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Time For Dialogue

November 8, 2008

On November 5, I said:

“Now is the time to dialogue with Obama on the issue of life. Now that he is victor, the next stage is to work with him. This also means to be critical, to be sure, but also to engage what he has said. I think a petition or letter which quotes ALL that he has said positive about working with pro-lifers for removing the causes of abortion, and even of his support for restrictions on late-term abortion, needs to be made, before he is in office, and somehow got to him. It needs to suggest that 1) FOCA and his quotes do not go hand and hand, and 2) better postpone FOCA and let the dialogue happen and see what comes from it, especially since it would contradict his notion that abortion can be restricted. The time is now. “

If anyone is willing to work with me on this, let me know. I have already begun that which I said we should do; but it will be better if we have more people involved. To start things off, I hope to get a final draft of an open letter to Obama written, and sent out, by the 14th (sending it to newspapers and Obama). The more people who would be willing to sign such a letter the better.

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118 Comments
  1. darren permalink
    November 8, 2008 3:50 pm

    henry, i’ve not posted here much, but i’ve been reading for a while. i’m a law student at duquesne university. i’d be up for helping with this.

  2. November 8, 2008 4:15 pm

    I would certainly sign it.

  3. November 8, 2008 4:31 pm

    i would sign it too.

  4. November 8, 2008 4:57 pm

    Harvard Law School student. Would sign in a heartbeat. We aren’t going to get anything done by grousing amongst ourselves, or by giving our allegiance to Prez-elect Obama unreservedly. This is the way to go.

    btw, I have several contacts in the Catholic/pro-life circles at Harvard. I would love to promote this letter as much as I can within those circles. Let me know.

  5. Chris permalink
    November 8, 2008 5:04 pm

    I would be willing to sign such a petition.

  6. Chris permalink
    November 8, 2008 5:18 pm

    And help in any other way.

  7. November 8, 2008 5:19 pm

    I have written a letter on my blog called “An Open Letter to Barack Obama.” Although it does not deal with abortion, and I would like to see something created the helps us to find ways to work with the government in power to try and work for the ending of abortion and to make sure that every child is a wanted child in America.

  8. adamv permalink
    November 8, 2008 5:28 pm

    I’ll sign.

  9. Mickey Jackson permalink
    November 8, 2008 5:32 pm

    My name is Mickey Jackson. I’m a high school student in Tucson, and I’ve been wanting to do something like this. I’d love to help. I’m currently the Southwest Regional Coordinator for STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, so I have some experience with advocacy, and I also have some ideas as to how we might want to go about this project. Please email me at mjackson@standnow.org.

  10. November 8, 2008 5:39 pm

    For those who have shown interest, I have set out an initial e-mail. Please get back with me and tell me what you think.

    Thanks!

  11. November 8, 2008 5:45 pm

    I would love to sign it, Henry.

  12. November 8, 2008 6:17 pm

    Would it be possible to get some high profile signatures? Maybe a few who publicly endorsed him like Andrew Sullivan, Douglas Kmiec, and Andrew Bacevich.

  13. November 8, 2008 6:20 pm

    Haven’t commented here before, but I’d sign. And I can help with editing, if you’d need a second pair of eyes.

  14. November 8, 2008 6:25 pm

    I’d sign.

    Here his response: “We appreciate your concern about the issue of choice. Barack Obama firmly believes in woman’s right to choose.”

  15. kurt permalink
    November 8, 2008 6:31 pm

    I will not sign. The focus on FOCA is a red herring. After the S.C. upheld the Partial Birth Abortion ban, the abortion rights lobby threw this bill in the hopper to make a statement that it should not be assumed that if Roe is overturned, they do not have the political muscle to keep abortion legal.

    The bill remained a rhetorial vehicle, not a serious piece of legislation. Pro-Life activists certainly cannot be faulted for using it to whip up their troops as well.

    But if we are looking for common ground rather than polarization, the time for “whipping up” should take a back seat to dialgoue.

    I can’t find a soul on Capitol Hill that expects a hearing, let alone even a subcommittee vote on this measure.

    Dialogue should be on serious measures. The Democratic Majority kept four out of five pro-life riders on the appropriations bills the last two years (and then compromised and added the 5th — Mexico City policy, an indirect pro-life matter– as soon as their was the slighest pressure from Bush).

    A better letter is needed. More importantly, Representatives Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro should be approached to be encouraged to continue their effort for abortion reduction.

  16. November 8, 2008 6:32 pm

    I’ll sign a petition.

    But I continue to believe that what’s really required is to persuade people by making the arguments against abortion to those who support abortion.

  17. Angela permalink
    November 8, 2008 6:34 pm

    Henry,

    That is a great idea and I would like to help. There are so many of us who want to fight this but how, can we in the pro-life movement centralize our effort. Seem like everyone has great ideas but how can we best make an impact moving forward with all our ideas?

  18. Natalie permalink
    November 8, 2008 7:40 pm

    I’d be more than happy to sign the letter, but I should point out that Americans United for Life (AUL) already have a petition up @ http://www.fightfoca.com There’s even an ad you can place in blogs to promote the cause. I haven’t seen any other pro-life organizations with a petition yet though, so I think the effort isn’t centralized yet.

  19. Debbie permalink
    November 8, 2008 9:54 pm

    I would sign.

  20. digbydolben permalink
    November 8, 2008 11:11 pm

    I think that the “high profile” signatures should be gotten first. Also, someone should get a “liberal Catholic” writer like Gary Wills to write an article about the “pro-Obama, anti-abortion” element of the Catholic Church, and have that person mention, in the article, the grass-roots petition drive.

    That’s my suggestion, but, beside that, I’m also willing to sign, and to promote the petition among American Catholics living here in Europe, where I now reside.

  21. henry permalink
    November 8, 2008 11:12 pm

    I’ll sign!

  22. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 12:01 am

    It is my gut feeling that FOCA is not going to happen, but it sounds like kurt knows what he is talking about when he says, “I can’t find a soul on Capitol Hill that expects a hearing, let alone even a subcommittee vote on this measure.” If that’s the case, a petition like the one Natalie links to is pointless, and a letter asking Obama to postpone FOCA is equally pointless.

    Obama has talked of finding common ground. Take him up on it. The point of any serious pro-life communication to Obama should be either to suggest what that common ground would be or to suggest a mechanism of dialog to work on finding that common ground.

    Zach above said, “Here his [Obama's] response: iWe appreciate your concern about the issue of choice. Barack Obama firmly believes in woman’s right to choose.’” It seems to me that’s the response you will get if you focus on opposition to FOCA and don’t seriously make an effort to look for common ground. Even the passage of FOCA does not rule out the search for common ground. European countries like Italy that have free abortions through their national health care services still attempt to minimize abortions.

    Zach is correct in

  23. November 9, 2008 12:10 am

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/08/AR2008110801856.html?nav=rss_email/components

    Obama himself has signaled, for example, that he intends to reverse Bush’s controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases such as Parkinson’s. Bush’s August 2001 decision pleased religious conservatives who have moral objections to the use of cells from days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.

    But Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said that during Obama’s final swing through her state in October, she reminded him that because the restrictions were never included in legislation, Obama “can simply reverse them by executive order.” Obama, she said, “was very receptive to that.” Opponents of the restrictions have already drafted an executive order he could sign.

    The new president is also expected to lift a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal, said Cecile Richards, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he rescinded the Reagan-era regulation, known as the Mexico City Policy, but Bush reimposed it.

  24. November 9, 2008 4:09 am

    First, I want to remind people this will be an open letter and not exactly the same thing as a petition; but it is intended it will be a group letter and a group project. I will be sending a copy of what I’ve written to those who have shown interest.

