Regulating Evil + Permitting Evil = Confusion

January 22, 2009 09:00 AM

The 36th memorial of the infamous Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, is upon us as I write this. Some call this date an "anniversary," but after 41 years of marriage, I equate "anniversary" with joy, so I will not use that word to describe January 22.

This will be the first March for Life in 33 years that I have missed, but due to family health problems, I am where I am supposed to be today. Yet I am still troubled, not so much because I will not be there among the thousands of my pro-life friends from across the nation and around the world, but more so because of the impending disaster that I see coming forth from the pro-life community. That's right, I said pro-life community, not the Obama administration.

The problems that have created my personal angst can be summarized by words like "regulate" and "common ground" – words that those on our side are using on an ongoing basis.

A few short weeks ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the results of a poll it commissioned in mid-December 2008, in which 2,341 adults were queried on a variety of questions. USCCB spokeswoman Deirdre McQuade described the poll’s findings as “remarkable” and commented, “This research indicates how out of touch pro-abortion groups are with mainstream America."

Here are the results of that poll:

 

  • 95 percent favor laws ensuring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians
  • 88 percent favor informed consent laws (i.e., that require abortion providers to inform women of potential risks to their physical and psychological health and about alternatives to abortion)
  • 76 percent favor laws that protect doctors and nurses from being forced to perform or refer for abortions against their will
  • 73 percent favor laws that require giving parents the chance to be involved in their minor daughter's abortion decision
  • 68 percent favor laws against partial-birth abortion (i.e., aborting a child already partially delivered from the mother), and
  • 63 percent favor laws preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.


In other words, it appears that the majority of Americans are not going to oppose laws that regulate the murder of innocent preborn children as long as nobody tries to outlaw the act. Interesting? As McQuade said in the official USCCB press release, "Support for these measures cuts across 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' positions. Over a third (35 percent) of the small minority who said abortion should be legal for any reason throughout pregnancy nevertheless supported three or more of the six laws presented."

Please note that McQuade uses the euphemism coined by the pro-abortion movement –”pro-choice” – to describe the enemies of the preborn. This is another accommodation, in my opinion.

Following this revelation from the media office of the body that is supposed to represent the successors of Christ’s Twelve Apostles on earth came a letter to then-President-elect Obama dated January 18, 2009, written by Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the USCCB, in which he states, among other things,
 

Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways that affirm the dignity of pregnant women and their unborn children. We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion.


I have a hard time with this sort of rhetoric, which appears to be fundamental to the strategy being pursued by the USCCB and many pro-life organizations as well. It indicates a systemic condition within the body of the pro-life movement that causes a misguided perspective. This, in turn, is literally driving many away from the very reason why we are pro-life!

For example, to propound the evils of the Freedom of Choice Act, Right to Life of Michigan is circulating a petition seeking names, addresses and signatures. The petition reads, in part,


I oppose the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act." FOCA would overturn all of the commonsense federal and state laws passed in the last 35 years that regulate abortion by protecting women and their unborn children.


What exactly is a commonsense law? Well, in this context, it is a law that regulates the killing. Frankly, that is about as far away from common sense as one can get, but who's measuring?

The thread that connects the USCCB, Right to Life of Michigan and other such groups is that currently, certain pro-life leaders are going to toss aside the effort to achieve legal recognition of personhood and instead do all they can to protect their vision, which focuses on regulating the murder of the innocent. Obviously, they will do nothing to disturb the status quo. They are allowing a poll to set a bar that they will not go beyond.

If that isn't a certain recipe for defeat, I will eat my next airplane ticket in public!

The word regulation, if applied to murderous acts of abortion, is repugnant, for it suggests that pro-life leaders, including Catholic bishops, are willing to agree that there is a degree or level of abortion with which they are comfortable. This is another form of tolerating abortion, and it is wrong.

Perhaps this obvious meltdown in courageous defense of truth has made it possible for our new vice president, pro-abortion Catholic Joe Biden, to receive Holy Communion at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. on January 18. Not only that, but after Communion, the congregation gave Biden a standing ovation!

Thomas Peters, who runs the American Papist web site, said in regard to this disgusting display,
 

My initial reaction was to go "Puke! Gag!" - But let's try to think about this a little more seriously...

This episode perfectly illustrates the contrast between "identity Catholicism" and "conviction Catholicism." By these two phrases I mean:

•    "identity Catholicism" reduces the term Catholic to a merely technical description: in this way Joe Biden is a Catholic. He was baptized, attends Mass, puts "Catholic" on his questionnaire.
•    "conviction Catholicism" identifies that one allows their Catholic faith to shape their life, and therefore one actually tries to abide by it, in this way Joe Biden is not a Catholic: He is woefully ignorant of what his own faith teaches (as his Meet the Press interview made crystal clear), and shows little desire to put his faith into action when it comes to issues as fundamental as safeguarding human life, for a start.

So what do I see when I am told about a Catholic congregation giving Joe Biden a standing ovation? People who care more about "identity Catholicism" than about "conviction Catholicism." Yes, Joe Biden is technically "Catholic" in identity, but is he a Catholic to single out for his conviction in the faith?


Peters has struck a chord of logic and simple common sense in his diagnosis. We could apply the same approach to the pro-life movement and the “regulators” that I referred to above. We could say there are "identity pro-lifers" and "conviction pro-lifers." We could then ask, "In which of the two groups are you? In which group is your local Catholic bishop? The right-to-life group in your community?" And we could easily suggest that conviction pro-lifers are people who act and speak as though they believe that abortion is an act so incredibly evil that one could never recommend that it be merely regulated or that it be permitted in any circumstance.

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