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The Latest on the Mexico City Policy

January 22, 2009

LifeSiteNews jumped the gun on Tuesday, informing the pro-life faithful that President Obama would “immediately” reverse the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” which bans federal U.S. dollars to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or refer women to abortion providers.  Kathleen Gilbert, the author of the LifeSiteNews story, tells us that “anonymous” sources confirmed Obama’s decision.  Apparently, Gilbert’s shoddy reporting tricked one blogger at Catholics in the Public Square, who determined in the revelatory light of his laptop’s glowing screen that Obama would be “wasting no time” in abrogating former President George W. Bush’s executive enforcment of the policy exactly eight years ago.  Just from whence their prescience is derived puzzles me.

Major Garrett of FoxNews may have drawn from the same well of bad information as Gilbert on Wednesday, when he reported that Obama would reverse the Mexico City Policy today, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

NPR typically was a bit more chaste and measured in its coverage, reporting that the Mexio City Policy “could” be reversed today and that such a measure is “likely” but not certain.  Bill Clinton reversed the policy on January 22, 1993, which had been upheld by his predecessor George H.W. Bush, so it seemed quite possible that Obama would continue this tradition of back-and-forth presidential politics on abortion, exploiting the symbolism of the Roe v. Wade anniversay.  Reports today say this will not be the case.

LifeNews, which provided some of the most ungenerous and polemical coverage of Obama’s campaign for president, reports second-hand that the decision to reverse the Mexico City Policy has been postponed.  Yet, without looking at this fact positively, LifeNews dismisses any hope by declaring that the postponement is merely a way of  Obama’s’ “attempting to camouflage his pro-abortion agenda by issuing a statement calling for efforts to reduce abortions.”  LifeNews derives its story from the Christian Broadcasting Network, which had the following to report:

A source with knowledge of the situation says the fact that Obama will not issue this executive order today (on the same day of the huge March for Life rally in DC) sends a strong signal to religious leaders across the political spectrum that President Obama wants to set a different tone in Washington.

President Reagan first implemented the policy but President Clinton reversed it on this day of January 22, 1993. January 22nd is the annual March for Life rally. President Bush then reversed Clinton’s executive order on this on January 22, 2001.

It is unclear whether Obama intends to reverse the Mexico City Policy at some point in the future but this reliable source tells me that this move signals that Obama will stress the need for reducing abortions in this country rather than focus on the divisive tit for tat policy reversals of the past. As a matter of fact, President Obama may actually release an abortion related statement today about this need to reduce them. The point here is that President Obama has opted out of the “in your face” politics of the past. He may reverse Mexico City Policy at some point. Many on both sides of the abortion debate expect he probably will at some point but today is a day where Obama took the more tactful and less confrontational approach.

Will Obama reverse the Mexico City Policy?  Who’s to say right now?  It may be reversed tomorrow, next month, or next term. It may not be reversed at all.  The best course of action for Catholics, at least, seems not to be the issuance of preemptive news stories or blog posts like those aforementioned, but to maintain stalwart, hoping and praying for real dialogue on the reduction and eventual elimination of abortions in the United States.

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82 Comments
  1. S.B. permalink
    January 22, 2009 5:44 pm

    There’s no reason to pick on Lifesite: National Public Radio reported the exact same thing today. See http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99682321.

    Thursday marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. It’s also likely to mark the day President Barack Obama will reverse at least a few of the anti-abortion policies of George W. Bush.

  2. January 22, 2009 5:48 pm

    Did Lifesite (whoever they are) mention the executive orders relating to torture? Or is torture not so non-negotiable for them?

  3. Policraticus permalink
    January 22, 2009 5:55 pm

    S.B.–That NPR report is mentioned in my post.

  4. January 22, 2009 5:57 pm

    How about the bigger issue — if indeed Obama’s rejection of the in-your-face pro-choice politics of reversing the MCP today is a sign of a new tone, and especially if Obama makes a statement emphasizing the need to reduce abortions, are Catholics willing to work with him on policies that would do that even though he will certainly defend Roe v. Wade?

