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More Moral Clarity on Abortion

George Weigel:

Is John McCain—for whom, I might add, I have never served as an adviser, formally or informally—a perfect pro-life candidate? Of course not. But Barack Obama is a perfect pro-life nightmare. President McCain would not work to repeal the pro-life legislative advances of the past 35 years; knowledgeable and sober-minded Catholic legal and political observers who have worked on these issues for decades are convinced that an Obama administration and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress would eviscerate those modest advances within a year. As for the Supreme Court, the hard facts of our national history teach us that, while the country can survive the court's getting it wrong on some things, we are in very deep trouble when the court gets it wrong on the big human rights questions. That was true when Scot v. Sanford declared an entire class of human beings outside the protection of the laws. That was true when Plessyv.Ferguson upheld legal segregation. And that has been true with Roev.Wade. Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec say they have "no objections" to pursuing legal redress to Roe; yet they support a candidate who, given the opportunity, would certainly do everything in his power to make any revision of Roe, or return of the issue to the states, impossible for the foreseeable future. Once again, we're through the looking glass and into a wilderness of impossibilities.

As a former Democrat who left the party after it left former Pennsylvania governor Robert Casey out in the cold at the 1992 convention, I deeply regret the fact that the once-traditional political home of U.S. Catholics has embraced policy positions on the life issues that offend both Catholic faith and everyone's reason. I would welcome a new openness to pro-life argumentation and policy in the Democratic Party. But it is not at all clear how that revolution, will be advanced by Catholic intellectuals and lawyers who imagine that the party leader's record on core life issues can be, somehow, bracketed, and that reinventing the New Deal or the Great Society will turn the Democratic Party into a political force committed to the culture of life. Should Senator Obama be elected president, Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec will enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. That moment will likely be followed by the discovery that they have far less credit in the new administration's bank than NARAL and other longtime Obama supporters.

As his biographer, I think it likely that I knew the late John Paul II rather better than Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec. John Paul II was an adult, with whom one could disagree on matters of prudential judgment without his becoming disagreeable. It was an admirable trait. In reflecting on it, my interlocutors might also reflect on the relationship of the candidacy they support to John Paul's description of America's moral history, eloquently expressed when the pope accepted the credentials of the last Democratic ambassador to the Holy See, Lindy Boggs, in 1997:

"No expression of today's [American] commitment to liberty and justice for all can be more basic than the protection offered to those in society who are most vulnerable. The United States of America was founded on the conviction that an inalienable right to life was a self-evident moral truth, fidelity to which was a primary criterion of social justice. The moral history of your country is the story of your people's efforts to widen the circle of inclusion in society, so that all Americans might enjoy the protection of law, participate in the responsibilities of citizenship, and have the opportunity to make a contribution to the common good. Whenever a certain category of people—the unborn or the sick and old—are excluded from that protection, a deadly anarchy subverts the original understanding of justice. The credibility of the United States will depend more and more on its promotion of a genuine culture of life, and on a renewed commitment to building a world in which the weakest and most vulnerable are welcomed and protected."

Abortion is our slavery---a monumental injustice which will color perception of our society by our descendants forever. Nothing else we accomplish will matter to posterity so long as we cruelly exterminate our own children.



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