Some Needed Clarity

Some Needed Clarity October 8, 2008

Those who claim it is impermissible for a Catholic to vote for Obama based on his pro-abortion advocacy make a number of errors. The first is that the voter is complicit in the formal cooperation with evilthat goes along with such advocacy. Such is the implicit assumption behind the erroneous Catholic Answers voter guide that sets out five non-negotiable issues, also conveniently bypassing equally grave intrinsically evil acts like torture. But the more sophisticated argument recognizes clearly that any cooperation is material, and very probably remote, as long as there is no intent to support the intrinsically evil position. The USCCB makes this point pellucidly clear. Thus the decision boils down to what constitutes a grave moral reason that would allow a Catholic to invoke the proportionality reason to vote for a person who supports an intrinsically evil action. As this argument goes, given the moral gravity of abortion, with more than a million unborn lives snuffed out each year, it is simply not conceivable to conjure up a proportionate reason that is sufficiently grave to justify supporting a pro-abortion advocate. Case closed…but not really.

What is the problem here? It is quite simple. For while a well-formed conscience must recognize that intrinsically evil issues stand apart, what matters is less the rhetoric than the ability to influence the intended outcome. As the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship document puts it: “These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.” In other words, those who say that a Catholic cannot find a proportionate reason to vote for Obama because of the number of abortions that take place each year fail to understand that the election of either Barack Obama or John McCain would have very little effect on the incidence of abortion. Under such circumstances, there are plenty of grave moral reasons to support Obama that come to mind. One can believe, as I do wholeheartedly, that he is the candidate likely to do the least harm and to promote the common good.

Let’s be honest: his executive power could support abortion and ESCR through public funding (although McCain has an identical position on the latter). But given that abortion is deeply rooted in poverty, his economic, social, and health care policies might lead to a diminution in abortion– as happened under the Clinton administration. None of this we know for sure, but that is exactly the point when it comes to weighing up proportionate reasons in this particular exercise in decision making: it is inherently probabilistic. Do I believe Obama really desires to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, and if it did, that it would stand a chance of succeeding? No I do not, for the same reasons that I believe a constitutional pro-life amendment is off the political radar: because it is simply too far removed from mainstream opinion.

So, focusing on the abortion issue alone, we need to look at these two candidates not only in terms of rhetoric, but in terms of the ability to influence the outcome. The difference is straightforward. McCain rightly opposes Roe v. Wade and wrongly refuses to provide support to families in terms of encouraging the bearing and rearing of children. Obama wrongly supports the “right” under Roe v. Wade, but rightly has latched onto the need to provide material support. As noted by the authoritative Declartion on Procured Abortion, “One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes. This includes political action, which will be in particular the task of the law. But it is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.” The approaches are simply inseparable, and no true pro-lifer can choose one without the other.

Even on the issue of legal protection, it is not so clear. A true pro-life approach says that the right to life of the unborn child warrants some protection under the law. It does not invoke a kind of warped subsidiarity to claim that the decision should be made by lower levels of government, as has been argued by John McCain and Sarah Palin. And let’s face it, the day Roe v. Wade is history is the day that these “rights” are codified in the largest and most populous states. So no, on the abortion issue alone (abstracting even from the consistent ethic of life), these candidates cannot be seen as pro-life. Then again, neither can Barack Obama. Since this is clear, feel free to bring your various proportionate reasons (on both sides) to the table. But stop trying to obfuscate the issue by drawing false distinctions.


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  • jonathanjones02

    One need not to defend any political alternative to recognize that Obama is an extreme radical on the question of abortion. He advocates for federal funding of this mass homocide, seeks to codify it is a right into federal statute, and has consistently, in rhetoric and deed, opposed every single restriction (such as parental notification and an end to late-term abortions). Thus, in my opinion, a vote for him is absoutely impermissible.

    Catholics in positions of civil responsibility must protect life. They are obligated to seek this with regard to abortion law or they should not claim the Catholic label. In this, Biden was once strong – but not in many years.

    Abortion upon demand, which they wish to agressively extend, is an abdication of the state’s responsibility to protect the most basic of rights, the right to life.

    Again, as I wrote yesterday, abortion is the most important domestic issue because it is mass homocide, on the order of tens of millions, and there are many legislative policies, judicial opinions, and executive actions that directly impact its shape and scope. If you think corporatist or statist policies will change the culture and reduce the rate, well bully for you, but don’t minimize actions such as the Mexico City policy, who sits on the Supreme Court, federal funding of the death factory that is planned parenthood, efforts to codify “abortion choice” into law, restrictions such as partial-birth, and on and on.

    These matter a great deal, and impact the life or death of many children very directly. To actively support Obama is to actively support death policies that he has been very clear about wishing to enact.

  • jonathanjones02

    Do I believe Obama really desires to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, and if it did, that it would stand a chance of succeeding? No I do not, for the same reasons that I believe a constitutional pro-life amendment is off the political radar: because it is simply too far removed from mainstream opinion.