  5. blackadderiv permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:00 pm

    To be fair, what the Lifesite article says is that Obama was expected to issue the order “[b]efore the week of his inauguration is over,” and that “[s]ources have not indicated whether he plans to issue the order on Thursday,”

  6. Policraticus permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:07 pm

    Blackadder–so from “immediately” to “by the end of the first week.” Perhaps they were just too eager to put it out there.

    Christopher–I noticed that you removed your post from CPS. But you’ll notice that CNN’s article says “may” while LifeSiteNews declares “immediately.” To say that something may happen is not equivalent to saying that something will happen immediately.

  7. January 22, 2009 6:07 pm

    MM,

    LifeSite’s post on torture is right next to yours on abortion.

  8. Policraticus permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:09 pm

    JohnMcG–keep it honest…MM has commented on abortion quite a bit.

  9. January 22, 2009 6:13 pm

    MM,

    Less glibly, would it be possible for you to react to anything without partisan mudslinging.

    As you admit, you know nothing about LifeSite news, whether they’re Catholic, whether they use the “non-negotiable” type rhetoric, which makes your criticism pre-mature.

    More directly, I would love it if we could discuss life issues without every mention of abortion being met with, “But what about torture an unjust wars and capital punishment!?” and every mention of captial punishment and torture being met with “but what about aborrtion?”

    It is my prayer that Obams will work for a middle ground on abortion and make such choices unnecessary, or, failing that, another leader will emerge that Catholics will be able to support without reservations.

  10. January 22, 2009 6:17 pm

    To be fair, what the Lifesite article says is that Obama was expected to issue the order “[b]efore the week of his inauguration is over,” and that “[s]ources have not indicated whether he plans to issue the order on Thursday,”

    BA:

    And the LifeSite article referred to CNN’s reporting of the same, and everybody from CBS News to the Los Angeles Times reported much the same on Obama’s first actions as President.

    But you know, it’s SO much more delicious to criticize LifeSiteNews. =)

  11. Jessie permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:18 pm

    I think you are all just a little too blind to Pres. Obama’s abortion agenda.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gutL4mlaZy3_ki0OQHdS9U9Cj_yAD95SEQD00

    I think this article aptly shows the direction we are heading in. The “we can work together” language followed by ignoring the other side entirely.

  12. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:20 pm

    Everyone, if you have a minute, please take the time to email or fax a quick thank-you note to Obama. I do a lot of work for STAND, the student anti-genocide organization, and if there’s one time the experience has taught me it’s that one should never miss an opportunity to thank a politician for the smallest legislative favor, even if that politician does not support your cause. Imagine that you’re President Obama: you’ve spent the entire day dealing with crisis after crisis, you’re exhausted, and you’re getting all kinds of angry messages from your “supporters” who are livid that you haven’t yet reinstated federal funding of abortion. Now imagine that one of your advisers tells you that a number of pro-lifers, who generally don’t agree with you on this issue and in many cases voted against you, are writing to express their appreciation. My guess is that you’d start to gain a much more positive impression of the pro-life movement, and might be more willing in the future to temper your pro-choice stance.

  13. S.B. permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:20 pm

    I somehow missed that you had cited NPR.

    So all of this ado is because LifeSite said Obama would do it “immediately” whereas other reputable news sources said Obama would “likely” do it “in his first week in office”? That’s it? Rather thin gruel.

  14. blackadderiv permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:20 pm

    Poli,

    I think you are being a bit too pedantic about the use of the word “immediately.” If Obama reverses the policy in the first week of his administration (which is what the story says), that strikes me as being pretty immediate.

  15. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:28 pm

    Blending the mission of advocacy with journalism causes enough issues. Neither Lifenews nor Lifesite do either advocacy or journalism well. Like much of the <<new>> Catholic media, they’re little more than sensationalist gossip rags.

    Probably the sadder thing is that people who should know better – as in it is their vocation and they are pontificating on the topic – don’t know what the Mexico City Policy is. If I had a nickel for every time someone claimed the Mexico City policy funded abortions overseas, I’d have ripped pockets.

  16. January 22, 2009 6:33 pm

    Apparently, Gilbert’s shoddy reporting tricked one blogger at Catholics in the Public Square, who determined in the revelatory light of his laptop’s glowing screen that Obama would be “wasting no time” in abrogating former President George W. Bush’s executive enforcment of the policy exactly eight years ago. Just from whence their prescience is derived puzzles me.

