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Cathleen Kaveny October 12, 2008 - 9:28am
Here you go. I thought I'd open the thread for you all.Although I have to finish a Commonweal lecture I have to give this week, so don't have time to post.
Chaput, with other bishops, have refused to call for the resignation of Cardinal George as president of UCCB or from his archdiocese, due to his lying about protecting children. 85% of the dioceses in the US have reported embezzlement in the last five years. If that is reported, imagine what is not reported. This is a serious breach of the people's trust. They should be refused communion.http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/01_02/2007_01_06_Marshall_...
Okay, could we focus the discussion on the book review, and the political issues it raises. Please? Otherwise, I'll have to close comments before they get going, because I can't monitor them that closely today. And we all know comments on this topic get hot.
Thanks for the excellent initial review of these two books. Reminded of the 1970-1980s when the National Bishops Conference did focus on the wider social issues of the times - nuclear war, peace and justice, poverty, racism. Unfortunately, those bishops are mostly dead or retired.So, your review raises some questions for me:a) why and how did Roe v Wade change the USCCB to a single issue focus? Has it?b) realize that the books focus on other issues but was wondering how to compare and relate Korzen/Kelley to the position articulated by Mario Cuomo at Notre Dame?c) how do we move or transition our current USCCB to a broader consistent ethic of life stance that does not in any way indicate partisanship since it appears that neither party is the complete answer
I agree with Bill D."s last question! I thought the critical issue in the review was "balance;" and the broader question of how to restore a balanced view across the Church in the US, beyond the putative "leadership" of USCCB, is what resonated with me.The poltical campaign underscores the current easy polarizations we fall into - only really strong and balanced leadership not only from the top but from below can restore the vital proclamation of the full Gospel message.
In order for any democracy to work, the voters must be able to recall or punish elected officials who fail to deliver on their promises. Clearly, this has not been happening to the Republican Party in the case of abortion. And this is the root of the problem from the Republican side.
Let me get this straight: If I favor laws that protect the right to life of preborn human beings, I am violating the religious freedom of people who think child-dismemberment should be legal, according to the Second Vatican Council? I continue to underestimate Prof. Kmiec's ability to assert something more preposterous than he has already stated. My previous favorite was that allowing mothers and abortionists to decide whether to grind up an innocent child best comports with the Catholic view of subsidiarity. By this new standard, legal protection against the murder of certain people violate VII's idea of religious freedom, at least amidst a population that thinks those people do not have the right not to be murdered. Why do I think the Vatican Secretary of State is not going to be applying that principle in Darfur anytime soon? Unbelievable.For those of you keeping score, in Catholic moral theology there are some acts which we don't have the prudential option of allowing by law, and murder is one of them. A Roe-only status-quo strategy is certainly inadequate. But to think that Roe is the only issue is willful ignorance. The question is: do we pass FOCA and strike down all state laws against abortion, which laws save at least 125,000 children from abortion every year, and force taxpayers to fund abortions, or do we not do that (do we NOT do that!), and possibly make some more progress along the same lines, or possibly do much better. FOCA *will* have this result--everyone thinks so, except people who want to rationalize their actions that will "inadvertently" lead to its passage. The judges that will be appointed to interpret FOCA are the same ones who think the Constitution alone requires such a result.Similarly, it's ridiculous to say that we might not get Ginsburg or Breyer with FOCA if a seat opens. There is zero reason to think we will not. If someone denies the obvious by what can at best be called speculative and convoluted thinking, but puts their words in the form of thoughtful argument, can their arguments and conclusions still be called "reasonable"?