    Even if FOCA will not, in reality, be an immediate concern, this does not mean Obama might not consider working on it and passing it if no comment or dialogue is had. More importantly, this letter can go further than FOCA if we want. It’s not pointless, because it asks Obama to open up a dialogue in America on the issue of life, and that would be a tremendous improvement if he agrees. To those who are cynical about his response: Christians are called for hope, and it is exactly efforts like this which can and do affect hearts.

  25. November 9, 2008 4:44 am

    I didn’t like the confrontational tone of the fightfoca.com open letter. Hopefully, a better one will be produced here.

  26. November 9, 2008 4:46 am

    RR

    I agree, I think the online petition there is more than a bit too confrontational. I can understand why, to some degree, but that won’t help anyone. As for high-profile signatures, if any of them would like to partake of this project, they can let me know as well (I know some such people read VN from time to time).

  27. November 9, 2008 8:58 am

    I think that regardless of the possible chances of FOCA passing or not, it’s nonetheless important to include mention of it.

    As Henry points out, FOCA and his quotes do not go hand in hand.

    Obama has indicated that he “respects” those who disagree with him on Roe v. Wade and would be willing to work with them; at the same time, he has sponsored one of the most draconian pieces of legislation (that if enacted would roll back so many pro-life accomplishments made over the past decade) and has promised to make its passing a priority to NARAL. I don’t think Obama is oblivious to the content of FOCA, but I think it’s worth asking exactly specifically how he intends to do both.

    In the meantime, Obama is preparing in the initial phase of his presidency to roll back the Bush administration’s restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem stell research and the Mexico City policy prohibiting federal funding to NGO’s which perform or promote abortion services in other countries. Clearly he is wasting no time pursuing NARAL’s “to do” list, so it’s important that such a letter be gotten to him ASAP.

  28. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 9:21 am

    Obama is deeply endebted to his donors and interest groups, and hell would freeze over before he would alter his policies just because a few minor-league bloggers and anonymous commenters sent him a letter.

  29. Chris permalink
    November 9, 2008 10:36 am

    S.B.

    Obama is deeply endebted to his donors and interest groups, and hell would freeze over before he would alter his policies just because a few minor-league bloggers and anonymous commenters sent him a letter.

    So then what is your solution? That we roll over and play dead? Such quietism I believe is untenable.

  30. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 10:38 am

    The alternative to writing to Obama is not playing dead.

  31. Chris permalink
    November 9, 2008 10:44 am

    S.B.

    What is your alternative?

  32. Pastaroni permalink
    November 9, 2008 11:33 am

    It is astonishing to me that there are people, intelligent and thoughtful people, who actually believe that there is a possibility of dialogue on the abortion issue with a politician who voted AGAINST medical care being given to an infant that survives an abortion.

    Whatever delusion you cling to, I guess. It will help you to continue to suspend disbelief, yes?

  33. November 9, 2008 11:55 am

    Christopher Blosser:

    Are you interested in working with me on this letter? If so, I will e-mail you what I have so far. I am already trying to work out an extra sentence or paragraph to deal with the issues you brought up — since it flows with the general thrust of the letter as I have it right now (which is not just about FOCA).

  34. November 9, 2008 12:02 pm

    Pastaroni

    As a Christian with hope, and one who has studied history and seen all kinds of people have had a change of heart, I feel there is every reason to believe something can be done. Christians from the time of Christ have been told to be out in the world and to persuade — and the results, history shows, is one miracle after another, where people have converted that one might think never would (St Paul, St Constantine, St Vladimir, et. al).

  35. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 12:09 pm

    It is astonishing to me that there are people, intelligent and thoughtful people, who actually believe that there is a possibility of dialogue on the abortion issue with a politician who voted AGAINST medical care being given to an infant that survives an abortion.

    Pastaroni,

    Actually, it is astonishing that there are people so oblivious to the facts that they claim Obama voted against medical care being given to an infant that survives an abortion. In order to have dialogue, a first crucial step is to stop inventing charicatures and get in touch with reality.

    It is undeniable that Obama’s position on abortion is far, far different from what pro-life Catholics would like. But if there is to be an attempt at dialogue it will be necessary pro-life Catholics to say what their position is and leave it to Obama to articulate his own position.

    Dialogue can’t even begin if you state your own position, invent the other party’s position, and then give up because you decide there is no hope of finding common ground.

  36. November 9, 2008 12:26 pm

    Henry,

    I’m not sure what I could offer in the way of editorial input, but I’d be glad to take a look at it. (Have any other members of Vox Nova expressed an interest in participating?)

    I do think if such a letter is to carry any significant “pull”, it ought to garner the signatures of the ‘big names’ who were at the forefront in promoting Obama.

    – Doug Kmiec.
    – Chris Korzen (Catholics United for the Common Good);
    – Michael Sean Winters (America magazine);
    – Richard Gaillardetz (Obama’s Catholic Advisory council)

    as well as the collective folks at http://www.catholicsforobama.blogspot.com/

    also, will this be an open letter from Catholics or will it have an ecumenical bent?

  37. November 9, 2008 12:38 pm

    Christopher

    Well, I am hoping to get a group of people who will sign it — as well as contribute ideas for the letter itself. I do not think it has to have “big names” to have clout, but I would not be opposed to anyone who is seen as being “important” signing it either. I’m certainly in contact with some from VN on this (you can see how Natalie has responded here). But I know some people are also otherwise occupied this weekend, so I am giving everyone a few days. My goal is to have a final form of the letter, and signatures, established by Thursday to get it out either Thursday or Friday.

    I will send you a copy of the letter, at its present stage (which is before any addition on ESCR, etc).

  38. sarsfield permalink
    November 9, 2008 1:18 pm

    Pastaroni has it exactly right. David Nickol: what part of the public record of the acts of the Illinois Legislature are you incapable of reading? This is truly pathetic. We just elected a 110% promoter of the killing of innocent human beings and the warm and fuzzies who helped put him in office think they can change his mind with an “open letter?” Today’s Washington Post reports that the head of Planned Parenthood is in daily contact with the Obama transition team (how many of our open letter/dialoguers have that or any kind of access?) and they’ve already submitted their list of goodies they’re expecting on day one. Obama will no more abandon these harpies than he’ll turn his back on the Wall Street hedge fund pirates who flooded his campaign coffers with their ill gotten gains.

    Keep on dialoguing. Hope it makes you feel good.

  39. kurt permalink
    November 9, 2008 1:40 pm

    Today’s Washington Post reports that the head of Planned Parenthood is in daily contact with the Obama transition team (how many of our open letter/dialoguers have that or any kind of access?)

    You might be surprised as to the answer to that.

    The path I would recommend is approaching several of the new pro-life Majority party members of Congress (Driehaus, Dahlkemper, Bright, Pereillo, etc) and working out a plan of action with them.

  40. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:15 pm

    David Nickol: what part of the public record of the acts of the Illinois Legislature are you incapable of reading?

    Pastaroni,

    I have read all of the pertinent texts of bills as well as Obama’s statements in the transcripts of the legislative sessions. Obama is a very strong supporter of a woman’s right to obtain an abortion without interference from the state. Those who are intent on legally prohibiting abortion have every right to be appalled by his election.

    However, Obama did not vote against giving medical care to infants born alive as the result of an abortion. I am not going to bother challenging you to produce proof of your assertion, first, because no proof exists, and second, because it is pointless to discuss this issue with people who take it so much as a matter of faith that Obama loves the idea of killing innoncent babies that they twist anything they can get their hands on to “prove” they are right. It is like arguing with fundamentalists interpreting the Bible.

  41. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:23 pm

    S.B. What is your alternative?

    Just about anything that has a greater than zero chance of being effective. For example, if FOCA or embryonic research come up for a vote, organize people to write letters (physical letters, not emails) to your local representative. Much higher chance of being effective than a letter to Obama (which will be immediately trashed).

