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With Obama, it really is a vote for abortion (among other things)

June 17, 2008

I think speculating on which Supreme Court Justices a potential president may appoint is a waste of time. I do not think it should be a major factor in how one chooses which candidate to support. As I have noted before, if twelve years of purportedly conservative, “pro-life” presidencies (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush) with five Supreme Court appointments (Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas) do not result in a repeal of Roe v. Wade, then I do not think anyone can reasonably place much hope in potential Supreme Court nominees, let alone argue that others should vote accordingly.

But one thing that I can not and will not ignore is the more direct power the president has to codify certain abortion provisions. This leads me to Barack Obama. Frankly, I do not worry much over his potential Supreme Court appointments on account of what I will now refer to as the Reagan reality (i.e., even the most pro-life of presidents has done a poor job in appointing anti-Roe Justices). What I worry about is what Christopher Blosser tuned us into back in January: The Freedom of Choice Act.

Essentially, FOCA seeks to “prohibit, consistent with Roe v. Wade, the interference by the government
with a woman’s right to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.” The intent is to codify a woman’s right to abortion in U.S. law and to overrule federal, state, and local restrictions to access to abortion. In a very real and terrifying sense, FOCA is far worse than Roe.

On July 17, 2007, while stumping before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Obama openly declared, “Well, the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” You can watch Obama’s full speech here.

Currently, the Senate is majority Democrat (assuming Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman caucus with the Democrats). This November, 23 Republican seats are up for election with only 12 Democratic seats on the ballots. It is very likely that the Senate will remain in Democratic control, and there is a good chance that the Democrats will further consolidate their power. The House of Representatives is also currently controlled by the Democrats, 235-199. All seats are up for election this November, though the Democratic voter turnout is expected to be quite high. These scenarios, while only conjectural, set the stage for President Obama to act out his Planned Parenthood script. No more rehearsals.

NOW, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood are champing at the bit over this prospect. They understand what is at stake.

So do I. I cannot vote for Obama in good conscience, and, therefore, I shall not. When a presidential candidate vows to sign into law a measure that rolls back legal restrictions on killing human beings–whether by abortion or capital punishment–I do not become a single-issue voter. Rather, I become a single-issue eliminator, and Barack Obama is eliminated from my list of candidates for whom to vote.

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167 Comments
  1. June 17, 2008 9:18 am

    :(

    This is the reason why Obama will not get my vote… neither will McCain though.

  2. Zak permalink
    June 17, 2008 9:21 am

    You spoke my thoughts this morning almost exactly. There is much about Obama that impresses me, but his attitudes on this issue are just beyond the pale for me.

  3. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    June 17, 2008 9:40 am

    Under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, a
    1 woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy
    2 is absolute only prior to fetal viability, with the state
    3 permitted to ban abortion after fetal viability except
    4 when necessary to protect the life or health of a
    5 woman.

    (3) VIABILITY.—The term ‘‘viability’’ means
    17 that stage of pregnancy when, in the best medical
    18 judgment of the attending physician based on the
    19 particular medical facts of the case before the physi20
    cian, there is a reasonable likelihood of the sustained
    21 survival of the fetus outside of the woman.

    I have excerpted a a couple items from the proposed ‘act’ that reads more like a press release intended for the natives. I don’t see a real change in policy. It does appear to create a tort right for a woman to sue an insurance company for failure to cover abortion if they cover other reproductive services. The part you did excerpt appears to only affect things like waiting periods and parental notification. Perhaps one of the legal eagles around here could offer their opinion.

    For me, this bill isn’t an impediment given the alternative candidate.

  4. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 9:59 am

    Here is a portion of an actual press release issued by Senator Boxer when she introduced the bill:

    The Freedom of Choice Act also supersedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman’s right to choose.

    That means a poor woman cannot be denied use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion.

    That means that abortions cannot be prohibited at public hospitals, giving women more choices than private clinics.

    That means that we respect a woman’s ability to make her own decision, and don’t force women to anti-choice propaganda lectures, which submit women to misleading information, the purpose of which is to discourage abortion.

    That means that women serving our country in the military overseas would be able to afford safe abortions that can be performed in a military hospital.

    And, under our law, women who are denied their right to choose, or discriminated against will be able to go to court to enforce the law.

    Based on the above I’d say FOCA would mean something on the order of several hundred thousand additional abortions a year.

  5. jonathanjones02 permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:07 am

    Well said.

    It is, sadly, little or no exaggeration to state that Obama is the most “pro-choice” presidential candidate of all time, and a near-perfect construction of what the ideal abortion lobby candidate would be.

  6. TeutonicTim permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:09 am

    “But, but, what about the proportional issues?”

  7. June 17, 2008 10:19 am

    “Based on the above I’d say FOCA would mean something on the order of several hundred thousand additional abortions a year.”

    Can anyone specify how FOCA would alter existing practices and procedures?

  8. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:25 am

    Gerald,

    Sure. Just read my previous comment.

  9. June 17, 2008 10:26 am

    Poli,

    This is fine and good I think. But what is the case for abstaining this coming election? That is, what is the case against McCain? Could you make me a bulleted list?

    Here’s my own massively abbreviated list:

    1. concerns about Wilsonian-Bush-style foreign policy
    2. possible support for ESCR ( but the presidency is not the legislature, so this can’t matter that much )
    3. doesn’t support governmental usurpation of health care industry (not a concern for me)

    What are the major things I’m missing or underplaying?

    In addition to being the better candidate for the unborn by an intractable factor, I think McCain’s preferred immigration policy would be right up your alley, too. Oh, and he’s vehemently opposed to torture. I don’t see what’s holding you back.

  10. June 17, 2008 10:31 am

    blackadder,

    FOCA would not change the status quo because a combination of Roe and Doe already mean, de facto, that abortion is legal in all fifty states at every stage of pregnancy for any reason (“health of the mother” has been so broadly interpreted that it means “for any reason whatsoever.”)

    It appears to me that Boxer’s press release to which you refer speaks to eventualities in the event that attempts are made to challenge and thereby change the status quo.

    In short, it seems that the purpose of FOCA is to preserve the status quo.

  11. jonathanjones02 permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:33 am

    Zach,

    The ESCR research position is worth watching…..he’s indicated, especially given the big technology news last year, that position is open to change. I very much hope so.

    One of my problems with McCain is that his highly charged notion of honor can make disagreement personal, petty, and difficult. This, and I think he just doesn’t care about domestic issues that much.

    That said, though, there is much to admire in his accomplishments and strength of character, aside from the divorce (and no one except for the two parties involved ever knows about all the factors involved there).

  12. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:34 am

    You need to ask the question: will this have any material affect on the incidence of abortion anywhere in the jurisdiction of the United States? I sincerely doubt it. It’s yet more obfuscation of the pro-Republican lobby to make Obama far more of an abortion demon than could conceivably be the case. It reminds me of partial birth abortion issue, loathsome and yet largely irrelevant in terms of reducing abortion.

    No, I think McCain is the greater problem. His warmongering will imply a far greater proximity to dead non-combatants than could ever possibly be the case with Obama and the unborn. Bush’s legacy is a million dead Iraqis and no effective change in abortion. What will McCain’s be?

  13. Policraticus permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:36 am

    Zach,

    I am actually prerparing a post on McCain, which I’ll put up in a few days. I hope you won’t mind the wait.

  14. Policraticus permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:37 am

    That said, though, there is much to admire in his accomplishments and strength of character, aside from the divorce (and no one except for the two parties involved ever knows about all the factors involved there).

    Well, cheating on the wife may be a hint.

  15. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:39 am

    To make the same point somewhat differently: many Catholics probably reached the same conclusion in 2000 about Gore and voted for Bush. And now, eight years on, see the mess and the lack of any change on abortion. In fact, given the largest declines in abortion took place under Clinton, it is probable that Gore’s record would have actually been better on this front– while a million Iraqis would still be alive today.

    The problem with the pro-abortion position is that it exludes the unborn from those deserving thr right to life. And yet the brazen foriegn policy of Bush-McCain adopts a similar disregard for the life of whole groups of non-American citizens, especially those in the middle east.

  16. June 17, 2008 10:41 am

    “It’s yet more obfuscation of the pro-Republican lobby to make Obama far more of an abortion demon than could conceivably be the case.”

    Now who’s full of hot air?

    Good post, Poli.

  17. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:42 am

    Ah yes, character. The “character” issue meant that Bush restored honor and dignity to the White House after Clinton. Oh wait…

    We need to think more as Catholics and less as Protestants– judge leaders based on their degree of alignment with the common good rather than their personal vice or virtue. We see law (in an encompassing sense) as an ordinance of reason for the common good made by him who has care of the community– if that person is an adulterer, it is not an issue for the public.

  18. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:43 am

    Gerald,

    Under current law, Medicaid funding for abortion is prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Under FOCA, Medicaid funding for abortion would be required. That’s not the status quo.

    Under current law, abortions are not performed in many hospitals. Under FOCA, abortionists would be able to set up shop in any hospital, and any state or federal law or regulation to the contrary would be voided. That’s not the status quo.

    Under current law, states can (and many have) pass informed consent law and/or waiting periods for women seeking abortions. Under FOCA, such laws would all be voided. That’s not the status quo.

    Under current law, abortions are not performed on military bases. Under FOCA, they would be. That’s not the status quo.

    FOCA does enshrine the right to an abortion in statutory law, making it that much more difficult to stop abortion even if Roe is overturned. That’s bad enough. But FOCA does far more than that. It would, in one fell swoop, wipe out most of the legal gains made by the pro-life movement in the last 30 years.

  19. jonathanjones02 permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:43 am

    I wasn’t aware he cheated. If so, I agree with Ross Douthat that is a serious mark against him, even as it shouldn’t disqualify.

  20. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:45 am

    MM,

    I am very sympathetic to what you write, and I would likely evaluate Gore differently than Obama by means of proportionate reasons. I really like Obama on so many issues, but his expressed desire to liberalize further abortion laws in the U.S. is as repugnant a position as I can fathom.

    I agree with you on McCain, and I will be posting on McCain’s shady and fluxuating abortion stance in the next few days. As someone who leans social democrat, I am very satisfied making my voice heard, however quietly, through a third party.

  21. June 17, 2008 10:46 am

    FOCA does not materially change the status quo. It’s object is to maintain it.

    There needs to be a renewed focus on reducing the incidence of abortion through non-legal means. This approach is where the greatest advances can be expected.

  22. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:48 am

    FOCA does not materially change the status quo.

    You can say this as many times as you want. It won’t make it true.