From John Allen's Interview with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeriahttp://ncrcafe.org/node/2180(Archbishop Onaiyekan "is a past president of the African bishops conference and is widely considered a leading spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa. During the current Synod of Bishops on the Bible, Onaiyekan was tapped to deliver the continental report on behalf of the African bishops." Which makes me think that he is not some maverick)"Allen:If you had a vote, would you vote for Obama?Archbishop:Obviously, if I had a vote.Allen:Even though hes pro-choice?Archbishop:Let me put it this way: The fact that you oppose abortion doesnt necessarily mean that you are pro-life. You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions, through war, through poverty, and so on. Thats my own way of looking at it. Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that its killing innocent life. I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent. If my choice is between the person who makes room for abortion but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesnt support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death.The choice is not just between a pro-abortion and an anti-abortion person. Its bigger than that. Its a whole package, and you never get a politician who will please you in everything. You always have to pick and choose. As they say in Rome, if you dont take the pasta because of the sauce, then you take the sauce because of the pasta!"
The Catholic bishop's continued harangue against voters places everyday Catholic's in a "Sophie's Choice" quandary. Most folks I know live in a world that is not dominated by Roe v. Wade nor would ever choose to have an abortion, but are continually told that they are participating in evil by contemplating "minor" issues as a basis for their vote. At this point in time, most Catholics have a variety of concerns that have an immediate impact on their lives and their communities. Voting anti-Roe is a luxury few Catholics can afford.The unhealthy anti-Roe obsession of Catholic leadership has had a significant role in the current situation. The Church cohabitating with the conservative forces of the Republican party, a live-in relationship of convenience, has muted the Church's ability to speak prophetically for the poor and middle classes of the United States. Systemic greed run amok was ignored because the Church's housemate whispered sweet nothings about Roe v. Wade. The Republicans were happy to have Catholics on board because Catholics were dutiful housewives that forgave their husbands for forgetting anniversaries and birthdays. Republicans realized that they did not need to follow through on their words, they just had to say they would remember next year.The Church's anti-Roe obsession has contributed to the polarization of civil society. A glance at most conservative Catholic blogs (that means you Mr. Shea) and their commentators would lead one to believe that the Church's understanding of the human person has changed. A person who is either pro-choice or a Catholic concerned about abortion rates, yet not onboard with the anti-Roe agenda, is by nature evil. The desire to discuss and find common ground on issues is demonized. It is either the anti-Roe way or the Highway to Hell.Now the Church's leadership finds itself in a situation where the only people left in the room in which they are making common cause are extreme laissez-faire capitalists and bigots. The Church leadership may like the look of the current Sarah Palin 2012 campain rallies, but to most Americans, it is ugly. This is the path the Catholic Church has chosen with it's anti-Roe agenda.
Michael writes:"A person who is either pro-choice or a Catholic concerned about abortion rates, yet not onboard with the anti-Roe agenda, is by nature evil". This is not the Church's position. The Church teaches that we have all been born with the stain of original sin. It is our fallen nature. It does NOT teach that persons become evil; only that we tend easily to sin. And we do commit sins. For all the sociological / political talk and writing, the bishops who have heard thousands of confessions are more expert in the matter of sin, and forgiveness. This is the core of the problem. It occurred to me [who knew many refugees from Nazi Germany] that the Nazi government was quite concerned with unemployment, with welfare, with medical care. They achieved some remarkable success in correcting these deficiencies in their society. But at what a moral cost! It is not without interest [as they say in the auction catalogues] that the same questions arise in our society that arose then - life that was not worthy of life: the squalling babies, the old and decrepit, the imperfect human specimens. When the German bishops spoke against the euthanasia of the old, they succeeded in arresting it - alas only for a time. They could not succeed in arresting the treatment of Jews. It would have been like trying to take drugs from a group of maddened addicts. Similar, perhaps, is the ferocity of those who defend aborting the next generation, and support a seamless web of death with such as the euthanasia in Oregon. We may thank God for the immigrants - who like our grandparents are replacing the next American generation that we are killing.
