Roberts Remains a Mystery
AS THE U.S. SENATE prepares to consider President George W. Bush’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, there seems to be a certain ambiguity about Judge Roberts’ position on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion-on-demand the “law of the land.” On the one hand, he is on record as saying that Roe was incorrectly decided and should be changed. On the other hand, in his 2003 hearings as a nominee for his present post, he said that it is “settled law.” What does he believe? And what will be his decision, if confirmed, when he has a chance to revoke or to reaffirm that fateful mandate, which makes the United States the most abortion-prone country in the world? Even the laws of communist China, where women are often compelled to abort, authorize it only during the first three months; ours permit it during the entire nine months of pregnancy. What Roberts really thinks, and how he will act, is not altogether clear. Even less clear is what President Bush thinks and will do during his second term.
It is evident that President Bush owes his reelection, and his grand margin of victory, to support he received from pro-lifers and advocates of traditional sexual morality. After his sweeping victory, representatives of the pro-life movements that had supported him and prayed for him tired in attempting to persuade him to say or do something that would make it evident that he really understands what America has done to herself by permitting over 40 million abortions since 1973.
Representatives of Care Net, the evangelically rooted organization that, in 2004, helped over 100,000 troubled women and girls to decide not to abort, began to ask him to take a simple action that would, first, make it very evident where he stands and, second, potentially help to change the hearts and minds of the America people, without which judicial and legislative action is hardly likely to succeed. We asked him to establish a little governmental agency to publish the statistics on abortion, listing how many occurred this past week, how many this year, how many altogether. We also recommended that this agency report the ages and marital status of the women aborting, how many were repeat abortions, and so forth. It would be useful to compare the number of people killed by terrorists on September 11, 2001 (3,000), to the number killed “safely and legally” by doctors that same day (around 4,000), and the day before, and the day after, and so on. It seemed to us that this measure would be hard to oppose.
We wrote directly to President Bush, but, knowing that it was unlikely that he would ever see our letter, we also contacted his liaison officer for faith-related issues, Timothy Goeglein, who recommend that we approach Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services (or is that Sacrifice?), and the Surgeon General. On our own, we also approached Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), whom some of us know personally, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC and your writer’s own representative), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN and a physician).
We received nothing from the White House, nothing from the senators, nothing from the congressman, nothing from Health and Human Services. To Secretary Leavitt, we put the following questions: “Is there any reason why we should not think that you acquiesce over one million abortions annually? Is there any reason why we should not think that the President acquiesces?” No answer. Apparently, there is no reason why we should not think so.
Before the 2004 elections, many pro-life Christians, myself included, worked hard to help the President win reelection. A letter came from Senator Frist, and another from Vice President Dick Cheney. An answer? No, an invitation to a presidential dinner to honor me for my help in the election campaign. After two pages of praise and exhortation appeared the lines, “Send a check for $2,500 for a seat, or for $25,000 for a table of ten.” I answered, “We don’t want an honor, just an answer.” No answer.
This is what the Swiss writer Eric Werner calls la censure molle (soft censorship)—no reply, no argument or counterproposal, nothing. This is less painful than hard censorship and thought control. We are not forced to believe that the President and his party have betrayed their professed ideals and those of us who trusted him, but we are increasingly left with no alternative but to think such. We have reminded them collectively and individually of the proverb, “Hope deferred sickens the heart” (Proverbs 13:12). Do they worry that voters who are sick at heart may never again flock to support them? Apparently not.
This article first appeared in the September 2005 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.