Monday, September 15, 2008

More From Professor Kmiec


How Catholics can oppose abortion, back Obama

By Douglas W. Kmiec
September 9, 2008

The Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, and indeed the world, is blessed by the thoughtful teaching of Cardinal Francis George. It gives me special joy to say that years ago his mother and my grandmother were over-the-fence neighbors in St. Pascal's Parish. Truth be told, I heard more than once in my childhood, "Why can't you be like the 'saintly Francis George'?" But let's not go there.

For the last several months, conservative bloggers have been lampooning me for endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president—admittedly, a somewhat unusual thing for a Republican to do—so some political paddling is fair. What is unfair has been those Republican partisans who have tried to close the door on Obama in the name of the Catholic faith.

Obama does not advocate the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, and orthodox Catholics do. We do for the very clear reason given by George in a Sept. 2 letter—namely, "one cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good."

That's exactly right, but what's wrong is for Republican partisans to claim this to be Obama's position. It's not. Rather, Obama believes there are alternative ways to promote the "culture of life," even given the law's sanction of abortion.

The central hope of the Obama campaign is to find common ground—not by "favoring" that which can never be acceptable, the taking of innocent unborn life, but by dealing with the legal reality in a way that at least reduces the likelihood of abortion. Chicago is only Obama's adopted home, but in this he represents the best of her "I will/city of big shoulders/let's get something practically done" spirit.

Unlike Obama, I regret to say the current Republican Party thrives on demonizing its opposition to win elections. Without ideas, there is only name-calling. That's too bad because additional avenues for strengthening a culture of life open up when we avoid demonizing those who disagree with our Catholic view that life begins at conception. Talking strongly pro-life, Republicans often do little, promising that some judge not yet appointed is the answer or advocating leaving it all up to the states to decide, seldom acknowledging that many, perhaps most, states would end embedding the "legal status" of abortion—exactly contrary to the cardinal's thoughtful instruction.

Obama seeks to extend a helping hand (increased funding for prenatal care, maternity leave and less cumbersome and expensive adoption) with an astute understanding of how closely economic circumstances and abortion are related. Both reasonable extrapolations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics and a recent Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good study find that improving the economic well-being of the average family in general, and of the women facing the abortion decision in particular, can save unborn lives.

From 1979 to 1990, during a difficult inflationary economy, the annual rate of abortion increased by 14.2 percent, resulting in an additional 740,000 abortions. In the more economically stable decade following, the annual rate decreased by 34 percent, meaning that approximately 2.3 million children who would have been aborted are alive to-day.

The pretense that the GOP is now an agent for change for what it, itself, instituted is far too Orwellian to be accepted. The Obama-Biden team says to the average working person in America: Your work matters, and it will be compensated at a family wage; your retirement will be safeguarded from corporate fraud and manipulation—be it by cooking the books a la Enron Corp. or the legal abuses of a shadow banking system that by profligate lending practice has precipitated massive government bailouts and the takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Sen. John McCain is an honorable man caught between a failed presidency and the tired ideas of his party that only invite repetition of that failure. There's no reason that failure should be extended in a way that blocks the greater protection of unborn life.

Douglas W. Kmiec is the author of "Can a Catholic Support Him?—Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama" and former constitutional legal counsel to President Ronald Reagan.


30 comments:

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

Douglas W. Kmiec is an honorable defender of life and promoter of justice who I think will be demonized by those who promote the politics of aggression and self-interest over those who promote the politics of justice, peace and the common good.

We're on the verge of a new era; an era where we, as Americans look after each other. And we look to help those across the world who cannot help themselves, and we hope to win the goodwill back of the global community in the process.

John McCain will sacrifice all of that for tired old rhetoric and commitment to his corporate sponsors.

Corporate sponsors. Did I go there? Oh yes I did. All this talk about McCain being a reforming maverick? McCain manufactured that image after being caught up with the "Keating Five" scandal. You know. That time, in the very late 80s when we had the junk bond Savings & Loan Crisis. Oh. Most voters forgot about that one. But John McCain was among five senators who were bribed by S&L folks to hold off investigations. Apparently more forgot about that than even I think. But it happened. And that is when John McCain played the bi-partisan, reformer role in order to save his rep. But he's still under corporate/banker influence. His chief advisors are (former?) lobbyists. Go figure.

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

While Douglas Kmiec is defending his "conservative values", John McCain is promoting distortions and lies in order to promote his "paid for" values, even as he suggest he's a maverick.

The wheel keeps turning... and turning... and turning.

One day, we Americans will wake up.

When that happens, I think, may very well be too late.

Roy said...

