But some distortions are more seriously offensive than others.
The baffling case of professor Doug Kmiec continually making claims
about Catholics, Obama and abortion that just aren’t based on fact or
grounded in clearly discernible truth…..happens to be one of those
cases of trying to dress up something to be what it’s not. With grave
First Things has a thorough piece on this issue that’s not going away. It points out the disconnect in Kmiec’s own arguments, just on the face of it.
On September 2, Cardinal George reminded Chicago
Catholics that “one cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and
also be working for the common good.” He said this out of concern for
the fact that “matters of public policy that are also moral issues
sometimes are misrepresented or are presented in a partial or
The cardinal also wrote: “Our present laws permit unborn children to
be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the
protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good,
which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching.” “The
unborn child,” he emphasized, “who is alive and is a member of the
human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the
And in his subsequent Chicago Tribune op-ed piece, Doug Kmiec
claimed to admire and agree with Cardinal George’s clear statement of
Which doesn’t hold together, Kmiec being a staunch Obama supporter.
Now, Sen. Obama not only supports, but is
enthusiastically and entirely committed to protecting, our “present
laws”—that is, the laws that “permit unborn children to be privately
killed.” Prof. Kmiec knows this; there is no denying it. That is, Sen.
Obama believes—as a matter of principle—that the law ought to “place
unborn children outside the protection of law.” Now, we should take him
at his word, and assume that he would prefer that fewer abortions take
Still, on the basic point addressed by Cardinal George, Obama’s
position is clear: Unborn children ought not to be protected by law,
and the choice for abortion ought to be legally protected. Indeed, Sen.
Obama is, at this moment, running swing-state advertisements warning
voters that the election of Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin would undermine
the current near-absolute abortion license.
But Kmiec wants it to be seen another way.
Sen. Obama, Kmiec insisted, believes that “there are
alternative ways to promote the ‘culture of life,’ even given the law’s
sanction of abortion.” That Sen. Obama believes there are such
“alternative ways,” however, does not change the fact—and, to be clear,
it is a fact—that Obama “favor[s] the legal status quo on abortion”.
This is not something that can be wished into some alternate reality.
For all of Sen. Obama’s professed desire to “extend a
helping hand,” there is no denying—though Prof. Kmiec does not
mention—that he also supports public funding for abortion, a repeal of
the ban on partial-birth abortion, a pro-Roe v. Wade litmus test for
judicial nominees, a dramatic expansion of federally funded research
involving the destruction of human embryos, and the elimination of
legal protection for the conscience rights of health-care professionals
and hospitals that object to participating in abortions. How these
positions—indeed, they are not merely “positions,” they are, Obama has
said, priorities—would (in Kmiec’s words) “strengthen a culture of
life” is unclear.
That’s a jarring claim, given Obama’s promise to pass the sweeping abortion law called the Freedom of Choice Act.
In any event, such assertions and hopes do nothing to
change the fact that Sen. Obama is squarely committed, as a point of
pride and principle, not only to preserving the current legal regime,
which puts unborn children outside the law’s protection, but also to
rolling back the gains that pro-life citizens have managed to secure in
The only way to make that not so, is to make that not so. That would be a real, positive change.