Monday, February 09, 2009

Archbishop Chaput: "Abortion Reduction Strategies" Ignore Half of the Problem [UPDATED]

In Ireland, Archbishop Chaput slams "abortion reduction strategies" as half measures:

Dublin, Feb 9, 2009 / 05:34 am (CNA).- During a trip to Ireland this past weekend, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered a talk to the Irish chapter of Human Life International that outlined the “dos and don’ts” for the pro-life movement. Those who claim pro-lifers should avoid the “divisive” issue of ending legalized abortion and focus on providing better support for pregnant mothers are creating a false division, the archbishop insisted.

Following the theme “An American view on how to build a culture of life,” Archbishop Chaput explained that his goal was “to offer some lessons from the American experience that Irish Christians might find useful.”

“Don't create or accept false oppositions,” the archbishop cautioned as he waded into a topic that has caused great debate in the American pro-life community.

“During the last U.S. election,” Chaput recalled, “we saw the emergence of so-called pro-life organizations that argued we should stop fighting the legal struggle over abortion. Instead we should join with ‘pro-choice’ supporters to seek ‘common ground’.”

“Their argument was simple: Why fight a losing battle on the legal, cultural and moral front since - according to them -- we haven't yet made serious progress in ending legalized abortion? Let's drop the ‘divisive’ political battle, they said, and instead let's all work together to tackle the economic and health issues that might eventually reduce abortions,” he explained.

But this argument doesn’t sync with history, Archbishop Chaput stressed.

“Did Americans take a gradual, social-improvement road to ‘reducing’ racism? No. We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he pointed out.

Taking the logic a step further, the Denver prelate said, “Nor have I ever heard anyone suggest that the best way to deal with murder, rape or domestic abuse is to improve the availability of health care and job training. We make rape illegal -- even though we know it will still sometimes tragically occur -- because rape is gravely evil. It's an act of violence, and the law should proscribe it.

“Of course, we also have a duty to improve the social conditions that can breed domestic and sexual violence. But that doesn't change the need for the law.”

“Likewise,” Chaput reasoned, “if we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can't aim at anything less than ending abortion.

“It doesn't matter that some abortions have always occurred, and some will always occur. If we really believe that abortion kills a developing unborn life, then we can never be satisfied with mere ‘reductions’ in the body count.”

The new groups that materialized during the last election seem to operate from an “either/or” mentality, that argued that pro-lifers needed to choose between abortion “reduction” programs and outlawing abortion, the archbishop said. But protecting the unborn child “is not an ‘either/or’ choice. It's ‘both/and’,” he countered.

“We need to help women facing problem pregnancies with good health care and economic support; and we need to pass laws that will end legal abortion. We need to do both.”

Playing off his previous “don’t,” the Denver archbishop focused on adversaries again, saying, “Don't let your adversaries set the agenda.”

President Barack Obama’s recent reversal of the Mexico City policy in office served to illustrate this point for the archbishop. “His reason for signing the executive order was that it was time to put this ‘divisive issue behind us,’ once and for all,” Chaput reminded.

“There's something a little odd about rhetoric that tells that we're the ‘divisive’ ones, and lectures adult citizens about what we should challenge, and when we should stop. In a democracy, we get to decide that for ourselves.

“An issue that involves the life and death of unborn children and the subversion of entire traditional societies can't be ‘put behind us’ with an executive signature.”

[Read the whole thing]

More on "abortion reduction" at GetReligion:

Remember when President Bill Clinton said he wanted abortion to be safe, legal and rare? Remember how he was pro-lifers’ favorite president? Oh wait, that’s right, the “safe, legal and rare” formulation isn’t a pro-life mantra but a pro-choice mantra. And Bill Clinton fit perfectly in the pro-choice camp.

But somehow when President Barack Obama says something along the same lines, we are to believe that he is no longer one of the most articulate advocates of abortion ever to ascend to the White House but, rather, a lightbearing pro-lifer? Time magazine’s Amy Sullivan has a headline up right now that says:

Barack Obama, Pro-Life President?

This is because he created a council — a
faith-based “advisory council” — that will look at, among other things, “reducing the need for abortions.”

Yes, with his campaign
promise to Planned Parenthood that his first priority as president would be the passage of a bill removing any state-based restrictions on abortion, with his move in the first week to fund international groups that perform abortions and with his 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, I’m pretty sure that headline sums it up. Fighting any restriction on abortion is the new “pro-life”! Princeton professor Robert P. George calls the notion “delusional” and I’m pretty sure pro-lifers in general would be willing to trade President Obama’s actual record and actions for that advisory council.

Remember those less complicated times when “pro-life” meant you opposed abortion and “pro-choice” meant you supported abortion rights? Well, President Obama is shooting for a new political paradigm where opposition to any restriction on abortion + support for increased government spending along the lines of what liberals normally support = a new category of
abortion reduction. I certainly understand why President Obama would want to push that storyline but it would be nice to have the media exercise a bit of caution before running with it.