Gabriel,If you read the sentences immediately prior to the sentence you quoted, you would be aware that I just happen to know the Church's teaching on the human person.I think it would be wrong to assume that people who are not anti-Roe are pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia. I would be very happy if Roe was overturned to tomorrow (or yesterday or thirty some odd years ago for that matter). Just because you disagree with me does not makes me complicit in the growth of a Nazi-like society (nonetheless, thanks for the proving the point of the paragraph from which you lifted the quote). At the same time, I have to live in the world in which I have been plopped by the Almighty. The all-or-Hell approach the rigid anti-Roe agenda of Church leaders engenders is similar to US Iraq policy. Saddam was a bad guy that needed to be dealt with. The invasion created worse conditions that allowed for the growth of a network of people who really meant to do us harm. Abortion is an evil, however at the same time, our work to eradicate abortion ought not to be a scorched earth policy that in the long run has been destroying the common good (maybe the bishops ought to have a surge policy).Being dubious of the high horse anti-Roe agenda does not mean that I favor the slippery slope into Nazism just like being dubious of the war in Iraq does not make me unpatriotic.
Michael,You write: "If you read the sentences immediately prior to the sentence you quoted, you would be aware that I just happen to know the Churchs teaching on the human person".I realize I am easily confused in argument. But I do not find in the sentences your awareness of the Church's position on the human person. That position seems to me shatteringly simple and evident: persons may commit evil; they do not become evil. You easily excoriate those who are "rigidly anti-Roe". Perhaps I have been reading the wrong postings or literature. "Rigidly" anything does not make sense to me. It sounds like a mental illness. I have recently been reading Msgr. George Kelly's THE CHURCH AND THE AMERICAN POOR. It is clear account of the work of the Church in social matters since WWII, a work which has horrendously decreased in this country since Vatican II. Perhaps the decrease is due to the decrease in the number of nuns and priests who actually did the grunt work - in the hospitals, in the schools, in the orphanages. But I do think it disingenuous to claim that abortion is the single issue which the bishops find disturbing. That they find the slaughter of innocents overwhelmingly horrifying seems true enough. Pace the doubts of Father Raymond Brown, there was another slaughter of innocents in the history of our Church. It serves as a reminder to us of the plague-like nature of such happenings. And of the threat it poses to the salvation of each of us - the bishops' chief concern for their sheep - if we do not act to prevent it. Concentrating only on Roe v. Wade is like giving at the office. Getting the abortuaries of Planned Unparenthood out of the poor sections - in this country and abroad - seems to me a fine work for the poor. Are they not to be allowed to have children? Perhaps I live in an alternative universe with an alternative Church. But I find no let-up in the Church's requests for money for the poor, for the missions, for the sick, for the elderly. Indeed I take it as a mark of the true Church [as did Ronald Knox] to be continuously badgered for money. I suppose it is an echo of Andrew Carnegie's Presbyterian warning: "Who dies rich, dies disgraced".
"You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions, through war, through poverty, and so on. I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent. Thats my own way of looking at it. Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that its killing innocent life. If my choice is between the person who makes room for abortion but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesnt support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death."I know of no candidate who fits this description - one who is pro-life yet "still killing people by the millions, through war, through poverty, and so on." The only killing "by the millions" that I'm aware of in the US takes place within the confines of abortion clinics.May one make that incontestable point without being suspected of a partisan agenda?