  42. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:24 pm

    To amplify: None of the people here can “dialogue” with Obama. He has about a zillion more important people to talk to, and you won’t even get past a low-level staffer.

  43. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:43 pm

    Or are you guys talking about an open letter that would be on this website? I suppose there’s a small chance that a staffer might stumble across it someday, and maybe print it out and put it in a file.

  44. November 9, 2008 2:44 pm

    S.B.

    What is your alternative?

    S.B.’s “alternative” is sitting back knowing that he voted for the “right”person and waiting four years so he can vote for the “right” person again. Pastaroni and sarsfield seem to have the same approach.

    Blosser, was Richard Gaillardetz really on Obama’s advisory council? He’s a great theologian.

  45. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:54 pm

    As you know, I didn’t vote at all, and I already said just above what a better strategy would be. You’d look better, you know, if you didn’t so blatantly make things up.

  46. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 2:58 pm

    And, for what it’s worth, you’re not one to talk about a good strategy for addressing abortion. If your goal is to have the law address abortion, it makes no sense whatsoever to vote for the guy who supports abortion more than any President in history (as you claim to have done), and then sign a letter in the utterly vain hope that he’ll read it and change his mind.

  47. November 9, 2008 3:37 pm

    Blosser, was Richard Gaillardetz really on Obama’s advisory council? He’s a great theologian.

    Michael — See here for the line-up.

  48. Magdalena permalink
    November 9, 2008 3:47 pm

    Historically speaking I can not cite one example where an open letter proved effective in changing someone’s mind. Especially someone like Obama whose future political career (he will probably want to run again in 2012, after all!) depends on steadfast support of Death. The Mexico City thing, how did I know that was coming. Maybe in his second four years in office he would be more open? Won’t need the pro-death votes any more so dialogue might be more effective at that time?

    Probably a better strategy is to work with the pro-life Democrats recently elected. As the people who voted for Obama will be holding him to a pro-death standard, so will the people who voted for pro-life Democrats be expecting something else. The fact that there are really two different constituencies signals an opening.

  49. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 4:31 pm

    Especially someone like Obama whose future political career (he will probably want to run again in 2012, after all!) depends on steadfast support of Death. . . . Won’t need the pro-death votes any more so dialogue might be more effective at that time?

    I certainly don’t see much hope of dialogue if drivel like this is what’s behind it. If Obama is “pro-death,” then I agree with the people who say any attempt at dialogue is pointless.

  50. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 4:42 pm

    Henry,

    I am confused at what the point of this effort is. If it’s an attempt to change Obama’s mind about supporting abortion rights, then I agree with the naysayers. If it’s an attempt to take up Obama on statements like the following, then I am very optimistic:

    The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that — look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to — to reconcile the two views.

    But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, “We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.”

    Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation.

    We should try to reduce these circumstances.

  51. adamv permalink
    November 9, 2008 4:51 pm

    The path I would recommend is approaching several of the new pro-life Majority party members of Congress (Driehaus, Dahlkemper, Bright, Pereillo, etc) and working out a plan of action with them.

    Speaking of this, I am one of Bob Casey Jr’s constituents. Should a cc of the letter be sent to his office as well?

  52. November 9, 2008 5:07 pm

    Henry, I initially presumed that this would be a letter from those who voted for Obama (“we supported you in the election, and we hope you’ll hear us now” etc. etc.), but given your convo with C. Blosser, it appears that’s not the case. If so, I’d like to be included, if possible.

  53. November 9, 2008 5:39 pm

    Adam,

    It would not hurt. The more places we send it to, the better. But if we do send it there, the best thing would be with a cover letter explaining why his office got a copy.

  54. adamv permalink
    November 9, 2008 5:48 pm

    Would the cover letter thing go for sending it to newspapers as well?

  55. Magdalena permalink
    November 9, 2008 5:48 pm

    Obviously a dialogue would not work if you went up to someone and said “Hey, so you are pro-death, how about changing that.” That is not a dialogue, that is a monologue. I am not in favor of that. That is like the Code Pink approach to political action or the bible-thumper approach to theological debate. NON productive.

    However I don’t think it’s drivel to say that pro-choice, pro-torture, or pro-nuke people are pro-death. That does not make them evil people, but it is what it is. I am sure Obama is a good friend, good husband and father. Just like George Bush has lived out his primary vocation as a family man very well. Truly that is the most admirable thing about President Bush and he doesn’t get enough credit for it. But that doesn’t change the fact that both men have pursued (and will pursue) policies that are objectively pro-death. I am all in favor of effective dialogue and I am also all for calling things what they are. It’s possible to do both.

  56. November 9, 2008 6:40 pm

    Henry,

    I’m in. Keep me updated please. I think we have to do something, and in addition to prayer, this is a great way to start.

    Pax

  57. David Nickol permalink
    November 9, 2008 6:50 pm

    Magdelena,

    Apologies for “venting” at you. But to take George Bush as an example, much as I am appalled by what happened regarding torture within his administration, I wouldn’t call him “pro-torture.” Bush as governor signed 152 death warrants, and while there are a lot of rather ugly things I would call him, I wouldn’t call him “pro-death.”

    As far left as Obama is on the issue of abortion, I wouldn’t call him “pro-death.” It strikes me as grandiose and sanctimonious to cast oneself as “pro-life” and ones opponents as “pro-death.” There are few issues of any importance that are so simple that you can classify everybody into a “pro” camp and an “anti” camp.

  58. LCB permalink
    November 9, 2008 7:46 pm

    Would providing contraception and prophylactics to women be considered an acceptable moral way to reduce the frequency of abortion?

  59. November 9, 2008 9:43 pm

    If your goal is to have the law address abortion…

    Man, what a crappy goal. A better goal would be to end abortion. Set your sights higher, S.B.

  60. Ressourcement permalink
    November 9, 2008 9:44 pm

    You guys and gals are zealots, sticking to your guns and religion, with mythical ideas about the so-called human nature of an unborn fetus.

    But I too would sign it. ;)

    jn

  61. kurt permalink
    November 9, 2008 9:57 pm

    David,

    I appreciate your response to Magdelena but I think it is time to drop it.

    My entire life until this year I have considered myself part of the Right-to-Life Movement. As of now, I no longer call myself nor wish to be called Right-to-Life. I resign. I quit. I disown the Movement.

    I still believe what the Right-to-Life Movement believes about the status of the human fetus. What I don’t accept their belief about those who are pro-choice. I have friends, relatives and co-workers who are pro-choice. I regret they have that position as to legislation and civil law. I believe they are mistaken and their mistake can have grave results. But I don’t believe they are “blood-thirsty, vampiric, infant-slaughtering, and pro-death.” I don’t believe they are people with “a zeal for sticking scissors in a baby’s brain”.

    But it is now clear to me that the second proposition is as fundamentally part of the Pro-Life Movement as the first proposition. It is time to acknowledge the right of the dominent element of the Pro-Life Movement to define the movement. So, for the first time in my life, I proudly say I am not part of the Pro-Life Movement. If Pro-Lifers want to write a letter to the President Elect, go ahead. I’m not in the business of advising clubs I don’t belong to.

  62. S.B. permalink
    November 9, 2008 10:24 pm

    Man, what a crappy goal. A better goal would be to end abortion. Set your sights higher, S.B.

    And writing a (sure-to-be-unread) letter to Obama furthers that goal . . . how? Never mind, no one seems to be able to explain that.

  63. November 9, 2008 11:38 pm

    Stuart,

    It’s quite simple. Obama will get the letter, and then will summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose will tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind, thus ending abortion. Or something like that.

  64. November 9, 2008 11:48 pm

    Augh. Kurt, like I said to David, I fully believe that pro-choice people are capable of being decent human beings, good parents, spouses, friends, whatever. They are not deranged scissor-wielding mass-murderers. Okay?