This is some of the most intelligent discussion I have read in years. Most folks in my parish are for Obama, but we have not really talked about or organized our support as Catholics. This is a great resource. I'm sending the web address to a good number of my parishioners.

Rustler45 said...

"How Catholics can oppose abortion, back Obama"

Followed by the book HOW TO KILL BABIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT AND STILL BE A CATHOLIC.


DEMO SAID: Douglas W. Kmiec is an honorable defender of life and promoter of justice who I think will be demonized by those who promote the politics of aggression and self-interest over those who promote the politics of justice, peace and the common good.

"No Murray, I don't think we need to run that through the horse one more time."

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thank you so much for posting this. I'm in the middle of a conversion to Catholicism, but I still think Obama is better for America than McCain, so I really struggled - especially since some priests in my area have been actually telling people to vote for McCain or not at all. Now I can't wait to forward the article to my Catholic and Obama-supporting friends (if I can). Anyway, thanks!!
- a midwestern mom

Rustler45 said...

Why Saracuda So Terrifies Dems

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann put their finger on why Sarah Palin so terrifies the Democrat establishment that its media wing is willing to risk the last of its credibility among moderate Americans to tear her down. They cite a September 8-9 Fox News poll that goes beyond showing her to be the most popular of the candidates:

On the question of which of the four candidates best understands what day-to-day life is like in America, Palin finished first, with 33 percent. […] She's not popular because she's a radical feminist or pro-choice advocate. It's because she understands what it's like to be a woman in 21st century America.

She's never ascended to the elite, so she doesn't need to stoop to conquer as most well-heeled feminist leaders must. She lives far from the plastic pseudoreality where a fossilized ideology substitutes for human compassion and empathy. As such, she rises above the slogans of both the left and the right and proposes to bring to Washington a dose of reality — a taste of real life.

In other words, she is the Anti-Obama: not some slick package disguising a bogus ideology, but a real person. The reason establishment journalists in their condescending phoniness hate her with such sputtering ferocity is that she is us, miraculously poised to dethrone the elite. So much for the Democrat pose of representing the people.

ec said...

It is impossible to take Douglas Kmiec's assertion that Senator Obama supports "a culture of life" seriously.

As his repeated opposition to the Born Alive act demonstrates, Senator Obama is desperate to preserve Roe v. Wade at all costs; even the cost of killing infants already born.

These are not the actions of someone who values human life in all its stages and forms. These are the actions of someone who is willing to sacrifice the lives of the most defenseless and innocent to stay in power. Anyone who devalues the most vulnerable human beings does not uphold a culture of life, but undermines and destroys it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anieuWFWe8s

Professor Kmiec's arguments hold no water.

(By contrast, as much as you might dislike her Gov. Palin, albeit in private life, has promoted the culture of life, by accepting a infant whom the culture Sen. Obama belongs to would have her kill.)

ec said...

Secondly, no intelligent reader should give the argument that in a stronger economy, abortions decrease credence.

Professor Kmiec's assumption by that economic strain is the only or overriding factor that affects the instances of abortion, is just that- a baseless and specious assumption.

Professor Kmiec does not consider factors, such as the availability of abortions. In the first year of the increase he cites, abortions had only been legal for 6 years; he does not address variables such as increase in number of doctors performing abortions, increase in government funding of agencies that provide abortions, etc.

Further, Professor Kmiec does not aknowledge changes in societal attitudes toward abortion and the work of the prolife movement.

Professor Kmiec, in fact, provides no basis for his assertion that a stronger economy (nevermind whether or not Sen. Obama would actually contribute to strengthening the economy if elected) actually affects the abortion rate as he asserts in his article.

Anonymous said...

Legal support for abortion can never be a part of a culture of life.

"Any nation that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want."

"[T]oday... the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion... Because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for me to kill you and you to kill me - there is nothing in between."
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) Founder of the Missionaries of Charity; Nobel Peace Prize laureate and caregiver to the sick and dying.

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

"Secondly, no intelligent reader should give the argument that in a stronger economy, abortions decrease credence."

It seemed to work during the Clinton Administration, when abortions went down; as opposed to the pro-life Bush Administration when the spiked back up.

Sean2 said...

According to several sources the statement that abortions decreased under Clinton and increased under Bush are an urban myth based on false statistical methods. One of the sources is http://www.factcheck.org/article330.html

Would you care to substantiate your claim with facts or talking points from the Party?

Sean2 said...

when we avoid demonizing those who disagree with our Catholic view that life begins at conception.

I think the Bishops have made abundantly clear that it is not the "Catholic view" that life begins at conception but a scientific fact.