    Ignoring Poli’s smug little prattle, I think it was a legitimate expectation on the part of not only LifeSiteNews but the secular media outlets as well, in light of historical precedent — President Reagan first implemented the policy but President Clinton reversed it upon taking office; President Bush then reversed Clinton’s executive order on this on January 22, 2001.

    Obama had also indicated during the campaign that he opposed the Mexico City Policy and indicated his intention to reverse it upon his election.

    Of course, he also promised Planned Parenthood that “his first act as President” would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

    Whether he was simply tossing a bone to the pro-abortion camp or expressing his true convictions we’ll find out in time.

  17. S.B. permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:33 pm

    MZ — simple point here: money is fungible.

  18. Nathan permalink
    January 22, 2009 6:42 pm

    mickey jackson has a great point that I think it getting lost in the posturing of the commentators here. How many of you have send an note thanking Obama for reversing the Mexico City Policy? What are we wasting our time and energy fighting each other when there is so much work to be done??

    If you can, say a few extra Hail Marys over the next few days that Pres. Obama doesn’t overturn these abortion-limiting policies. Remember, Our Lady is the Queen of America; if we continue to ask her intercession, perhaps our President’s heart will be converted. All things are possible with God.

  19. January 22, 2009 6:45 pm

    yeah, you’re giving lifesite news a bad rap. Everyone was reporting it; it seems to me there might have been a change of mind.

    While I’m glad he delayed it from today, and I think that is a slightly positive message, if he does it tomorrow I won’t be terribly thrilled either. Doing it on the traditionally low news day in order to get it under the radar doesn’t send a great message. Hopefully he’ll just leave it in place but everyone has to seriously doubt that.

  20. Policraticus permalink*
    January 22, 2009 6:48 pm

    Christopher, try as you may like to dismiss my post, but you just did not read the news pieces very carefully. You even removed your own CPS post that gave faith to the LifeSiteNews piece, which strikes me as an implicit admission of this.

    There’s honest reporting on MCP, which came from NPR and CNN. And there’s hasty reporting, like at LifeSiteNews.

    So all of this ado is because LifeSite said Obama would do it “immediately” whereas other reputable news sources said Obama would “likely” do it “in his first week in office”? That’s it? Rather thin gruel.

    Is it? Most place a premium on precision.

  21. Policraticus permalink*
    January 22, 2009 6:51 pm

    Everyone was reporting it; it seems to me there might have been a change of mind.

    If by “it” you mean President Obama’s plans to immediately reverse the Mexico City Policy, then you are quite wrong. I only saw LifeSiteNews and FoxNews reporting the reversal as a certainty.

  22. January 22, 2009 6:59 pm

    MIckey — great point about sending the thank you — I’ll do it.

    To the rest, we await that happy day when, through such learned discourse, you finally determine which news source is the most reliable source of (dis)information.

  23. January 22, 2009 7:05 pm

    So, saying that torture is non-negotiable is somehow a partisan position?? You people are really something.

  24. S.B. permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:06 pm

    In the context of a 4-year administration, a change in policy during the first week (as all observers think to be quite probable) is indeed “immediate.” That word is as precise as anyone could rightfully demand.

  25. blackadderiv permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:07 pm

    You can send a note to Obama here.

  26. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:10 pm

    Just a clarification from Nathan’s comment: we’re thanking him for NOT reversing the policy!

  27. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:22 pm

    By the way, those of you with your own blogs, please ask your readers to thank Obama as well. With the current Administration, the absolute WORST thing pro-lifers could do would be to retreat into the woodwork and hope for the best. We have to be active in speaking up whenever Obama takes action on abortion, whether it’s positive or negative action.

  28. Jessie permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:31 pm

    Mickey – note sent, thanks for the suggestion.