    The reality is that a political stance in favor of keeping abortion legal, in favor of legalizing assisted suicide, in favor of the continued use of the death penalty, in favor of the continued use of torture, in favor of the use of nuclear weapons, is a political stance in favor of death. Because that is what those things are. Good people can be comfortable developing those stances because political opinions are generally formed in the abstract and that’s usually where they stay: in the abstract. But they have concrete realities.

    People who speak with survivors of Hiroshima and hear first-hand descriptions of skin peeling off human beings don’t tend to come away being in favor of building/using nukes. My sister had never had one of these encounters. My sister completely supported what we did in Japan. Was my sister “vampiric, bloodthirsty” etc? No. She’s always been a sweet girl. But if it was up to her she would let us bomb Japan all over again. That is pro-death. Pro-the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. That was the reality of her political opinion.

    However, guess what, when I talked to her about it I didn’t say “When are you going to give up your pro-death stance, you wicked wicked sinner, you.” But I also didn’t consider her views any less morally grave just because she’s just such a SUPER nice person who is not only a close relative but also a good listener who recycles and is kind to children and baby animals. I’m not being sarcastic. Okay, maybe I am :( . I hate when I get like that and I really am sorry for being snippy, it’s just that we are hijacking this thread and I don’t like when other people hijack threads, let alone ME!

    Praise God, my dialogue with my sister was fruitful and she changed her mind. And she fully agrees with me that her prior opinion was pro-death. She has used that phrase herself about her prior frame of mind. Hopefully with God’s help, one day the pro-life movement’s dialogue with President Obama will effect the same type of conversion.

    - Maggie

  65. Gino permalink
    November 9, 2008 11:51 pm

    Wow. Is this a high school english project? A very long time ago, in my high school sophomore English class, my teacher had me write a persuasive letter to the president. This sounds like the same thing. The president will never read it and it will only serve to get graded by those who read it on this blog. Sounds like an exercise in vanity.

    It also sounds like Obama is already making plans to overturn the restrictions placed on ESCR using his newly found executive powers. You’d better send off your English class persuasive letter quick before he does it elsewhere.

  66. November 9, 2008 11:57 pm

    Gino is correct. I would put it a little more gently.

    FOCA is far on the horizon (we think.)

    What the Washington Post is reporting is that, like Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama will sign abortion-rights-related executive orders as soon as possible after he is inaugurated.

    Why not pick up on that news and address that immediately, and make that the focus of the letter?

    An open letter to President-elect Obama on the reported possibilities of him signing executive orders freeing federal funds for ESCR and for rescinding the Mexico City Policy.

    And having those who are pro-life and voted for Obama – and were publicly doing so and encouraging others to vote for Obama on the presumption that pro-life issues and sensibilities would be respected during his administration would, it seems, be a must. I’d insist that they be contacted if I were in charge – but I’m not, of course.
    Good luck!

  67. November 10, 2008 12:03 am

    Although I disagree with nearly everything else that Kurt has said on this threat (and take note, folks, I believe that’s the same Kurt who’s one of the writers at catholicsforobama.blogspot.com so you can assume that he’s got a finger on the pulse of the campaign to some extent) I suspect that he’s right that there’s little point writing a letter quoting some of Obama’s “moderate” statements on abortion and urging him to refrain from pushing for FOCA, rolling back pro-life policies by executive order, etc. Open letters generally don’t get read, and even if it does get read it’s very clear what side the Democratic party thinks its bread is buttered on when it comes to abortion.

    There are some areas on which we will honestly have little influence until we can shift the ballance of congress in two years and try to get rid of Obama in four — but what can best be done now if on puts hope in Obama actually working with pro-lifers at all is doubtless getting in contact with the pro-life members of the majority party in congress, finding out what they think are realistic priorities, and then petitioning other members of congress and the administration with “I suppose initiative XYZ which congressman What’s His Name has proposed” letters.

    Alternatively to that, a “We the undersigned all voted for you, but we want you to reach beyond divisive politics and understand we didn’t vote for pro-abortion executive orders” letter might have a certain interest, if not effect. However, I’m obviously unqualified to sign such a letter, as I voted for McCain.

    That said, if you’re persuing a general letter I’d be open to signing it — depending a bit, obviously, on what it said.

  68. November 10, 2008 5:53 am

    For all those who recently shown an interest in the letter, I’ve added your e-mails to the list I am using to correspond with everyone, and you should now have the most recent form of the letter to date. It should let you know what exactly the purpose of the letter is, and you will be able to decide if you could support it or not.

    For the naysayers — Christian hope requires action. Since the time of the Apostles, Christians have written to their leaders, encouraging them to do what is right. A change of heart is possible, but it requires Christians to act as Christians for a change.

  69. Pastaroni permalink
    November 10, 2008 8:14 am

    “Christian hope requires action”. Yeah, I agree. So I voted against the pro-abort candidate while all the “intellectual catholics” voted for him.

    To think that you can now have any affect on him is hilarious. The ONLY reason he even gave the pretense of listening to voters, if he ever did, was because he wanted your vote. Now that he got it, buzz off.

    Your gullibility in this is breathtaking.

    David Nickol: Your inane and absurd denial of Obama’s record is confounding. I also see no future in discourse with someone deeply in denial of the facts.

  70. November 10, 2008 8:25 am

    Voting is not the only action, and indeed, many could say it is one of the lesser actions a Christian should take to engage society. Our responsibility and action does not end by selecting a politician we want to vote for. We need to be more pro-active; we need to move beyond elections and actually engage our true civic duty.

    If this makes me a fool, so be it, I will be a fool for Christ.

  71. Joseph permalink
    November 10, 2008 8:29 am

    Just a quick reminder, after Obama takes his seat as the next president and uses his executive powers to strike all restrictions on ESCR, those Catholics who voted for Obama under the false pretense that he was the most “pro-life” choice will have the blood of every new child that is destroyed by Obama’s overreaching actions. I expect some excuse making to follow. If you really think that he’s going to figure out abortion in wrong, you are in for a nasty surprise… and you elected him. Good job. Think about how proud you were when you cast your ballot every time you read a news article stating what other abortion or ESCR restrictions Obama decides to lift.

  72. RedFly permalink
    November 10, 2008 9:09 am

    President-elect Obama let it slip this weekend that his among his first acts in office will be to revive federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and reverse the so-called “Mexico City policy” which prohibits US funding for abortion counseling abroad. Quite a reward for the “pro-life” Catholics who supported him.

    And so the “dialogue” begins.

  73. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 9:11 am

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by now that this is happening in a Catholic forum, but still I am amazed at the snide, sarcastic, and condescending treatment Henry Karlson is receiving from so many here for his efforts.

  74. Kurt permalink
    November 10, 2008 9:21 am

    Magdelena,

    With all due respect, I don’t believe you. The Pro-Life movement is led by people in one of three catagories. 1) People who publicly hold the views I suggested. 2) people who switch off and on from those views, based the politics of the situation 3) People who may privately be uncomfortable with those views but remain silent and allow those who do to dominate the Pro-Life Movement. The last I find includes even some of the more “liberal” commentators here.

    Too much as been said for me to find any trustworthiness to those who ocassionally swing back. And for that reason, I now leave the Pro-Life movement to you, Randall Terry, Father Pavone, Henry Karlson, and the others.

    Kurt

  75. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 9:45 am

    President-elect Obama let it slip . . . .

    He didn’t “let it slip.” He said it, as did Nancy Peolsi, and he has consistently and explicitly supported stem-cell research throughout the campaign. Obama did not dupe pro-Choice Catholics into voting for him. He was never anything less the forthright regarding his support of abortion rights or stem-cell research.

