Skip to comments.The future of the pro-life cause
Posted on 09/23/2012 6:36:35 AM PDT by markomalley
Its the economy, stupid. James Carvilles memorable note-to-self during the 1992 presidential race will be the determining factor in the 2012 campaign, according to the common wisdom. That may be true. But as Catholics consider their responsibilities between now and Nov. 6, it would be good to remember that the future of the pro-life cause in America is also at stake.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 79. Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are 76. Justice Stephen Breyer is 74. The president elected in November likely will appoint two Supreme Court justices and may appoint as many as four over the next quadrennium. If that next president replaces Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy with nominees who think that Roe v. Wade (1973) and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) were wrongly decided, there could conceivably be a 7-2 court majority to overturn (or, in effect, gut) those dreadful decisions and return the abortion debate (and related life-issue questions like euthanasia) to the states. There, the pro-life cause would win some states (likely the majority) and lose some others. With national opinion polls showing a pro-life majority for the first time in a long time, however, the conditions would be right for legally advancing the cause in a dramatic way.
If, conversely, Justice Scalia (and Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, and possibly Kennedy) were to be replaced in the next presidential term by nominees favorable to the courts judgment in Roe and Casey, the radical abortion license created by those two decisions might well be set in federal legal concrete for the next 30 years. The pro-life cause would go on, but it would continue under severe federal legal restraints.
That this choice should present itself in partisan terms is a national tragedy. In the aftermath of the 1992 election, several of us gathered around Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania to plan a Democratic nomination challenge to President Clinton in 1996. Casey had been blocked by the Clintons from speaking at the 1992 Democratic convention; he combined a strong pro-life record with an appeal to the important voting bloc of Reagan Democrats; he had twice been elected governor of a crucial swing state; and whether or not he could wrest the Democratic nomination away from President Clinton, a strong Casey campaign in 1996 would have established two crucial points the pro-life issue is a bipartisan one, and there is ample room in the Democratic Party for gung-ho pro-lifers.
It would have been great fun; it might have been historic; but it was not to be. Gov. Caseys health went south, the challenge to President Clinton never materialized, and the throw-weight of pro-lifers within the Democratic Party was further reduced. Where all of that eventually led was demonstrated in early 2010, when pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives provided the slim margin of victory for Obamacare the implementers of which are now whittling away religious freedom and asking dental insurers whether they provide abortion coverage in their plans, all in the name of a virtually unlimited and government-funded right to abortion-on-demand.
As the natural successor to the classic civil rights movement, the pro-life cause ought to have been a bipartisan cause; it should certainly have been the cause of Catholic progressives. Yet as early as 1967, Richard John Neuhaus, then a Lutheran pastor and a civil rights veteran, warned his fellow-liberals in a Commonweal article that they were betraying the civil rights cause by flirting with liberalized abortion laws. Neuhauss article won a prize from the Catholic Press Association; but that was then, and this is now. And as the Democratic Party has become ever more intransigent on the abortion question with rare exceptions like Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois), a true pro-life hero the pro-life cause has been abandoned by the old pro-civil rights coalition, even as African-American communities are decimated by the abortion license.
In any case, the pro-life stakes in 2012 could not be greater. Men and women of conscience will form their judgments accordingly.
But with the age of many of the SCOTUS justices, we have yet one more reason that it is absolutely imperative that Obama not be allowed to continue.
IMHO, the resulting status of the SCOTUS based on the election doesn’t have near enough priority. See the tag.
If Obama wins, Roe v Wade for another 30 years and the prolife movement is dead for a generation.
September 19 2012 - Some years ago, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coined the term exclusivist secularism to describe a disturbing phenomenon in western societies: the determination of some intellectuals, activists, and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of tolerance and inclusion. Taylors exclusivist secularism is not the benign secularitythe separation of religious and political institutions in a modern societythat Pope Benedict XVI has praised for helping Catholicism develop its understanding of the right relationship between Church and state. No, by referring to exclusivist secularism, Charles Taylor was raising a warning flag about an aggressive and hegemonic cast of mind that seeks to drive out of the public square any consideration of what God or the moral law might require of a just society.
Aggressive secularism was once thought to be a primarily European malady. Then it migrated to Canada. Now it has become a serious problem in American public life. Catholics can do something about that, if they understand what the Church asks of the world.
The Catholic Church asksand, if circumstances require, the Church demandstwo things of any political community and any society.
The Church asks for free space to be itself: to evangelize, to celebrate the sacraments, and to do the works of education, charity, mercy and justice, without undue interference from government. The Church freely concedes that the state can tell the Church to do some things: to obey the local sanitary laws in church kitchens hosting pancake breakfasts, for example. But the Church refuses to concede to the state the authority to tell the Church what to think and preach, or how to order its ministerial life and serve the needy. Moreover, the Church asks, and if necessary demands, that the state respect the sanctuary of conscience, so that the Churchs people are not required by law by do things the Church teaches are immoral.
The Church also asks any society to consider the possibility of its need for redemption. The world sometimes doesnt take kindly to this suggestion, as the history of the martyrs reminds us. But overt persecution isnt the only way the world resists the Churchs proposal. Societies can affect a bland indifference to the truths taught by biblical religion. Cultures can mock the moral truths taught by Gods revelation to the people of Israel and Gods self-revelation in his Son, Jesus Christ. Educational systems can inculcate an ethos of nihilism and hedonism, teaching that the only moral absolute is that there are no moral absolutes.
On both of these frontsthe political-legal front, and the social-cultural frontthe Catholic Church is under assault in the United States today. Over the past four years, the federal government has made unprecedented efforts to erode religious freedom. The gravest assault was the contraceptive mandate issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: an offense to conscientious Catholic employers who believe what the Church believes about the morality of human love and the ethics of the right to life, and a frontal attack on the institutional integrity of the Church. For with the HHS mandate, the federal government seeks nothing less than to turn the Catholic Churchs charitable and medical facilities into state agencies that facilitate practices the Catholic Church believes are gravely evil.
Rather than truckle to such coercion, Catholic bishops across the country have made clear that they will, if necessary, close the Catholic medical facilities for which they are responsible a drastic action that would seriously imperil health services to the poor. But it doesnt have to come to that. Aggressive, hegemonic secularism need not have the last word in the United States.
In this election cycle, Americans can issue a ringing call for religious freedom in full. U.S. Catholics can, and must, demand of all candidates an unambiguous commitment to the Churchs institutional freedom, and to the freedom of the Churchs people to follow the dictates of conscience as shaped by the moral truths the Church guards and teaches. Self-respect requires nothing less.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigels column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3215.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 22, 2009
Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose.
While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.
On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.
THE WHITE HOUSE, January 22, 2009.
Opposition to life is a high priority for THE WONE™
He MUST be stopped.
If “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” then a conservative majority SCOTUS is that last refuge of a marginal Republican presidential candidate.
True, but the alternative is:
And, considering what he's managed with restrained flexibility, I shudder to think what would happen with his flexibility unhinged.
There are soooooo many reasons to not re-elect Obama, but this is definitely one of the most important.
What he really means.
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