    I think that it is fair to look at the whitehouse.gov agenda where Pres. Obama clearly lays out his desire to overturn the Mexico City Policy, repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and push the Prevention First Act (which is FOCA) through the back door (see the equity in contraception language, its quite expansive and coercive). So just because it wasn’t today, which would be a real slap in the face to pro-lifers, doesn’t mean we should all pat ourselves on the back and make fun of those who see what is coming down the line and are trying to stop it. We should support anyone getting the pro-life message out there and mobilizing others to raise a lot of noise against anti-life policies. Because if the message isn’t made, then it can’t be heard by the Obama administration.

  29. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 7:58 pm

    Jessie: I agree completely. I have no doubt that President Obama, just like President Clinton before him, will advance many policies that every good pro-lifer will need to oppose, and oppose loudly (while remaining respectful, of course). However, if we are careful to acknowledge the occasions on which Obama does take positive steps (no matter how small), and to do so consistently, we might just be surprised at his willingness to listen to our concerns. Of course, it won’t be enough if just a few bloggers do this; this is something that the entire movement, and particularly such large pro-life organizations as Priests for Life and the NRLC, needs to learn how to do.

    I do think, however, that Obama’s decision to hold off on the Mexico City policy today is more significant than you think. After all, today is not only the anniversary of Roe v. Wade; it is also the anniversary of Clinton’s repeal, and Bush’s reinstatement, of the policy. In short, for Obama to repeal the policy today would be a huge symbolic opportunity for him if he were only interested in mollifying NARAL and Planned Parenthood. The fact that he resisted this temptation shows that at the very least, he knows it is not politically advantageous to let pro-choice dogma override public opinion, which is generally opposed to federal funding of abortion.

    And that’s at the very least; it is possible, though by no means certain this early on, that Obama’s decision means that he truly is interested in reducing the number of abortions. I know that he is a smart man, and I also (unlike many of my fellow pro-lifers) believe that he is a good man. For these reasons, he must know that federal funding of abortion will only increase the abortion rate, and hinder any dialogue that he hopes to accomplish with the pro-life movement. This is why I think today’s move (or lack thereof) might be a hopeful sign.

    However, if we pro-lifers are not active and engaged, all hope is lost. Obama is, after all, a politician, and to some extent he needs to know that it is politically advantageous for him to moderate his pro-choice stance. This won’t happen unless he knows that we are willing, indeed eager, to work with him on certain aspects of this issue if he does so.

  30. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:02 pm

    And let’s not forget: he did state that he would be willing to support a ban on late-term abortion (with the obligatory health exception). While this is clearly not enough from a pro-life perspective, it would be a start, and if we as a movement are willing to engage with him, he might be willing to follow through with such a measure. If he is sincere in his support for the late-term ban (and not just trying to score political points, which of course is always possible), I for one have no doubt that he could get it done. It’s already supported by a number of more moderate (always a relative term, of course) Democrats, including Vice President Biden.

  31. David Nickol permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:03 pm

    push the Prevention First Act (which is FOCA) through the back door (see the equity in contraception language, its quite expansive and coercive).

    Jessie,

    The Prevention First Act is very definitely not FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act).

    see the equity in contraception language

    Could you provide a link? I can’t find what you are describing.

  32. Mickey Jackson permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:06 pm

    We also should be burning up the White House email accounts and phone and fax lines asking Obama to support the Pregnant Women Support Act, which is vastly superior to the Prevention First Act in terms of addressing the root causes of abortion: http://www.democratsforlife.org.

  33. January 22, 2009 8:15 pm

    It just makes me sick. Those pro-life news organizations. Maybe we should trump up minor grammatical differences on a widely circulated story and really put them in their place. That will do it. Maybe one day we’ll be rid of troublesome pro-life publications!

    Why the bizarre animus Poli?

  34. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:16 pm

    MM – this post had nothing to do with torture. To be fair, you need to be reminded after your constant reminders regarding others bringing up abortion in torture discussions.

    That said, within the first week, first month, or first year, what does it matter? Where there is smoke, there is fire, and we ALL know Obama’s history and opinions on aborion.

  35. Policraticus permalink*
    January 22, 2009 8:21 pm

    Why the bizarre animus Poli?

    No animus, just a demand for accuracy in journalism and more generous displays of hope among the pro-life contingent. Obama pleasantly surprised many of us today despite the postured and pessimistic prescience of LifeSiteNews.