  76. grega permalink
    November 10, 2008 10:01 am

    This is a free country – by all means one should attempt to make as profound of an effort to state ones position. If Mr. Karlson writes the letter of his life – a letter that indeed captures the imagination of folks well beyond the narrow confines of this cute catholic blog- a blog I might add that tends to want to have it both ways IMHO – great – Glory to the Lord.
    From what I read so far I have my doubts that a particular profound undertaking is shaping uparound here.
    However seems to me a letter by commitee is in on its way – this will make sure that any meaningful personal unique angle will be lost – to bad.

    A progressive step forward in this country is well on the way -
    Medical reasons for Abortion are here to stay, Stem Cell Research is here to stay -
    most catholics are comfortable with those.
    In my view the Church is simply wrong on those points as well as on the contraception issue.

  77. Gino permalink
    November 10, 2008 10:13 am

    He didn’t “let it slip.” He said it, as did Nancy Peolsi, and he has consistently and explicitly supported stem-cell research throughout the campaign. Obama did not dupe pro-Choice Catholics into voting for him. He was never anything less the forthright regarding his support of abortion rights or stem-cell research.

    As has he consistently and explicitly supported abortion at all times for any reason and the federal funding of.

    Your statement is troublesome for two reasons.
    1) You are implying that Henry has as much hope changing Obama’s mind on abortion as he would have had changing his mind on ESCR.
    2) You are making the case that Catholics who voted for Obama, despite their hopes, did so will full knowledge and understanding that he was not only the most pro-abortion, pro-ESCR candidate in history but that it would be most likely that Obama’s pro-death policies would be implemented by him. That dumps the responsibility for the tremendous loss of human life we are about to witness on the shoulders of all of those pro-Obama Catholics.

    You also failed to address the “Mexico City” policy and opted only to speak about ESCR. The “Mexico City” policy has to do with abortion. So, before Henry even had a chance to set finger to keyboard, Obama has reiterated his full intent to strike at the heart of the pro-life movement and lift every restriction possible for abortion.

  78. November 10, 2008 10:36 am

    I am not a regular poster or even peruser of this blog but reference to me was flagged by my Google search so I thought I would make a brief comment. This is the first time I have ever posted on a blog merely in response to my name being mentioned. I am doing so primarily because I have been impressed by the reasoned tone of the discussion. It is such a refreshing change from the quasi-apocalyptic stuff found on some more narrowly focused anti-abortion blogs offered in the name of the Catholic faith. To answer one poster, yes I was (and I guess technically still am) on Obama’s Catholic advisory council. It was not an easy decision and I said yes to the invitation only after making it clear to the senior staff person who made the offer that I would do so only if I were free to speak out against Obama’s policies on abortion. I was assured that this would be the case. Indeed, there were several occasions when I and several others on the advisory board notified senior staff of our objections to certain policy positions and challenged statements made by upper level campaign proxies. We were particularly outspoken in our objection to Sen. Biden’s now famous misrepresentation of the Catholic church’s position on abortion (i.e., that it is to be accepted as a matter of faith–we pointed out that opposition to abortion was a teaching supported by natural law and therefore ought to be fair ground for public discussion and potential policy initiatives). We also worked very hard (often pushing back against the NARAL lobby) to have abortion reduction language included in the party platform. We didn’t get all that we wanted, but most of us are driven by the conviction, articulated by the bishops in Faithful Citizenship, that we must be willing to transform our parties rather than have our parties transform us. The Democratic party is still far to enamored with the pro-choice position, but over the last two years there have been important moves made to allow the pro-life position a “seat at the table.” That is a start. By the way, I agree completely with the position taken by one of your posters that FOCA will go no where in Congress. I do think Catholics are obliged to keep the pressure on the Obama administration, but getting him to support passage of practical legislation like the Ryan/DeLauro bill is likely to be far more productive.

  79. RedFly permalink
    November 10, 2008 10:37 am

    Read the sentence, Mr. Nickol. What Obama let slip this past weekend was the timing of his intended reversal of the ban on federal funding for ESCR. He leaked it through John Podesta, the head of his transition team. So it was not the substance of his policy that was leaked. We all know that he supports the creation of thousands of human embyros in order to then deliberately destroy them and extract research material from them. What should be disheartening to any Catholic (or post-Catholic) is that he intends to ramp up federal funding for ESCR very early in his term through an executive order.

  80. November 10, 2008 10:40 am

    Kurt,

    I take your point that the sort of statements you cite can be hurtful to people — and I imagine they have been particularly hurtful to you in your position of working for the Obama campaign when most self-described pro-lifers consider working for Obama to be a totally unacceptable position. (Nor can I say that I disagree with them in this.)

    However, taking it that you have already somehow made your peace with both considering abortion to be what the Church says that it is and believing Obama to have been worthy of active support in the last election, I think it is worth considering giving other pro-lifes (despite your policy disagreements with them) some rhetorical lattitude.

    The issue here is, of course, that abortion really is just as horrible a thing as these pro-lifers are saying it is. And pro-choice politicians really do hold that these practices should be freely available without social or government stigma, and indeed even funded with public tax dollars.

    Now let us grant with certainty that Obama probably does not think that he is wrong, and indeed that he probably believes pretty firmly that pre-born humans really are not “persons” in any sense that needs to make us feel more than a bit regretfull about the necessity of destroying them for reasons of health or finance.

    Nonetheless, if we say that people should not highlight the horror of what it is that pro-choice politicians are saying should be freely available (and I will agree with you that this is often done in terms that are uncomfortable) aren’t we in some sense saying that abortion is not in fact all that bad? Certainly, it is important to persuade rather than just attack — and honey attracts more flies than vinager. But there is also a time and a place for telling it like it is. We would, I’m sure, never have reached a point where public discrimination and racism is as unacceptable as it is in our current public discourse if those fighting racism had not felt free to paint those who supported the public machinery of racism and discrimination as bad people supporting a bad thing.

    I think similarly it’s important to let people express what a bad thing it is to support the availability of abortion — even if that’s uncomfortable for abortion supporters and indeed for abortion opponents who find themselves working with abortion supporters.

  81. RedFly permalink
    November 10, 2008 10:47 am

    I think the focus on FOCA is self-defeating and counterproductive. FOCA is the nuclear option for the Obama Administration and its allies in the Abortion Lobby. By focusing on it we are in indirectly conceding that anything they do short of FOCA and will be acceptable. With that attitude, even NARAL may come out against FOCA.

    Professor Gaillardetz believes, like Kurt, that FOCA is dead in the Congress. Fine, but is that enough? Has the professor contacted the transition team to protest this weekend’s leak that federal funding for ESCR will be revived by executive order early in Obama’s term, or that he intends to immediately lift the ban on federal funding for abortion counseling overseas?

  82. November 10, 2008 10:47 am

    Gino,

    You said: “Your statement is troublesome for two reasons.” Both of the reasons you stated are completely correct. They were troubling a week ago and nothing has changed.

    If anyone acts surprised over the next four years about the various actions taken by the incoming administration, you can look at them and instead of saying “I told you so”, quote the former NFL coach Denny Green. “They are who we thought they were.” Means the same thing but isn’t quite as childish. Obama never lied to us about abortion. He didn’t do the “personally opposed” dance. You can not blame him going forward for doing exactly what we should expect. However, you can wonder about any who saw fit to support him.

  83. November 10, 2008 10:48 am

    Rick,

    I am glad to see you respond here (having read several of your works [books and essays] through the years, and as Michael has said, they are good).

    Would you be interested in looking over the letter I plan to submit and see if you would like to sign it as well? While FOCA is an issue in it, the text of the letter goes beyond FOCA as well. It is an attempt to start dialogue with Obama on life issues, and using examples of what he said he would try to pass as areas where dialogue should happen before he does so.

