Jan. 26, 2011
A few days ago, the President who refuses to acknowledge when personhood begins ("that's above my paygrade") issued a statement celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This is not unsurprising for a man who, while a state senator, argued copiously against a law that would protect children who, having survived an attempted abortion, could be left to die.
What is intriguing is the internal inconsistency contained within the statement. On the one hand, Mr. Obama uses the traditional mordant euphemisms about abortion - Roe "protects women's health" and ensures "reproductive freedom;" it also guarantees that "our daughters have the same rights ... as our sons to fulfill their dreams." Ah, those babies - wreckers of so many dreams. How dare they intrude on personal self-fulfillment ...
On the other hand, Mr. Obama says he remains "committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption."
My question: Why? If abortion is a morally neutral and even beneficial choice (gotta fulfill those dreams, right?), why promote alternatives to it? The rhetorical landscape of the President's statement is replete with the presupposition that personal choice is the supreme good, meaning that abortion and adoption are merely achromatic options on the palette of ethical choices.
Additionally, if choice is the summum bonum, why be "committed" to alternatives to one of those choices whose exercise involves an activity --- the destruction of a life --- fundamentally contrary to all the others? The self-contradiction is transparent, startlingly so.
James Q. Wilson, in his classic work The Moral Sense, writes that "most people rely on (the conscience) even if intellectuals deny it, but it is not always and in every aspect of life strong enough to withstand a pervasive and sustained attack." The President is now leading this attack, and the national soul suffers for it --- as do the 3,000 unborn children aborted daily.
Yet in appealing to alternatives, does not Mr. Obama tacitly acknowledge the echo of his own conscience? Of the memory of holding a tiny, wriggling infant in his own arms? The champions of abortion rights cannot deal logically with the basis or implications of that for which they contend. To do so would be too painful, and involve a choice to defend the unborn they find an unpalatable alternative.