Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Plea to Obama's Pro-Life Apologists

Most Americans consider themselves pro-life and a majority favor significant legal restrictions on abortions in the U.S. Yet most Americans, including most Catholics, voted for the most pro-abortion major candidate ever to run for president. How was this possible? One reason is that prominent pro-life Catholics like law professor Douglas Kmiec provided a kind of pro-life cover for Obama. Obama's extreme pro-abortion voting record was obscured with talk of "seeking common ground" with opponents of abortion. But it was not the common ground that might be found with those who said they were personally opposed to abortion, like Bill Clinton or Joe Biden, and who talked of reducing the number of abortions.

Obama talked and talks, even at Notre Dame, in no such terms. Instead he talks of reducing the "need for abortion" (like the need for infanticide?) or the number of women seeking abortions. The difference is crucial. In the Obama/Planned Parenthood view, shared by all Obama's appointees in areas related to the question, abortion is a legitimate, even sometimes desirable, solution to a problem, not a problem in itself. In that sense the common ground is between those who are genuinely pro-life but who nevertheless voted for Obama on whatever grounds, and those who are pro-life who opposed Obama on those and other grounds. Even those who voted for him, George argues, are not thereby bound to support particular policies that promote and fund abortion worldwide, that seek to strip every possible legal protection from the most vulnerable members of the human community, and even to deny medical assistance to those babies who survive attempted abortions and who are left fighting for breath in a soiled linen bin, as Chicago-area nurse Jill Stanek discovered in one case that she courageously publicized.

The issue is not whether the unborn child is an actual or just a potential human being. Scientific advances have settled that question. No-one, certainly not Obama, talks any more of unborn babies as "clumps of tissue." The question is rather whether all human beings, simply by virtue of being human beings, have an equal right to life. As Robert P. George points out with reference to such cases as the dumping of fully born, living babies in the trash, "Even in opposing the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was designed to assure such babies were rescued if possible or at least given comfort care as they died, Barack Obama did not deny the humanity of the child. What he denied, and continues to deny, is the fundamental equality of that child--equality with those of us who are safely born and accepted into the human community."

The linked piece by Robert George is a beautifully argued appeal to those, like Kmiec, who accept this fundamental equality of all human beings, including the weakest, most vulnerable, and those at the earliest stages of life. It is an argument for unity of all those--even those who voted for Obama--who share this view of the equal dignity and worth of all human beings--to oppose at every possible point the Obama administration's piece by piece drive 1) to remove every possible obstacle to the killing of the unborn, 2) to coerce the consciences of health-care providers who adhere to the Hippocratic Oath as traditionally and universally understood, and 3) to make taxpayers, most of whom oppose these callous policies, pay for them.

This contribution of George's was part of a discussion with Pepperdine law professor Doug Kmiec, but I cannot find what Kmiec came up with in reply. George's argument can be found at:


See also the related discussion at:


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