    He has told more than one pro-abortion group this act will be among his highest priorities, if not the highest. If he is president with a comfortable Democratic majority in both houses (a majority, by the way, that has very few anti-abortion members as a percentage of the overall majority), this legislation has as good a chance of passing as any other.

    Maybe it will pass, maybe it won’t. But his intentions are clear, and it is very feasible that if not this act, something just as horrendus will be signed into law.

    To project that this will not happen has little basis in events on the ground, and is certainly far removed from a clearly and consistently stated intention.

    Finally, your comparison to a constitutional pro-life amendment makes no sense whatsoever. ANY amendment is nearly impossible to enact. Not so with legislation in an undivided government.

  • Julian

    “Do I believe Obama really desires to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, and if it did, that it would stand a chance of succeeding? No I do not ….”

    Boy, will you be in for a surprise!

  • jonathanjones02

    A true pro-life approach says that the right to life of the unborn child warrants some protection under the law.

    Let us be specific. The unborn child warrants this protection: the right to life. If Roe is overturned, then this right can finally be debated and decided in the proper place: by legislative bodies. Catholics will then obligated to influence for the right to life, exactly as they are obligated now.

    Obama and Biden fail miserably on both counts, and Catholics who support them share in their failure.

  • Julian

    “A true pro-life approach says that the right to life of the unborn child warrants some protection under the law. It does not invoke a kind of warped subsidiarity to claim that the decision should be made by lower levels of government, as has been argued by John McCain and Sarah Palin. And let’s face it, the day Roe v. Wade is history is the day that these “rights” are codified in the largest and most populous states.”

    Pro-lifers do not argue federalism for its own sake. Nor are they being in any way disingenuous by arguing federalism. It is a legitimate instrumental argument.

    As long as Roe is the law of the land, no state can outlaw abortion. If it were overruled, many states could and would outlaw abortion … and the fight could be taken to the remaining states. Thus, overruling Roe is the first step in a pro-life strategy.

  • My parish is made up of blacks and liberal white in-towners. Nobody would dare admit to voting Republican. Yesterday at a parish meeting, a woman who has been organizing for Obama began pontificating about the evils of Sarah Palin, the worst of which, this Catholic lady explained, is her determination to take away “a woman’s freedom to choose,” which, she declared, is the very foundation of liberty in America. To put it mildly, she had an appreciative audience.

    I think this is the real subtext of Catholic support for Obama. He is considered heroic to the self-described social-justice Catholics not IN SPITE OF his support for abortion but BECAUSE OF it. In the mindset that fancies itself progressive, destruction of the unwanted is not a failure of social justice but its hallmark. An Obama presidency, which I consider almost inevitable at this point, will simply reinforce this way of thinking–among Catholics no less than other Americans.

    How will the institutional Church respond? With the exception of the usual suspects, I expect our leaders will continue to follow in the footsteps of their cohorts in Quebec.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    “I think this is the real subtext of Catholic support for Obama. He is considered heroic to the self-described social-justice Catholics not IN SPITE OF his support for abortion but BECAUSE OF it. In the mindset that fancies itself progressive, destruction of the unwanted is not a failure of social justice but its hallmark.”

    This is a) a gross generalization; and b) simply insulting to many, many faithful Catholics who have wrestled with their conscience, are against abortion, but PERSONALLY have concluded in the light of the “candidates ‘commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence all given morally grave issue’, a vote for Obama is the most prudent one.

  • jh

    I would like to point out that Morning Minion is making Kmiec absurd arguement about Federalism and how that makes Mccain / Palin as about as pro choice as Obama

    This was taken apart a few days ago at the America Magazine blog a few days ago

    http://americaelection2008.blogspot.com/2008/10/different-take-on-kmiecs-book.html

  • I’m so sick of the federalism argument on abortion policy. In places where there is a strong stigma against abortion, nobody gets them. Where there isn’t, they don’t. If people could vote on this, would any of this magically change?

  • Jonathan: you clearly don’t understand the argument I am trying to make. And the fact that you use the term “absolutely impermissible” shows you don’t understand the moral theology arguments either.

    Ron: that’s not my experience at all. If I were to guess, I would say my parish leans very heavily Democratic, and yet I have never ever heard anybody in a Church context defend anything like a “right to choose”.

    JH: With respect, but I’ve been making this argument for years, long before Kmiec arrived on the scene. And I have not read Kmiec’s book. But I read the O’Callaghan piece you link to and I have problems with it. For a start, if Kmiec actually does make an equivalence between the term “pro-choice” when it comes to the woman and the state, then I think he is wrong. But that’s not what I am saying. Here is O’Callaghan’s key conclusion: “McCain’s position is that the decisions about how to legislate concerning abortion reside with the states…And one can maintain that certain legislative acts belong to the states without being committed to the rightness of every legislative act.” MCain is entitled to hold that position, but he is not entitled to claim that it is a pro-life position. It is not.

  • Follow-up point: with this “constitutional” argument, I see once again (as in the death penalty debate and many others), a tendency to place the positive law over the natural law.