"Perhaps I live in an alternative universe with an alternative Church. But I find no let-up in the Churchs requests for money for the poor, for the missions, for the sick, for the elderly. "FWIW - I just clicked over to the USCCB website's "Latest News" page. Here are the top 10 headlines:Catholics, Anglicans Start New Round of DialoguesCatholics, Orthodox Bishops Examine Naming of Bishops, Campus Ministry at Alabama MeetingNielsen Ratings Find Bishops' Media Campaigns on Poverty, Marriage among Most PopularAdvisory for Broadcasters: Vatican Sets Telecast Info on Papal Christmas, Day of Peace CeremoniesBishops to Meet November 10-13 in Baltimore; Agenda Includes Address by Cardinal George; Election of USCCB Secretary, Committee Chairs-Elect; Approval of Liturgical TextsSynod on Bible Web Site to Highlight Catholics and ScriptureCardinal Rigali Urges Respect for Human Life, Opposition to Freedom of Choice ActBishops Urge Congress, Bush Administration to Find Moral Response to Financial CrisisPhiladelphia Priest Named Head of Bishops Secretariat for Evangelization and CatechesisPro-Life Chair To Congress: We Cant Reduce Abortions By Promoting Abortion I might score the breadth of topics as follows:Ecumenicism: 3Poverty: 1Marriage: 1Administrivia: 3Liturgy: 1Bible/Scripture: 1Abortion: 2Economics: 1All in all, not a bad spread. To be sure, two of the stories deal more or less directly with abortion. And three get tossed into my personal "who cares?" bucket. But this is clearly not a Johnny-One-Note performance.http://www.usccb.org/news/
Jim"The only killing by the millions that Im aware of in the US takes place within the confines of abortion clinics."So if there were such killings, you would agree with the Archbishop?Anyway, without quibbling about the words, it is very clear what the Archbishop meant. There are a great many Catholics who understand that and agree with that view. Just yesterday, my daughter, who lives in Arizona said her parish priest mentioned (during the homily, I think, which I think he is not supposed to do) that Catholics cannot vote for the Democratic candidate. She was confused about what to do, since she has been an Obama supporter. So I send her the quote from the Archbishop. She can decide whether the priest or the Bishop makes a better case.
Jim, respect your thinking and observations but would pose a larger question that the African archbishop's experience captures. Per UN data, every year an estimated 40 million people die of starvation, disease, and poor water. 50% of these deaths are children. If you live in Africa or at least sub-Sahara Africa, parts of India, Bangladesh, parts of China or SE Asia, you well know the challenges. Currently, US data indicate that an est. 1 mil abortions are performed in the US each year. Compare the above to this. Also, keep in mind that US data indicates that 80% of these abortions are by women that are in the grip of poverty, single parent, jobless, etc.Given this reality, I think it is time for the Catholics of the US to carefully go back to their scriptural roots and imitate the call of Christ - that we need a consistent ethic of life around the world and that being Catholic means that we have an option for the poor and not reduce this merely to the single issue of "life begins at conception." You are missing the point made by a number of folks above.
"So if there were such killings, you would agree with the Archbishop?"It's difficult to respond to such an unlikely hypothetical, but it's safe to assume that if the US were so fundamentally, unrecognizably different, I would also be assessing the situation differently."Anyway, without quibbling about the words, it is very clear what the Archbishop meant. There are a great many Catholics who understand that and agree with that view. "I'd be dismayed to learn that a great many Catholics are as ill-informed as the Archbishop apparently is about conditions in the United States.FWIW - I expect the Archbishop would like to have Barack Obama as president of Africa, and be able to bring his policy commitments to bear on Africa's perennial, intractable problems. At least, it's the only sense I can make of his comments.
Bill--nobody's missing the point. You need to compare apples to apples, and you must get specific instead of speaking so generally. If you're going to expand the universe worldwide, you have to expand it worldwide for abortion too. There are 50 million surgical abortions worldwide. The choice is--do we pay for worldwide abortions with US funds, or not? Is that a tough decision for you? Do we spend US funds on crates and crates of condoms sent to Africa, or do we spend it on crates and crates of medicine and food and clean water technology sent to Africa? Why do you think the third world hates us--because we are trying to eliminate their population and force our immoral culture on them. So let's state the worldwide choice: to expand US eugenic population control funding and abortion for darker colored people, including abortion, or not. You would have us think there is a worldwide choice before us to save 40 million from starvation, or save much less from abortion here. That is unsubstantiated. If anything, the increased funding for eugenic attacks will have a corresponding drag on real help--meaning more abortions and more starvations go together. There is no reason to believe that we must choose to save some from starvation or not. Show me precise policy that on one hand will lead to a reasonable estimate of lives saved from your 40 million, and on the other hand will not. You can't just say 40 million die, even if that's true. You have to state how there is a reasonably certain choice to save some number of those on the one hand, and to not save them on the other. The only specific evidence we have is that increased international funding will kill more (preborn) people, so that counts against you, unless they don't count.On the domestic front we have specificity in our policy choice. Do we force government funding of abortion and strike down all pro-life laws that save six figures of children from abortion yearly, or do we not do that and maybe make progress in saving a lot more.
