Thursday, August 28, 2008
With respect to the study to which Michael linked yesterday, a few thoughts:
First, on the issue of "mov[ing] beyond the stalemate over Roe v. Wade". As I wrote here, yesterday, while it would be a good thing, certainly, if legislators in both parties could unite behind sensible social-welfare programs that result in fewer abortions -- a good start, perhaps, would be for Sen. Obama to endorse the Pregnant Women Support Act; and while it is certainly true that overturning Roe would not end abortion; it is, in my view, a mistake to think that the wrong that is Roe can be shrugged off as a stalemate or that the issue here is only the number of abortions:
Yes, overruling Roe would not end abortion (though it would certainly make a difference). This side of Heaven, I'm afraid, nothing will. The problem with Roe, though, is not just that because it facilitates wrong choices by private persons; it is also, and fundamentally, at odds with our constitutional structure and with democratic self-government. As long as Roe is the law, We the People are not allowed to write into law the conviction — assuming that it is or becomes our conviction — that the unborn child ought to be protected from lethal private violence. The debate is cut off; the conversation is silenced; the "dialogue" that is so often celebrated by the same people who are enthusiastic about Sen. Obama is distorted.
What is at stake in the abortion debate — and, as someone who has known and admired Doug Kmiec for years, I am sorry that he seems to be forgetting this — is not only reducing the number of abortions and helping women considering abortion to find their way to a different choice (though, of course, such reductions and help are important, and one wishes that Democrats for Life had more influence); it as about repairing the damage done to our political community, and to our constitutional order, by a decision that declared that the Constitution itself disables citizens from protecting in law the most vulnerable among us.
Even if we focus specifically on the number of abortions (and not on Roe), it seems worth noting that if, on the one hand, we have evidence that social-welfare programs can reduce the number of abortions, it seems, on the other, quite likely (to put it mildly) that public funding of abortion, and the other provisions of the Freedom of Choice Act (which will certainly become law if Sen. Obama is elected) will increase the number of abortions. In the press release, issued by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a spokesperson is quoted:
“This new research suggests that the Pregnant Women’s Support Act is exactly the kind of sound public policy that can lead to lowering the abortion rate in America,” said Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life, referring to legislation in Congress aimed at reducing the abortion rate. “This discussion will prove that hope and change are possible in Washington if we focus on creating solutions based on shared values,” she said.
Again, "solutions based on shared values" sound great. The Freedom of Choice Act -- a dramatic roll-back of anti-abortion legislation, a mandate for public funding of abortion, a threat to conscience and religious freedom -- is not such a solution. But, it's coming.