  • Further follow up: if it is “absolutely impermissible” to vote for a stauch abortion advocate, then would you argue that the correct choice in 2000 and 2004 was the man who started a gravely unjust war and legitimized torture (making himself a war criminal in the process)? Would you still argue that fact given that a million or so abortions still take place every year? And if so, at what point would you draw the line, if ever?

  • With apologies to the conscience-wrestlers, I think it is safe to bet that after four years of an Obama administration, they will no longer even bother to preface their support for pro-choice candidates with “I am against abortion [personally] BUT . . . ” It will simply not occur to them (or to most Americans) that opposition to abortion might have any relevance to politics. Why would it, when it has become clear to all concerned that nothing whatsoever can be done to legislate against it?

    But will American Catholics-in-the-pew still see some moral significance in abortion? Probably about as much as Catholics do today in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Quebec. It has long been the goal of the abortion-rights movement to reduce their opposition to a tiny fringe movement. With the help of these (anguished, oh so anguished) Catholic voters, they’re about to get their wish.

  • jonathanjones02

    Jonathan: you clearly don’t understand the argument I am trying to make. And the fact that you use the term “absolutely impermissible” shows you don’t understand the moral theology arguments either.

    My use of the term “absoutely impermissible” was an opinion, not a statement of binding instruction, and I think a very well grounded one – partly for the five or so reasons I have given in this thread. I would be happy to address your substantive response to any of them, assuming your insults will be omitted.

  • TeutonicTim

    Alright, MM. Vote for Obama if you wish.

    Despite all of your arguments, Obama lacks the judgement. He lacks the judgement on his associations (Ayers, Wright, Rezko) almost as bad he lacks the judgement on life issues.

    One should not want to vote for Obama on his “personal” stance on abortion alone. It’s disgusting.

  • Ron:

    The Declation on Procured abortion basically says 3 stratgies must be followed: (i) strive to change the law; (ii) strive to change the culture; (iii) actively aid families and children. I would argue that in the current climate, (i) is impossible without (ii) and (iii). In fact, exclusive focus on (i) benefits those who gain from the “culture war” but not the unborn.

  • The intrinsic evil of Sarah Palin’s behavior recently has spawned even David Brooks to call her “the cancer of the Republican party.”

    Anybody who does not look at her and seriously pause should probably engage in a serious examination of conscience,

  • Anybody who does not look at her and seriously pause should probably engage in a serious examination of conscience,

    No kidding.

  • Brian D.

    “what matters is less the rhetoric than the ability to influence the intended outcome.”

    MM- I respect your opinion and commentary, but the quote above is precisely why I remain hesitant to support Obama in this election. We both agree that McCain and Obama are in formal cooperation with evil for their support of intrinsically evil policies. This, of course, does not make support for either of them impermissible, but it does require heavy weight on the proportionality end to justify support for men who support intrinsically evil policies. And this is where supporters of Obama (and McCain), I think, fall short. Too many so called proportionate reasons rely upon future goods that are themselves contingent on the trustworthiness of the candidate.
    For example, you say: “his economic, social, and health care policies might lead to a diminution in abortion.” It might. But his support for FOCA and his voting record (on abortion) should reduce the confidence we place in Obama to deliver on such goals. I am not saying that Obama will fail to deliver on these things, but can we really count it as a proportionate reason? In other words, trading contingent future goods for known intrinsic evils strikes me as negotiation.
    I fully agree with you that Obama is the candidate likely to do the least harm and to promote the common good. But we still must ask ourselves if there is really a proportionate reason to justify a vote for him.

  • Mike McG…

    MM:

    As a reader who endorses your posts much more often than not and as a fellow Obama supporter, I would ask you to seriously engage Ron’s comments. I take your point that his experience of pro-choice Catholics don’t reflect your own experiences. But they are his experiences…and he is not alone. In progressive Catholic circles I often observe profound embarrassment and expasperation with prolife sensibilities. I experience many of my fellow progressive Catholics as more troubled by prolifers than by abortion. I recall a sardonic comment on this blog months ago noting that some progressives are ‘personally opposed’ to abortion with about the same enthusiasm as might be accorded opposition to secondhand smoke.

    So what about it? I’m glad you haven’t encountered these sentiments but they do reflect the sentiments many ‘seamless garment’ Catholics experiences. Let’s face it: the zeitgeist is prochoice.

    What are the unintended consequences of our position? Isn’t it possible that Catholic support for Obama feeds a more tolerant, sanguine approach toward abortion? Isn’t it possible that our very legitimate emphasis on the economic roots of abortion’s prevalence obscures the non-economic roots, in effect normalizing and privatizing of the ‘procedure’ at least until social and economic justice reigns? And how about solidarity? I often wonder if we progressives have any feel for how marginalized someone like Ron is when he is ‘out’ among progressives with his anti-abortion beliefs.

    Note to Mark: You bet this is a generalization, just as about 98% of all blog entries. And as to your point that it is ‘insulting’ to offer such a critique of the progressive Catholic abortion sensibilities, I would remind you that I support Obama and I think progressive Catholics are not beyond criticism.