  36. Jessie permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:21 pm

    David – Here is a link http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c111:1:./temp/~c111QVhtPM:e18168:

    note the language “contraceptive services”. And the “usual health exceptions” clauses have shown to be a free license meaning “because she wants and abortion” as witnessed by Tiller’s unlawful abortion mill in KS.

  37. Jessie permalink
    January 22, 2009 8:24 pm

    Not to mention that we should be against any law that mandates all providers must perform sterilizations, etc. and chemical abortions. Contraception is NOT something we should be applauding.

  38. January 22, 2009 11:07 pm

    Christopher, try as you may like to dismiss my post, but you just did not read the news pieces very carefully. You even removed your own CPS post that gave faith to the LifeSiteNews piece, which strikes me as an implicit admission of this.

    I removed it so as not to mislead, and replaced it with a post admitting my “jumping the gun”. Rather explicit, I would say.

    But yes — with every mainstream news portal including CNN and the major newspapers reporting the likelihood that this would be his first executive order, I think both the tone of yoru post and your singling out LifeSiteNews reveals more than a mere concern for ‘journalistic accuracy’.

  39. January 22, 2009 11:07 pm

    Thanks Poli. Fair enough. Accuracy is an important discipline, particularly when discussing politicians (or people) with views we oppose. I should have been more circumspect above. I don’t read LifeSiteNews, so I have no opinion of the general quality of their work. As a general principle, I think it is a good thing to have publications devoted to such an important issue, but, of course, it’s only a good thing if the publications in question are accurate.

  40. January 22, 2009 11:15 pm

    MM,

    Would you not consider it partisan if I jumped on your torture executive order thread (which did allude to FOCA), just to say abortion is intrinsically evil, or say that many millions more babies will be aborted just today than inmates tortured in eight years of the Bush Administration?

  41. January 22, 2009 11:27 pm

    No, John, I would say that both are intrinsically evil, and I would accuse you of engaging in proportionalist arguments.

  42. January 22, 2009 11:37 pm

    Policratius:

    I think “pleasantly surprised” is a bit overstating things. Temporary relief maybe, but pleasant surprise is a bit much. Pleasant surprise would be an announcement that he was studying the issue for a while, or even reversing course on the issue. What appears to be a day’s delay is not worth getting all excited about.

  43. Policraticus permalink
    January 22, 2009 11:41 pm

    I removed it so as not to mislead, and replaced it with a post admitting my “jumping the gun”.

    Then you have admitted to the validity of my post’s concern and acted upon that validity. The LifeSiteNews story was misleading (your word).

    I think both the tone of yoru post and your singling out LifeSiteNews reveals more than a mere concern for ‘journalistic accuracy’.

    Well and good, but I’ll remind you that attributing a motive to someone does nothing to render a verdict on the truth or falsity of that same one’s claim. To suggest otherwise is to commit a logical fallacy.

  44. January 23, 2009 1:09 am

    Then you have admitted to the validity of my post’s concern and acted upon that validity. The LifeSiteNews story was misleading (your word).

    Michael, yes, of course — and I’m not afraid to admit I jumped the gun.

    But why do I get the feeling that you’re uttering that question with a self-satisfied smug little smirk on your face? ;-)

    I know you love to get the upper hand in your ongoing skirmish with LifeSiteNews and Catholic conservative bloggers, but this is a rather cheap victory, wouldn’t you say?

  45. January 23, 2009 3:21 am

    I guess I am confused by this post and comments

    “LifeNews, which provided some of the most ungenerous and polemical coverage of Obama’s campaign for president, reports second-hand that the decision to reverse the Mexico City Policy has been postponed. Yet, without looking at this fact positively, LifeNews dismisses any hope by declaring that the postponement is merely a way of Obama’s’ “attempting to camouflage his pro-abortion agenda by issuing a statement calling for efforts to reduce abortions.”

    Hope? I think Obama positon is very clear. I am not sure why I sure should jumping for joy that Obama being a savy poltician did not reverse the Mexico City policy today but does it perhaps tomorrow

    Also why is Life News being picked on here. What Life news was reporting was assumed by most major News media

  46. January 23, 2009 6:33 am

    The best course of action for Catholics, at least, seems not to be the issuance of preemptive news stories or blog posts like those aforementioned, but to maintain stalwart, hoping and praying for real dialogue on the reduction and eventual elimination of abortions in the United States.