  23. June 17, 2008 10:49 am

    Poli.-

    Fwiw, I respect your decision to vote third party. It’s a very tempting choice.

    The fear of a Obama being the next president is my primary motivation in voting McCain (flawed as he is).

  24. June 17, 2008 10:50 am

    Blackadder-

    Save your breath.

  25. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:52 am

    There needs to be a renewed focus on reducing the incidence of abortion through non-legal means. This approach is where the greatest advances can be expected.

    I agree 100% with this. In fact, I think it is where we should focus most of our efforts. However, my concern is that legal provisions still affect the number of abortions, which means ideally that liberalizing laws will result in more deaths and restricting laws will result in fewer deaths. It already puts me in a state of panic to think how many humans will die today.

  26. June 17, 2008 10:52 am

    MM,

    It’s patently false to assert there have been no advances in the anti-abortion cause since George Bush took office. Actual decrease in the incidence of elective abortion is not the only way to advance a cause. You know that.

    Poli,

    I’m not sure how you can be sympathetic with a terrible argument unless your feelings are getting in the way.

  27. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:53 am

    And you can cling to the fallacy that the currently-constituted Republican party cares about abortion and will do something about it. It won’t make it true.

  28. June 17, 2008 10:54 am

    blackadder,

    I think we made a cross post. I appreciate your second comment above. I will look into your suggestions.

  29. Bill H permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:56 am

    MM, when you write about torture, you very rightly and forcefully point out that consequentialism cannot be the primary paradigm under which we evaluate a government policy. Yet, when it comes to abortion, the first question that you almost invariably ask is whether or not electing someone will have a material effect on the incidence of abortion. Why isn’t this consequentialism? Especially because, if Blackadder is right, it would seem that the FOCA would make government cooperation in abortion (an intrinsically evil act) less remote by opening up greater Medicaid funding for abortion.

    I share a lot of your concerns about McCain, but I’m also tilting towards Policraticus’s position that a vote for Obama isn’t possible as well.

  30. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 10:58 am

    Morning’s Minion,

    Even if it were true that the Republicans didn’t care about abortion and wouldn’t do anything about it (and I dispute this), the fact is that Obama does care about abortion and if elected will do something about it. Something very very bad. Does that not matter to you?

  31. June 17, 2008 11:08 am

    MM

    As to Catholics looking back on the 2000 election and going where is the beef. Well I hope they look at what Bush has been able to do on the Pro-life Issue. From the MExico Policy on.

    Second of all I hope Catholics are smart enough to realize that Bush did not get a chance to appoint his first Supremne COurt Justice till well into his second term. Unless the Executive starts bumping off Pro-Choice Judges I am not sure what Bush could do. Further we had to replace on reliable PRO-life vote (not a net gain) and we perhaps made progress in replacing O’Connor.

    All these facts I hope are examined. Needless to say the Executive when looking at Supreme Court Nominess have to make their best educated guess on how a Judge would rule on Life Issues. In the current political climate they cannot come out and ask them their feelings very directly because of the horrific double standard on the issue.

    However the fact that Bush now has got as Chrif Justice of the Highest COurt of the Land, a Devout Catholic and a Jurist whose wife just Happens to have been serves as legal counsel to Feminists for Life seems very encouraging

  32. June 17, 2008 11:11 am

    MM

    As to the Republican Party it does indeed have a huge faction that cares about Abortion!!! Much more than the Democrats I hate to say. Perhaps that one day shall change.

    The fact is that dispite the diplomacy McCain has to do he knows he really can’t put a Pro-Choice VP on the ticket for instance. What are the chances that Obama will put a PRO-Life Democrat on the ticket?

    No from Lindy Boggs to Senator Breaux to other PRo-life Democrats of Distinction there is a glass “abortion” ceiling as to being considered for the highest office in the land.

  33. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 11:22 am

    Bill: consequentialism is not merely judging something by its outcomes or consequences, its is jutifying an intrinsically evil act– an act that is evil in its very object– by its conequences. For this to apply here, I would need to be defending abortion based on some good outcome. You know I am doing no such thing. Instead, I am arguing that supporting a Republican candidate who is pro-life in word will not be so in deed. Yes, I am appealing to consequences- that is the whole point of the “proportionate reasons” aspect of double-effect thinking.

  34. June 17, 2008 11:38 am

    Let’s not forget that getting the right justices on the Supreme Court is not just a presidential issue, it’s also a Senate issue (and in other legislative matters a Representative issue). It does no good to elect a pro-life president who is committed to making good appointments if we elect senators like Kennedy, Obama, et al who are committed to blocking such appointments. The railing against anti-abortion presidents because they have have to take a gamble on appointments is terribly unfair for if they nominate a person who is on record for opposing Roe, they don’t stand a chance of making it through the Senate with the likes of the aforementioned Senators in the majority. We all agree that more needs to be done than merely overturning Roe (though I think that’s first big step while others don’t), the fact is that we will not make any cultural headway or reduce the incidence of abortion substantially unless it is proscribed legally and we stop rewarding people who promote it with elected offices. Instead of singing the praise of and choosing leaders who are “pro-choice”, we (especially Catholics) need to make it a politically untenable position – then we can change the culture.

    Oh, and remember, abortion enjoyed far less support back in 1973 – “the law” and its proponents enshrining abortion as an intrinsic right has shaped our culture for the worse. I would argue that not only is overturning Roe a morally good thing, an honest thing in regards to the Constitution and positive law, but will also work towards building a culture of life.

  35. June 17, 2008 11:40 am

    blackadder,

    I did a quick check on your suggestions as to how FOCA does, in fact, change the status quo. You are correct on each count.

    Doesn’t this underscore yet another reason why legal remedies are essentially unreliable in the struggle against abortion? The laws and funding are subject to change with each election.

    A struggle for hearts and minds leads to more permanent outcomes.

  36. June 17, 2008 11:49 am

    Morning’s Minion, why not go with the MacIntyre option of not voting for anyone, or find a thrid (or fourth or fifth) party candidate?

  37. June 17, 2008 11:54 am

    Doesn’t this underscore yet another reason why legal remedies are essentially unreliable in the struggle against abortion? The laws and funding are subject to change with each election.

    So what you’re implying is that because passing good laws will never be permanent, and because there’s a risk that good laws might fall sway to bad laws, we should go ahead and vote for someone who has promised to pass bad laws. Hmmm.

    A struggle for hearts and minds leads to more permanent outcomes.

    In this “struggle against abortion” that you mention, do you ever try to change people’s hearts and minds in the right direction, as opposed to putting forth the case for being pro-choice?

  38. June 17, 2008 12:19 pm

    For this to apply here, I would need to be defending abortion based on some good outcome.

    The protection of abortion as a ‘right’ under the law is also, in itself, gravely immoral. To defend abortion’s legality on the basis of a good outcome is also consequentialist.

  39. June 17, 2008 12:31 pm

    “A struggle for hearts and minds leads to mor permanent outcomes.”

    Which works much more effectively when the legal climate favors that struggle, as opposed to destroys it.

    The progress (far, far from over, but still progress) on racial reconciliation/civil rights in this country would not have been achieved without both Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Loving v. Virginia *and* Little Rock, Selma, Dr. King and the brave work of black citizens seeking full citizenship working in tandem.

    I doubt we’d be talking about Senator Obama’s candidacy had the legal climate remained frozen in its Jim Crow horror.

  40. June 17, 2008 12:44 pm

    Rick:

    Excellent comment all around, especially about the need to have a pro-life Senate. What all those who continually bring up Reagan’s supposed judicial misses fail to rememeber is that the Senate changed hands in 1986. Robert Bork was nominated in 1987, and had he been confirmed, Roe would have been overturned five years later in Casey instead of being upheld.

  41. June 17, 2008 12:54 pm

    This thread reveals one thing: that at least among some of you, not voting for Obama isn’t enough. It’s apparent that the tempter prowls in lines like, “C’mon, what’s so bad about McCain?…” To anyone whose heart and mind have been shaped by the Catholic faith, the problems with McCain should be obvious.

  42. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:01 pm

    Robert Bork was nominated in 1987, and had he been confirmed, Roe would have been overturned five years later in Casey instead of being upheld.

    And those who continually look back in disappointment at Bork’s confirmation hearing fail to remember that Reagan didn’t put up much of a fight once his extremist went down in defeat. A more balanced conservative nomineet, as the New York Times noted in 1987, likely would have been confirmed. The multifarious issues with Bork that made even Republican Senators queezy were brought up again during Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearing. Reagan nominated the impossible confirmation and then backed down.

  43. TeutonicTim permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:02 pm

    “To anyone whose heart and mind have been shaped by the Catholic faith, the problems with McCain should be obvious.”

    And should be more with Obama.

  44. June 17, 2008 1:03 pm

    A struggle for hearts and minds leads to more permanent outcomes.

    I’d say further that this is a false dichotomy in a country that is representative in its form of government. It’s not as if Supreme Court composition — and then the abortion laws — could be changed apart from engaging in the “struggle for hearts and minds,” such that voters would m`ore often choose a pro-life option (whether that be a Republican or Democrat). Conversely, if you argue that it’s not so bad to vote for politicians who brag about their willingness to promote abortion (including with government funds), you’re probably going to end up changing people’s “hearts and minds” in the wrong direction.

  45. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:09 pm

    One of these two guys is going to be President. Given that, I choose to vote for the lesser evil. Voting has always been about limiting the evil, especially this year.

    FOCA is not the only thing to worry about, or even the primary thing, IMO. Obama will reinstate US funding of overseas abortion his first day in office. That will cause many more tens of thousands of abortions, all of them on our hands.

    For those saying “abortion is just another issue”, step back and think about what it is!!!! I can’t believe I even have to have this discussion with fellow Catholics.

    For me the choice is clear: McCain.

  46. June 17, 2008 1:14 pm

    For those saying “abortion is just another issue”, step back and think about what it is!!!!

    No one here, to my knowledge, says that “abortion is just another issue.”

  47. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:21 pm

    Policraticus,

    You seem to want to fault Reagan for nominating Bork (because he was too conservative) and for nominating Kennedy (because he wasn’t conservative enough). It seems to me that you may be demanding more of the President than could be reasonably expected given the circumstances.

    Apart from a few “hot button” issues, Kennedy has actually been a fairly conservative justice. If there is any evidence at the time that Kennedy wasn’t going to be a reliable anti-Roe vote, I’m not aware of it. And indeed, the fact that Kennedy initially voted to overturn Roe suggests that conservatives weren’t wrong about Kennedy they way they were about, say, Justice Souter.

