Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A belated response to Amy's May 23 posting

By rstith

Amy Uelmen, as I understand her, makes the good point that at least some of the Catholic Democrats who signed the recent statement may be sincerely pro-life even if they remain also pro-choice. But in order to show such sincerity, I think two things would have to be in the statement that were not there in any strong form.

There would have to be, first of all, some sort of acknowledgement of the enormity of the evil we face. For example, I would believe someone to be solidly pro-life who said "Abortion is an act of almost unimaginable violence. A typical abortion tears a child piece by piece from his or her mother's womb. And that act is repeated over a million times in America each year. As long as we hold to the precedent set by the institutionalization of abortion, we cannot in principle or in practice well defend the lives of other dependent and vulnerable human beings. Nevertheless, we think that, at least for now, the best way to eliminate abortion is not to threaten women but to empower them, not to reduce their choices but to increase them. Most women do not really want abortion (at least once they truly understand what it is), but feel they have no other choice. We have to provide them not only with the truth about abortion but also with real alternatives, so that each can freely choose life." This is, by the way, is essentially what the German Constitutional Court has twice held: that the unborn child has a constitutional right to life throughout pregnency but the legislator may nevertheless leave early abortion unpunished because candid counseling and maternal empowerment may save more lives than penal threats .

The second crucial element of any truly pro-life position is that it be pro-child, not merely anti-abortion. Opposing (even hating) abortion by promoting more contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies misses the fundamental point. The deep problem is callousness toward the unborn child. To propose contraception as a means to cut down on the numbers of abortions is like proposing a border fence to reduce the number of discriminatory acts against immigrants to the US. Even if contraception and fences do cut down on the number of wrongful acts,  they may at the same time heighten the hostility that leads to such acts. (In Germany the birth control pill has long been called the "anti-baby" pill.) A sincerely pro-life and also pro-choice position would do something (like funding ultrasound machines) to help mothers, and all of us, bond with and want to protect those babies who manage to slip through any barriers we put up. The Democratic stement in question does make an important move in this direction, by urging the facilitation of adoption, for example, but in the light of the overwhelming violence of abortion, much more concern for the child victim is needed.


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