Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama and Pro-lifers -- oops?

It's hard to talk about the issue of abortion. In my experience, most of the people who call themselves pro-"choice" on abortion say they would rather not have abortions going on. I think that's because we wouldn't have to worry that we've done something horribly wrong in our country. Even if, as Obama once suggested with his now infamous quote, it really is just too hard to tell whether life really does begin at conception, we could probably all breathe a little easier if there weren't any abortions, simply because then there would be zero possibility that we are allowing millions of innocent lives to be destroyed each year legally.

Maybe that's why this year's presidential campaign just didn't bring up the issue that much. But abortion was an issue for many people, including many Catholics (of whom I am not one). Obama tried to make pro-lifers of a more liberal persuasion feel more at ease about his 100% pro-choice voting record, emphasizing his desire to change the circumstances that lead to abortions. And this reassurance worked; for instance, Obama won the Catholic vote by nine points, whereas in 2004 Catholics voted for Bush over Kerry by five points.

And now some of these Catholics are starting to wonder what they've done. I found an interesting article by Melinda Henneberger, a Catholic Obama supporter who now realizes what a nightmare it could be if Obama is actually able to follow through on his promise to sign the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)." This act is misnamed, precisely because it can take away freedom--particularly the freedom of Catholic hospitals to refuse to do abortions.

You see, many Catholic hospitals receive public funding to serve communities that might not otherwise receive adequate healthcare. Yet under the FOCA, Catholic hospitals would lose federal funding unless they agreed to do abortions. And if they lost federal funding, they would simply close down. The Catholic Church is quite committed to social justice, and is willing to work with Obama on many issues, but they will not yield on the issue of respecting human lfe.

That article I just linked says that a third of hospitals in this country are Catholic hospitals. What if they started shutting down because of the FOCA? Shouldn't Catholic hospitals have the right to stick with their conscience on this issue? Can you imagine if the government told you that you could no longer receive funding to give health care to poor people unless you started killing innocent children? That's what it sounds like to Catholic bishops who are being pressured by pro-"choice" politicians to compromise on abortion.

Can Obama really be supporting this? I know it sounds awful, but it's actually been out there for people to see for quite some time now. Just don't count on mainstream media to love talking about it. This is precisely the danger of leaving abortion out of your reasons for voting for someone. You see, while abortion didn't tend to come up in all those debates, behind the scenes some of Obama's biggest supporters were special interest groups like Planned Parenthood, who have a strict agenda to push. A victory for Obama means that those special interest groups are now in the White House. All the campaign rhetoric is now over, and now it's time for these groups to reap the benefits of their support. So even though you voted for Obama because of other issues, you have to live with what the special interests can do through your new President.

Believe me, I know there are other issues. But pro-lifers really ought to understand why we're in this battle in the first place. It isn't because abortion is bad for you, like smoking is bad for you. It's because abortion kills innocent human life. Do those words make sense? Have they become nothing more than an irritating sound in your ear? Abortion kills innocent human life. I really wish that weren't true. I really wish America didn't allow this kind of thing. But it's true, and if it weren't true, then I promise you, the pro-life movement would have fizzled out about 35 years ago. There's simply no other reason to be so passionate about this issue. Surely it's also a good enough reason not to vote for people who don't oppose it.

I would so like to believe that we can find common ground on this issue, but the truth is, the Democratic Party has never ceased to disappoint me. Maybe this time will be different, but I'm not holding my breath. It's poignant to read what Henneberger is now thinking about this whole situation:
At the very moment when Obama and his party have won the trust of so many Catholics who favor at least some limits on abortion, I hope he does not prove them wrong. I hope he does not make a fool out of that nice Doug Kmiec, who led the pro-life charge on his behalf. I hope he does not spit on the rest of us—though I don't take him for the spitting sort—on his way in the door. I hope that his appointment of Ellen Moran, formerly of EMILY's List, as his communications director is followed by the appointment of some equally good Democrats who hold pro-life views. By supporting and signing the current version of FOCA, Obama would reignite the culture war he so deftly sidestepped throughout this campaign. This is a fight he just doesn't need at a moment when there is no shortage of other crises to manage.

No, it's not a fight that Obama needs, nor is it a fight that any of us need, or want. I do hope that Obama is not able to keep his promises.

If you voted for Obama, and you are pro-life, or maybe you're pro-choice but generally feel abortion is bad, then tell him what you think about abortion. Don't let him think that his election means he can push whatever agenda he feels like on this issue.

If you're a pro-lifer and you're concerned as I am about the Freedom of Choice Act, sign the petition now to stop it.

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