Helpful review... Complement these works with EJ Dionne's "Souled Out" and Micheal Sean Winters "Left at the Altar." As mosst know, these are more political in nature, but frame the questions well and somewhat differently.
The balance of harm from abortion or maternal mortality or coereced prostitution or lack of safe drinking water is not the same throughout the world. In the developing world, the latter three are far bigger threats. On Sunday, the Washington Post had an article about maternal mortality in West Africa, where it is as high as 1 in 8. This isn't about saying, "well, obviously, if you care about abortion you don't care about maternal mortality" (or clean drinking water, etc.). It's about deciding to put resources into decreasing maternal mortality however you feel about abortion. But in American politics, basically, our willingness to invest in health and welfare particularly in the developing world is held hostage to abortion. Many of us believe, of course, that this is just a pretext because Republican officials have rarely made such investment a hallmark of their policy program. And perhaps when you get to the point where you believe that abortion politics is nothing more than a pretext for excusing complete indifference to the well being of others, you might finally be fed up with seeing your flock, in particular, suffer the consequences. In other words, maybe his willing to try to address abortion in the long run.
I don't see how anything calling itself a consistent ethic of life can say that an international abortion, paid for by US dollars, and expanded by pumping cash into pro-abortion NGOs is not harmful. At least one person is murdered each time, not to mention the devestating effect on the woman. I agree that good funding internationally is held hostage to abortion. But the people holding it hostage are the abortion advocates. They want the $$ to go to their abortion and eugenics programs and bank accounts. The question again must be put in specific terms if you're arguing it as a basis for a choice. The general idea that pro-lifers don't want to fund programs that actually help is ethereal, not to mention highly suspect. No one can respond because no specific complaint has been lodged. It's not a basis for a reasoned judgment. I could just as well lodge the opposite allegation, that pro-aborts want to beef up international funding to Planned Parenthood and call it "saving women," and my accusation actually has a basis in specific fact, because the specific policy proposal to fund abortion and PP internationally with US dollars, or to not do that, is on the table. Sure, pro-lifers shouldn't make vague allegations about how one domestic option is pro-life and one isnt. But we haven't done that. We've gotten very specific about FOCA and other things, each of which can be assessed intelligently. And here i've also gotten very specific about international funding of abortion and Planned Parenthood And the response I am hearing is, well people die from starvation too. This is insufficient. Show me precisely how the specific choice is before us, on the one hand, to fund those particular maternal mortality and food and water to the extent of saving a certain number of people, and on the other hand, to fund them less to the effect of saving some estimable fewer number of people. Not just general allegations about how some types of people have some tendencies to do some sorts of things, which can't even be assessed.
Matt, the specific choice is that after 8 years (and certainly after the Katrina disaster), it is beyond clear that the Republican Party has no interest in any of these other issues, whether it's clean drinking water or maternal mortality. Continuing to vote for the Party solely because of it's position on abortion is, like it or not, continuing to vote against any hope of contributing to a solution in these other areas. Can you name me specific proposals or accomplishments (other than in the area of HIV funding, where I do credit President Bush with leadership) that should make me change my mind? I'm all ears.That is what it means to hold voters hostage to abortion, and it seems to me that the logic of this conclusion is inarguable.