  • Tim,

    I am hesitant to have this thread diverted, but I must address the ludicrous attempt to bring up Fox News talking points in terms of “guilt by association”, but I cannot let this pass:

    Remember, McCain has associated with a convicted felon who once planned to blow up buildings in Washington DC and more recently gave “advice” to how to most effectively kill federal law enforcement agents. This man hosted a fundraiser for McCain in his house, and called McCain an “old friend”.

    And how about some of “pastor” friends, including the ones who hold the Catholic Church to be “the great whore” and “a false cult system”, who believes God is backing the US in a war against Islam, who blame America for 9/11 and who hold that the detruction of New Orleans was divine justice?

    And who used the wealth of a conviced felon to purchase some of his houses? Yes, John McCain.

    And we haven’t even gotten to Charles Keating yet…

    Do I hold McCain responsible for the views and actions of these people? No, I do not. But we cannot stay quiet while this strategy is used in one direction only.

  • TeutonicTim

    Ah, the old pass the buck trick.

    My point was that if a person has such bad judgement when it comes to abortion, that casts a dark light on them period.

    You can make all the proportionate arguments you want, but it’s an ugly reflection of who Barack Obama is.

  • Mike,

    Most of the Catholics I know in rural, suburban and urban Western PA who are going to vote for Obama hardly call themselves “progressive”.

  • Mike:

    I agree with the tenor of your comment. But I would repeat the earlier point: Catholics should not focus exclusively on the legal strategy, especially since the strategy is predicated on a constitutional argument (“send it to the states”) rather than a natural law argument, In itself, that is telling. We can only win by persuading people that the unborn deserve protection– the “Republican strategy” (for want of a better term) actually has the opposite effect, and causes the “pro-choice” lobby to become even more entrenched. I believe Catholics of all persuasions could work together if we all agreed on a national pro-life campaign aimed at changing the culture. This is not just pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. While I think the opposition to gay marriage cause is lost, the younger generation remains nervous about abortion. Remember, the big decline in support for the death penalty owes much to Pope John Paul and the Catholics who followed his lead.

  • TeutonicTim

    MM – you’re something else.

  • TeutonicTim

    We can only win by persuading people that the unborn deserve protection

    And voting for a stongly pro-abortion person and party does that?

  • Mike McG…

    Mark:

    All of the Catholics in my circle and most of the Catholics in my parish definitely consider themselves progressives. Though we pride ourselves on our embrace of diversity and tolerance, we rarely extend these ideas to those who might (gasp!) vote Republican. In 2004 when our pastor strongly advised us to ignore the opinions of Chaput et al re: the moral considerations of citizenship he was met with thunderous applause. Our Democratic tribal identity is fast replacing our Catholic tribal identity, with one obvious implication a softening of any prophetic opposition to abortion.

    I validate your experience, and MM’s as well. I ask your validation of Ron’s and mine. We all have our story, and we’re all likely to stick with it until we take seriously narratives very different from our own.

  • David Nickol

    I don’t see this as a choice between voting for McCain and being in conformity with Catholic teaching on abortion, versus voting for Obama and either being out of conformity or trying to come up with a “proportionate reason.” I see it as choosing which part of Catholic teaching you want to see given a chance.

    It all boils down to whether you think the best way to deal with abortion is (1) to prohibit it by law (one part of what the Declaration on Procured Abortion advocates), or (2) “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” (the other part of what the Declaration advocates).

    McCain is offering a slim hope of advancement toward 1 but very little hope of any movement toward 2. Obama is not offering 1 (quite the opposite), but offers more hope for 2 than any presidential candidate has in a long time, and much more hope than McCain offers.

    The Catholic Church demands both 1 and 2, but no candidate is going to offer both as long as there are Democrats running against Republicans. So the people who are firmly in favor of 1 will be appalled that Obama wants to loosen rather than tighten legal restrictions on abortion. The people who are firmly in favor of 2 don’t believe legal restrictions are the way to go, so loosening them is not such a concern.

    If you believe in 1, vote for McCain. If you believe in 2, vote for Obama. Either one can be a vote for reducing the number of abortions, and imy personal belief is that the odds are better with 2.

    There is also a group (a small one, I hope) that wants to see abortion criminalized as an end in itself, regardless of whether that will actually reduce the number of abortions. They should obviously vote for McCain.

    It seems to me all the voters’ guides and many of the statements by American bishops are intensely concerned with 1 but scarcely mention 2. They emphasize one aspect of Church teaching and neglect another. I don’t think they are serving the authentic teachings of the Church about abortion well.

    The FOCA is not a concern to me, because I don’t think it could ever pass. I think it has about as much chance of passing as there is for Roe v Wade to be overturned. Either would cause a firestorm unlike anything we have seen in recent American politics. I think both can be discounted in deciding whom to vote for.