  48. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:26 pm

    No one here, to my knowledge, says that “abortion is just another issue.”

    It’s funny…in Deal Hudson’s new book, Onward Christian Soldiers, he characterizes the entire “Religious Left” as reducing abortion to just another issue. It appears that many on the “Religious Right” (to which Deal tells us he belongs) cannot make honest, respectible arguments with repsect to complex topics. Rather, contriving a static caricature seems to be the only way these individuals can work with concepts. Here’s something that will make Deal’s head explode: Apparently, my political leanings land me squarely on your “Catholic Left.” But guess what, Deal! Abortion is one of the most important issues to me…and there are many, many people like me.

  49. June 17, 2008 1:28 pm

    “In this “struggle against abortion” that you mention, do you ever try to change people’s hearts and minds in the right direction, as opposed to putting forth the case for being pro-choice?”

    Certainly, but in a concrete predicament where decisions are made by the women who has to make the decision.

    As for your use of the phrase pro-choice, you and i differ on what that means. There are plenty of people who are pro-choice but against abortion. This is a fact you fail to acknowledge. It doesn’t suit your rhetorical purposes. Thus I don’t take your comments on the matter too seriously.

    “So what you’re implying is that because passing good laws will never be permanent, and because there’s a risk that good laws might fall sway to bad laws, we should go ahead and vote for someone who has promised to pass bad laws. Hmmm.”

    What I’m saying is that there are better means available to achieve the end that have nothing to do with using the law as a means of coercing behavior.

    You continue to frame the issue in such a way that you’re either for the legal remedy to abortion or pro-abortion. That logic is just silly.

  50. June 17, 2008 1:28 pm

    A more balanced conservative nomineet, as the New York Times noted in 1987, likely would have been confirmed.

    A more “balanced” nominee is precisely what Reagan put forth in Anthony Kennedy. As you already know, Reagan couldn’t possibly have predicted that Kennedy would be swayed by the liberal elites and would have flip-flopped at the last possible second when the abortion issue came up several years later.

  51. June 17, 2008 1:29 pm

    To add to what Blackadder said, Kennedy was Reagan’s third choice. He nominted Ginsburg in between, and that blew up in his face because of revelations that he had smoked pot.

    There are many things to second-guess RR about as regards that nomination. Had Bork been nominated in 1986, he would have been confirmed. Scalia than would probably have been the pick in 1987, and he would still have gotten confirmed. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t think the White House was prepared to lose the Senate in 1986 – though they should have been.

    And of course they managed to bungle the whole Bork confirmation process. But the fact remains that Reagan made the right selection the first time (and probably the second). Kennedy was really the only best choice left among the remaining viable candidates. In that environment, Reagan really had no choice. And as Blackadder said, Kennedy has actually be a decent Justice. But unfortunately, on the most important issue, he managed to cobble together – along with O’Connor and Souter – the most absurd decision in the history of the Supreme Court.

  52. June 17, 2008 1:32 pm

    As for the larger issue, kudos to Policratus. And even though I will be voting for McCain, I really can’t take issue with his – or any other Catholic, for that matter – reluctance or even refusal to vote for McCain. This election presents us with a really bad choice. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that one of these two guys will be President, and I simply will be voting for the least repugnant one between them. Gee, isn’t that great. Of course, my vote – being that I live in Maryland – is fairly irrelevant.

  53. June 17, 2008 1:35 pm

    Interesting observation regarding Deal Hudson’s new book is in the title. Is Onward Christian Soldiers usually sung in a Catholic church? My mother played the organ at mass for nearly seventy years. Never once did that song get played. Deal Hudson used to be a Baptist preacher. Is he still one at heart?

  54. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:35 pm

    You seem to want to fault Reagan for nominating Bork (because he was too conservative) and for nominating Kennedy (because he wasn’t conservative enough). It seems to me that you may be demanding more of the President than could be reasonably expected given the circumstances.

    Not to get too off-track from the post….

    With respect to my criticism of Bork, I think Reagan made an imbecilic, prideful move in nominating him. Having taken a lot of heat from conservatives since 1981 because of his choice of O’Connor, Reagan was primed to nominate a conservative for Justice. However, when the Dems took over the Senate in early 1987, they made their intentions clear to Reagan: if you nominate an ultra-conservative, we give one heck of a fight. Bending to his conservative base and not wanting to yield to the Democrats, Reagan chose Bork, who didn’t stand a chance to get confirmed. His posiition on abortion, his past record on segregation and civil rights, and his tie-up with the Nixon administration ensured that even Republican Senators would oppose him. And they did.

    With respect to my criticism of the choice of Kennedy, I overplay in an effort to correct the misperception that 1) Reagan made a concerted effort to build up an anti-Roe Court and 2) Kennedy lost the pro-life battle in 1993. To the first point, Reagan didn’t do his homework with O’Connor or Kennedy, and to the second point, Kennedy defected to his Republican-appointed mates , O’Connor and Souter. Either of those two would have swung the vote against Roe in 1993. Three poor choices from Reagan and Bush (two from Reagan) in terms of repealing Roe. So I think either Reagan and Bush were either completely duped (calling into quesiton their judicial competence) or repealing Roe was not a major (could have been a minor) concern in their respective presidencies.

    A Justice in the mold of Kennedy (minus the pro-Roe stance) is actually quite attractive to me.

  55. June 17, 2008 1:37 pm

    “Which works much more effectively when the legal climate favors that struggle, as opposed to destroys it.”

    Like in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? What legal climate favored those struggling for freedom in those countries?

  56. June 17, 2008 1:37 pm

    As for your use of the phrase pro-choice, you and i differ on what that means. There are plenty of people who are pro-choice but against abortion. This is a fact you fail to acknowledge.

    Nonsense, I readily acknowledge that fact, and have never implied otherwise. I will say, however, that people tend not to be “pro-choice” about something if they are truly convinced in their hearts that it is an evil practice that harms other human beings. Few people are pro-choice on slavery or murder or child abuse, for example, while a great many more people are pro-choice on marijuana. If someone is pro-choice on abortion, there’s a pretty good chance that they inwardly think of abortion as more like using marijuana than like child abuse.

    What I’m saying is that there are better means available to achieve the end that have nothing to do with using the law as a means of coercing behavior.

    Again, this is a false dichotomy. Spend all the time you wish using those “better means,” whatever they are, but you still can — at the same time — argue on behalf of legal changes as well. And conversely, if you argue against legal changes, that will be viewed by many people as a sign that you don’t think of abortion as a serious evil. To the extent that they find you convincing, they might also fall sway to the belief that abortion is more of a private foible than anything else.

  57. June 17, 2008 1:50 pm

    “If someone is pro-choice on abortion, there’s a pretty good chance that they inwardly think of abortion as more like using marijuana than like child abuse.”

    You’re quite a mind reader, aren’t you! But quite wrong as well.

    “Again, this is a false dichotomy.”

    My suspicion is that you wouldn’t support the efforts needed for an alternative solution. Aren’t you then the one with the false dichotomy. What you’re saying is it’s my way or the highway.

  58. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    June 17, 2008 1:56 pm

    SB,

    The route of legal means is important.

    But in the our American world, in which this route has come to mean our trusting Republican candidates to- in spite of Congessional opposition and the general culure of death here– show leadership, discernment of who are the real anti-abortion candidates who will come through on the bench ; use the bully pulpit to frame the debate and cause the nation to demand that blockage does not happen; and push through SC Justices to deliver and overturn Roe v. Wade–this stratgey has quite simply an ABYSMAL track record.

  59. June 17, 2008 2:13 pm

    “this stratgey has quite simply an ABYSMAL track record.”

    Quite correct. But this abysmal record will be hard to overcome unless abortion ceases to be the wedge issue it is.

    But to remove abortion as a wedge issue will require a whole new breed of representatives in the House and Senate. This fall the country will take a major step forward in that direction. It will turn AWAY from the Gingrich and Evangelical influence in Congress and begin to reaffirm the pragmatic center in US politics.

  60. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 2:17 pm

    Mark,

    Good points. Returning to Gerald’s call for commitment to the non-legal domain, the question we “pro-life” Catholics must ask ourselves is: What am I am doing in the meantime while waiting for election results and judiciary decisions? In other words, can’t I have a more positive impact in ending abortion as an individual and through a parish by means of social and charitable work? Isn’t my vote relatively minor given the resources at my disposal to affect positively a woman on the verge of having an abortion, to change the hearts of others, and to educate within my social research?

  61. June 17, 2008 2:22 pm

    “If someone is pro-choice on abortion, there’s a pretty good chance that they inwardly think of abortion as more like using marijuana than like child abuse.” You’re quite a mind reader, aren’t you! But quite wrong as well.

    What I say might not be true in your case, but I wasn’t talking just about you. I was talking about the majority of people who take the line that they personally dislike abortion (said with the same tone as someone who doesn’t like secondhand smoke) but they wouldn’t want to ban it. Of them, what I’m saying is often true.

    “Again, this is a false dichotomy.” My suspicion is that you wouldn’t support the efforts needed for an alternative solution. Aren’t you then the one with the false dichotomy. What you’re saying is it’s my way or the highway.

    Your suspicion is baseless, and you haven’t even hinted at the “efforts” that would supposedly create an “alternative solution,” whatever that is supposed to mean.

  62. Policraticus permalink
    June 17, 2008 2:30 pm

    What I say might not be true in your case, but I wasn’t talking just about you. I was talking about the majority of people who take the line that they personally dislike abortion (said with the same tone as someone who doesn’t like secondhand smoke) but they wouldn’t want to ban it. Of them, what I’m saying is often true.

    I think you’re completely making this up. Either that, or yours is a very small world.

  63. June 17, 2008 2:37 pm

    I’m not making anything up, Poli; don’t be so quick to insult. I’m just pointing out the logical implications of a particular line of thought. Name an issue — any issue — where people say, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to ban it,” where the issue is something that they truly believe is seriously harmful to other human beings (slavery, child abuse, murder, torture, assault, or any similar activity).

  64. June 17, 2008 2:42 pm

    Poli,

    Again, why are you trying to minimize the significance of the vote? In minimizing the significance of the vote, you are necessarily minimizing the significance of the law and the courts.

    “What am I am doing in the meantime while waiting for election results and judiciary decisions? In other words, can’t I have a more positive impact in ending abortion as an individual and through a parish by means of social and charitable work?”

    Most pro-lifers do both. It’s not either-or, as Stuart already pointed out.

  65. June 17, 2008 2:43 pm

    And I’m not the one who lives in a small world — I’ve lived in Massachusetts and DC, and I assure you there are a great many people who act just as I’ve described: They assure you that they don’t really care for abortion (as if it were something distasteful, like using the wrong soup spoon), but of course it’s up to the woman and her doctor.