"Matt, the specific choice is that after 8 years (and certainly after the Katrina disaster), it is beyond clear that the Republican Party has no interest in any of these other issues, whether its clean drinking water or maternal mortality. Continuing to vote for the Party solely because of its position on abortion is, like it or not, continuing to vote against any hope of contributing to a solution in these other areas. Can you name me specific proposals or accomplishments (other than in the area of HIV funding, where I do credit President Bush with leadership) that should make me change my mind? Im all ears."Why should we bracket out HIV funding? Let's celebrate it.Here's more:http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1001/p02s02-usfp.htmlhttp://wfp.org/englis... I am not a Republican
"Per UN data, every year an estimated 40 million people die of starvation, disease, and poor water. 50% of these deaths are children. If you live in Africa or at least sub-Sahara Africa, parts of India, Bangladesh, parts of China or SE Asia, you well know the challenges. ...Given this reality, I think it is time for the Catholics of the US to carefully go back to their scriptural roots and imitate the call of Christ - that we need a consistent ethic of life around the world and that being Catholic means that we have an option for the poor and not reduce this merely to the single issue of life begins at conception. "I support the consistent ethic of life, Bill. My opposition to abortion is consistent with it. Policymakers and politicians who want to maintain or expand the current regime of abortions foster a tragically inconsistent ethic of life. Such people have made the term "Seamless Garment" a dirty word in the pro-life community.This entire discussion poses a dichotomy that I reject. I want people in the Third World to be free of AIDS, to have enough to eat, to have clean drinking water, to be inoculated against malaria, to have honest and reliable government, and to live in peace. And I want abortion to end. Like any good child of the '80's. I want it all. I wish the money spent on the war in Iraq had been used to feed the hungry - even better, to help the hungry to feed themselves sustainably. I wish the money spent on abortions were used for the same purpose. We can't turn back the clock, but let's do what we can. Our government doesn't have to fund abortions, doesn't have to subsidize organizations that evangelize abortion, doesn't have to maintain a legal climate that is friendly to abortions. It's within our power as an electorate to do something about these things, civilly, legally and peacefully. Let's do them.
Jim, you aren't going to get it all no matter who you vote for this election cycle. That's your dilemma.
The latest decisions from our majority Catholic Supreme Court:Shortcut to: http://www.religiousconsultation.org/NEWS/supreme_court_declines_abortio... latest from Africa - by the way, we do now live in a world impacted by globalization - we live with it in our work lives and in our daily lives. What happens in China and Africa, impacts what happens in Chicago, Dallas, NYC:Shortcut to: http://www.religiousconsultation.org/NEWS/can_this_be_pro-life.htm
Barbara--if you can prove your point merely by 8 years of Bush and the existence of those problems, you prove too much, because how is it that these problems exist after 8 years of Clinton, by your own reasoning? And, I'll becha, the rates of death from those problems today is less than it was 8 years ago, after 8 years of Clinton, which would prove the exact opposite of what you are proposing. But who can tell? You continue to speak in generalities, not pointing to a specific policy choice on the table between (a) funding that will save a certain percentage of the people from those other ills, and (b) refusal to fund those things to that specific degree. Your attitude is a big assumption that one party is of course better than the other. Assumptions are not reasons, and they don't inform intelligent decisions. Meanwhile, you fail to respond to the specific policy choices I have set forth that are on the table, to vastly increase abortion at home and to run around the world throwing blood money at child murder and the people who support it, or not. Bill--that's only a "majority Catholic court" if you count the one Catholic who has upheld abortion for all these years. Which now that you mention it, is exactly the kind of Catholic you are likely to meet here at Commonweal. How many of the "abortion is too important" Catholics here, if on the Supreme Court, would overturn Roe and even extend 14th Amendment protection to the preborn (liberals want to extend it to everyone else). I'm waiting for them to declare that they would vote to scrap Roe if given the chance. Maybe they already have--please share that with me. Or maybe they have said it's sooo difficult and sooo complex, meaning they would not, which just goes to show you how they really define consistent ethic of life. It is often consistent in only one thing, deemphasizing the largest and continuing mass slaughter in all of human history as compared to everything else combined. So it's very clever of you to promote a brand of Catholicism that is causing the problem, and then blame it on the faithful Catholics who are trying to stop it.
