In the closing weeks of this election, abortion is among the crucial issues for Catholic voters, but promoting a culture of life is necessarily interconnected with a family wage, universal health care and, yes, better parenting and education of our youth. This greater appreciation for the totality of Catholic teaching is at the very heart of the Obama campaign; it is scarcely a McCain footnote.To me this is the crux of why I can no longer support a slogan of pro-life versus the real meaning of those words. I am pro-life - pro babies being born, pro-children getting educations (educations of parody, not rich suburban educations versus impoverished war zones disguised as schools for the inner city poor), pro-women getting the information and resources they need to govern their sexual lives, pro-families having the resources to provide medical care to their children, and so on.
In a perfect world, the pro-life argumentation of George Weigel is unassailable. He counsels having constitutional law align absolutely with the defense of innocent human life; to which we say, "Amen." The problem for Weigel is that even our collective "Amen" will not make it so. In the meantime, millions of children are being aborted.
Mr. Weigel is an intellectual and for him it's a simple matter of accessing the objective truth of the human person as explicated in Catholic natural law and saying, "Follow me." For 35 years, however, pro-lifers have followed that intellectual siren call, asking the Supreme Court on multiple occasions to reverse Roe v. Wade. We have no objection to pursuing this legal avenue, which does not depend on who occupies the White House—though we have no illusions about it, either. The legal path has not worked to date, and it may never work.
The church asks its faithful to find meaningful—not hypothetical—ways to promote human life. While getting the law and philosophy right might eventually do that, it does bring up the question: What are you doing for the cause of life now? The McCain answer: not much.
By contrast, Obama does make provision for universal health care and recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (without spouse, without steady income, without employment prospects, and a particularly stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). Obama proposes to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life. A range of new studies–using U.S. rather than Swedish data–affirm this approach.
The Republican party has acted as though "believing in a plank" called pro-life is the same as actually fostering a culture of life, as being those who see others as valuable. It intrigues me a lot that when I canvass I hear Republicans say they can't vote for Obama because of abortion (they care about protecting the unborn!), but then they turn around and say that they don't want the democratic platform because it would "force them to care" about the underprivileged (whom they see as dead weight on our economy). So apparently, for some of them, human beings are precious in the womb, but once they've emerged, they're on their own.
Many of us are saying, "Not this time."