  • Mike McG…

    MM: I suspected you’d agree and I agree whole heartedly with every single point you make. But we haven’t entirely engaged because the extraordinarily important work we need to accomplish together must be linked to an appreciative tone. I think your posts are routinely misunderstood and resisted here because of what you don’t say. I know you to be second to no one on this blog regarding your prolife bona fides but I think you make it way too difficult to be understood. Why not, from time to time, direct your considerable rhetorical and substantive fire at the pervasive prochoice drift in the culture and, sadly, among many Catholics? Why not critique trendy ‘Catholics for a Free Choice’ discourse with the same relish as you take on traditional prolifers who for *very* understandable reasons resist our guy’s candidacy? Why not display solidarity rather than pique with the traiditional prolifers who write here but feel their sensibilities are scorned by progressive Catholics and mainstream culture?

  • c matt

    Regarding the likelihood of FOCA vs. Pro-life Amendment passing – I have to disagree with you there. First, passing ANY Constitutional amendment is always more difficult than getting legislation passed simply because of the differences in the process. Add to that the pro-choice zeitgeist as mentioned above, and it is far more likely that FOCA would be enacted than a pro-life amendment being passed. To the extent that you are somehow factoring that into the proportionate reason analysis, I think you are mistaken.

  • Matt

    (deleted for calumnous content– I will not tolerate lies about what I have written)

  • David Nickol

    I think this is the real subtext of Catholic support for Obama. He is considered heroic to the self-described social-justice Catholics not IN SPITE OF his support for abortion but BECAUSE OF it. In the mindset that fancies itself progressive, destruction of the unwanted is not a failure of social justice but its hallmark.

    As if there were no other reason for “progressives” to vote for Obama than abortion! I think comments like this are why some people become so exasperated with “pro-lifers.” If you can’t bring yourself to talk about “baby killers” and “infanticide,” you are considered to be an abortion enthusiast who would love to perform them yourself if only you got the chance.

    Any real progressive, it seems to me, would feel that the first failure is that women have unwanted pregnancies in the first place, and the failure of social justice is that “a whole positive policy” has not been put “into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.”

  • Mike: if that will work, then possibly I can do so. But I don’t see much value added in preaching to the choir. I think “Catholics for a Free Choice” is a joke, a sham, and a mockery of the faith. Does it serve anything to point this out?

  • scriblerus

    I just want to second Mike McG’s 5:13 post.

  • S.B.

    But given that abortion is deeply rooted in poverty, his economic, social, and health care policies might lead to a diminution in abortion– as happened under the Clinton administration.

    And as happened under George H.W. Bush and under George W. Bush as well. Hmmm, your argument doesn’t make so much sense after all.

  • I don’t think so, SB. The average annual rate of decline under Clinton was twice that of his Republican counterparts. But keep it up: denying the clear links between poverty and abortion is one sure way to make sure the pro-life movement nevers makes any ground whatsoever.

  • jh

    Hmmm Goerge Bush and MCain wanted Immigration reform. Tons of Catholic Hispanics could have come out of the shadows. No doubt many hispanic women aborted children because of those circumstances. In fact we saw Hispanic abortion rates go up.

    Obama at the request of Union was a critical part of killing immigration reform. It was on that day I knew he was a empty suit. If you are Catholic Social Justice issues McCain is your best bet.

    I know this is something that Catholci Social Justice Advocates wish not to talk about. But the fact they asked McCain to lead the struggles and do not even give him kudos is a scandal

  • TeutonicTim

    MM – Didn’t Clinton veto the partial birth abortion ban in the 90’s? Sounds like he was a pro-life hero!!!!

  • I am tempted to vote for McCain because of immigration, but I suspect that as President he would not dare to raise the issue–at least not when American jobs are declining and undocumented immigrants are increasingly unpopular. But I think that voting for him is a vote for the Iraq war and an endorsement of the concept of preventive war, and I could not support that. So I will probably not vote for anyone for top of the ticket. It won’t be the first time.

    I do want to thank Mike McG for telling the truth about the way Catholics on the left today tend to define social justice. With rare exceptions, opposition to abortion is simply not a part of it. I refuse believe my own experience is idiosyncratic or limited to a few acquaintances. A few years ago, in fact, the national conference of Pax Christi was cancelled because the leadership had invited a keynote speaker who was a leader in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. I had many, many communications with social justice Catholics at the time, including two bishops, and their nearly unanimous opinion was that pro-lifers like me needed to keep our mouths shut about abortion so we could focus on “real” issues of peace and justice. Only a threat of unpleasant publicity stopped the event from going forward, and it was done without so much as a nod to Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life.

  • sc

    MM,
    You are placing your head in the sand. It seems that you will take Obama’s word at face value when it suits you and then ascribe other elements that are in direct conflict with our faith as empty campaign rhetoric. Forget about McCain and focus on the intrinsic evil Obama endorses. He has stated, as other posters indicated, that FOCA is a priority in his presidency. This is not in dispute by anyone other than those in denial. Ask the pro-abortion lobby, they are salivating at the prospect.

    The intent of FOCA is to declare abortion a fundamental right. Obama supports this unequivocally! FOCA will use your money to procure abortions. Obama supports this. In casting your vote for Obama, you are approving Obama to use YOUR money to procure abortions. Are you okay with your money being used to procure abortions? I am not! If Planned Parenthood were a public company (they should not be a not-for-profit), then upon an Obama win they would have to revise the earning report to include the windfall coming their way.