I'm not promoting a brand of Catholicism. On that you can rest assured.
"Jim, you arent going to get it all no matter who you vote for this election cycle."Why do you say that, Barbara? I believe I've found a candidate who is markedly better than the other on life issues, and who seems to be more or less a wash with the other on foreign aid.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93375859
Professor Kmiec has written a very good article, but does not address a problem with the "one issue" premise: "... when it is impossible to overturn or repeal a law allowing abortion ... an elected official [may] ... support ...".What is a "law allowing abortion"? If the practical means being used to enforce a "law prohibiting abortion" is not justified, and Roe v. Wade overturns the law on that account, why should Roe v. Wade (or any similar restraint upon unjustified means) be overturned? It is essential to examine whether the means are justified. The language of Evangelium Vitae obscures the need for such an examination.Where should we draw the line on what are acceptable or unacceptable uses of state power? Consider the following thought experiment. What if the Texas statute at issue in Roe had mandated that every woman of child bearing age be examined monthly, and if found pregnant be required to wear a radio transmitter that would allow her to be tracked by police with the authority to prevent efforts at abortion. No such Orwellian regime would ever be passed into law, of course, at least not in any democracy. But it would certainly save many unborn lives.Continue for a moment with the thought experiment. With modern technology, the inconvenience upon women could be minimized. As a practical matter (apart from issues of privacy) women could ignore the radio transmitter. They would only be concerned if they were considering an abortion. Orwellian, to be sure, but how does the "proportionate" argument play? Isn't the life of one child worth the mere inconvenience to even a large number of women?If such a law had been found unconsititutional in Roe v. Wade, would not Roe v. Wade then still be a "law allowing abortion"? If an "anti-Orwell" politician opposed overturning Roe v. Wade in such circumstances, would that politician be advised not to receive communion?Where would we draw the line? There are levels of crudeness, admittedly less Orwellian. in the means for preventing or reducing abortion. The Texas statute simply "made abortion illegal", but the practical enforcement mechanism was to prosecute doctors. This surely reduced access to abortion, even though some women died in botched back alley abortions.Does it go too far down the "means" line from crude to enlightened to limit the use of state power to the supportive means proposed in the Democratric platform? Where is the line to be drawn? I don't see how we can rationally avoid the thoughtful examination required to draw this line, and still remain morally accountable for the consequences of our decisions.Yet from the lofty precipice from which Evangelium Vitae views the law, it is easy to understand how the Pope might overlook the need for such examination. But at the level of practical politics -- down from the lofty precipice -- the effect (knowledge of which should be presumed, in order to preserve accountability) has been to curtail such examination.This is not right, as many of us understand. The premise that a "law allowing abortion" is ipso facto bad is like the question "how often do you beat your wife?" It makes a presumption that is tactically difficult to challenge directly, without going down a garden path and off into a ditch. It is better to take a positive approach, and extol the virtues of your spouse. Professor Kmiec is therefore perhaps wise to avoid dealing with the presumption. Other commentary in the Catholic media have taken a similar approach. For example, the recent editorial in America Magazine does an very good job of providing the Catholic voter with reasons for considering a broader view of Catholic social teaching, within the framework of the pastoral guidance provided by the bishops. An article in the same issue (by Cathleen Kaveny, who started this thread) follows through in some detail, to the same effect. Voters need not be locked into a one-issue straightjacket. Yet reader comment on the articles indicate that the one-issue straightjacket has locked the minds of many voters as well as some bishops.It is more important to examine the consequent means than to piously presume that the principled end of "no abortions" can be achieved by "making abortion illegal."My guess is the Professor Kmiec considered this line of thinking, but left it on the cutting room floor. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. But somewhere along the line, if the public discourse is to reflect both faith and reason, and not simply verbal war, we will need to address the premises hidden between the lines in ##67-74 of Evangelium Vitae.
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.
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