "marriage" proponents suggest and their record of 30 losses in the 30 states which have put same-sex marriage to a popular vote is not indicative of any kind of groundswell of popular support for same-sex unions. Remember the National Abortion Rights Action League's "Pro-Choice America" claims, accompanied with a stunning backdrop of the Statue of Liberty? Now think about the most recent Gallup Poll's reporting that 51% of Americans call themselves "pro-life." Maybe we're winning the culture argument after all, but simply don't see this reflected in popular media.

Date posted: 2009-09-09

Health Care Proposals Pending Before Congress:

We pose the following twelve questions for your consideration. Not all are of equal moral 'weight'. Those questions pertaining to whether the plan deliberately mandates coverage for intrinsically evil acts (e.g., abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and contraceptive acts) or encourages the commission of such acts (e.g., requires end of life counseling encouraging the removal of food and water for patients for whom such care is necessary and effective for sustaining life) have the highest priority.

Date posted: 2009-08-22

Rejecting Men, Embracing Children

Catholics have special gifts and thus special responsibilities here. We have remarkably and uniquely developed moral and systematic theologies touching on the meaning of human sexuality. We are also required to exercise an option for the vulnerable as imitators of Christ. Therefore, -- on the grounds of our profound understandings of the relationships between marriage and child well-being, and between marriage and our ability to glimpse God's love -- Catholics ought to feel especially responsible to be involved in the search for the right contents and mix of legal and religious efforts to re-valorize marriage and marital childbearing.

Date posted: 2009-07-24

The Male/Female Problematic and Out of Wedlock Births

The obvious answers are the family, the churches and the state. Media could help. All regularly take up these sorts of questions. But there are fearsome hurdles to success for any of these institutions. My next column - the last in this series about out of wedlock births - will consider how each of these institutions might proceed, as well as the hurdles they face.

Date posted: 2009-07-23

The Federal Strategy to Impose Same-Sex Marriage: Good News for Defenders of Marriage?

Should the Olsen/Boies case go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (a path that could take several years), we can be sure of only one thing: the media circus that will accompany it every step of the way. But perhaps we can also be cautiously optimistic that due to some combination of good arguments about the importance of opposite-sex marriage, and some bad tendencies on the part of the Court to try to read the national mood, marriage will win in the end.

Date posted: 2009-07-22