  66. June 17, 2008 2:46 pm

    But yes, I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who could truthfully say, “In my heart of hearts, I really do think that abortion is the murder of a nascent human being; but for all that, I think the law should never interfere.” Maybe it’s that I live in a small world; maybe it’s that I’m too cynical and don’t give people credit for being able to hold contradictory opinions; or maybe it’s that you’re too gullible in thinking that such folks really do oppose abortion with all their hearts.

  67. Policraticus permalink*
    June 17, 2008 2:56 pm

    Poli,

    Again, why are you trying to minimize the significance of the vote? In minimizing the significance of the vote, you are necessarily minimizing the significance of the law and the courts.

    Not minimizing. I hold my vote in high regard (hence, this post). What I am doing is placing the vote within a broader context of pro-life effort.

    Maybe it’s that I live in a small world; maybe it’s that I’m too cynical and don’t give people credit for being able to hold contradictory opinions; or maybe it’s that you’re too gullible in thinking that such folks really do oppose abortion with all their hearts.

    Maybe none of the above. It’s probably just a case that you attribute unstated opinions to certain individuals, calculating thier inner feelings and their hierarchy of issues. A truncated world, indeed.

  68. June 17, 2008 3:00 pm

    “I was talking about the majority of people”

    I don’t know how you could be talking on behalf of the majority. Sorry, this seems baseless.

    Then you went on to say: “what I’m saying is often true”

    “Often true” is a little more acceptable. I don’t deny what you say is probably the case in many instances. This is a big country with a culture that doesn’t necessarily support our understanding of the integrity of the unborn. Thus, it is quite easy to see a diversity of opinion here. So there is a solid logic behind your statement.

    “Your suspicion is baseless”

    I’m not convinced my suspicion is baseless — at least as far as the argument goes (I’ll take any reference to you out of the equation).

    The Republican agenda is reluctant to support community action programs, particularly when such programs collide with “more important” budgetary concerns. Additionally, there is a distrust of government itself (“government is the problem,” said Reagan). Finally, there is a distrust of the poor.

    The alternative means to abortion prevention often involves social programs. Movement oin this direction will require a new political composition in Congress. This is coming.

    From my perspective, however, there is a more important aspect of abortion prevention that has yet to be explored. It has to do with the creation of a new political language and leadership that can elicit energies and action from ordinary citizens. It is about creating a different ethos in America — one not predicated on the philosophy of the autonomous individual. But this is too big a topic for this comment box.

  69. June 17, 2008 3:05 pm

    Placing the vote in a broader context involves telling people not to vote for the candidate who will support anti-Roe judges?

  70. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 17, 2008 3:11 pm

    I agree with SB. This is what I was talking about as people more or less thinking abortion is “just another issue”. If anyone truly believes that abortion is the taking of the life of another human being, they couldn’t think that it would be sane for it to remain legal.

    The term “pro-choice” can make sense for an issue that one believes is of moderate or low importance, but not one that makes a direct assault on human life, such as slavery, rape, murder, infanticide, kidnapping, etc…..and abortion.

    Of course, we must do a lot more than make sure our vote contributes to ending abortion. We must do all of the other things that Poli. mentions, but this by no means lessens the impact or responsibilities of voting.

    Anyone even contemplating voting for Obama instead of McCain, or even lessening the impact of their vote by voting 3rd party, must IMO have a very skewed method of calculating proportionate reasons. If someone, for example, thinks that McCain is going to cause the Third World War (as wrong as that judgment is), that would be a sufficient proportionate reason to stack up against millions of abortions. There isn’t much else that would qualify.

  71. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    June 17, 2008 3:13 pm

    Where is the prudentially weighing of the alternative between Obama and McCain in terms of Iran? Surely, this is a pro-life issue too, right?

    George Will declared last Monday that it is certain that a McCain presidency will mean our invading/bombing Iran.

    Mr. Brzezinski has said the result of doing so would be a battle of WWIII proportions, and our U.S. being turned into a permanent gated community. Iraq already resulted in 100s of 1000s of unnecessary deaths. Imagine how exponentially more with a move into Iran, throwing the whole region into much, much, much more chaos and bloodshed?

    Some contribution to a culture of life!!!

    All while, with either Obama or McCain, the high likelihood is that, in terms alone of SC accomplishments they won’t achieve, there still will be 1.2-1.3 abortions in the U.S. a year.

    And with the stingy domestic economy proposals of McCain, there will be probably even more individual abortions in his reign than in Obama’s.

  72. June 17, 2008 3:25 pm

    George Will declared last Monday that it is certain that a McCain presidency will mean our invading/bombing Iran.

    Will is nearly as monomaniacal in his hatred of John McCain as Doug Kmiec. There is absolutely nothing that McCain has said or done to indicate that it is a certainty that he would invade Iran.

    So while we don’t know if McCain would bomb/invade Iran, or even if Obama would do so as well, we DO know that McCain absolutely opposes abortion, while Obama not only will fight to keep it legal, he will dismantle even some of the minimal gains that pro-lifers have made over the years,

  73. June 17, 2008 3:28 pm

    Quite frankly, I don’t think concerns about Iran are as important.

    If Roe v. Wade remains entrenched in our legal system for another 50 years, we will have 50 million more abortions in the US alone, if not more. That is a good possibility with an Obama presidency.

    And it’ s interesting to watch you drop the word “million” when you characterize the number of deaths due to abortion.

  74. Morning's Minion permalink*
    June 17, 2008 3:34 pm

    Zach’s narrow reading is exactly the problem. First, overturning Roe will just push it back to the states, and the largest states where most abortions take place will retain legality. Plus there is I believe, freedom of travel. Second, it completely discounts trying to reduce abortion through economic, social, or cultural means. Third, you can get bad outcomes as the judges you want vote on cases besides abortion too.

  75. Policraticus permalink*
    June 17, 2008 3:35 pm

    This is what I was talking about as people more or less thinking abortion is “just another issue”. If anyone truly believes that abortion is the taking of the life of another human being, they couldn’t think that it would be sane for it to remain legal.

    This is the root of SB’s erroneous assumption. His conclusion, which you explicitly draw and endorse, is that if a person does not consider abortion to be the taking of a human life, then that person takes abortion as “just another issue.” But the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premise. It’s bad logic. There is nothing intrinsic to one’s consideration that a life is not taken by abortion that necessitates the marginalization or equivocation of abortion with other issues. There is nothing that precludes abortion from being an important–even the most important–issue in a voter’s mind if that voter does not think a life is taken. You and SB statically construct a (taking a life/hierarchy of issues) and (not talking a life/equivalence of issues) dichotomy. Bad logic.

  76. June 17, 2008 3:43 pm

    “Quite frankly, I don’t think concerns about Iran are as important.”

    Isn’t that your entire argument — that you FEEL that way?

  77. Blackadder permalink
    June 17, 2008 3:49 pm

    overturning Roe will just push it back to the states, and the largest states where most abortions take place will retain legality.

    The second largest state in the nation is Texas. Texas already has anti-abortion statutes on the books (which, due to Roe, cannot be enforced). So, the day after Roe is overturned, abortion will be illegal there (as in several other states).

    True, abortion will continue to be legal in places like New York and California. But that was true prior to Roe as well, and yet the number of abortions performed prior to Roe was half what it is now. One should also note that regulation of abortion is not an all or nothing matter, and that even states where a full ban could not pass would be able to pass restrictions on abortion not possible under current law.

    Finally, I think Morning’s Minion underestimates the effect that repealing Roe would have on public opinion. A lot of people support abortion rights because “it’s the law of the land,” or out of fear of the horrible consequences that would result from legalization. If the matter were returned to the states, and if people could see that states with restrictive abortion laws don’t result in the end of civilization, a lot of people would be more open to the pro-life argument than they are now. In short, if one wants to change hearts and minds, in my opinion the single greatest thing one could do to achieve that end would be to get rid of Roe v. Wade.

  78. June 17, 2008 3:49 pm

    CrankyCon,

    All you’ve done is dismiss two authorities (George Will and Doug Kmiec) and elevated yourself to the rank of THE authority!

  79. June 17, 2008 3:50 pm

    His conclusion, which you explicitly draw and endorse, is that if a person does not consider abortion to be the taking of a human life, then that person takes abortion as “just another issue.”

    Completely wrong. That’s not what I say at all. I know full well that someone who doesn’t consider abortion the taking of a human life might still think of abortion as a serious moral issue.

    But that’s not what I was saying. I was saying this (and notice that, unlike Henry, I don’t accuse you of lying at this point just because you misunderstood my point): If someone says, “I think that (a) abortion is the taking of a human life and I oppose it with all my heart, but (b) it should nonetheless be legal,” I tend to suspect that (a) is a bit insincere or deluded. What the person really believes is more like this: “Abortion is wrong on some level, but not seriously wrong on the level of any other attack on human life; therefore, other considerations outweigh making it illegal.” It’s not necessarily that abortion is (to such a person) “just another issue,” but it does seem likely that the person doesn’t REALLY think of abortion as the taking of innocent human life.

  80. June 17, 2008 3:56 pm

    Gerald:

    Umm, what? Do you care to dispute what I have said. George Will merely asserted, based on no evidence, that McCain willcertainly invade Iran. I can just as easily say that Barack Obama will certainly NOT pull troops out of Iraq, or that Barack Obama will certainly bomb Pakistan. It’s just a wild guess. But I guess I lack whatever “authority” George Will has. Evidently, on top of being really smart, he has the gift of prophecy. Well I’ll be.

  81. June 17, 2008 4:01 pm

    Furthermore, is there anythign I said in regards to Obama’s position on abortion that is innaccurate. Will is merely guessing about what McCain is going to do with regards to Iran, whereas with Obama we have a steady stream of previous policy positions and current policy proposals that reveal precisely what his attitude is towards the issue. In other words, there is no guesswork when it comes to Obama in abortion – there is with McCain and Iran.

  82. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    June 17, 2008 4:08 pm

    CrankyCon,

    We do not know for certain that McCain absolutely opposes abortion to the extent that he will settle for nothing less in his presidency than an antiabortion judge who delivers.

    My evidence, you ask: he as Senator McCain had no apparent problem in voting for the confirmation of SC judges Breyer and Ginsberg, AND, worse yet he BRAGGED OUT THAT THIS JUST THIS PAST WEEKEND, in the attempt to win over those still disenchanted Clintonite women voters (including the infamously racist Harriet ( “that inadequte black man” is stealing the election) Christian, whom he spoke with personally.