    FOCA will ELIMINATE all restrictions that have passed court muster in the states. Imagine the will of the people of the state of South Dakota, and many other states, getting usurped my pro-abortion groups that have the Democratic party at the Federal level in their pocket. Most estimations of FOCA have it reversing the decline in abortions – in other words the numbers go up! This effect will be assured. Culture changes take time – and CANNOT be mandated by those in power. Believing Obama can eradicate poverty is no assurance of eliminating abortion.

    Hoping what will be an overwhelming Democratic majority in the congress and a Democratic president will not pass this legislation is denial, no other way to look at it.

    The academic parsing is tiresome. “I am so tired of reading about this and that, when all that I want, all that I long for can be found in You. If only they would hold their tongues, these learned folk! If only the whole of creation would be silent in Your presence, and You, You alone speak to me!” Imitation I.3(3)

  • sc

    The continual characterization that the only aim for the Pro-Life movement is the over turning of Roe is dishonest. It is well known and documented that the movement spends much more time caring for their sisters and brothers in their time of need. Please, get out and participate, learn first hand.

  • S.B.

    I don’t think so, SB. The average annual rate of decline under Clinton was twice that of his Republican counterparts.

    It’s very weird to look at average annual rates of decline over an entire presidency, unless you think that Clinton implemented a huge anti-poverty policy on his inauguration date, and that this exact policy was canceled in full on Bush’s inauguration date. Since that didn’t even remotely happen, it might be more useful to look at how abortion rates changed as of the implementation of particular presidential policies — controlling, of course, for any other relevant factor. Since you do not and (as previous discussions have shown) cannot point to such an analysis, your presidential comparisons are baseless.

    But keep it up: denying the clear links between poverty and abortion is one sure way to make sure the pro-life movement nevers makes any ground whatsoever.

    Well, let’s be clear: Is there a link between poverty and abortion, in the sense that a poor person is more likely to get an abortion? Yes. Does that mean (as you are trying to claim, although it’s entirely base-stealing) that as soon as a Democrat President is elected, abortions will go down more rapidly, precisely because the Democrat President does something or other? No, not at all. Especially in this day and age, with the budgetary pressures that will exist, Obama is not going to undertake some huge anti-poverty program that will magically reduce the supposed “need” for poor women to get abortions.

  • David Nickol

    The continual characterization that the only aim for the Pro-Life movement is the over turning of Roe is dishonest. It is well known and documented that the movement spends much more time caring for their sisters and brothers in their time of need. Please, get out and participate, learn first hand.

    sc,

    I will take your word for this, but what we see the pro-life movement pressing for the government to do is criminalize abortion. Church teaching on the role of government goes far beyond merely saying the government must criminalize abortion. It seems to me the entire focus of the pro-life movement is to use the power of government to put obstacles in the way of women who want abortion. It seems to me that that is less than half of Catholic teaching. The Church expects the government to take care of the poor whether or not that has any effect on the abortion rate, and it certainly expects the government to provide assistance to women who have unplanned pregnancies, forego abortions, and need financial help.

  • Knuckle Dragger

    MM,

    You remind me of a tax lawyer twisting and turning the tax code to convince yourself that tax evasion is OK.

  • David Nickol

    Does that mean (as you are trying to claim, although it’s entirely base-stealing) that as soon as a Democrat President is elected, abortions will go down more rapidly, precisely because the Democrat President does something or other?

    S.B.,

    But surely pro-life supporters of McCain don’t expect any instantaneous results should he be elected. The pro-life strategy of electing McCain, having him appoint judges to the Supreme Court who may at some point overturn Roe v Wade, and then fighting 50 different battles in the states seems to me an extraordinarily long-term proposition, with a slim chance of succeeding. It is unfair to expect Obama to have a short-term strategy when the pro-life Republican strategy is very long-term.

    It seems to me that if one believes Obama could set in motion forces that down the road will cause the abortion rate to decline, that is a compelling reason to vote for him. It would not be merely a “proportionate reason” to cast a vote that entails “remote material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” It would be a sufficient reason to require a voter to come up with a proportionate reason to vote for McCain.

  • S.B.

    David — I was responding to MM’s repeated attempts to claim that because the abortion rate supposedly declined at a faster rate from 1992-2000 (precisely when Clinton was President), therefore 1) Clinton was responsible (as if Clinton had done something that caused such a result as of Day One), and in addition, 2) the election of any Democrat now (in 2008) will likewise produce the same result (again, on Day One).

  • joseph

    FOCA will use your money to procure abortions. Obama supports this. In casting your vote for Obama, you are approving Obama to use YOUR money to procure abortions. Are you okay with your money being used to procure abortions? I am not!

    By the way, that election makes one materially involved in abortion.

  • The Ennobling of Democracy: Life at the McCain/Palin Mob, Today:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjxzmaXAg9E&eurl

  • digbydolben

    What David Nickol has written–every single word of it.

