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Mildly Pro Choice?

By: Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

On March 12, 2005 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was interviewed by the Washington Times. The interview has fueled the growing speculation that she may be entertaining a bid for the Presidency in 2008. Not because she acknowledged such an intention but simply because she refused to "rule it out". The speculation has been fueled by a torrent of articles and is the continual banter of talk radio and blogs. It was begun by Dick Morris, the seemingly ever present political speculator.

The Washington D.C. chatter culture is spinning over a possible woman to woman match in 2008 for the Presidency of the United States.

In the blue corner is Senator Hillary Clinton who has been making all the moves that clearly signify her intention to run. She has also begun a bizarre effort to make herself sound as if she somehow sympathizes with the pro-life position while her rhetoric and record are unapologetically in favor of abortion on demand.

In the red corner is Secretary Rice who has captured the attention of many in both parties through her presence, her political savvy and her excellent communication skills. Otherwise clearly pro-life members of her own party seem willing to give her a pass on this issue for reasons I simply do not understand.

Oh, I know, we are repeatedly told that it is too early to speculate about the 2008 race. But is it? The horses are already lining up at the gate. The money is beginning to flow. The fact is that the race is already underway. That is why it is so vital that engaged pro-life people begin to work now to assure that the momentum toward building a culture of life continues. For millions of Americans this issue is not a "single issue" but rather the lens through which the entirety of policy and politics is viewed.

The dignity of every human person, at every age and stage, from the first home of the whole human race, a mother's womb, through and including the sanctuary of the death bed, is the polestar of every economic and public policy issue.

While it is true that there are an array of vitally important issues that must also be considered, there is also a hierarchy of values to be applied in the political and policy arena. How one views our obligations to the ones who Mother Theresa rightly called the "poorest of the poor", children in the womb who have no voice, speaks loudly of how one views the dignity of life itself. The race reveals a serious dearth of concern, in both major parties, for the right to life and the freedom to be born.

Much has been made about the fact that Secretary Rice was the daughter of a preacher, a Presbyterian minister. Yet, in this interview while explaining love for fashion, she made an interesting admission. She said that while her father was preparing for his sermons, she and her mother would shop. One wishes now that she had considered the content of the both the Bible and the unbroken Christian tradition concerning the inviolable dignity of every human person, more than the latest styles.

In the interview she, like Senator Clinton has on several occasions done recently, spoke of her "deep religious faith." Persons of faith must live a unity of life. Religious faith is not "private" in the sense of keeping its influence outside of our daily life. The truths of faith should inform everything that we do.

When directly asked about abortion, Secretary Rice sounded very similar to the Senator from New York, saying that abortion should be "as rare a circumstance as possible," and adding "We should not have the federal government in a position where it is forcing its views on one side or the other....So, for instance, I've tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund it."

It gets murkier. She spoke of pro-lifers as "the other side" and tried to carve herself a niche as being "in effect kind of libertarian on this issue." Then she used the phrase that I have chosen as the title of this article. She spoke of herself as a "mildly pro-choice" Republican. Let me be clear, she also said that she is "....a strong proponent of parental notification." That is good. She referred to herself as "....a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion", the procedure more akin to infanticide wherein a child is partially delivered so that just the head is accessible only to have his or her brains sucked out. That is simply not enough.

Abortion is the intentional execution of an innocent human person in the first home of the whole human race. Innocent human life must always be defended against this kind of aggression! The claim of being "mildly" pro-choice is like the claim of being a "little bit pregnant". Every procured abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human person. For example, why do we say that a woman "lost her baby when she miscarries? Yet, in the case of a procured abortion, we call it "a choice" and a "right." Or worse, why do we allow politicians to continually refer to it as a "difficult moral issue" as the Secretary did in this interview. Leaders need to lead. This issue is not difficult. It is absolutely clear.

This issue is also not simply "religious" in the sense that only religious people feel a certain way about it. Rather, it concerns a fundamental human right. The child in the womb is a human person. Medical science has confirmed what our consciences have long known - what is affirmed by the Natural Law written on every human heart - abortion is killing the innocent.

Like most Americans, I would love to see a talented woman become our President. Perhaps it would finally put behind us a history of discrimination against women. In the case of Secretary Rice, her holding the position would also put another sad fact of our past behind us, discrimination against people of color. However, just as during the last election cycle, when John Kerry tried to run as "a Catholic", I will make my decision on who to support based upon their positions on the fundamental issues of our age. Choosing someone who claimed to be a Catholic, while he opposed the infallible teaching of his own Church concerning this issue, was not an option for me. Similarly, supporting a woman who is wrong on this issue, simply because she is a woman, is wrong.

There are several dangers emerging in this political plot. Let me discuss just a few.

Secretary Rice has referred to herself as being "libertarian" on this issue. By that she means that she is not pro-life. One cannot believe it is ever right to give someone a choice to do what is always and everywhere wrong. This is one of the areas where the role of Government, to protect innocent human beings against unjust aggression, is eminently clear. Though I believe, as a Catholic Christian, that libertarianism is antithetical to the Christian vision of the human person, the family and the human community, I must point out that even some "libertarians", such as "libertarians for life", oppose abortion. The growing "libertarian" impulse in Republican politics may mark a decided turn in the party that will make it increasingly difficult to support, even though between the two parties, it at least has a pro-life platform.

Then there is the tired label, "conservative." Many faithful Christians, Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox, who have stood faithful to the clear and unbroken tradition of Christianity that procured abortion is always wrong and can never be justified, have been painted into a corner by letting themselves be "labeled" as conservatives.

The arguments are already being made that a "conservative" should want issues decided by the States and not favor a big Federal Government. Based on the Christian ordering principle of subsidiarity, I share the desire to keep good governance at the lowest practical level. However, my opposition to abortion is rooted in my opposition to murder. It is a legitimate role of government to protect its citizens from unjust aggression. Abortion is unjust aggression against an innocent victim who is incapable of defending himself or herself. Sending it "back to the Sates" is no solution. Just as slavery was wrong and rightly required a National policy to oppose it and to undo its harm, abortion is wrong and requires the same approach at every level of government.

Here come the "pro-choice" Republicans. Like the "pro-choice" Democrats, they are beginning to spout the platitudes of people who simply have no courage. It is in how we respond to this issue that the soul and future of our Nation will be revealed. The very nature of freedom lies at the heart of the entire discussion. In his monumental encyclical letter entitled the "Gospel of Life", Pope John Paul II warned of a "counterfeit notion of freedom" as a raw power over others who are weaker. He also wrote about the possible the "death of true freedom" resulting from unmooring our freedom to choose from reference to unchanging truths such as the right to life.

This interview with Secretary Rice should rouse every champion of true freedom to begin to act for the 2008 race now. We need candidates, be they Democrat or Republican, whose position on the right to life is absolutely clear. Not people who claim to be "mildly pro-choice."


Keith A. Fournier is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.


Third Millennium, LLC VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580




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