  84. Jen permalink
    November 10, 2008 10:59 am

    Rick:

    We were particularly outspoken in our objection to Sen. Biden’s now famous misrepresentation of the Catholic church’s position on abortion

    Really? Did you do so publicly?

    And what is your position on what is being floated now – that Obama will waste no time rescinding the Mexico City policy and opening up the floodgates on ECSR?

    Thanks for your direct response.

  85. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 11:04 am

    We all know that he supports the creation of thousands of human embyros in order to then deliberately destroy them and extract research material from them.

    RedFly,

    I still disagree with your characterization. “Let slip” or “leak” imply something was made public that was supposed to be kept secret.

    Also, Obama does not support the creation of embryos for stem-cell research. He supports the use of donated embryos created in fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded. And the difference between the Bush and the Obama approach is not whether stem-cell research is done or not. It has never been banned. It’s whether there is government funding. Michael Sandel pointed out that Bush’s approach to stem-cell research was to say that it involves the taking of innocent human lives, which should be left to the private sector! This is from the Obama web site:

    Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which would allow research of human embryonic stem cells derived from embryos donated (with consent) from in vitro fertilization clinics. These embryos must be deemed in excess and created based solely for the purpose of fertility treatment.

  86. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 11:35 am

    Gino,

    I don’t want to speak for all the pro-life Catholics who voted for Obama, but let me just say that my understanding is that they weren’t basing their vote on the hope or belief that Obama didn’t mean what he said and wouldn’t follow through on what he promised. They believed that the Republicans were largely using the pro-life issue to get votes without delivering much of anything toward ending abortion. They believed that the odds were and are heavily against overturning Roe v Wade. They noticed that McCain made no promises to appoint “pro-life” judges. They felt that the Obama was much more likely to attempt to reduce the number of abortions by alleviating poverty and by targeted social programs to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and giving options to women who might otherwise feel compelled to have an abortion.

    Please note that European countries like Italy have free abortions, paid for by taxpayers money through national health care services. Conservatives (Berlusconi) some months ago too control of the government, and they are not attempting to ban abortion. They are seeking to reduce the number of abortions by doing the same kinds of things Catholic pro-life Obama supporters are hoping for.

    As has he consistently and explicitly supported abortion at all times for any reason and the federal funding of.

    This is inaccurate. Nobody supports abortion at all times and for any reason. Roe v Wade itself allows for restriction on late-term abortions, and Obama has expressed views that would be more restrictive of late-term abortions than is currently the case.

  87. RedFly permalink
    November 10, 2008 12:02 pm

    Obama has expressed views that would be more restrictive of late-term abortions than in currently the case.

    Funny, but your pretzel logic is beginning to turn back on itself. Obama has indeed spoken out of both sides of his mouth, claiming at Saddleback that he could support some restrictions on late-term abortions, but also claiming unreserved support for FOCA, which would remove all such restrictions. Don’t believe that? Take it from NARAL, which insists that FOCA would restore such ‘medically safe abortions.

    Incidentally, when will this pro-choice meme “Nobody supports abortion at all times and for any reason” die the death it deserves? Some people do support exactly that, and to a man or woman they were supporters of Barack Obama.

  88. November 10, 2008 12:10 pm

    “David Nickol Says:
    November 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Gino,

    I don’t want to speak for all the pro-life Catholics who voted for Obama, but let me just say that my understanding is that they weren’t basing their vote on the hope or belief that Obama didn’t mean what he said and wouldn’t follow through on what he promised. They believed that the Republicans were largely using the pro-life issue to get votes without delivering much of anything toward ending abortion. (Appointment of Roberts and Alito equals doing nothing??? Until RvW is overturned there is little Republicans can do to end abortion except removing federal funding which the Hyde Amendment did. Which party did Rep. Henry Hyde belong to? Don’t act surprised when the new guy returns to federal funding of abortions.)

    They believed that the odds were and are heavily against overturning Roe v Wade. (Guess what? Voting for The One just made the odds a whole lot heavier)

    They noticed that McCain made no promises to appoint “pro-life” judges. (David, David, don’t you know? Only Democrats are allowed to use litmus tests. McCain could not make that pledge. All he could do is promise to name judges who follow the letter of the law rather than make stuff up as they go.) They felt that the Obama was much more likely to attempt to reduce the number of abortions by alleviating poverty and by targeted social programs to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and giving options to women who might otherwise feel compelled to have an abortion. (Yeah, right. Let me know how that works out.)

    Please note that European countries like Italy have free abortions, paid for by taxpayers money through national health care services. Conservatives (Berlusconi) some months ago too control of the government, and they are not attempting to ban abortion. They are seeking to reduce the number of abortions by doing the same kinds of things Catholic pro-life Obama supporters are hoping for. (Hoping is great. I’m gonna start hoping my kids do their homework instead of making them do it. Geez, I hope that works out.)

    As has he consistently and explicitly supported abortion at all times for any reason and the federal funding of.

    This is inaccurate. Nobody supports abortion at all times and for any reason. Roe v Wade itself allows for restriction on late-term abortions, and Obama has expressed views that would be more restrictive of late-term abortions than is currently the case. (please find even one instance were expressed a view in favor of any abortion restriction.)

    No thanks necessary. Fisking is free of charge.

  89. November 10, 2008 12:11 pm

    Oops. Last sentence should have said “where he.”

  90. LCB permalink
    November 10, 2008 12:11 pm

    Gino,

    You write, “2) You are making the case that Catholics who voted for Obama, despite their hopes, did so will full knowledge and understanding that he was not only the most pro-abortion, pro-ESCR candidate in history but that it would be most likely that Obama’s pro-death policies would be implemented by him. That dumps the responsibility for the tremendous loss of human life we are about to witness on the shoulders of all of those pro-Obama Catholics.”

    Bingo. Everyone knew he was the most pro-abortion and pro-ESCR candidate in history. He was on record as being opposed to protecting infants who survived abortions. He publicly vowed that FOCA would be his first act, to reverse all pro-life policies, laws and executive orders, and to provide full public funding for all abortions.

    They knew such things, and vote for him anyone. That does indeed dump the responsibility for the tremendous loss of human life we are about to witness on the shoulder of all those pro-Obama Catholics. Any hopes they had were based on the possibility that Obama lied: repeatedly, publicly and intentionally about such an important issue. We are finding out that Obama is a man of his word when it comes to killing cute little babies.

    I’m glad that we can finally agree, you do indeed understand exactly our position and where we are coming from.

  91. LCB permalink
    November 10, 2008 12:19 pm

    Gino,

    As an addendum to my previous post, your point #2 perfectly explains why many pro-lifers have talked about voting for Obama was a mortal sin, and why many Bishops strongly urged the faithful to consider their eternal salvation when voting.

  92. Kurt permalink
    November 10, 2008 12:25 pm

    DarwinCatholic,

    You don’t need to justify the Pro-Life Movement to me. I have as of this week ended my lifelong affiliation with it. Keeping it doctrinally pure is now your job and not mine. It is not a matter of me giving “other” pro-lifers rhetorical latitude because I am no longer a Pro-Lifer.

    You are right that most pro-lifers (between 2/3rds and 3/4ths) supported Senator McCain, a man like me who on one or more occasions supported candidates who are pro-choice. I do still believe, as I believed throughout the recent campaign, that Senator McCain is a highly honorable man, and someone who has made great contributions to our nation. I sincerely hope he remains a strong voice on the public stage. Further, I admire the fact he has been gracious and civil to those who disagree with him, even on extremely important issues like abortion. I know of not a single instance where he has used the type of language I have referenced. We Americans are blessed by his public service and decency.

  93. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 1:35 pm

    No thanks necessary. Fisking is free of charge.

    Largebill,

    FISKING: A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form.

    You call these comments fisking???