    However, I would like to take issue with one part of Morning’s Minion’s article–THIS part:

    those who say that a Catholic cannot find a proportionate reason to vote for Obama because of the number of abortions that take place each year fail to understand that the election of either Barack Obama or John McCain would have very little effect on the incidence of abortion.

    In face, the election of John McCain would INCREASE the likelihood of abortions–and of deaths by botched ones–in the Third World–AND ASTRONOMICALLY INCREASE THEM:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/opinion/09kristof.html?hp

  • Knuckle Dragger

    MM and others,

    You would seriously vote for someone who would deny basic medical care for a baby that survives an abortion and is born alive? That alone disqualifies him, but on top of that he would allow unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortion.

    I pray that you are not representative of most Catholics. What is happening to the church I love if most Catholics can convince themselves to support a person like Obama?

  • Joseph

    In response to Michael’s ridiculous YouTube link showing what appear to be a select few ignorant and prejudiced straight-ticket Republicans (as if they represent the entire body of people who intend to vote against Obama this year… rrriiiiiiggggghhhttt), I decided to do a bit of unfair stereotyping myself using YouTube videos.

    Here we have a couple of philosophical Democrats.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDSuZl0Onas

    I’ll be amazed if this comment gets posted.

  • Kurt

    Those who claim it is impermissible for a Catholic to vote for Obama based on his pro-abortion, if nothing else, have drowned out the voices in the public forum of those who believe it is permissible but mistaken or unwise to vote for Obama and therefore are voting for McCain and are encouraging others to vote likewise.

    And while I won’t suggest to what the ratio is, among the former there are certainly those who are deeply sincere people as well those who are hacks.

    Of those whom are sincere, I admire their refusal to compromise on what is a point of principle to them.

    For those who are hacking, I feel this election is now sufficiently in the bag for Obama that I need not worry at showing the other team our playbook.

    Obama has now zoomed to an 11 point lead among Catholics (16 points up from where Kerry was with Bush). The claim of “impermissibility”, rather than making a policy case from a Catholic standpoint against Obama, has been of immense benefit to the Obama campaign. Undecided or “swing” Catholic voters never heard much of a case of “you may vote for Obama, but here is why you shouldn’t”. They heard it was a sin. They heard that some priests denied communion to Obama supporters. They heard that if you voted for Obama, you were not Catholic. They heard what to them was the least attractive case for a Catholic not to vote for Obama and they often heard it from people did they not find very attractive (I’m not talking good looks here).

    Further, just like it is to Obama’s advantage that the campaign ‘battleground’ has turned to North Carolina, Florida and Virginia and left Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota, it was to Obama’s advantage that the Catholic discussion was between members of the FUS Board of Trustees or between former Reagan and Bush administration officials rather than among civil, moderate, ‘common good’ Catholics exploring what conclusion one might reach on a matter which is a private judgment.

    The various pro-Obama Catholic groups (Catholic Democrats, Catholics United, Roman Catholics for Obama ’08 and the Catholics for Obama Blog), while I think their intentions were pure, did little to directly win Catholic support for Obama. The usefulness they provided (maybe unknowingly) was to inflame their opposite number. And once inflamed, they did the Obama campaign’s work for them.

    There might be some lessons for the 2012 election here.

  • David Nickol

    You would seriously vote for someone who would deny basic medical care for a baby that survives an abortion and is born alive?

    Knuckle Dragger,

    Can you, or anyone, demonstrate how the Born Alive Infant Protection Act would have changed the treatment of born-alive infants in Illinois if Obama had not opposed it? Or can you demonstrate how it has changed the treatment of born-alive infants since it was passed in Illinois in 2005? How were born-alive infants being treated before the passage of the law, and how are they being treated now?

  • Knuckle Dragger

    David,

    I’m not going to get into those arguments. This issue is that Obama voted to allow it to happen and has pledged his support for unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortion. That tells me all I need to know about him.

  • David Nickol

    Knuckle Dragger,

    I don’t want to get into the arguments either, but I just want to point out that Obama did not “allow it to happen.” The Born Alive Infant Protection Act did not address the issue of how born-alive infants were to be treated. It simply declared that all born-alive infants were persons under the law.

    In speaking against the law, Obama said that if born-alive infants were being mistreated, they could have compromised on a bill dealing specifically with that. Instead, they chose to promote a bill that said nothing about how born-alive babies were treated. The bill not only said nothing. It apparently did nothing, since none of Obama’s critics have been able to point to what changed in Illinois since a version of the law did pass in 2005.

    I just believe you are misinterpreting Obama’s opposition to BAIPA, but were you to interpret it the same way I do (as an opposition to any encroachment, real or imagined, on abortion rights), you would still find it a good reason to oppose Obama.

  • It’s not FOCA people should worry about. Pregnancy centers across the country that provide women with abortion alternatives could be shut down or face severe regulations if Barack Obama wins next month. While the bill has not yet been voted on in either the House or Senate, abortion advocates, who are expected to see their numbers increase after the elections, could find themselves emboldened by an Obama presidency and push for the bill harder than they have before.

    Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey reintroduced the bill in April in the Senate and issued a statement alleging that pregnancy centers mislead women by giving them information on abortion’s risks and alternatives. The so-called “Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act” would place burdensome regulations on pregnancy centers.

