Artboard 1 apply Artboard 1 copy 2 Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB give Artboard 1 copy 3 info link Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Artboard 1 Artboard 2 Artboard 1 visit

Arguing for the unborn: Baltimore lawyer-turned-priest receives pro-life honor

Erik Zygmont
Special to The Catholic Review; photo by Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff

For Monsignor James P. Farmer, S'80, the essence of the pro-life movement is simple. “The truth is on our side, and the truth will set us free,” he said. The longtime spiritual director of the Baltimore Archdiocese’s Office of Respect Life received the Pro-Life Award from Pregnancy Center North at the Towson center’s annual fundraising banquet Sept. 23.

farmer-pro-life-award-768x512-in-text.jpg“He was instrumental in starting the center,” said Cindi Ritter, Pregnancy Center North’s executive director.

That was in 1982.

“He met with the women who started it, he sat in on their board meetings, and all throughout the beginning years he was there as an adviser,” added Ritter, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist in Long Green Valley.

By then, Monsignor Farmer had been involved in the movement for nearly a decade. Not too many can trace their activism all the way back to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that effectively legalized abortion in America in 1973, but Monsignor Farmer can.

“I’m a lawyer, so I was surprised by the court’s decision,” Monsignor Farmer said, referencing his pre-vocation occupation.

From a legal standpoint, he explained, Roe was odd in its reliance on a “penumbral” constitutional right to privacy rather than any explicit right – such as free speech or free assembly, for example – laid out in the founding document. Furthermore, he added, Roe was similar to the court’s infamous Dred Scott decision in that both denied the personhood of a certain category of individual – preborn children in Roe and Black Americans in Dred Scott.


Erik Zygmont
Special to The Catholic Review; photo by Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff