Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What is the "Pro-Life Position" Regarding Abortion?

I highlighted this in an UPDATE to an earlier post, but I think the principle that Prof. Francis Beckwith lays out (also here) important enough to give it a post of its own:
The truth is that Doug Kmiec does not have a conceptual grasp of what the prolife position actually is. It is not about "reducing the number of abortions," though that is certainly a consequence that all prolifers should welcome. Rather, the prolife position is the moral and political belief that all members of the human community are intrinsically valuable and thus are entitled to protection by the state. "Reducing the number of abortions" may occur in a regime in which this belief is denied, and that is the regime that Senator Obama wants to preserve. It is a regime in which the continued existence of the unborn is always at the absolute discretion of the postnatal. Reducing the number of these discretionary acts by trying to pacify and accommodate the needs of those who want to procure abortions--physicians, mothers, and fathers--only reinforces the idea that the unborn are objects whose value depends exclusively on our wanting them.

Imagine if someone told you in 19th century America that he was not interested in giving slaves full citizenship, but merely reducing the number of slaves. But suppose another person told you that he too wanted to reduce the number of slaves by granting them the full citizenship to which they are entitled by nature. Which of the two is really "against slavery" in a full-orbed principled sense? The first wants to reduce slavery, but only while retaining a subhuman understanding of slaves as part of our juridical infrastructure. The second believes that the juridical infrastructure should reflect the truth about slaves, namely, that they are in fact human beings made in the image of their Maker.
(emphasis added)

A similar view was expressed in the comments at this InsideCatholic post by a commenter referring to himself as "Fr. Joseph":
... Catholics are OBLIGED to oppose unjust discrimination against any class of human beings. When the law says that a certain class of people shall not be protected from homicide, then discrimination is being practiced.

And the foundations of civilization are being attacked--whether the number of abortions increases or decreases. As long as abortion is "legal," our government claims the authority to kill ANYONE...
(emphasis added)

And let's not forget what the Bishops have to say on this issue:
It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

~ From Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, November 2007
And how about this one?
Catholics must never abandon the moral requirement to seek full protection for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

~ From Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, November 2007
Or this one?
Our Conference supports laws and policies to protect human life to the maximum degree possible, including constitutional protection for the unborn and legislative efforts to end abortion ...

~ From Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, November 2007
Or this one?
We hope Catholics will ask candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these important goals:
• Address the preeminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst — innocent unborn children — by restricting and bringing to an end the destruction of unborn children through abortion.

~ From Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, November 2007
Or this one?
While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.

~ From “Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life”, March 10, 2006.
(emphasis added throughout)

Saying that one supports a candidate who favors an approach that allegedly reduces the so-called "need" or "incidence" of abortion (while, in reality, that candidate favors laws that will actually make abortion more readily available) does not take the concerns cited above into account. Such a political posture continues to posit unborn human life as unworthy of full protection in the law and wholly at the discretion of whether someone else wants to keep these most vulnerable of persons around. And when one class of persons can be legally discarded as "inconvenient" or "burdensome", then no class of persons is safe.

THAT'S what the pro-life position is primarily concerned with. Yes, we want to work to reduce the number of abortions (and many of us do just that in our communities); but the ultimate goal is and should be to ensure that our most vulnerable are afforded the legal protection due them as their Natural Law right on the basis of their human dignity (and on the basis of their being created in the image and likeness of God).

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At 6/18/2008 11:43 AM, Blogger Darwin said...

One of the temptations I think we've seen a fair share of wonkish Catholics in political life fall for lately is the idea of outcome based morality.

This is essentially the idea that a situation in which more people are not given health care or the number of abortions does not reduce or low wages continue to be paid is an "immoral outcome". And thus that any policy which seeks to reduce one of these "immoral outcomes" represents a possible avenue of moral progress.

It seems to me that this loses the fundamental nature of what a moral act is, and the sense in which laws and policies can be "moral" or "immoral". An act is moral to the extent that it follows the moral law. A law or policy is moral to the extent that it reflects the moral law.

However, one cannot take the idea that if we throw enough contraceptives at everyone (while insisting that abortion is a valid choice and should be "safe, legal and rare") and give them lots of money, they might not feel like having abortions as a "moral outcome". It might be a desirable outcome in many senses, since it would involve less killing. But it's not a moral outcome, because the policies that would result it in it would in no way reflect the moral law, nor would they encourage moral behaviors and beliefs in people.

At 8/23/2008 9:35 PM, Anonymous max said...

Every evil has a source and planned parenthood's dark lord was margaret sanger (who, by the way, inspired hitler).

Just found a no-nonsense portrayal of that ugly organization--eliminating the root of an evil can be a beginning, yes? I think the folks over at the Maritime Sentry are thinking along those lines:


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