    Some STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS

  83. Sheldon Golberg permalink
    June 17, 2008 4:14 pm

    6:10 AM
    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    It’s amazing…Beyond my wildest dreams. How could all the polls have been so wrong? Obama just called President Elect McCain to congratulate him on the landslide. And such coat tails! A solid Republican majority elected to both House and Senate as voters demonstrated their approval of the past 8 years. No one saw it coming, that Big Red Tide rolling across the nation yesterday turning the map as red as a ripe toma…..

    Then the alarm went off.

  84. June 17, 2008 4:15 pm

    Mark:

    You points about McCain are fair enough, but I wasn’t arguing for McCain as much as against Obama. As I said before, I’ll say again, what has said about abortion and what he will do on the issue is far more certain than on the issue of McCain and Iran.

    And while McCain’s recent “bragging” about his votes for Breyer and Ginsburg concerns me, if the context is that he believes presidential selections are owed deferrence, then that’s more understandable. Don’t forget, Justice Scalia was confirmed (I believe) unanimously. Did the pro-choice Senators who voted for Scalia indicate by that vote that they did no absolutely oppose the reverseal of Roe v Wade?

    And I think Obama’s own campaign press release makes me a little bit more comfortable about McCain’s stance on the issue.

  85. June 17, 2008 4:15 pm

    “Do you care to dispute what I have said. George Will merely asserted, based on no evidence, that McCain willcertainly invade Iran.”

    Many would say McCain is disposed to do just that — invade Iran. Can they say so with certainty? No. But there is a history, a record, and statements that supports such a conclusion. He believes, e.g., that we lost in Vietnam because of a lack of will and we should not repeat the same mistake in Iraq. Regarding his disposition, many high ranking military officers have expressed public concern about his temper — that it is not merely “hot” but borders on the irrational. Then there is his association with the Neocons and Leiberman.

    George Will wasn’t just spouting fancy. There is plenty of evidence for his statement. Can he be certain about his judgment? No. But he can certainly warn of the disposition at work.

  86. June 17, 2008 4:20 pm

    “that Big Red Tide rolling across the nation yesterday turning the map as red as a ripe tomato…..Then the alarm went off.”

    Salmonella!!!!!

  87. June 17, 2008 4:24 pm

    But none of those “dispositions” can make Will’s statement authoritative. It’s still mere conjecture. Even if it reasonable conjecture – it is still just conjecture. With Obama – again – we know with 100% certainty how he feels and what he will do on the issue of abortion. We don’t need to engage in conjecture with him on this issue.

  88. June 17, 2008 4:31 pm

    “If someone says, “I think that (a) abortion is the taking of a human life and I oppose it with all my heart, but (b) it should nonetheless be legal,” I tend to suspect that (a) is a bit insincere or deluded.”

    That doesn’t follow at all. Some people.e.,g, are quite fearful of the consequences of government intrusion into such a personal matter. They are also concerned with what such intrusion would do to the entire country. Given this, they judge it prudent to let each women to decide their course of action. This is reasonable and ethically defensible.

  89. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    June 17, 2008 4:36 pm

    An impartant analogy., I believe..

    Say I want to solve my deep finacial woes.

    Let me think about a means to do so by a consideration of my betting in advance mostly all I have on who will with the World Series champions this year in baseball, either the Florida Marlins or The K.C. Royals–the only to teams I happen to be permitted to bet upon.

    Now, yes, the Florida team does seem to have a much more probable chance than the Kansas City teamin winning the World Series this year. That said, however, it is not at all imprudent to judge that it is much, much more iprobable that neither time will win the World Series.this year.

    If I really want to solve me financial situation, the best means, I believe, would be NOT to gamble almost everything I have , hoping against hope to hit it big with a Marlins World Series Championship.

    Why. Because there are other, more prudent limited means to alleviate my debts gradually, incrementally and multi-creatively.

  90. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 17, 2008 4:37 pm

    That is not what I was saying….I was saying that if a person DOES NOT think abortion should be illegal, then they must not think that it involves the taking of a human life.

    I wasn’t attempting to make any logical conclusions about those who DO NOT think it involves the taking of a human life, though it’s not clear upon what grounds abortion would be opposed in that case.

    However, it is basically an undisputed scientific point that abortion involves the taking of a human being’s life. It is only by appealing to the amorphous concepts of “personhood” or “ensoulment” that one attempts to “demote” the unborn child to a lower position. However, this can’t stand up to reasoning either. Like the example of hunting in the woods, you must be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the target you are aiming at is NOT a human person. No one can know anything about the personhood/soul of an unborn child with certainty….therefore we must treat the unborn as if they are persons with souls.

    To shift gears a bit, asserting that McCain will invade Iran is more or less grasping at straws. I could just as reasonably, if not more reasonably, assert that Obama withdrawing troops from Iraq prematurely will lead to a war in the Middle East.

  91. June 17, 2008 4:39 pm

    There needs to be a renewed focus on reducing the incidence of abortion through non-legal means.

    This prompts me to wonder what Obama’s position is with regard to such “non-legal means” as crisis pregnancy centers …

    Oh, wait.

  92. June 17, 2008 4:40 pm

    “But none of those “dispositions” can make Will’s statement authoritative.”

    Will is an authoritative figure. That’s been established over the course of the last half century. Can he predict the future? No.

    Obama is pro-choice. No question. But whether the incidence of abortion will be reduced more or less in his administration than in that of McCain’s is an open question. My judgment, for what it’s worth, is that the abortion rates will go down no matter what. My sense is that Obama would facilitate that decline more than McCain, but I have no proof.

    We shouldn’t entertain a Promethean attitude. The simple truth is that we have less control over the lives of others than we think. This is true of public officials and citizens alike.

  93. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 17, 2008 4:41 pm

    Gerald,

    To allow a human being to be killed because one is “fearful of the consequences” is NOT reasonable NOR ethically defensible, unless, I suppose, one is so deluded that they believe said consequences will very probably be worse than the saving of the lives….i.e. entail more than a million deaths per year.

  94. June 17, 2008 4:45 pm

    Christoper,

    Your scarecrows frighten logic away!!

  95. June 17, 2008 4:47 pm

    Some people.e.,g, are quite fearful of the consequences of government intrusion into such a personal matter.

    Again, IF you really believe that innocent human life is at stake, that purported concern wouldn’t outweigh the protection of innocent human life. As I’ve said, no one ever relies on that purported concern about government intervention as an excuse to legalize any other form of killing or serious harm.

    To take an example, one could make the exact same argument (government intrusion into personal lives) as to the prevention of child abuse. After all, the government is poking its nose into people’s homes, asking what they do in their private lives, etc. And there are certainly cases where the government arguably went too far in removing a kid from the home without sufficient evidence, etc.

    Nonetheless, do we see large numbers of people who argue that child abuse should never be illegal at all, and who expect to be taken seriously when they claim that they personally oppose child abuse? No. I’ve never heard of such a person. At most, there are people who think that the evidentiary bar should be raised before the government can remove a kid from the home, but that’s nowhere near saying that child abuse should be outright legal.

  96. June 17, 2008 4:55 pm

    Your scarecrows frighten logic away!!

    As of July, 2006, 50 CPCs had received federal funding.[1] Between 2001 and 2006, over $60 million of federal funds were given to crisis pregnancy centers.

    We have two prospective candidates for president.

    Which one of them would likely continue federal funding to CPC’s?

  97. June 17, 2008 5:01 pm

    Dave Mueller,

    What you say is true if your actions alone are being considered. But political decisions and public policy questions are infinitely more complex, don’t you think?

    On another issue entirely, there are those who would condemn Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb as immoral. There are others who would say his decision was the only prudential choice available. Where do you stand? This decision still divides the country. Troops waiting on ships to invade Japan were thankful of the prudential nature of the act. Others thought the decision to be immoral.

    When I used the phrase “fearful of the consequences,” I was referring to a highly complex political and public policy situation.

    The federal government, e.g., funds both condoms and abstinence education. Why? If I read you correctly, I would surmise you would be opposed to funding condoms. OK. Are you also opposed to the spread of STDs? How do we get to “B” without some input from “A”?

    Is it prudential to ban the use of condoms in America? The decided opinion is yes. It is wise and ethical decision.

  98. June 17, 2008 5:03 pm

    “Which one of them would likely continue federal funding to CPC’s?”

    My experience tells me that funding will continue under both administrations.

  99. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 17, 2008 5:13 pm

    Gerald,

    I believe the dropping of the atomic bomb was immoral. One may not do evil even if the result is good. And I *DO* understand that this act likely saved at least as many American lives as were killed by the bombs. Still, the act was immoral.

    I am definitely opposed to funding condoms. I do not think it right to have tax funds used for immorality. STD’s will spread either way unless morality is re-established. Promiscuity and casual sex will lead to contracting STD’s whether condoms are used or not. It will simply stave it off a little longer.

    So I’ve answered your questions, but yes, something on the level of murder, rape, abortion, slavery, child abuse, infanticide, etc. has to be illegal if law is to mean anything….consequences or no consequences. BTW, one could use the same argument about slavery….perhaps the consequences were too great of abolishing slavery?

  100. Dale Price permalink
    June 17, 2008 5:24 pm

    The Reds are a red herring, Mr. Campbell. Why the instant dismissal of a contemporary American example?

  101. June 17, 2008 5:27 pm

    SB,

    There has been a long-standing consensus about the status of child abuse in America. But that consensus didn’t exist a hundred years ago. Lewis Hines, as you probably know, used his photographic skills to draw public attention to the plight of children in the sweat shops and elsewhere. Child labor laws were passed. Child abuse was abated.

    Even then after fifty years, the 1965 movie A Thousand Clowns shows the resistance to welfare workers by those who come under their sway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Thousand_Clowns
    The government in this movie is not looked upon kindly. This movie is an appeal for more prudence and less emphasis on regulation.

    When it comes to the unborn the same kind of consensus we find with child abuse, or murder, does not exist. Question about the sanctity of life for many Americans is abstract and removed from the situation in which they find themselves. So the battle for hearts and minds has not been won. It has barely been engaged. If everyone agreed with you and I, there would be much less discord surrounding the issue. But they don’t

    With all the furor that the debate has unleashed, progress has been painfully slow. This is what is most troubling. The rancor and venom that attends the debate scares a lot of people.

    Where does the blame for all this fear lie? Much of it rests with the leadership. More than most people realize, this issue has been hijacked for political gains. This is true on both sides of the debate. That is sad.

