Cokie and Steve Roberts: Getting it all wrong

March 29, 2006 09:00 AM

Commentary by Judie Brown

Cokie and Steve Roberts have established quite a following with their various commentaries on current events. But on the subject of abortion they have gone way too far. Their most recent column, equating the pro-life versus pro-death (they would prefer the inaccurate term "pro-choice") debate with a holy war between the Sunnis and the Shiites is not only erroneous but also ridiculous.


Recommending a "moderate voice discussing abortion" is akin to suggesting that a mealy-mouthed voice discussing sexual molestation would ease tensions between the abusers and the abused. There is no middle of the road on a question like killing an innocent preborn child any more than there is a compromise position on whether or not children should be molested. Both actions are intrinsically evil; those who oppose such wrongs, which violate the human person, are not "holy warriors," but rather intelligent, rational human beings who understand the gravity of the situation.

Perhaps reality has escaped Cokie and Steve Roberts. For the record, an abortion kills a person. That is a fact, not a viewpoint. While the Robertses describe people like me as being "judgmental and intolerant," it is hard to understand how that label can apply. One must not be anything but clear and unequivocal when talking about a topic that - given the end result - is a matter of life or death.

The Robertses tell the reader, "Only by demanding purity can they keep emotions stirred up, cameras turned on and checks flowing in." Not only does such a cocky comment miss the point, but it also ignores a foundational principle for a republic that wishes to survive. When the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, they championed that same purity by setting forth principles that did not discriminate against any group of people, did not force a given faith-system on any group of people and did not embrace a view of man that would lead to human destruction. Their words were carefully chosen, and for nearly 200 years they remained unhindered by court decisions (such as Roe v. Wade) that ignored the very values that made America a shining city on a hill.

Emotions, cameras and cash aside, nothing will change the reality of what abortion has done to mothers, fathers, families and our culture. But most importantly, nothing will change the reality of what abortion has done to the children who have died. Until people like Cokie and Steve Roberts can see beyond politically correct posturing and look deeply into the eyes of a grieving mother who has aborted her child, such hyperbolic attacks on people like me are likely to continue.

Yes, I take their rhetoric personally; but I also understand that when one cannot debate fairly using facts, what results is outrageous adjectives and nasty innuendo.

The Robertses go on to describe the South Dakota law banning all medical and surgical abortion as "clearly unconstitutional." So along with their politically motivated views, they also presume to take over the Supreme Court's decision-making process with their skewed righteousness. One can only hope the justices are not huge fans of the Robertses' knack for spinning opinions that are devoid of substance.

Let's face it. The Supreme Court erred in 1973, and as Justice Harry Blackmun clearly pointed out, "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."

That is our goal: establish personhood for the preborn child, period. If a law like South Dakota's does arrive on the dockets of Supreme Court justices, it may well turn out that Blackmun's prophecy will become reality. We will simply have to wait and see, counting much more on judicial wisdom than on the Robertses' rules of how one must interpret the Constitution.

If personhood for one and all is a fanatical, polarizing goal then there is something wrong with how the Robertses perceive justice. For surely as night follows day, all innocent human beings should have equal protection under the law. We simply want to make sure this protection covers the preborn as well as the born. It really isn't a matter of politics over prudential judgment as much as it is a matter of seeking a way to insert truth into the political process so that a just law (or court decision) ultimately defines the act of abortion as a grave injustice.

This brings us to the Robertses' final blow, which was aimed at the Catholic bishops. The Robertses don't seem to understand that bishops have a moral obligation to proclaim Catholic teachings. When it comes to Catholics in public life, Catholic bishops have a moral obligation to teach the truth according to Church doctrine. That means making it clear that the act of abortion is an act of murder and that any Catholic who supports such an act is not in union with the Church. Catholic teaching is not a smorgasbord; it's a take it or leave it proposition.

Contrary to the Robertses' view, in many U.S. dioceses public Catholics who openly dissent from the faith pay no penalty. However, it is arrogance to the max for a group of 55 so-called Catholic members of Congress to falsely claim that when it comes to politics and abortion, "primacy of conscience" holds sway over the teachings of Jesus Christ. Don't they know that if a conscience is separated from Christ's teachings, the result will be a misguided conscience? Or do they care?

The bishops who have spoken out against pro-abortion Catholics in politics are not attempting be political or to run the country. Catholic bishops - at least a few of them - are attempting to teach Catholic truth to men and women who claim to be Catholic but have somehow forgotten what that means.

As we all should know, at the end of the day - that is, life itself - it won't be a Republican or a Democratic convention we will be attending. And it surely won't be a couple of editorial writers who decide whether our deeds qualify us for a walk through the pearly gates - or the no-return hot ride to someplace else.

Release issued: 29 Mar 06

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