    Must we not even write about why the Mexico City policy should be maintained? Why the Hyde Amendment should be kept? How it is that the unborn have a right to life, and that the refusal to recognize this right on the part of the President is not only unjust, but intrinsically evil?

    President Obama has offered no practical suggestions on ways to reduce abortion, nor even any reasons why abortion should be reduced. His allegedly pro-life supporters have been silent in efforts to persuade the President and his pro-abortion supporters to recognize the right to life of the unborn. OTOH, his pro-abortion supporters have been most vocal about what they expect of the president, and ending the Mexico City policy is only scratching the surface.

  47. David Nickol permalink
    January 23, 2009 9:16 am

    Must we not even write about why the Mexico City policy should be maintained?

    I don’t understand why Planned Parenthood in the United States is fairly generously funded by the federal government, but the International Planned Parenthood Federation under the Mexico City Policy can’t receive federal funds.

  48. Zak permalink
    January 23, 2009 9:44 am

    David,
    I agree it’s inconsistent, but I prefer inconsistency to greater complicity in assisting those who provide abortions.

  49. January 23, 2009 9:49 am

    I don’t understand why Planned Parenthood in the United States is fairly generously funded by the federal government, but the International Planned Parenthood Federation under the Mexico City Policy can’t receive federal funds.

    It would seem then the problem is with funding the domestic Planned Parenthood.

    We were also torturing international detainees and not torturing domestic prisoners. The solution to this inconsistency isn’t to start torturing domestic prisoners, and if it were proposed, I wouldn’t consider noting this inconsistency to be a terribly persuasive argument.

  50. Joe permalink
    January 23, 2009 9:51 am

    Reuters says he’s going to do it today, and is sourced

    Will this post be removed then?

    Will the blogger have anything to say about the policy itself instead of sniping at his enemies?

  51. Joe permalink
    January 23, 2009 9:53 am

    Oh, and the Gitmo order isn’t anything like it’s being sold. Politco has a good rundown here.

  52. Jessie permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:01 am

    Looks like embryonic stem cell funding is also getting taxpayer money now.

  53. no bechamel please permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:27 am

    Reuters has an administration official say its repeal is today…..Amy Welborn spotted it:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE50M3PQ20090123

  54. David Nickol permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:29 am

    It would seem then the problem is with funding the domestic Planned Parenthood.

    Well, my understanding is that the government funding that goes to Planned Parenthood is not used for abortion. I am guessing that federal funding for international NGOs was not used for abortions under Clinton, and in any case need not be used for abortion if the Mexico City Policy is rescinded. The question is whether you can reasonably say you are funding only part of what an organization does. I don’t think that’s unreasonable (although “money is fungible,” etc., etc.).

  55. Legion of Mary permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:33 am

    It’s also on Associated Press. But don’t worry. Policratus set Lifesitenews straight and that’s all that matters.

  56. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 11:34 am

    So rather than reverse the MCP on a very contentious day, he will likely do it a few days later, or when he can try to fly it in under the radar (not that there is really much chance of it going unnoticed regardless of when he does it). To show he is less contentious about it, willing to work for common ground, blah blah blah.

    Well, we shall see – I suspect he is just more shrewd about achieving his goals, but those goals are no different from those of NARAL and PP. I would be thrilled to be proven wrong.

  57. David Nickol permalink
    January 23, 2009 2:27 pm

    Well, we shall see – I suspect he is just more shrewd about achieving his goals, but those goals are no different from those of NARAL and PP. I would be thrilled to be proven wrong.

    c matt,

    I hope you are sincere in your desire to be proven wrong. It is my sense that at least some in the pro-life movement hope Obama does everything to maximize abortion (and mandate the killing of the sick and the elderly) so they can continue do demonize him. Further, I am sure some in the pro-life movement hope Obama does not somehow significantly reduce the number of abortions, since that might make some who are opposed to abortion, but not strongly so, feel that the problem is at least partly solved. It’s kind of like Rush Limbaugh saying quite bluntly and unapologetically about Obama, “I hope he fails.”

