Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The "right" that dare not speak its name

Princeton alum Matthew Schmitz, Deputy Editor of the indispensable First Things magazine and one of my favorite people, offers a critical perspective (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/01/eight-lies-in-president-obamas-roe...-statement) on President Obama's message of support for Roe v. Wade on its 41st anniversary. What I find most remarkable--and, in an odd way, most encouraging--about this message of support for abortion by the most extreme pro-abortion politician in America (Want proof? http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2008/10/133/) is that it does not include the word "abortion."  Anywhere. The word isn't mentioned. Not once. Even in defending the taking of human life in utero, the President cannot bring himself to call it by its name. This is, I suspect, not a matter of squeamishness, much less moral qualms, on Mr. Obama's part. He was, is, and I fear will continue to be the truest of true believers in the abortion license. Rather, it reflects a cultural and political reality. A substantial majority of the American people have grave moral qualms about the deliberate killing of children in the womb. Most people oppose most abortions that are actually performed, that is, elective (or "direct") abortions, abortions whose precise object is to get the unborn baby dead because a woman, or husband, or boyfriend, or parent, or employer thinks, for whatever reason, that would be best. Hence, the euphemisms ("reproductive health care," "privacy," etc.) that Matt Schmitz points out in the President's statement, and its Orwellian identification of the cause of abortion with building "safe communities for children" (indeed, "all" children) and with giving "everyone" the "freedom and opportunity" they deserve. When a politician feels he cannot call the thing he is defending by its name, it is evidence that the cause he serves is in big trouble. The moral momentum is against him. The cause has lost, if it ever possessed, the moral high ground. Of course, this does not mean the inevitable defeat of the abortion license. There is no such thing as "inevitable" in the domain of social issues. The abortion license will fall only if those of us who uphold the right to life of each and every member of the human family are willing to work and pray and strategize and organize and sacrifice and suffer for the sake of our weakest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters. But the President's unwillingness to say the word "abortion" should give heart to those who have been struggling (and every year on this date marching) for more than forty years against the bloody reality that, as far as Barack Obama is concerned, dare not speak its name.


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