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As Wesley J. Smith said this past Thursday in a post on Secondhand Smoke, the fact that the government of Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting in that region of Spain starting in 2012 is a good thing. As Smith pointed out, bullfighting “is like dog fighting . . . . It is cruelty for sport . . . . it is the last remaining vestige of the Roman games in which humans and animals were set upon each other to satisfy the blood lust of the crowd.” Smith was careful to note, however, that this new ban is not a matter of animal rights but of animal welfare: “This measure doesn’t elevate the bulls to moral equivalence with people. It is people exercising human exceptionalism by recognizing their duty not to treat animals cruelly.”

On Friday, made note of the fact that this regional bullfight ban was passed into law just as Spain’s new, more liberal abortion law is coming into effect, and that “the irony has not been lost on pro-life observers.” Spain’s new abortion law, as LifeSiteNews reported in an earlier dispatch , “abolishes penalties for all abortions during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy” and “allows minors to obtain abortions without parental permission, although they must first inform their parents of their intention to do so.”

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro Carambula, the director of the Rome office of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews “that the banning of bullfighting in Spain . . . even as [the government promotes] abortion, represents a triumph of newly invented moral values based on arbitrary ‘progressive’ whims and social fads.” Almost echoing Wesley Smith, Monsignor Barreiro pointed out that “Animals should not be treated with cruelty, but animals do not have rights. Rights are inherent to the human person, so from the moment of conception, you have a human being who has rights. Animals need to be treated with respect, but [an animal] is not a bearer of rights.” He also noted that “a large percentage of the persons in favor of animal rights are not concerned at all about the rights of the unborn.”

As Mary Eberstadt wrote last year, in an essay (“ Pro-Animal, Pro-Life ”) in First Things that also addressed the issue of ethical vegetarianism, it is sadly apparent that many of those who oppose such things as the eating of meat, cruelty to animals in general, and blood sports (such as bullfighting) in particular “are hostile to the idea of admitting unborn human life to their circle of approved moral sympathy.” And now, in Spain, as Monsignor Barreiro told LifeSiteNews, “The main issue” is, tragically, “the protection of animals against the lack of protection of babies.”

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