Thursday, February 28, 2008
I hope that MOJ readers (and others) who read Matthew Boudway's open letter to Deal Hudson (to which Michael linked, here) will also read Ramesh Ponnuru's recent piece, "Conscientious Voting," here. A taste:
Feuerherd asks, “[I]s it fair for a Catholic like me to suspect that the liberal economic policies of the Democratic candidate, whether Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, will result in less dire poverty and thus perhaps fewer abortions? And isn't that supposed to be the goal?” Anyone who wants to cast a ballot on this assumption has a moral obligation to investigate whether it is, in fact, true that 1) Democratic policies would reduce poverty much more than Republican ones would and 2) that abortion and poverty rates correlate in as straightforward a manner as Feuerherd idly (and conveniently) supposes. I am not aware of research that corroborates point two, let alone both of them taken together.
And there is another problem with this argument, which is that a reduction in the number of abortions is not the only goal that pro-lifers should have. Also important is that the law stop treating unborn children as subhuman creatures who may legitimately be denied the protections of the law against unjust killing. Obama himself may be perfectly sincere in willing that fewer women exercise the (supposed) right to abortion even while he supports keeping that option legal and making it subsidized. I have no reason to doubt that he is. But he also wills that unborn children be denied the basic legal protection from homicide that you and I enjoy. The Catholic Church wants voters to take that injustice seriously; more seriously than Feuerherd seems inclined to take it. But of course it cannot (and has no ambition to) force any voter to do anything.