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Catholic World Report: "Douglas Kmiec and His Misinformation Offensive for Barack Obama"

Prof. Robert George: Notion that Obama's Policies Will Reduce Abortion is "Delusional"

Archbishop Chaput: Kmiec Doing a "Disservice to the Church"

"Separate But Equal" Redux - Pro-Life Edition

Mark Stricherz: "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"

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

Kmiec's Dishonesty [UPDATED]

Kmiec's Wishful Thinking on Obama and Abortion

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At 2/09/2009 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is almost perfect. Thanks for posting. The only point missing is that abortion is an offense against God our Creator. He should not limit his witness to how abortion affects people.

At 2/09/2009 10:29 PM, Blogger A Y said...

The problem, as I see it, is that abortion is nothing like anything we have experienced historically. Outlawing it is not going to have the effect that outlawing racial discrimination had, mainly because of the very personal nature of abortion. A lady could have an abortion with no one ever finding out about it.

Don't get me wrong, I support outlawing abortion, but I refuse to support the Republican Party and will not give them my vote simply because they posture a pro-life stance. I have little doubt that the Republican Party's stance on abortion is nothing more than a political stance to get votes from people who would otherwise never consider voting Republican.

My willingness to vote Democrat is not because I have some ulterior motive to keep abortion legal, but it is because I do not think that the Republican Party cares about abortion. I think the Republican Party would prefer to keep abortions legal and somewhat commonplace, because it gives them a campaign tool.

As far as I am concerned, the blood of the unborn is on the GOP's hands just as much as it is on the Democrats'. The GOP had everything going for them just 4 years ago; they had a reelected president and had gained Congressional seats. What happened? They showed how little they deserved to lead.

I just think that the American Catholic is in a pretty bad position. Other than abortion, the Republican Party stands for pretty much everything that Catholic social teaching is against. Other than abortion and homosexual unions, the Democrat party is pretty consistent with Catholic social teaching. What in the world is a good Catholic supposed to do? Is voting anti-abortion justified if by doing so millions of people go without health care (and consequently die prematurely) or we continue to destroy the environment (and render planet Earth less suitable for human life)? I just don't think the Catholic voter's choice is as easy as some people make it out to be.

At 2/10/2009 8:53 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I'm not sure how this became a discussion of Republican vs. Democrat. Even Abp. Chaput says that it is a mistake for Catholics and pro-lifers to put all their eggs in one political party's basket.

But, even though I'm not a Republican, I must seriously take issue with the notion that outside of abortion the Republican Party "stands for pretty much everything that Catholic social teaching is against" and that outside of abortion and same sex unions "the Democrat party is pretty consistent with Catholic social teaching".

First off, I don't think a serious Catholic should feel comfortable calling either of those parties his home. I certainly don't. But secondly, the notion that the Democrat Party is "pretty consistent with Catholic social teaching" is laughable when one considers the secularist impulse that permeates the party. It is, quite frankly, hostile to traditional religion and traditional religious beliefs. And I'm not familiar with any aspect of Catholic social teaching that says the government should be the primary agent for serving those in need. This notion that only Democrats care about the poor as evidenced by their willingness to take from Peter in order to pay Paul (meanwhile, as studies show, lagging behind their conservative counterparts when it comes to charitable giving) is false.

I agree the voting decision is not as easy a choice as some make it out to be because the parties we have to choose from are less than perfect.

That said, one party gives mouth service to my beliefs while actually doing very little other than holding the line against rapid change for the worst; the other party is openly hostile to my beliefs and is moving quickly toward social changes that will entrench a secularist culture of death. It's not a good choice for a Catholic to have to make; but given the choice, I'll hold my nose and vote for the former.

At 2/10/2009 9:00 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Not to mention that "other than abortion and homosexual unions" are fairly huge exceptions (and they're really NOT the only ones of which the Democrat Party is guilty) to Catholic Social Teaching that will, in the end, pretty much swallow the rule, especially once government mandates that the Church and her organs (e.g., Catholic hospitals, Catholic adoption agencies, etc.) take a "non-discrimination" posture with regard to abortion and same-sex relationships.

At 2/10/2009 11:11 AM, Blogger A Y said...

I brought up Republican/Democrat, because in this nation that is what the pro-life/pro-choice issue comes down to almost every time. When a bishop warned people they needed to be voting pro-life in the last election, he was telling them to vote for John McCain. When Archbishop Chaput refers to those who claim we should quit fighting to make abortion illegal but rather seek to reduce abortions, he is referring those people that supported Barack Obama's candidacy.

At 2/21/2009 11:25 PM, Blogger Adamgv said...

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