    I don’t think it’s that unlikely a scenario. Pregnancy centers are a huge factor in immediatly, effectively reducing the incidence of abortion in this country. They are, morever, in the eyes of Planned Parenthood and professional abortion providers – “competition” in the reproductive services market.

  • David Nickol

    The so-called “Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act” would place burdensome regulations on pregnancy centers.

    Dear Worried,

    What are the burdensome regulations? Name one or two.

    As far as I can see, if they make clear in their advertising that they do not provide abortions or abortion referrals, they would have nothing to worry about. It’s just a law against false advertising.

  • The bill would simply prohibit them from “pretending” to be legitimate health care providers. It would prevent them from using using names similar to legitimate clinics (e.g. “Women’s Resource Center”), prevent them being located near “legitimate” abortion clinics so that patients may accidentally enter the wrong building and it would prevent them describing their services having anything to do with abortions, family planning or women’s health services.

    I love to be believe it is just a law against false advertising; however, it feels like the death by a thousand cuts or cooking a lobster by slowly warming the water. We do not see the bigger implications of the actions of OUR elected officials and judges.

    Apparently in Utah, standing outside an abortion clinic with a baby in one arm and a diaper bag flung over the other, as you peacefully protest and offer leaflets to clinic victims is disorderly conduct. And that’s now and in utah! What’s going to happen when FOCA is passed?

    If FOCA is passed and abortion is declared to be a “fundamental right,” putting it on the same legal footing as free speech, then one’s fundamental right to free speech will not be protected if one’s free speech is seen as interfering with someone else’s fundamental right to an abortion. Can we really take the chance that Obama won’t deliver on his promise to NARAL with a democrat led congress??

  • little gal

    Published: September 23, 2008/NY Times
    To the Editor:
    “Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes” (front page, Sept. 17) says the bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” would “explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons.”
    Actually, the bishops said candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in a grave evil, and Catholics may never vote for them to advance those evils.
    A Catholic voter’s decision to support a candidate despite that gravely immoral position “would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”
    This standard of “grave moral reasons” is a very high standard to meet. The bishops added that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” This is timely in light of offensive comments on race quoted in the article.
    What the article calls the “running debate between Catholics” — with some saying “abortion is the only issue” and others saying “you have to look at the whole teaching of the church” — is not a dilemma for the bishops. One must look at the whole teaching of the church on justice and peace, serving the poor and advancing the common good — beginning with a fundamental priority on protecting innocent human life from direct attack as in abortion.
    (Bishop) William Murphy
    (Bishop) Nicholas DiMarzio
    Brooklyn, Sept. 19, 2008.

  • c matt

    I don’t understand – if the clinic provides legitmate healthcare, but not abortion, how would that make them not a legitimate healthcare provider? Would abortion clinics have to clearly state in their advertising that they provide abortions, and not just the “reproductive services” or “women’s health” euphemisms you often see?

  • Dominic Riebli

    MM wrote:
    But given that abortion is deeply rooted in poverty, his economic, social, and health care policies might lead to a diminution in abortion– as happened under the Clinton administration.

    Response:
    If I understand you correctly, poverty leads to abortion; though I cannot discern from what you’ve written whether you believe in a direct or indirect connection. (I trust that you’ve covered this connection in other posts. I just recently started reading your posts.) I would argue the opposite – that abortion indirectly leads to poverty.

    I’ve always read that there exists a strong correlation between the presence of a family unit and an individual’s ability to rise out of poverty. I submit that the “right” to abortion represents the single biggest contributing factor toward the breakdown of the family unit – because the woman, absent the man, chooses whether to birth or abort, the man feels no obligation toward marriage or fatherhood. Therefore, abortion, because it impairs the call to a family-oriented life, encourages a society that experiences more poverty, not less.

    If we agree on this point, shouldn’t we seek before all else, policies that support and promote the family structure? Can we truly promote a family culture, and therefore pursue the most effective anit-poverty policy, while viewing abortion as permissible?

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  • CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

    As a Jew, I was terrified by a comment made by Sarah Palin at a rally in which “Joe the Plumber” was a featured guest.

    “With his shaved head, jeans, and steel toed boots, he’s OUR kind of guy right?” said Palin to a resounding cheer from
    the overwhelmingly WASP crowd. (At which point I cringed for her husband, Todd who is nothing like Joe the Plumber).

    In what country are shaved heads, certain brands of jeans and especially steel toed boots not associated with radical
    Neo-Nazi skinheads? And how do you suppose those Neo-Nazi skinheads feel about Jews, African-Americans, Catholics, and anyone else who does not fit the narrow description of a
    “real” American according to the right wing conservatives?

    Wake up Children of Israel!
    McCain/Palin is a vote for those who despise us. Remember this: they protect Israel for Christianity, NOT Judaism.

  • blackadderiv

    Can I ask where you heard about the “shaved head” comment? Googling the quote turned up no results, and as far as I know Joe the Plumber hasn’t been at any Palin rallies.