  102. June 17, 2008 5:36 pm

    Dave Mueller,

    We disagree on the place of prudence in the moral act.

    To engage in moral reasoning is one thing. But this is only one part of the moral act. The moral act also involves the exercise of prudential judgment relative to intentions and circumstances. It is in the concrete, i.e., where the universal and the contingent intersect, that the moral act finds its completion. Ethics is not a mental exercise. It is completed in action.

    As for slavery, this is an ongoing struggle that spans the 400 year history of America. To my way of thinking, it’s a bad comparison. More relevant are the lessons of Prohibition. Why did a Constitutional Amendment fail?

  103. June 17, 2008 5:42 pm

    Sheldon Golberg,

    “Why the instant dismissal of a contemporary American example?”

    Explain.

  104. Greg permalink
    June 17, 2008 9:51 pm

    Policratus,

    Now that you have finished this round of political postings….can you post more of your undergraduate or graduate papers like the one you recently posted on Vatican I?

  105. Katerina permalink*
    June 17, 2008 10:40 pm

    Greg,

    I think Poli has the Vatican I series scheduled to be posted automatically once every few days.

  106. Douglas Kmiec permalink
    June 18, 2008 12:36 am

    Thank you for maintaining a blog site of civil and important and intelligent discussion. I have benefitted from its intelligent disputations in many ways. It is a genuine service to the Church and the common good.

    I am firmly in the camp that now sees non-legal paths as the best means of reducing abortion, but I also relish the belief (much denigrated on less thoughtful sites) that it is possible to moderate the legal implications of FOCA by reminding the advocates of choice that true choice includes choosing life and funding one side to the exclusion of the other raises the very equality and discrimination concerns at which the legislation purports to be aimed.

    God bless.

  107. June 18, 2008 8:32 am

    There has been a long-standing consensus about the status of child abuse in America. But that consensus didn’t exist a hundred years ago. Lewis Hines, as you probably know, used his photographic skills to draw public attention to the plight of children in the sweat shops and elsewhere. Child labor laws were passed. Child abuse was abated.

    I wasn’t talking about child labor. I was talking about (for example) sexual abuse in the home. Are you saying there was once a consensus that such abuse was legal?

    When it comes to the unborn the same kind of consensus we find with child abuse, or murder, does not exist.

    That’s for sure. But again, if you actually do oppose abortion in any meaningful sense, you should find the absence of such a consensus alarming, and you should be spending all of your efforts trying to create such a consensus. Instead, here you are, lending all of your rhetoric and arguments to support people in public life who are doing their best to create a consensus in the OPPOSITE direction.

    That behavior doesn’t make sense at all, and it’s no wonder you consistently try to change the subject when it’s pointed out.

  108. June 18, 2008 9:33 am

    I wonder if that’s really Douglas Kmiec. I wonder if he will ever explain why he so suddenly changed his mind on the efficacy of legal means after working for Romney a few months ago.

    In any event, I don’t know why people say this:

    I am firmly in the camp that now sees non-legal paths as the best means of reducing abortion

    Non-legal paths — whatever those supposedly are — might have some effect. But you can’t escape the fact that after Roe v. Wade, the number of abortions performed in America more than doubled, and the abortion rate and ratio both skyrocketed as well. This strongly implies that abortion’s legal status had been cutting the number of abortions in half. There is absolutely zero evidence that any “non-legal paths” (say, programs related to poverty) could ever have an effect of the same magnitude.

  109. Alyosha permalink*
    June 18, 2008 10:09 am

    I wonder if Kmiec really was recruiting a certain law school graduate who frquently visits this site to teach at CUA?

    Maybe someone should ask.

  110. Policraticus permalink
    June 18, 2008 10:29 am

    Why don’t you just ask Prof. Kmiec directly instead of referring to him in the third person?

  111. June 18, 2008 11:37 am

    SB,

    Whether or not there is a right to choose is quite distinct from the issue of consensus. If a consensus existed in the U.S. that affirmed the integrity of the unborn — or if that consensus was part of a deeper national ethos — a person with the right to choose would be more inclined than not to act in accordance with it. Your logic here is flawed.

    You seem disposed to seek to “control” behavior, not to “inspire” better behavior. The logic you use indicates that you prefer changes in behavior to be imposed from the outside rather than be inspired and made operative from within. Distrust, particularly of the poor, has deep Protestant overtones. Perhaps you can relate to that.

    Those who most contribute to a consensus “in the opposite direction” — your words — are those who exercise a fundamentalist, controlling mindset. Progress on the abortion front has been thwarted more by this mindset than anything else. Such people seek to create opposing camps. The stratagems they employ allow them full reign to affirm their misguided beliefs and judgments. They allow them to seek to control the behavior of others for “noble purposes.” Written in all this is a belief that “the end justifies the means.” This in part explains why their politics very much has an affinity to that of Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, and Harry Dent.

    The simple truth: the politics of Nixon’s Southern Strategy is in its dying days. It’s back has been broken. Let’s hope it cannot be repaired.

  112. June 18, 2008 11:46 am

    Gerald — I find your post bafflingly unrelated to anything in the real world. For example, the notion that the pro-life movement is analogous to the “Southern Strategy,” or that it inherently relies on “end justifies the means” reasoning, is both malicious and false.

  113. June 18, 2008 11:51 am

    You seem disposed to seek to “control” behavior, not to “inspire” better behavior.

    Do you prefer for child rape to be illegal? Assault? Murder? Arson? Torture? But for heaven’s sake, why not confine yourself to inspiring better behavior, rather than trying to “control” it “from the outside”?

    Distrust, particularly of the poor, has deep Protestant overtones. Perhaps you can relate to that.

    As I said, bafflingly incomprehensible. Who’s been talking about distrust of the poor, or of Protestant overtones (you know what the Catholic position is on abortion’s legality), and what the dickens do you mean by saying that I personally would “relate” to that?

    Astute readers will notice that, as always, you change the subject and blow a bunch of irrelevant hot air when unable to demonstrate how your position is logical or rational.

  114. June 18, 2008 12:11 pm

    SB,

    My comments stand.

  115. Zak permalink
    June 18, 2008 12:52 pm

    Gerald,
    Was Constantine being Protestant when he banned abortion and infanticide? Was Pope John Paul displaying a distrust for the poor in Evangelium Vitae?

  116. June 18, 2008 12:52 pm

    I’d also point out that you seem to have this misguided notion that pro-lifers are attempting to impose pro-life policies on an unwilling public. Well, given that we don’t live in a monarchy or dictatorship, that’s not what they are trying to do. The only way that pro-lifers would get any sort of limitations written into law is precisely by presenting the moral argument against abortion, and trying to create the “consensus” that you find missing. By arguing that abortion is a private matter, then to the extent that anyone pays any attention to you, you’re undermining the very possibility of such a consensus. You obviously don’t have any answer to this point.

  117. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 18, 2008 12:53 pm

    Gerald,

    Yes, intentions and circumstances matter, but if you are a Catholic, you must know that there are certain actions which are, of themselves, immoral. It is of these actions that we have been speaking. To say that it is sometimes permissible to do evil so that good may result is the error of consequentialism.

    As an aside, butting into your conversation with SB, is there anything wrong with both inspiring AND controlling behavior? Why should only actions that have a “consensus” be criminalized? This is all just a smokescreen.

    Also, anyone who thinks that Obama is going to move the USA towards a consensus against abortion has blinders on. There is a reason that Planned Parenthood and NARAL are so eager to support him! He will support and fund abortions both in our country and across the world that are not currently funded, by a stroke of his pen as soon as he is inaugurated.

    Right now, via deceptive words, he is trying to peel off enough of the Catholic/Evangelical vote in order to win. Shame on us for being snowed….we have seen this enough times with other politicians. The only thing we can trust is the voting record.

  118. June 18, 2008 1:56 pm

    “The only way that pro-lifers would get any sort of limitations written into law is precisely by presenting the moral argument against abortion, and trying to create the “consensus” that you find missing.”

    The problem, as I’ve said over and over again, is that the means employed by the most vocal advocates of the pro-life movement are uncompromising, divisive, and threatening to large numbers of the public (e.g., Family Research Council). Do you actually believe that such pro-lifers just present their moral arguments and leave it at that? No. As Mark said in his comment above, their efforts have been an ABYSMAL failure. They’ve divided the entire nation.

    The tactics employed by the right on cultural issues are one of the reasons that the fundamentalist influence in American politics is diminishing as rapidly as it is. My suspicion is that nearly every Republican member of congress who lost their seat in the recent elections have been of that ilk.

    If there has been so much effort at “trying to create the consensus” that you agree is missing, why then is the question of abortion such a hot button, over-boiled issue. This belies your stated intention to build a consensus. Heck, there were better relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union than between the Repubican right and the majority of the American people.

    On the other hand, there is a bi-partisan consensus emerging about reducing the incidence of abortion. Such strategy holds promise because its energy is directed towards the woman who needs help and not at the political opposition.

    “I’d also point out that you seem to have this misguided notion that pro-lifers are attempting to impose pro-life policies on an unwilling public.”

    Are you kidding? You still don’t understand the dynamics of wedge issues, do you? Rove’s politics revolves around the insight that if you can get enough of the Evangelical base to vote you don’t need the rest of the country. You don’t need the center. Indeed, you are at liberty to force matters down your opponents throat.

    What kind of a country does that strategy create? The kind we’re living in now — the red and the blue.

  119. June 18, 2008 2:24 pm

    Do you actually believe that such pro-lifers just present their moral arguments and leave it at that? No. As Mark said in his comment above, their efforts have been an ABYSMAL failure. They’ve divided the entire nation.

    They have divided the entire nation? To the contrary, the nation was not divided on abortion until the Supreme Court stepped into the fray and struck down abortion laws in 50 states. THAT was the origin of any divisiveness that you perceive. In any event, the “divisiveness” argument is completely disingenuous. It always amounts to this: “You and I disagree; therefore, things will be less ‘divisive’ if you just drop dead and let me win the argument.” It takes a peculiarly biased mind not to notice that divisiveness is a two-sided phenomenon — it occurs just as much in the pro-choice side as in the pro-life side.

    If there has been so much effort at “trying to create the consensus” that you agree is missing, why then is the question of abortion such a hot button, over-boiled issue.

    Not a hard question: because of self-interest.

  120. June 18, 2008 2:40 pm

    This belies your stated intention to build a consensus. Heck, there were better relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union than between the Repubican right and the majority of the American people.

