Get A Grip: Sotomayor Is Not Pro-Life

The guest commentary today is by Joe Giganti, a Roman Catholic and principal of GigantiHQ. He is the executive director of Close to Home and a media fellow at the John Paul II Bioethics Commission. He is the former communications director of the American Life League and has been defending faith, family and freedom for almost two decades. For more information, visit First published on World Net Daily on June 4, 2009, this commentary is reprinted here with full permission.

A very disturbing trend has developed since President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court: a growing fantasy from pro-lifers that she may be a "closeted" pro-lifer.

These stirrings center around the fact that she is a Latino who was "raised Catholic." Her heritage apparently is important because of the generally accepted belief that Latino Catholics tend to be more anti-abortion than the average person. This flame has been further stoked by Rush Limbaugh's recent comments, including that her Puerto Rican Catholic heritage may be a factor in her beliefs: "[Sotomayor] hasn't said a word about [abortion], which could mean that her private feelings are she's pro-life." Having been a steady Rush listener over the past two decades, I suspect he is acting strategically to force the nominee to set the record straight, rather than actually believing she might be pro-life. And I agree completely with Rush that the life issue is of paramount concern over all others.

But, to the heritage question, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus; Reps. Linda, D-Calif., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.; and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., are all Hispanic Catholics and all are virulently pro-abortion.

And as to being a Catholic, Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., John Kerry, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are all self-proclaimed Catholics who have never let their faith get in the way of supporting the murder of the innocent unborn.

Then came murmurings that some of her judicial opinions might reflect that she is not a strident abortion supporter. Wonderful. Perhaps we can celebrate the possibility that 1 in 4 babies will die from abortion rather than the current [one] in [three].

Most disturbing in this whole debate is how readily pro-lifers are willing to accept these scraps as a sign of hope. This reaction is exactly why pro-life conservatives fail to advance the cause time and again. It reminds me of what a good friend (and one of the most effective pro-life activists I know) calls the "Dungeons and Dragons dilemma." He contends that all too often our side is more comfortable playing out fanciful what-if scenarios in their mind's eye rather than dealing with the political realities they currently face.

We do ourselves a great disservice if we consider only that she was baptized into the Catholic faith without applying reason to properly discern the role it plays in her public life. Reason requires that we consider the facts in a given situation to reach a conclusion.

So let's begin with the most basic fact pertinent to this situation: Barack Obama is the most egregiously and aggressively pro-abortion president in this country's history. One would think we could forego the litany of examples to substantiate this point, but just in case:

•    As an Illinois state senator, he opposed the Infants Born Alive Act five times over three years.

•    A cornerstone to Obama's campaign promise of a new socialist utopia was his unflinching support for a "women's right to choose" and the promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law.

•    To demonstrate his audacity and disrespect for the Catholic faithful and pro-lifers alike, he delivered the commencement address at the once-Catholic college of Notre Dame. This in spite of the fact that no less than 62 Catholic bishops publicly stated that it would be scandalous for Obama to do so and asked that he decline the invitation; not to mention a frenzy of additional grass-roots opposition.

•    At this address, he stated, in part: "Maybe we won't agree on abortion … the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable." Finally there's something on which the president and I agree. It is hard to reconcile those who believe murdering an unborn child is wrong with those who refuse to even acknowledge that child's humanity.

•    In his first 100 days, Obama has overturned virtually every pro-life policy of the previous administration and appointed operatives from every major pro-abortion group to key positions, including one of the lawyers responsible for the dehydration murder of Terri Schiavo.

Hardly strikes me as a man who might "forget" to confirm that his nominee will toe the line on abortion.

Then there's the New York Times article, "On Sotomayor, Some Abortion Rights Backers Are Uneasy," which claims that some in the abortion lobby are concerned that the first Latino Supreme Court nominee might not be the pro-death ideologue they demand.

OK, the first (huge) red flag? Consider the source. It's not exactly breaking news that the Old Gray Lady has reduced itself to little more than a shill for the far left's propaganda machine. This story is nothing more than misinformation designed to weaken opposition to the nomination.

The Times points to four cases that only tangentially touch upon abortion law. In 2002, Sotomayor upheld a Supreme Court precedent that an administration can withhold funding for abortion if it so desires. Let's be very clear here: This had nothing to do with the morality or legality of abortion; it was simply procedural.

In 2004, she apparently recognized that the Constitution's guarantee of free speech and peaceably assemble actually includes pro-lifers. Well, let's give her the Cardinal O'Connor Pro-Life Award for that.

In 2007 and 2008, she sided with Chinese women whose legal argument for asylum was based, in part, on the harsh treatment they would receive if deported, including forced abortions. In the 2007 case, Sotomayor wrote the following: "The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child."

Incredibly, this statement has actually excited some pro-lifers. Really, are we that easy? How many pro-lifers do you know who use phrases like, "termination of a wanted pregnancy"? And no, Ms. Sotomayor, abortion isn't "akin" to murder – it IS murder.

This is not the language of someone who recognizes, respects and defends the inherent dignity of the human person.
Furthermore, this opinion is consistent with the feminist mindset exemplified by Gloria Allred, Susan Estrich and Patricia Ireland – not because they are "secretly pro-life," but because they view it as a women's rights issue.

As to the thought echoed by Rush that "there may be something lurking here beneath the surface that we are all unaware of," specifically that she's a closet pro-lifer because she's a Puerto Rican raised Catholic: This would mean her belief is subjective and based upon an emotional tie to her upbringing as opposed to a reasoned belief that is based upon objective truth. Therefore, such an emotional response could be easily undermined by a court that is famous for moving justices to the left, not the right.

Ultimately though, there is only one way to be sure. She must be asked – respectfully, but explicitly – if she believes the Constitution provides a right to abortion. And she must answer such a question clearly without equivocation.

Now if we can only find a Republican senator with the intestinal fortitude to ask. Fortunately, in this situation, the Democratic caucus has no problem seeking absolute clarity on a nominee's position regarding abortion. The only reason they would forego asking this question would be because they already know she is an abortion rights devotee.