    No one ever argued that once Obama got in to office, he would reverse himself and oppose abortion. The hope among some — which I see no reason for them to abandon so far — is that you can be both pro-choice and work to reduce abortions.

    Do you think if some simple, inexpensive, and foolproof contraceptive technology were developed that was universally available, NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be upset because they couldn’t do abortions any more? I think they are in favor of eliminating unwanted pregnancies; they are not in love with abortion. But I suspect many pro-lifers would disagree.

  58. January 23, 2009 2:48 pm

    David,

    Perhaps you could wait until someone here actually articulates the positions you are ciriticizing before criticing them.

    Also the pro-life movement is not about “reducing abortions” as much as addressing the injustice that there are a class of people that can be legally and arbitrarily killed. It wouldn’t do for those opposed to torture to “reduce” the incidence of torture, or for opposers of any man-made injustice to be satisfied with policies that have a secondary effect of reducing that injustice.

    If Obama’s policies result in a reduction of abortion, that would indeed be a welcome development. But even if it reduced it to zero, it would not be a substitute for the basic legal injustice in our current legal regime. And if it is reduced to zero because we developed technologies that people use that are cheaper and mroe convenient than abortion, that is also not a grand cultural achievement.

    It would be similar to the goverment eschewing torture because it considers the war won and torture is now unnecessary. Do you think Dick Cheney would not have welcomed such a development? Sure, but it would not represent our society rejecting it as a practice, which is what I would want to see us do.

  59. January 23, 2009 2:55 pm

    It wouldn’t do for those opposed to torture to “reduce” the incidence of torture…

    JohnMcG – Do you count yourself among “those opposed to torture”?

  60. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 4:31 pm

    What John McG said. It is not just about reducing the need for abortion, but about abolishing the idea of it even being an acceptable practice.

    Although, to answer your question directly – yes, I am serious about hoping to be proven wrong. I would welcome a reduction, I just don’t hold out much hope for that happening given his stated agenda.

  61. January 23, 2009 4:47 pm

    Before the week of his inauguration is over, Obama is expected to issue an executive order repealing the Mexico City Policy

    Stupid Lifesite News and their inaccurate reporting.

  62. David Nickol permalink
    January 23, 2009 4:48 pm

    What John McG said. It is not just about reducing the need for abortion, but about abolishing the idea of it even being an acceptable practice.

    JohnMcG and c matt,

    it is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption – a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.

    Agreed?

  63. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 4:55 pm

    However, if we are careful to acknowledge the occasions on which Obama does take positive steps (no matter how small), and to do so consistently,

    Reversing the MCP a day later is supposed to be one of those positive steps? So we should be grateful he at least buys us dinner first before he screws us. Thanks O!

  64. January 23, 2009 4:55 pm

    David,

    Yes, agreed, but that is not all the Church has said on the subject.

    It is necessary, but not sufficient.

  65. January 23, 2009 5:00 pm

    What about all the countries Bush didn’t invade? What about the detainees that weren’t tortured? Shouldn’t anti-war and anti-torture activists acnkowledge these positive steps?

    Of course not.

  66. Jessie permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:00 pm

    “it is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption – a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.”

    Actually, I would argue that the purpose of law is to create boundaries of behavior and order so that we may live our life in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

    The above quote seems to pre-suppose that the conditions into which a child is born have a determining factor in whether that child should be allowed to BE born. It will NEVER be possible (this side of heaven) to ensure every child born (or even any born person) be “welcomed” in such a way. But this does not mean they would be better off killed or even that we, in our limited knowledge, have the ability to determine ahead of time their supposed fate. As was previously said, the purpose of law should be to protect the weak from the strong who would abuse them. Surely, a society which can move toward abandoning the death penalty for convicts can equally be moved toward abandoning (legally) the death penalty for the unborn. Because as the more honest members of the anti-life side admit, birth is a rather arbitrary point in time to draw the line.

  67. S.B. permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:01 pm

    ABC News and CNN and the Washington Post are all reporting that Obama did sign the order this afternoon.

    So it seems that Poli was “jumping the gun” in criticizing LifeSiteNews for its report, which was quite accurate (Obama waited all of three days to reverse the policy, which should easily count as an “immediate” action).