It's not. Rather, Obama believes there are alternative ways to promote the "culture of life," even given the law's sanction of abortion.
The central hope of the Obama campaign is to find common ground—not by "favoring" that which can never be acceptable, the taking of innocent unborn life, but by dealing with the legal reality in a way that at least reduces the likelihood of abortion.


So here are some of the ways a Pres. Obama would find "common ground" and "reduce the likelihood of abortion."

From the Obama website http://www.barackobama.com/2008/01/22/obama_statement_on_35th_annive.php
"Here are some examples of what "Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose. Last year, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5-4 to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, and in doing so undermined an important principle of Roe v. Wade: that we must always protect women's health. With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election.

"Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.

"Moreover, I believe in and have supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies.

On another note, do the defenders of Obama on this blog support the use of artificial birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy?

Rustler45 said...

EC SAID: "Professor Kmiec's assumption by that economic strain is the only or overriding factor that affects the instances of abortion, is just that- a baseless and specious assumption."

ec, he is a flaming liberal. His assumption is in direct contradiction to the Catechism.

DEMO ACTUALLY SAID: One day, we Americans will wake up.

I am glad you said "WE" Demo. You will never wake up. You know how I know. It was the first time I saw your screen name and heard you nonsensical reply to my explanation of what is wrong with democracy.

You don't have a prayer.

Rustler45 said...

DEMO SAID: "It seemed to work during the Clinton Administration, when abortions went down; as opposed to the pro-life Bush Administration when the spiked back up."

BALONEY!

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

"EC SAID: 'Professor Kmiec's assumption by that economic strain is the only or overriding factor that affects the instances of abortion, is just that- a baseless and specious assumption.'

ec, he is a flaming liberal. His assumption is in direct contradiction to the Catechism."

Amazing how you conservatives so easily throw each other under the bus when commentary from one among you says something you don't want to hear.

Douglas Kmiec is hardly a liberal. He is a very conservative Republican who served as Head of the Office of Legal Council under both President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush. Perhaps George, Jr. would have faired much better than he did should he have continued using Kmiec's services.

Kmiec is a conservative and I am a liberal; so we agree with each other on a host of issues. Where I think we agree on is integrity. You'd do well to learn a little of that yourself.

Sean2 said...

and it will be compensated at a family wage

Will men with families get a higher wage than single women?

Katherine said...

Men with families do have higher net incomes than single women.

Rustler45 said...

"Douglas Kmiec is hardly a liberal. He is a very conservative Republican..."

Not even close Demo. He's a flaming liberal. Don't you know what a liberal is?

Once again, political "science" fails.

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

"Not even close Demo. He's a flaming liberal. Don't you know what a liberal is?

Once again, political "science" fails."

Ronnie Reagan sends you his love, you who would re-write history.

Sean2 said...

Men with families do have higher net incomes than single women.

That's not what I asked. Are you saying that the law should be written so that men with families should get a higher wage than single men and women?

another catholic for obama said...

To Anonymous of 9/15, midwestern mom--

Hi! Like you, I've got nothing to do with creating or running this blog. Like you I've only recently even found this blog. But I do notice and appreciate that it's here.

I appreciate the constructive authenticity that comes through in your post. May you and I, and all Catholics, call upon the Spirit for discernment, especially in difficult times like the times we face now.

Meanwhile, I'm dismayed to read that some priests in your area have been telling people how to vote or how not to vote.

To other Catholics who are for Obama-Biden'08 -- (only) -- do you know -- isn't such endorsement, while a person in acting in one's role as a representative of a religious institution (such as in a homily or while wearing a Roman collar), against the Internal Revenue Service code for tax-exempt groups? I think it is.

In other words, it's perfectly legal for people when speaking with religious authority to tell anybody else how to vote or not vote. "It's a free country." The only thing is, religious organizations can't allow such activity and claim tax-exempt status with the IRS.

That's if I understand things right.

Katherine said...

That's not what I asked. Are you saying that the law should be written so that men with families should get a higher wage than single men and women?

Sean2, I appreciate your civility and thoughtfulness, particular in comparsion to some others who leave comments.

The law IS written so that men with families get a higher net wage than single men and women. The tax system including the deduction for dependent children and heads of household, the EITC, family, dependent, spouses and survivior benefits in Social Security, Disability Insurance, Workers Compensation and (in some states) UI, the promotion of employer provided spousal, survivior and dependent children health care benefits and pension benefits, and other policies address this goal is a way more equitable than the practices before IUE v. Westinghouse.

ec said...

katherine & catholicsfordemocracy,

1) I am not a conservative

2) I am not trying to dispute that abortion rates have risen and fallen over the years, nor am I claiming that there is no correlation between economic prosperity and abortion rates.