    (Guess what? Voting for The One just made the odds a whole lot heavier)

    (Yeah, right. Let me know how that works out.)

    (Hoping is great. I’m gonna start hoping my kids do their homework instead of making them do it. Geez, I hope that works out.)

  94. November 10, 2008 2:02 pm

    Kurt – Your pose of moral outrage at verbal excesses in the pro-life movement is frankly ridiculous. There are people who use strong language to support or oppose nearly every political position or party in this country. Have you ever read the Daily Kos? If not, please do and within three days you will be appalled, appalled! at the coarseness of the discourse. And then, I suppose, you will promptly dissociate yourself from the Democratic party.

    Moreover, it is intellectually unserious to say that because you are offended by the strong language of some pro-lifers, you will not lift a finger to try and stop what you have said is the taking of innocent human life. Either human lives are being taken or their not. If they are, then it’s a more serious issue than whose language makes you feel icky.

  95. Jenni Ascher permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:17 pm

    I would definitely sign it!

  96. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:22 pm

    Funny, but your pretzel logic is beginning to turn back on itself. Obama has indeed spoken out of both sides of his mouth, claiming at Saddleback that he could support some restrictions on late-term abortions, but also claiming unreserved support for FOCA, which would remove all such restrictions.

    RedFly,

    It is not my contention that FOCA would not sweep away a great many restrictions on abortion. However, as we hear all the time about FOCA, its purpose is to “codify Roe v Wade.” Roe v Wade did not allow for restrictions on pre-viability abortions, but it did allow for restrictions on post-viability (late term). However, Roe did not allow for restrictions on late-term abortions if they were necessary for the life and health of the mother. Many people feel that “health of the mother” has been too broadly defined by the courts. Obama has on a number of occasions said that it should be more clearly defined. If I am not mistaken, such a definition could be written into the Freedom of Choice Act itself (if anything ever happens with FOCA, which I doubt it will).

    I don’t think anybody in the United States supports abortion for purposes of sex-selection, as occurs in India (even though illegal). I think it is just foolish to say anyone in the United States, and particularly Barack Obama, supports abortion at any time for any reason. There is no way the vast majority of Americans would stand for making abortion legal at any stage of pregnancy for any reason, and that is not what FOCA does. And many think that there won’t be any attempt to pass FOCA in any case.

  97. Natalie permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:27 pm

    I will definetly sign the letter!

  98. Nathan permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:45 pm

    At USCCB Meeting, Cardinal George Issues Blunt Challenge to Obama on Abortion, read it: http://ncrcafe.org/node/2261

    Cardinal George – as head of the USCCB – has laid out the game plan for you to follow in challenging the man you helped elect on the issue of life. Roe v. Wade is every bit as detestible as Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. If those former pillars of “settled law” can fall by the wayside, then so, too, can Roe v. Wade. Make no mistake is SHOULD NOT the only part of the pro-life, pro-person strategy. We need to support women who find themselves pressured to have abortions. But with roe v. wade in affect, abortion will be preceived as a valid options similiar as Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson.

  99. November 10, 2008 2:51 pm

    If you have ever worked in a congressional office, you know that:

    1. Those form letters that pacs send out, where citizen x signs his name and sends it to his representative, aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on when it comes to political capital. They are opened and then inserted into the trusty circular file. Open letters and petitions are the same. It takes about 2 seconds to sign your name. One person cares enough to write and 1000 people take 2 seconds to sign their name. Not impressive.

    2. Phone calls to your representative are actually counted. The number of “pro” and “con” telephone calls is used to determine constituent sentiment at about a 10 to 1 ratio … for every one call received, there are about 10 other voters who feel the same way about the issue at hand.

    3. Individual, personal letters have the highest political capital. Letters that you write yourself and sign yourself. It takes a lot of time for a secretary to respond to all those letters, but she does. Because for every person who took the trouble to write their representative, its thought there must be at the very least 20 other voters who feel the same way.

    I don’t know how it works in the White House, but my guess is its fairly similar. Open letters may generate media coverage depending on how prominent the signers are. Prominent signers, not numbers, are what get the item deemed newsworthy. If it is picked up by the media, then it makes it possible that whomever the letter is addressed to will have to respond to it publicly. The chances of this are slim to none, which is why open letters are typically bad investments, especially if they’re published in expensive newspapers.

    So there are definite limits to this form of dialogue. But If you want to do it, go ahead. It would be more effective to wait until debate on specific legislation underway. That makes it harder for them to sweep it under the rug.

  100. Kurt permalink
    November 10, 2008 3:05 pm

    Kurt – Your pose of moral outrage at verbal excesses in the pro-life movement is frankly ridiculous. There are people who use strong language to support or oppose nearly every political position or party in this country. Have you ever read the Daily Kos? If not, please do and within three days you will be appalled, appalled! at the coarseness of the discourse. And then, I suppose, you will promptly dissociate yourself from the Democratic party.

    Moreover, it is intellectually unserious to say that because you are offended by the strong language of some pro-lifers, you will not lift a finger to try and stop what you have said is the taking of innocent human life. Either human lives are being taken or their not. If they are, then it’s a more serious issue than whose language makes you feel icky.

    I can tolerate “verbal excesses in the pro-life movement” and “strong language by some pro-lifers.” That is not the situation. It is a doctrine of the pro-life movement that one accept not only certain beliefs about the status of the human fetus but also certain things about the status of those individuals who are pro-choice. The movement has as one of it core beliefs a view I cannot accept and therefore cannot remain a part of such a movement, any more than I can remain a Catholic by accepting some parts of the Nicene Creed but not others.

    As for Daily Kos, it took me far less than three days to be appalled by it and therefore I do not read it. I also have nothing to do with Move-On, which has coarsened civic discourse in our nation as much as the Right-to-Life establishment has. As for the Democratic Party, as well as the Republican Party, despite occasional outbursts, I will take the civility and mutual respect Member of Congress of both parties show for each other over Kos, RTL or Move-On.

  101. November 10, 2008 3:19 pm

    “It is a doctrine of the pro-life movement that one accept not only certain beliefs about the status of the human fetus but also certain things about the status of those individuals who are pro-choice…I will take the civility and mutual respect Member of Congress of both parties show for each other over Kos, RTL or Move-On.”

    Perhaps you misunderstood the point. Harsh denunciations of pro-choicers are no more a requirement of being pro-life than the intemperate language of Kos or Move-on is a requirement of being pro-choice/Democrat. I’ve never been denounced by any of my pro-choice friends, nor have they denounced me. That doesn’t change the fact that they are pro-choice or that I am pro-life.

    You seem to be confusing a method of advocacy with the position itself. And, again, it is unserious to say you won’t support extending protection to human life because some people that hold this position are mean.

  102. LCB permalink
    November 10, 2008 3:39 pm

    David,

    I believe you are forgetting about Roe’s companion decision, Doe. Roe+Doe= no restrictions.

  103. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 4:01 pm

    Your pose of moral outrage at verbal excesses in the pro-life movement is frankly ridiculous.

    John Henry,

    Kurt has already spoken for himself, but I would just like to say that I also believe that it’s not that the leaders of the pro-life movement engage in “verbal excesses” or hyperbole, but that they actually believe what they are saying when they say things like “many abortionists are demented serial murderers” (as someone in another forum recently said to me), or that pro-choice people are “pro-death,” or that Obama is in favor of “infanticide.”

    Also, in arguments such as these, pro-lifers all too often resort to sarcasm and to questioning the integrity of people who challenge anything they say. The attitude of the most vocal pro-lifers is “We are good and you are either evil, self-deluded, naive, or stupid.” This, with some exceptions, was even pretty much the attitude of the “true” pro-lifers who insisted that you couldn’t really be pro-life and vote for Obama. The “authentic” pro-lifers heaped scorn on those who thought perhaps voting Republican was not the only way to achieve pro-life goals.