  68. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:02 pm

    Well, not exactly disagreed, but it is the first task of law to make sure life is protected. So, I would not particularly agree with the last part: that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.

    Abortion shouldn’t be an alternative.

    I don’t disagree at all with efforts to reduce the resort to abortion. But I also do not agree with keeping the resort to abortion. It seems too many are stuck in an either/or rather than both/and mode.

  69. David Nickol permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:09 pm

    Perhaps you could wait until someone here actually articulates the positions you are ciriticizing before criticing them.

    JohnMcG,

    I think there are probably people who post on Vox Nova who, in their heart of hearts, want Obama to do appalling things regarding abortion for the next four years so they can keep pointing out how very right they were to oppose him and how wrong his Catholic supporters were to vote for him. However, don’t expect them to admit (even to themselves) that they are secretly glad. And if Obama doesn’t do appalling things (which, in my opinion, he won’t), these people will miss no opportunity to claim that whatever he does is appalling.

    The desire to be “proven” right is a very powerful one, and of course not just on the subject of Obama and abortion. It is part of human nature to unwittingly and sometimes deliberately distort things so that we can always see ourselves in a positive light. Maybe we should admire Rush Limbaugh’s honesty in saying he hopes Obama fails.

  70. January 23, 2009 5:18 pm

    David,

    If you address your posts to what you suspect are people’s hidden motives rather than what they actually say are their motives, then dialogue and debate are impossible.

    You are probably right that the set of Vox Nova readers includes some who would not be pleased to see President Obama be successful. And there are probably also some readers who think abortion isn’t that big a deal.

    But if we address our missives at those hidden motives, all that emerges is an “is too,” “is not” type of dialogue that doesn’t get us anywhere closer to the truth.

    I think both c matt and I have articulated why a pro-life person may be pleased if Obama’s policies result in a reduction in abortions, but nevertheless unsatisfied.

    I also think it would be difficult for either side to claim vindication on this issue because the abortion rate is subject to influence from a variety of factors, and we can’t construct an alternative reality where more restrictive policies are enacted and compare.

  71. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:19 pm

    In my heart of hearts, I really wanted O not to reverse the MCP. Alas, he did. I honestly did not expect him to go back on his word to reverse the MCP, but that makes me sad and dissappointed, not glad. But then, what we told his Catholic supporters was that O was a man of his word wrt his abortion stand. How is that distorting things, especially since he has kept his word on MCP?

  72. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:24 pm

    I don’t know what you mean by succeed – on some of his proposed policies, I really do hope he succeeds (eliminating torture, keeping us out of wars, getting the economy back on track); on others, I hope he fails miserably (FOCA and other pro-abortion policies). But then, I’ve felt the same about most administrations D or R.

  73. c matt permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:32 pm

    As to the actual topic of this post, I’d have to say that Poli kind of jumped the gun on LifeSite’s gun jumping. A day later is not so far off from “immediately” or “wasting no time.” Hard to put a positive light on this “postponement” now that it was “postponed” a whole 24 hours.

  74. January 23, 2009 6:05 pm

    NYT posted at 5:10 Est that he did sign

  75. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 23, 2009 6:50 pm

    What a surprise. A post at VN that derides news outlets for reporting his intentions because he didn’t quite do it yet.

    Within 24 hours, here we have it. I won’t hold my breath for the posts by contributors criticizing this executive order.

    Need I remind you that ONLY Obama could have implemented this policy. No matter if his advisors, his congress, his wife, his “pastor”, his God had any input, this was HIS decision.

    MM – remember when you said that the President didn’t have any power to affect abortion? Tell that to the children eliminated in the third world.

  76. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 23, 2009 6:51 pm

    with YOUR money paying for it.

  77. Franklin Jennings permalink
    January 23, 2009 10:30 pm

    “Like much of the <> Catholic media, they’re little more than sensationalist gossip rags.”

    Hear! Hear! Especially any Catholic media that actually puts “new” in its name, even in Latin. Trash all around.

  78. January 24, 2009 12:51 am

    I think this post, along with MM’s latest, is an unintentionally hilarious commentary on Vox Nova.

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