However neither Professor Kmiec nor the study he cites offer any proof that economic prosperity is the deciding factor in a woman's decision to seek an abortion.

To make the assumption that economic concerns trump all others (without factoring even the variables that I mentioned in my previous post) is misleading at the very least.

Professor Kmiec's argument is based on a fallacy and he is trying to persuade other Catholics to take his position based on an argument that has no rational basis.

As such, I object to it.

My objection has nothing whatsoever to do with politics or parties; and everything to do with 1) encouraging sound reason in political debate 2) the very grave obligation every human being has to protect innocent human life, particularly the lives of the most helpless.

Sen. Barack Obama has amply demonstrated that he is willing to set aside the obligation to extend basic human rights to all citizens for political reasons.

Professor Kmiec's argument is irrational and based on faulty premises.

I would be justed as adamantly opposed to Sen. Obama's candidacy and think him just as unfit for elected office if he had an (R) after his name.

And I would reject Professor Kmiec's faulty argument no matter who it came from.

ec said...

And no intelligent voter should accept arguments that are not rational.

It does this country no good to base our decisions on incomplete perspectives and misleading statistics.

Another Catholic for Obama said...

"Sen. Barack Obama has amply demonstrated that he is willing to set aside the obligation to extend basic human rights to all citizens for political reasons."

EC, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have to say I disagree! but meantime I'm not sure I fully understand your view. To me, something people who disagree can offer each other is at least trying to understand. So I was wondering:

(a) You said "citizens." What citizens do you mean, here.

(b) When you say "for political reasons," do you mean the Senator's motives are political, or do you mean the Senator's public stance differs from his private view, or do you mean the phrase synonymously with "for practical reasons"... or do you mean something else I didn't get yet.

Thanks.

Katherine said...

Ec,

I'm looking at several of your statements. You write:

"Professor Kmiec's arguments hold no water."

"Professor Kmiec, in fact, provides no basis"

Then you write:

"I am not trying to dispute that abortion rates have risen and fallen over the years, nor am I claiming that there is no correlation between economic prosperity and abortion rates."

and

"It does this country no good to base our decisions on incomplete perspectives"

Finaly, you incorrectly state that
Professor Kmiec assumes that economic strain is the only or overriding factor that affects the instances of abortion. I"m sure he is open to the proposition that other factors have impact.

Your later comments seem in conflict with the absolutism of your comments I first noted.

You are correct that Kmiec's assertions are matter of social analysis and can be developed, corrected, disputed and disagreed with.

However, once we are into the matter of social analysis, we are dealing with a lay matter and need to morally respect the private discernment of each person, even if we question the academic quality of the analysis.

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

ec,

"...no intelligent reader should give the argument that in a stronger economy, abortions decrease credence.

While I'm convinced you mean what you write in good faith, it really does not fall under the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" when you start out your argument insulting people's intelligence (*ducks while waiting for rustler to resurrect the retard post*). Maybe that's not what you intended to do, but it is definitely how it came across.


"Professor Kmiec's argument is based on a fallacy and he is trying to persuade other Catholics to take his position based on an argument that has no rational basis."

Kmiec's argument may or may not be based on a fallacy. If it is, that wouldn't make his argument irrational, only wrong. One can be wrong and rational at the same time.

Somewhere, I had thought it was in this thread, but perhaps another, you presented a competing survey to the one Kmiec cites. And you suggested that the author of the survey Kmiec cites acknowledges the other has stronger methodology. If that is true, I guess the author would know.

I have not studied either survey. In order to make a personal judgment, I would want to know what exactly each studied, the nature of the raw data collected, what the differing methodologies were and how the two concluded what they concluded.

For now, we're left with an open claim of a dispute. Until folks have a chance to study the two surveys, the dispute cannot move to a resolution. And I don't think it's irrational for me to say that.

Since you presented the dispute, perhaps you could do some homework and provide us with links to the source material?

sean2 said...

Catholics for Democracy, is this the source you were looking for. It was a couple of comments up on this thread. One of the sources is http://www.factcheck.org/article330.html

Rustler45 said...

DEMO'S EXAMPLE OF MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION AND GOOD-FAITH DIALOGUE: "Ronnie Reagan sends you his love, you who would re-write history."

CatholicsForDemocracy said...

sean,

Thank you for sharing that link. I personally have a lot of trust in factcheck.org and am confident their reporting is independent, objective and fair; and, am personally inclined to believe the report.

Having said that, a scientific matter was raised in this blog, and resolving that matter involves having OSM, Original Source Material, that will answer the questions I raised.

To satisfy everyone involved, can we get our hands on the OSM?