Like many this week, the National Catholic Reporter is looking back on 30 years of Roe v. Wade. Never having been much of a friend to the pro-life movement, NCR now wants to appear as if it has a reasonable plan for moving forward from here. The solution? Capitulate.
- A strong case can be made, at least in theory, for deciding abortion policy questions at the state or Congressional level. Democracies should, by and large, decide their views of such contested social problems democratically, and not by judicial fiat. But that day is gone. Roe v. Wade, as even Bush judicial nominees acknowledge, is ?settled law.” Bottom line: abortion is, and will remain, legal in the United States.
If the topic were slavery, would NCR’s editors seriously say “bottom line: slavery is, and will remain, legal”? Would they say that the question should be decided by a democratic vote? Wouldn’t they say the Supreme Court was right in issuing the Dred Scott decision and not leaving the whole issue up to the voters? And this isn’t just slavery, it’s murder.
- For the past 30 years, the bishops have freely and almost exclusively spent their political capital on this issue, lobbying fiercely for antiabortion legislation. They have received almost nothing in return. At the same time, by virtue of the candidates they implicitly supported in pursuit of antiabortion strategies, the bishops gave up any chance of making significant headway on the rest of their social agenda.
See, the real problem is that trying to keep babies from being killed is just taking up too much time and energy that could be spent on agitating for removing dams from rivers and protesting at military bases and preventing nuclear plants from being built. Oh, and don’t forget raising taxes on the nasty, evil rich so that we can substitute charity for government handouts.
Here’s where NCR’s editors go way off the reservation and show their true colors.
- In no small measure that lack of success comes from the bishops? demand that everyone accept the church?s conviction that life deserving of full constitutional protection begins at the moment of conception. It doesn?t take a theologian or Solomonic jurist to ask, ?What about the millions of spontaneous abortions that occur each day?? Experts estimate that from 25 percent to 50 percent of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, at a very early stage of pregnancy, and that in many of those cases women are not even aware that a spontaneous abortion has occurred.
What?! Those are called miscarriages. By this logic we should call a 70-year-old man who dies of a heart attack a “post-natal spontaneous abortion.” There’s a huge, huge difference—so big you can drive a truck through it—between natural death and intentionally killing someone. It’s like Hermann Goering saying the Jews were going to die anyway, but he just sped up the process. It is so offensive, I can’t believe this statement was even posited by a Catholic newspaper.
And what’s this about bishops demanding people believe the Church’s teachings. Oh, how unreasonable that one should believe in objective truth, that not everything is relative, that just because you think it should be so, it isn’t. And what about these recommendations:
- The bishops should find a way to work productively with pro-choice Catholics in high office. Politicians like Sens. Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy and Rep. Nancy Pelosi should not face banishment from public events held on Catholic soil because of their public policy views, nor should they fear refusal at the Communion rail. There?s a lot of good work that can be done outside the abortion arena, and quiet respect, not burnt bridges, is both the prudent and productive course of action.
Name me the last time Ted Kennedy or Tom Daschle or any pro-abortion politician was refused Communion because of their pro-abortion views. Instead I see priests and bishops standing beside these men at all kinds of events. Again, it’s relativism at work. Sure they work to make sure that the killing of babies remains legal, but they do so much good by providing government funding for all kinds of liberal groups. And Mussolini made the trains run on time.
Of course, we have to deal with those nasty Republicans, too.
- Principled pro-life Republicans should reexamine their antipathy to government programs. Only the government has the means to provide the assistance needed to give lower income women a true choice—and to the degree that government spending is necessary to promote that option, pro-life conservatives should endorse it. Life trumps ideology.
Only the government? Funny, but I don’t remember Jesus saying in Matthew 25 that blessed is the government because it clothed the naked, fed the hungry, visited the sick and imprisoned, and welcomed the stranger. That’s our role, the Church. There is no charity—i.e. selfless love—in sitting back and relying on the government to provide for our neighbors. That’s part of what’s wrong with America. Our next-door neighbor who’s suffering doesn’t come to our door for help; they go to the government agency. Rather than opening the door to see Christ before us in our suffering brothers and sisters, we see the tax collector. We’ve become accustomed to letting the government provide charity to the point that there is no longer love in charity. And liberals have made an idol of the government, imbuing it with all the power reserved for the communion of God’s people, the love bonds between us.
So what does the NCR editorial boil down to? After 30 years, the pro-life side is not winning the fight, so we should give it up and put our energy where it’s needed most: socialist government programs. Besides, so many nice people who support socialist government programs also support abortion and the pro-life issue makes working together so uncomfortable.