Tag Archive for ‘Abortion’
President Obama has made it clear that babies get in the way of big dreams.
Lucy just pulled the football away from Charlie Brown again. In the budget compromise that averted a government shutdown, it was the Republicans not the Democrats who blinked on the funding of Planned Parenthood, and it was the pro-lifers who look to the GOP and not the abortion supporters who look to the Democrats who were disappointned. After the compromise, as before, hundreds of millions of tax dollars will continue to flow into the coffers of an organization that kills hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year and whose founder famously said, “The most merciful thing a family does for one of its infant members is to kill it.”
The debate leading up to the compromise provided another reminder of why Roe v. Wade has not been overturned. Richard Scaife, a long-time donor to the GOP and conservative causes, took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to gush about how his grandmother knew Margaret Sanger and how wonderful Planned Parenthood is. In Scaife’s world, government spending is okay when the money is spent on Planned Parenthood. There are lots of old money families with histories similar to Scaife’s, as Republican leaders well know, since many of those families are their own. The Bushes, like the Scaifes, were early supporters of Planned Parenthood, and Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush all remain supporters of abortion.
Republicans such as Scaife and Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Laura Bush can tolerate pro-life rhetoric and the occasional law dealing with the margins of the abortion issue, but the overturning of Roe v. Wade would provoke a civil war in the upper reaches of the GOP, which is one reason why that infamous decision has not been overturned, even though Republican presidents have appointed a majority of all Supreme Court justices since it was handed down in 1973. Indeed, thanks to Warren Rudman’s memoirs, we now know that George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter to the Supreme Court knowing full well that Souter was a supporter of Roe v. Wade.
Politically, Roe v. Wade has been a tremendous boon to the national GOP. For decades, millions of pro-lifers have reliably voted for Republican presidential candidates on the basis of the pro-life issue, even though many of those voters might favor the Democrats on economic issues. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, the abortion issue would become a state issue, and many pro-life voters would again feel free to consider Democratic candidates for national office. Until Charlie Brown realizes the game Lucy is playing, there is no reason to expect that Roe v. Wade will be overturned or that the GOP as a whole (with many obvious and honorable exceptions) will stand by its stated pro-life beliefs when it matters.
In late February, in the midst of the uproar over Live Action’s exposé of Planned Parenthood, I wrote a piece about the controversy for the About.com Catholicism GuideSite. The piece argued that, whatever good intentions Lila Rose and her comrades at Live Action may have had, they stepped over the line, and their tactics could not be justified under Catholic moral theology. But now, five or six weeks later, I’m beginning to have second thoughts.
If the state is to protect life at any cost, doesn’t this imply a financial obligation to preserve the life of any child, no matter how deformed or hopeless, no matter what it takes? That means a considerable outlay of tax money, and in parallel cases, when the state assumes the burden, it also lays down the law. The routine justification for anti-smoking laws and seatbelt regulations is the cost imposed on the public. It does not take too much imagination to foresee the time when couples will have to submit to genetic screening if they wish to receive a permit to conceive. Couples who defied the law would be compelled to abort the illegal (and therefore rightless) child.
It is hard to see that much good has ever come from any of the various declarations of the rights of man. Such a declaration did not save the French from either Robespierre or Napoleon, and the constitution of the defunct USSR practically glows with liberal enthusiasm for human rights.
Abortion As Self-Denial: In a rationalist system of ethics, every basic principle must be stated in universal terms in which “I” am denied a privileged perspective. I may not, for example, make rules that apply to everyone but me–only the Congress of the United States is free to do that. If I advocate an unrestricted right to abortion, then, it must include my mother’s right to have aborted me for whatever reason she chose.
Nature gives us the sort of answer she always gives–general rules and statistical averages to which there are exceptions. [Cf. David Hume, Treatise on Human Nature III.12 ) From the Christian perspective nature is the tarnished mirror in which we can only glimpse, obscurely, the true reality. A face-to-face encounter with nature’s Creator is possible only to those who study his Word and participate in his sacraments.
In the 20th century the most powerful and difficult transitions in human life have been turned into political war zones in which the different sides routinely invoke the power of government to establish and enforce their points of view. Few debates have been so heated as those involving the decision to terminate life.
There are many ways of looking at human life; some emphasize the benevolence of the Creator; others our inheritance from and similarity to other primates. One approach favored by some liberals/libertarians is to treat life as property. But if the life of a child, born or unborn, is a property or possession, then to whom does it belong? Several answers can be given.
Questions of life and death—abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, euthanasia, and suicide—form a fissure in the American political geography, dividing (typically) left from right, but also moral from immoral, and—all too often—sane from insane.