    There was a time when abolitionism wasn’t popular either. I suppose the abolitionists should just have given up. They should just have said, “Hey, we’re not very popular with the slave-owning crowd. And popularity is everything, after all. So we should just back off and even make the Stephen Douglas argument that slaveowning is a private decision. Then, in some distant future, the slaveowners will — as if by some sort of magical osmosis — suddenly start to agree with the abolitionist argument that we have abandoned.”

  121. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 18, 2008 2:52 pm

    Gerald,
    Judging by the abortion polls I have seen lately, a solid majority (at least 55%) of Americans oppose 98% of all abortions (except for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother). That’s got to be close to a consensus. I’d say that the American “center” is already quite uneasy with abortion on demand.

    That’s why pro-life is a winning political position in most states. The problem with the “bi-partisan” consensus about reducing the incidence of abortion is that it is 100% empty words to the vast majority of Democrats and probably also mere words to a good number of Republicans.

    Politicians know very well the statistics cited above, so they almost have to at least make a nod towards “reducing the incidence of abortion” even as they attempt to keep it legal and avoid any restrictions whatsoever on the practice

    You keep making this assumption that it is either “reducing the need for abortion” or “criminalizing abortion”. Why not both? I don’t see that they are contradictory.

  122. June 18, 2008 3:16 pm

    “I’d say that the American “center” is already quite uneasy with abortion on demand.”

    The problem is that they’re not uneasy with freedom of choice either. Contradictions are always at the heart of American politics.

    “The problem with the “bi-partisan” consensus about reducing the incidence of abortion is that it is 100% empty words”

    Totally untrue. It’s this kind of attitude that makes it difficult to make progress. Why is it necessary to start there? Besides, what you say is not true. “100% empty words?” Absolutely Not True..

    “criminalizing abortion” — this idea will get nowhere.

  123. June 18, 2008 3:19 pm

    SB,

    So now you’re comparing yourself to John Brown? OK, go ahead. But wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said that John Brown was a “misguided fanatic”? Yes, it was.

  124. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 18, 2008 3:27 pm

    Gerald,

    First of all, you snippeted my post. I said “100% empty words to the vast majority of Democrats and a good number of Republicans”.

    Since I am wrong, please provide some proof. Where are the laws requiring women to view a sonogram before aborting, or any such mild regulation such as that? Or do you consider simply revving up the welfare state to be progress towards this goal? Just what are you talking about here?

    Criminalizing abortion will get nowhere? I ardently hope you are wrong. I’m sure many felt that way about slavery too. Slavery was probably even more deeply embedded into the fabric of society than abortion. Thank God for the Abraham Lincoln’s and William Wilberforce’s of the world who refused to give up and insisted upon justice, rather than tossing the virtue of hope out the window

  125. June 18, 2008 4:10 pm

    You say this: “100% empty words to the vast majority of Democrats and a good number of Republicans”.

    And yet you say this: “a solid majority (at least 55%) of Americans oppose 98% of all abortions (except for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother).”

    It seems your own words have proved my point.

    “Criminalizing abortion will get nowhere? I ardently hope you are wrong.”

    I don’t believe I am wrong. Remember, criminalizing alcohol never got anywhere. Do you recall prohibition, the Constitutional Amendment to ban alcohol, the supporting laws, etc.? Well, the only who benefited was Al Capone. He controlled all the liquor business from Chicago to the Florida Keys. Too bad he didn’t pay his taxes!

    Yes, I agree with Abraham Lincoln. He was an authentic moral leader. But I disagree with the leadership of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, the Family Research Council, and other Rightest tacticians.

  126. June 18, 2008 4:29 pm

    Not John Brown; think of Lincoln himself, who certainly pursued legal restrictions on slavery. You’re in the Stephen Douglas role. And you have no answer to the point that it would have been absurd for Douglas to claim that by arguing that slavery was a valid choice, he had stumbled upon a better way to convince people of the moral wrongness of slavery.

  127. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 18, 2008 4:51 pm

    Gerald,

    At this point I have no idea what you are talking about. So you are saying that the fact that most Americans are against the vast majority of abortions is proof of your point? Well, when I said the quote about the “100% mere words”, I was talking about Democrat and GOP *politicians*, not the general populace, if that makes any difference. Otherwise, I don’t know what you are getting at.

    Now you are comparing abortion to prohibition?!? Well, one major difference is that abortion is a grave moral evil, while drinking alcohol is not even a sin at all in itself. That might be part of the reason banning drinking alcohol didn’t go over very well. Even Jesus drank alcohol!

    BTW, when I speak of criminalizing abortion, I mean punishing the “doctors”, not the women.

  128. June 18, 2008 4:54 pm

    So Gerald agrees with Lincoln. That doesn’t strike me as sincere, unless he’s willing to fight a civil war over abortion and then impose a legal ban via a constitutional amendment adopted only by pro-life states.

  129. June 18, 2008 5:07 pm

    SB,

    Don’t equate yourself with Abraham Lincoln. Your own words belie that. You’re more akin in fervor to John Brown, the abolitionist. My previous comment was not misplaced. Like Brown, you have trouble adjusting yourself to exigencies of time. You suffer from a Promethean attitude.

    By the way, in later years, you would have been a Prohibitionist. “Let’s get that Constitutional Amendment on the books!” “We’ll show them “godless people” once and for all!” “Onward Christian Soldiers!”

    Ironically, most people came to appreciate the services of Al Capone rather than those of the good ladies! To most, the law meant absolutely nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Have you forgotten?

  130. June 18, 2008 5:19 pm

    No, you’re right that I’m not Lincoln — I wouldn’t be willing to have a civil war over abortion. But if you want to be the Stephen Douglas figure here, fine; at least have the decency not to pretend that you’re arguing for the validity of private choice as a means of convincing people that private choice is invalid.

  131. June 18, 2008 5:21 pm

    Dave Mueller,

    Well, I think most Americans would like to see a reduction in the incidence of abortions. But they also want to preserve the choice to decide on this matter for themselves. As you know, choice in the abstract is morally neutral. If such choice were preserved, most people would be inclined to support efforts to reduce the incidence of abortion. But if choice and abortion are conflated, this possibility dries up.

    “Now you are comparing abortion to prohibition?”

    No, I’m not comparing abortion to prohibition. There is a moral difference, as you say. But I am saying that there are lessons to be learned from the means that brought about Prohibition. When the law gets ahead of itself, the law tends to lack legitimacy. It’s a simple lesson from our own history.

  132. June 18, 2008 6:05 pm

    SB,

    No, my views are not consistent with Stephen Douglas. Actually, they are more consistent with the purpose of documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation or the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Neither of these documents are positive laws. (I’m assuming here that the two executive orders of the Emancipation are not considered positive laws — feel free to correct me here). Rather they are moral documents whose intent is to incline the passions and actions of humanity towards a more integral existence. This approach is powerful and one which I heartily approve.

    By the way, I’m very relieved that you would not be willing to have a civil war over abortion. You may not believe this, but I have met people who would like to see such a conflict. And, of course, there are those who long for a war in the MIddle East to bring about the end times.

  133. June 19, 2008 8:51 am

    By the way, I’m very relieved that you would not be willing to have a civil war over abortion.

    Oh please. I’ve never said a word that would suggest such a thing in the first place. I could just as well say that I’m relieved that you don’t support forced abortions on any woman who has already had one child.

    Actually, they are more consistent with the purpose of documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation or the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

    Really? So you’d support Bush if he issued an executive order of dubious legality that seized all of the assets of abortion doctors in the United States? That’s quite a change of pace. I’ll have to mull over that one.

  134. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 19, 2008 11:34 am

    Gerald,
    I don’t know if I’d say that “choice in the abstract is morally neutral.” Maybe it’s quibbling, but I’d say that choice in the abstract is morally meaningless. Without knowing WHAT the choice is, it is impossible to say whether it is good, bad, or neutral.

    I do agree that as much freedom should be allowed as possible, but when it comes to a human being being killed, that is way past the limit. Heck, some places don’t even allow “right turns on red.”! :-)

  135. Dave Mueller permalink
    June 19, 2008 11:43 am

    I found this post very good on the question of legal vs. non-legal approaches on abortion:

    http://dprice.blogspot.com/2008/06/first-we-surrender-then-we-negotiate.html

  136. June 19, 2008 1:21 pm

    The notion of choice has no intrinsic moral content. It’s logically possible that all those who are pro-choice could be against abortion. To be sure, it’s not the case in fact. But this underscores an opening that should be exploited in devising a new strategy.

    “I do agree that as much freedom should be allowed as possible, but when it comes to a human being being killed, that is way past the limit. Heck, some places don’t even allow “right turns on red.”! :-)”

    The challenge we face is to move the nation in that direction. In the meantime, I believe the most effective means available is through measures design to reduce the incidence of abortion. I don’t believe legal means are very effective. I’m not saying they have no effect. But they tend to be divisive and counterproductive. Further, I don’t believe Roe is a big impediment to effecting such a reduction. We have made it to be a big impediment, but it is possible to work around that if we are patient.

    Thanks for the reference.

  137. Ben Riester permalink
    June 19, 2008 2:39 pm

    I don’t know that any argument can be presented to me after reading this post that would convince me that I could vote for Obama in good conscience. He has already been elimenated. Now for McCain I need to look into reasons surrounding whether he should be eliminated too. Going and living in a cave looks to be a my best option so far.

  138. June 19, 2008 3:11 pm

    Ben Riester,

    The primacy of conscience must be respected. Each conscience is unique. In the national scheme, there will be a vote for who is to become president. People will act on their unique conscience. Each vote will be tabulated. Odds are that the national expression of conscience will favor Obama. The outcome will be an expression of freedom. Such is the American way.

    Have you heard of Luray Caverns?

  139. June 20, 2008 9:32 am

    The primacy of conscience must be respected.

    On this subject, Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter tells us:

    ‘In any event, it is always from the truth that the dignity of conscience derives. In the case of the correct conscience, it is a question of the objective truth received by man; in the case of the erroneous conscience, it is a question of what man, mistakenly, subjectively considers to be true. It is never acceptable to confuse a “subjective” error about moral good with the “objective” truth rationally proposed to man in virtue of his end, or to make the moral value of an act performed with a true and correct conscience equivalent to the moral value of an act performed by following the judgment of an erroneous conscience.108 It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good.’

  140. June 20, 2008 12:36 pm

    Zippy,

    The truth in JPII statement is nothing earth breaking. It’s elementary. There is a difference between the informed and uninformed conscience. But in discussing this at a philosophical level, the paragraph you quote has not engaged the concrete reality (the ethical reality) where philosophical principles need to be applied in a world of contingency through practical judgment. Such is not his purpose in this quote.

