In my latest at Pajamas Media, I look at a recent Wall Street Journal piece exploring the means by which Catholics justify a vote for Barack Obama, whose NARAL rating (his recent musings on abortion notwithstanding) is 100%.
The WSJ reports that the Obama Catholics justify voting for him in good conscience, despite his abortion record, because he is “so good on other issues” of import to Catholics, like war, torture, social justice, etc.
As I observe at PJM:
On the surface, that argument seems reasonable — so reasonable, in fact, that the ardently pro-life Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Denver, writes of forming his own conscience in just such a way in 1976:
I knew Carter was wrong in his views about Roe and soft toward permissive abortion. But even as a priest, I justified working for him because…he was right on so many more of the “Catholic” issues than his opponent seemed to be. The moral calculus looked easy.
The moral calculus does look easy until one considers that war, torture, the death penalty, poverty, racism, and even the excesses of capitalism — those evils so well defined in Catholic social teaching, and of concern to Catholics of all political persuasions — are fully present in the act of abortion.
War is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether just or unjust, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. War introduces pain, fire, violence, savagery and torture into societies.
Abortion is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether “justified” or not, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. A vacuum abortion, saline abortion or a D&C introduces pain, fire, and a limb-shredding, relentless violence deep into the very being of a woman’s body, within her very womb. A partial birth abortion, which involves inserting a scissor into the base of the skull of a partially delivered fetus, then suctioning out its brain before fully withdrawing the fetus from the birth canal, embodies the sort of savagery and real torture which is the most abhorrent part of any war.
The death penalty is a legal execution of an individual judged guilty of heinous acts against the larger society; convicts are sometimes discovered to have been innocent of the charges made against them only after their lives have been taken. Many consider even the most “humane” means of execution to be cruel and inhuman, and even when the convict is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, it may be well-argued that killing a murderer does not bring back the victim and that “two wrongs do not make a right.”
In an abortion, the fetus is as subject to the death penalty as anyone ever so ordered by a jury; the fetus is always innocent. Even the most “humane” means of abortion — whatever that might be — involves cruel and inhuman measures. And even if the fetus — in its innocence — is the product of a violent and “guilty” conception, it may be well-argued that one merciless violation cannot be healed by a second — equally merciless — violation and that “two wrongs do not make a right.”
It goes on like that for some length.
We’ve all been struggling about abortion for decades – once upon a time I was a pro-choice liberal Catholic, myself, so I know the struggle. As I wrote:
A Catholic conscience is a complex thing that must rely on more than bumper stickers and impassioned rhetoric.
After all this time, we should be able to discuss abortion fearlessly. Perhaps we need some new perspectives. The whole point of debate is to allow fresh perspectives into stale ideas…and nothing in America is as stale as the back-and-forth on abortion.
In our family we have a basic rule about debate and argument: before you can make your argument you have to first state your opponent’s case back to him (or her) to his satisfaction. It’s a good rule – it keeps the fighting clean.
I’m not looking for a fight (or a love-fest), though. I just thought, “well…here’s another way to look at it.” I expect the comments on this piece to be heated and passionate, but I hope they will remain civil and sane.
Comments are always moderated, but since I’m off fishing for part of the day, there may be a backlog. If things get out of hand (which I trust won’t happen, because I have great readers), I will just close the thread.
A QOTD from Hot Air!