Friday, May 29, 2009

Robert George vs Douglas Kmiec: How Should a Pro-Life Citizen Respond to Obama? [UPDATED]

Denise Hunnell, M.D., (a.k.a. Catholic Mom) was able to get a press pass and attend yesterday's discussion between Prof. Douglas Kmiec and Prof. Robert George (moderated by Amb. Mary Ann Glendon) concerning a pro-life citizen's response to President Obama's administration. Her report, as well as a link to a video of the event, is here:
... Professor Kmiec spoke first. Unfortunately, his initial presentation offered little towards the goals put forth by Professor Glendon. His focus was on the presidential campaign and not on the current state of policy. He asserted that Catholics who did not support Obama were relegating themselves to the sidelines to talk among themselves rather than engaging the opposition. He also claimed that Obama’s campaign priorities of addressing climate change, the Iraq war, poverty, and health care justified support from Catholics even if they did not agree with his position on abortion or embryonic stem cell research. He also spent a great deal of time criticizing Catholics, especially priests and bishops, whom he said used mechanisms of intimidation to advance their position. He assailed the denial of Communion to pro-abortion Catholics as an act of intimidation. He ended with the statement that it is wrong to make justice the enemy of love.

In contrast, Professor George spoke very specifically about how a pro-life citizen should respond. He first outlined the multiple initiatives of the Obama administration that were opposed to the sanctity of human life from the moment of its conception. He said the pro-life citizen must vigorously oppose the Obama agenda that aims to kill unborn life. In light of the president’s party enjoying a majority in both houses of Congress, this is a difficult task. However, the difficulty of the challenge does not diminish our responsibility to make such a challenge.

Professor George also made a very significant point: Unlike Biden, Pelosi, or Kerry, President Obama does not say he is personally opposed to abortion. He is not opposed to abortion at all. Abortion is not a tragedy. The circumstances that cause a woman to seek an abortion may be a tragedy. The abortion is a welcome solution. Professor George continues by pointing out that President Obama admitted at the University of Notre Dame that his views and the views of those who consider abortion an intrinsic evil are irreconcilable. This makes it nearly impossible to find common ground since he views as good what pro-life citizens view as evil.

***
George also took the opportunity to challenge the notion that denial of Communion was an act of intimidation by noting that in 1962 Archbishop Rummel of New Orleans excommunicated three prominent Catholic politicians for their support of continued segregation. They New York Times lauded this action. However, when current bishops withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians, the New York Times considers this meddling in politics. What is the difference?

Another significant point made by Professor George is that pro-life citizens can support an incremental strategy. If President Obama will not accord human right to an embryo at conception, will he do so in the second or third trimester? Will he support parental notification? Will he support a ban on abortion for sex selection? Professor George asserts that President Obama’s unwillingness to entertain any limits on abortion belie his call for common ground. There is no common ground when President Obama feels the equality of women demands an inequality of unborn children and an unfettered access to abortion at any time for any reason.

***
Kmiec treats the personhood of the unborn as a matter of faith rather than a matter of natural law therefore feels it cannot be imposed on those with whom we disagree. Professor George claims that it is a matter of justice to recognize the personhood of the unborn from the moment of conception. Failure to do so divides the world into human person with human rights and human persons without rights. History has shown the horrific results of such a division...


[Read the whole thing]
Chris Blosser also provides coverage of yesterday's event at Catholics in the Public Square and at The American Catholic.


UPDATE
In comments to this post, James H makes an outstanding observation:
"Kmiec treats the personhood of the unborn as a matter of faith rather than a matter of natural law therefore feels it cannot be imposed on those with whom we disagree"

Good grief another 180. Did not Kmiec is all those Catholic Online articles he do say that believed the Right to Life was based on the Declaration of Independence dealing with rights.
Great catch, JH!

That WAS Kmiec's WHOLE argument as to why the conservative position on overturning Roe isn't actually "pro-life" ... because it doesn't go FAR ENOUGH in recognizing the fundamental Natural Law right to life of the unborn. In fact, he praised Justice Thomas as the ONLY Justice willing to take into account such Natural Law considerations in his jurisprudence.

So, once again without even acknowledging his change in position on the issue, Kmiec comes down on the complete opposite end of the spectrum than what he has previously argued as the "pro-life" position. Proving once again that there is no previously held viewpoint that Kmiec won't abandon in the service of his political master.

What a pathetic, lying, hypocritical, sycophantic Obama suck-up Kmiec has become. As our friend Paul Zummo put it the other day, "How many bags of silver were thrown at this nitwit anyway?"


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Catholic University of America Offers Forum to Discuss Life Issues at National Press Club

Prof. George Schools Prof. Kmiec ... Again

Scholar vs. Hack: Prof. George Schools Prof. Kmiec re: "Did Obama Allow Human Cloning?"

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5 Comments:

At 5/29/2009 9:49 AM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

This is an excellent summary; I was able to watch most of it streamed live on the CSPAN website, and Prof. George made an excellent presentation.

He was also more courteous to Prof. Kmiec than I could have been, constantly referring to Kmiec as pro-life, which I frankly don't believe is true.

Denise writes:
He asserted that Catholics who did not support Obama were relegating themselves to the sidelines to talk among themselves rather than engaging the opposition.

This may be true, but I have yet to see any "pro-life" Obama supporter engaging anyone in the Democratic Party on the issue of abortion. All I see from them is calls to social conservatives to either convert to become Democrats, or to sit down and shut up.

 
At 5/29/2009 10:01 AM, Blogger Catholic Mom said...

Jay,
Thanks for the link. I have now added a link to the text of Professor George's initial remarks. Paul is right about the extreme courtesy shown by Professor George. I would like to add that Professor Glendon was also extremely gracious. Explains why she has been a diplomat and I have not.

 
At 5/29/2009 10:06 AM, Blogger James H said...

"Kmiec treats the personhood of the unborn as a matter of faith rather than a matter of natural law therefore feels it cannot be imposed on those with whom we disagree"

Good grief another 180. Did not Kmiec is all those Catholic Online articles he do say that believed the Right to Life was based on the Declaration of Independence dealing with rights.

 
At 5/29/2009 10:39 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Good catch, JH!

That WAS his WHOLE argument as to why the conservative position on overturning Roe isn't pro-life ... because it doesn't go FAR ENOUGH to recognize the fundamental Natural Law right to life of the unborn. He praised Justice Thomas as the only Justice willing to take into account such Natural Law considerations in his jurisprudence.

So, once again without even acknowledging his change in position on the issue, Kmiec comes down on the complete opposite end of the spectrum that what he has previously argued as the pro-life position.

What a pathetic, lying, hypocritical, sycophantic Obama suck-up Kmiec has become.

 
At 5/29/2009 11:09 AM, Blogger Francis J. Beckwith said...

But in what category does Kmiec place the distinction he makes between matters of faith and other stuff? Is it also in the category of "faith"? If so, then we can dismiss it as easily as he dismisses those views that he believes are arrived at by "faith"? But suppose it were in the other category, or even a third category. Kmiec doesn't tell us. He just asserts, stipulates, and categorizes. But he never quite argues.

One doesn't get a better wardrobe by placing your garments in different drawers.

 

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