    There is a distinction between the speculative order (truth) and the practical order (action) — between metaphysics and ethics. Principles should be predicated on truth, as JPII statement reads. Yes. But in the moral act it is infrequent that the principles can be fully reflected in the act itself. This is especially true when the person acting has an uninformed conscience and is acting under conditions that are less than favorable (of course, this is everyone).

    Maritain says something that helps convey the point I’m trying to make. He says:

    “Every believer knows very well that all men will be judged, both himself and all others. But
    neither he nor another is God, able to pass judgment. And what each one is before God, neither
    the one nor the other knows. Here the “judge not”of the Gospels applies with its full force. We
    can render judgment concerning ideas, truths or errors; good or bad actions; character,
    temperament, and what appears to us of a man’s interior disposition. But we are utterly forbidden to judge the innermost heart, that inaccessible center where the person day after day weaves his own fate and ties the bonds binding him to God. When it comes to that, there is only one thing to do, and that is to trust in God. And that is precisely what love for our neighbour prompts us to do.”

    Christianity is not about setting up a Christianity of good people as against bad people. To attempt to do so is to confuse the order of charity with a moral police order,

    At the concrete level, the Church maintains the primacy of conscience, even though the concrete conscience is uninformed (or deficient). Freedom and Charity are central to the Church.

  141. June 20, 2008 1:38 pm

    ROFL! I’m glad I have you to tell me that JPII’s encyclical is idle philosophy disconnected from comcrete reality and therefore doesn’t apply to you, Gerald. (BTW I agree about culpability, as does JPII — but that isn’t a license to do what is objectively evil in the name of ‘freedom of conscience’).

    Good luck with that.

  142. June 20, 2008 3:19 pm

    Zippy,

    You’ve missed the point. I’m not criticizing JPII. I’m criticizing you for not understanding what he’s doing in that passage. Catholicism is more complex than you make it to be.

    BTW — Is your conscience adequate to Truth? I doubt it. What is the extent of your “license” to do what is objectively evil? Is your conscience such a good guide that you do not fear to be judged by TRUTH?

    Good luck with that!

  143. June 20, 2008 8:58 pm

    I’m criticizing you for not understanding what he’s doing in that passage.

    And I think you are straining for a manifestly untenable interpretation which allows you to dismiss it.

    What is the extent of your “license” to do what is objectively evil?

    None whatsoever. The dignity of conscience, as JPII teaches us, derives from the truth; and it is never acceptable to confuse the moral value of a ‘subjective’ error about the truth with what is objectively true.

    We pray for God’s mercy for our errors. We do not claim that making errors is our natural right.

  144. June 20, 2008 10:44 pm

    Zippy,

    “The dignity of conscience, as JPII teaches us, derives from the truth; and it is never acceptable to confuse the moral value of a ’subjective’ error about the truth with what is objectively true.”

    This is my view too. But the question is: what do you do with this truth in concrete situations? Where does it fit as part of the intricate complexities of the moral act. To be sure, there is a sense in which the moral act involves moral reasoning (JPII’s quote is an example). But the moral act involves much more than mere moral reasoning. Much, much more.

    Not to be snide or anything, but it appears you have had little critical training in philosophy. This comment is not meant to be judgmental. But there are fundamental distinction you don’t seem able to grasp. Nor does it appear that you want to pursue those complexities. As a consequence, your view is very simplistic and pretty much inconsequential, especially when it comes to treating those issues of an ethical and political nature.

    You still haven’t explained why the primacy of a person’s conscience is absolute.

  145. June 21, 2008 1:21 pm

    Not to be snide or anything, but it appears you have had little critical training in philosophy.

    Like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, eh? “Stand back people, I’m a Philosopher”.

  146. June 21, 2008 1:29 pm

    Clearly, you’re not. That’s clear. You repeat the Catechism like Protestants repeat the Bible. Perhaps you were Protestant. It would explain much. LOL.

  147. June 21, 2008 1:35 pm

    Did they teach you “nyah nyah nyah” in philosopher school, or are you autodidactic?

  148. June 21, 2008 2:02 pm

    What you write is a clear distortion of Catholicism. Your Evangelical Catholicism is not Catholicism. It’s that simply. You can joke all you want. I’ll leave that up to your conscience. But, you do a disservice to the cause of truth and to the Church.

  149. June 21, 2008 2:28 pm

    I’m sure it would be comforting to think of me as a protestant convert or something. Sorry. Cradle Catholic here. (Also a long-time critic of sola scriptura and other positivisms, by the way).

    As for my views, I always try to make it clear that they are my views. Of course I do hold them because I think they are, you know, true; and as soon as I think one of them isn’t true it gets dropped like a hot potato. Truth is I think more important than people claiming the right to make errors with impunity. That is just the Dictatorship of Relativism.

    But it is an interesting protest given that my first comment above wasn’t even my own words at all: it was Pope John Paul II’s words.

  150. June 21, 2008 3:07 pm

    “But it is an interesting protest given that my first comment above wasn’t even my own words at all: it was Pope John Paul II’s words.”

    My disagreement is not with what JPII said. That was made clear up front. It’s with the way YOU use his words. All your talk about relativism and truth and hot potatoes have no bearing on the critical point I raised. But you keep thrashing about. That’s fine. But in the ethical order as opposed to the speculative order (if you know what that distinction implies) you are making many errors with impunity. The problem is that you just don’t realize it. It’s too bad.

  151. June 21, 2008 6:53 pm

    My disagreement is not with what JPII said.

    Excellent. Then we agree that It is never acceptable to confuse a “subjective” error about moral good with the “objective” truth rationally proposed to man in virtue of his end, or to make the moral value of an act performed with a true and correct conscience equivalent to the moral value of an act performed by following the judgment of an erroneous conscience. It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good.’

    (Note: ‘never’ means never, not ‘never, except when deciding how to vote’).

  152. June 21, 2008 7:10 pm

    You’re back to saying nothing. You still don’t know how to use JPII’s statement. You’re completely lost.

    I suppose that’s good enough for you. Don’t want to ruin your day. Keep smiling.

  153. June 21, 2008 9:16 pm

    You’re back to saying nothing.

    Good. I’ll say (quote JPII saying) nothing again:

    It is never acceptable to confuse a “subjective” error about moral good with the “objective” truth rationally proposed to man in virtue of his end, or to make the moral value of an act performed with a true and correct conscience equivalent to the moral value of an act performed by following the judgment of an erroneous conscience. It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good.’

  154. June 21, 2008 10:04 pm

    Zippy — might as well save your electrons. It’s never very satisfying to have a discussion with Gerald — as long as a blogger sucks up to him, all is well, but say a word of disagreement, and things go rapidly downhill. Gerald’s posts are usually full of adulatory pro-Obama partisanship, backed up by high-falutin abstractions. When someone points out that the high-falutin abstractions don’t actually tell us anything about partisan politics, he recedes into completely irrelevant snottiness.

  155. June 22, 2008 8:37 am

    SB,

    I agree with you. Intellectual complexity is not your forte. You’re like the cheerleader at a basketball game. Can’t play the game but can sure shake the pom-poms!

    Catholics who discuss matters seriously, and not merely for sport, know the need to reason at the level of abstraction. Many on this site do just that. But some like yourself are not really serious. They look to vilify those with whom they disagree, or even think they disagree. That’s your wont. Not able to engage philosophically, you’re content to hurl insults and sarcasms.

    Zippy,

    I appreciate the quote. But I wish you were able to take matters further.

  156. June 22, 2008 9:30 am

    They look to vilify those with whom they disagree, or even think they disagree. That’s your wont.

    I sense a bit of projection here, as this is coming from the guy who viciously dismissed the pro-life movement as equivalent to Southern racism.

    I have little interest in “engaging” with your pseudo-philosophical musings as long as you’re pretending that they justify your teenage crush on Obama or your pro-choice politics.

  157. June 22, 2008 10:07 am

    SB,

    You will “sense” anything to keep those pom-poms shaking.

    Once again, you’re incapable of engaging in a serious philosophical discussion. But I’m very happy to leave things where they are. There’s no benefit to continuing this, or any other, exchange with you.

  158. June 22, 2008 12:10 pm

    Gerald — with all due respect, I don’t think anyone who claims that “subsidiarity” justifies the pro-choice position is interested in “serious” — or even intellectually honest — philosophical discussion. You abuse philosophical concepts so as to serve partisan ends. Why would I want to pretend that a serious discussion is even possible on such terms?

  159. June 22, 2008 1:48 pm

    SB,

    “I don’t think anyone who claims that “subsidiarity” justifies the pro-choice position is interested in “serious” — or even intellectually honest — philosophical discussion.”

    It very clearly does. The problem is that you don’t understand the pro-choice position. You have created your own cartoon sketch of it and have been beating it over the head without thought or curiosity ever since. If you did that in a courtroom, you’d lose every time!

    Perhaps you might consider that there are thoughtful Catholics who disagree with you on this issue and do so along the lines I’ve laid out these many months. None of these individuals have any less commitment to guaranteeing the integrity of the unborn than you. They believe there is a better way to accomplish this end, however. This should peak your interest some.

  160. June 22, 2008 4:03 pm

    SB: thanks for the heads-up. I don’t know Gerald from the twenty-something kid who lives in the basement next door. I didn’t realize that he is a kind of self-appointed Grima Wormtongue to Obama’s Saruman.

  161. June 22, 2008 4:48 pm

    Perhaps you might consider that there are thoughtful Catholics who disagree with you on this issue and do so along the lines I’ve laid out these many months.

    I understand that perfectly well, but most people who take that position are honest enough to admit that they dissent from Catholic teaching. I’ve never met anyone else who dare suggest that such a position was justified by the Catholic concept of subsidiarity, let alone who then suggested that he (and not others) was the one interested in having a philosophical discussion. Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom — not just the use of philosophical terms in a random and inapt fashion so as to give the veneer of sophistication to partisan beliefs.

  162. June 22, 2008 5:29 pm

    SB,

    Enough of you.

  163. joseph permalink
    June 24, 2008 8:24 am

    Gerald,

    There are also thoughtful Catholics who have just excommunicated themselves by thoughtfully making the decision to become “womenpriestesses”. I think that all of the heretics and schismatics throughout history were thoughtful as well. In fact, didn’t Cain think about killing Abel before he actually did (or are you one of those “Catholics” who thinks that Cain and Abel didn’t really exist… better make sure you didn’t get a Jesuit education before I pose that question, eh?)?

Trackbacks

  1. Southern Appeal » ‘With Obama it really is a vote for abortion”
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  4. Jay Anderson’s example « Vox Nova

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