    I would prefer to believe that both pro-life and pro-choice advocates are good people who have a profound disagreement. I do not believe that women obtain abortions for trivial reasons, and I do not believe abortionists perform them because they are “blood thirsty” or enjoy “tearing up babies.” Even if everything the Church teaches about abortion is true, and the pro-life movement versus the pro-choice movement is good against evil, I would prefer to believe those in the pro-choice camp are not willfully evil people. That’s why I would never identify myself as “pro-life.” It is not a matter of what I believe or don’t believe about abortion. It’s that I don’t want to self-identify with a movement that is so convinced they are in possession of absolute truth that they think of themselves as the only good people in an otherwise evil country.

  104. Kurt permalink
    November 10, 2008 4:03 pm

    Henry,

    I do understand the point. It is a requirement of being Pro-Life to assert that pro-choice persons are willful and knowing in their position. They are “pro-death”. A small element of the movement, such as some of the “liberal” commentators here, will sit in silence on this matter. Other, dishonest Pro-Lifers will back away from this doctrine when it is politically or rhetorically inconvenient, but whip right back to orthodoxy at the first opportunity. But overall, it is not a matter of “style” or “method” or “presentation.” It is a fundamental, non-negotiable principle of Pro-Life.

    BTW, I don’t believe I’ve used the terms “harsh” or “intemperate”. This is not a matter of a few individuals who got a little hot under the collar once or twice. It is a conclusion the Movement has come to and repeatedly affirmed. It is a principle the Movement has every right to hold, if that is their belief. And those who disagree have the right and even duty to abstain from a movement which demands doctrines they cannot accept.

  105. November 10, 2008 4:18 pm

    Kurt – Which of the following statements do you disagree with:

    1) An abortion at twenty weeks takes a human life.
    2) The doctor who performs the abortion takes a human life.
    3) Pro-choice people are evil baby-killers acting in bad faith!

    If your objection is to 1, then you simply aren’t pro-life (and, I might gently suggest, you should examine a picture of a fetus at this point in its development or re-take biology). 2 is an inevitable deduction from 1. And 3 is a shrill denunciation. What is it that you object to? Does abortion result in the end of a human life or no?

  106. November 10, 2008 4:36 pm

    David – Basically your position is “those pro-lifers are craaaazzzzyyyy,” therefore I’m not pro-life. As I said, if holding the same beliefs as crazy people is a deterrent to you, then your renunciation of every political party and political position in the United States is admirably principled. Otherwise, it’s just another rhetorical strategy designed to marginalize those who disagree with you.

    My understanding is that the shrill denunciations of Republicans have been remarkably absolutist. Everyone is an absolutist about something. Your denunciation of absolutists who are denouncing others makes for an entertaining reading, but it is transparently self-contradictory.

    I certainly wish political discourse was more civil, but, people being what they are, it is inevitable that it will not always be that way. Nonetheless, it is more profitable to debate the substance of the issues, rather than who is more intemperate when discussing them, which is why Kurt’s position strikes me as unserious.

  107. November 10, 2008 4:40 pm

    To Henry: I would be happy to look at the letter. You will have to e-mail me directly as I am not likely to check this blog (or any others) with the regularity of many of the other posters on this site. It has nothing to do with the merits of the blog, I just find that blogs can become for me a kind of black hole that prevents me from getting any writing done!

    To Jen: I cannot speak to the other members of Obama’s advisory committee but I gave a major public address on faith-based voting in which I explicitly criticized Sen. Biden’s position, which follows a tradition going back through Kerry to Ferraro and even Pres. Kennedy. That address was published in Origins (Oct. 9th, 2008), so yes I did go public with my criticisms. In addition, several of us sent a memo on the matter to Sen. Biden’s staff and another to Congresswoman Pelosi regarding her embarrassing and misleading remarks.

  108. David Nickol permalink
    November 10, 2008 5:05 pm

    John Henry,

    Saying you won’t call yourself “pro-life” or identify yourself as part of the “pro-life” movement doesn’t mean you can’t pursue, in your own manner, goals that could rightly be called “pro-life” if the “pro-life” movement had not given the word “pro-life” a bad name. In another thread, Policraticus said, “Pope Benedict XVI has said that “pro-person” is a more desirable label for the Catholic position on the dignity of the human person. This term could better distinguish the Catholic view from the narrow and restrictive ‘pro-life’ view that is a concoction of political posturing.”

    Many people are critical of the “pro-life” movement because, as a movement, it doesn’t appear committed to the “seamless garment” theory. The pro-life movement as it now exists is not the be-all and end-all movement that one must identify with for the sake of humanity.

    Also, even if abortion is the most momentous issue of our time, I don’t think everyone has to devote himself or herself to it. Are the people who work with Catholic Charities or Doctors without Borders taking care of disaster victims in other countries going to have to explain themselves on Judgment Day because they did not devote their efforts to ending abortion?

  109. Kurt permalink
    November 10, 2008 5:29 pm

    John Henry,

    I am no longer part of the Pro-Life “Church” therefore I am not subject to its inquisitions. But I will say this. The matter is not a question of occassional “shrillness” by some elements within the Movement. You try to dismiss this as a rhetrotical matter. It is not. It is a matter of core doctrines of the Pro-Life Movement.

    I have my beliefs. There is no social movement in present day American society that allows for someone with my beliefs, and therefore I have no forum in which to pursue them. It is probably a good time for me to consider taking up gardening.

  110. November 10, 2008 5:35 pm

    It is great to serve the common good, but part of serving the common good, if you believe abortion takes the life of a human person, is supporting policies that reduce the occurrence of abortion. I think that ‘pro-person’ is a perfectly fine phrase for describing the common good. At the same time, I think the common understanding of the term pro-life (supporting policies that reduce the incidence of abortion) is quite useful.

    Policraticus dismissively describes the phrase as ‘political posturing’. In one sense, I agree – the term ‘pro-life’ indeed represents a political posture (reducing the incidence of abortion) and it has a clear and widely understood meaning. That meaning need not be expanded to create yet another synonym for the common good. Sins have been committed under the banner of the ‘pro-life’ movement just as they almost assuredly will be under the phrase ‘pro-person’ if it ever enters into wide usage in public discourse. That doesn’t mean the term should be abandoned, it just means that we should acknowledge that Catholics are not simply pro-life, they are pro- a lot of other positions as well.

  111. November 10, 2008 5:49 pm

    Kurt – “I am no longer part of the Pro-Life “Church” therefore I am not subject to its inquisitions.”

    lol. No need to get defensive – I was trying to understand your objections. You made rather strong denunciations of the pro-life movement as a bunch of haters, and so I was trying to understand the source of your animus, but I will gladly cease the ‘inquisition’ if you do not wish to discuss your views further.

    “There is no social movement in present day American society that allows for someone with my beliefs, and therefore I have no forum in which to pursue them.”

    Amen…the two-party system sucks. We individual snowflakes are left without a political movement to call our own.

  112. Barbara Quigley permalink
    November 11, 2008 1:36 am

    I’m interested, and will certainly sign it!

  113. Nick permalink
    November 11, 2008 9:23 am

    I would sign as well.

  114. kurt permalink
    November 11, 2008 1:40 pm

    “I was trying to understand your objections”

    John Henry –

    Actually, I don’t think you were. I think you had a different agenda.

    Kurt

  115. Barbara permalink
    November 12, 2008 11:22 pm

    It’s so important that we all do this and together voice our concerns and objections against FOCA. So that being said I’m so down to sign this!!!

  116. November 13, 2008 3:55 am

    Barbara — I tried to send out an e-mail to you; did you get it?

  117. Ygnacio O Garcia permalink
    November 13, 2008 11:04 pm

    I’ll sign. The silent genocide must end.

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