Monday, September 01, 2008

Pro-Choice . . .

Sometimes a person is faced with a choice.

In a brutal Vietnamese prisoner of war camp where he was being tortured, John McCain was faced with a choice: he was offered release. He refused the offer, deciding instead to stay with the fellow prisoners under his command.

Many years later John McCain's wife Cindy was visiting an orphanage run by Mother Theresa. There she faced a choice. In the orphanage she saw an abandoned three-month old Bangladeshi girl in need of medical care. She brought the child to the United States, and the McCains later adopted her. Her name is Bridget; she is seventeen years old.

Early in her fifth pregnancy, Sarah Palin was faced with a choice: The Governor of Alaska, in the throes of a demanding and politically promising public career, she was told that the child she was carrying had Down Syndrome, a text-book case for pro-abortion feminists. Sarah Palin chose to have the child. His name is Trig.

Bristol Palin, herself a 17-year-old and the daughter of Sarah and Todd Palin, faced a choice. In her senior year in high school she got pregnant. She accepted responsibility for her behavior, as did the father of the child, and they plan to marry and provide a loving home for the child they are bringing into the world.

In a speech during the primary season, Barack Obama spoke of his support for abortion -- a support so wholehearted that he voted against a bill in the Illinois legislature banning infanticide. In his speech, Obama -- invoking as always the principle of choice -- defended abortion by saying that if one of his daughters happened to get pregnant he would not want her to be "punished with a child."

Bristol Palin and her future husband are not being punished with a child; they are being blessed with one, though they may not be as fully aware of that right now as they soon will be. But even before they discover the fullness of that blessing they will feel something of the moral maturation that comes to those who do the right thing even when it entails self-sacrifice.

The bitter irony is that the term "pro-choice" is almost exclusively used to justify the refusal to take responsibility for a choice.

"Freedom," said Benedict XVI, "isn't opting out; it's opting in."

What he meant by that was that we are given the gift of freedom so that we can use it in ways that are ennobling and selfless and courageous. We opt in by choosing, not the easy way out, but the responsible way forward.


Kevin said...

Let me begin by agreeing with you on a point: Abortion is heinous and should be illegal.
Now to some counterpoints.

I think McCain is not a man to use as an example of a moral paragon.
He had a choice: be faithful to my wife or have an affair. He had the affair and then divorced the first wife and married the younger, wealthier woman.
[Note that there are no divorces and remarriages on the side of the Democratic candidates. Only Huckabee and Romney could claim that on the other side.]
He had a choice: he could have opposed the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He chose to fully support the war and the lies.
Cindy and John McCain may have brought a child over from desperate circumstances, but they support policies which condemn those who remain behind to deplorable, inhumane conditions.
As for Palin: She chose to keep her baby and her daughter has also chosen morally. However she also has chosen to ignore science and support policies which will only exacerbate the climate change crisis. Climate change if not slowed and reversed may doom human civilization as we know it. How many dead then?
Have these people made incredibly tough choices? Absolutely and they should be commended for them. I only write to say that there are other huge issues upon which they and the Kansas Bishops are silent about.

When I was a young(er) man in Kansas I voted with only Abortion in mind. This means I voted for Regan and Bush the Elder. Seeing the devastation wrought by W which would not have been possible had there not been the Regan and Bush presidencies; I do repent of those votes and the reasons I cast them.

The position on abortion is not enough to base a vote. Indeed it probably no single issue should drive it all in either direction. I also see nothing to indicate anyone, Democrat or Republican, will ever do anything to make abortion illegal. It is a great, divisive issue that works for both sides.

Take care Gil.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,

Gil Bailie said...

I don’t blame you for changing the subject. If I regretted the priority I once gave to the right to life of the innocent unborn, I would far rather talk about divorce or the Iraq war or Darwinian theory or climate change. But if you think the point of my post was that McCain and the Palins never made a mistake, then you misread it. McCain has said publicly that his greatest moral failure was the wreckage of his first marriage. And back when supporting the Iraq war was tantamount to political suicide, McCain remained committed. You may disagree with him about that war and many other things, but my point was that he is a man of principle. Likewise Palin. Compared with either, Obama is the consummate political fan-dancer.

You state that the war in Iraq is illegal and immortal as though stating the law of gravity. The immorality and illegality of the war might come as a surprise to many morally sensitive and politically attentive people. The war in Iraq may have been a mistake; I’m not sure. It may even be immoral and illegal, but one would need evidence. But in any case, it is a prudential judgment. Sometimes wars are necessary; sometimes they are foolish, immoral, and illegal. Not so with the killing of innocent children; it is a moral evil – full stop. No discussion; no ifs ands or buts.

The point of my post was the rhetorical duplicity associated with the very term “pro-choice,” inasmuch as it makes a moral principle out of a quite literally murderous refusal to take responsibility for one’s own choices.

Count me among the Neanderthals who regard the intentional killing of children – millions and millions of them – to be of such gravity that no other issue and no other combination of issues offsets it. I carry no brief for either political party; I am not a party man. Were the positions of the party platforms and candidates on the issue of abortion even remotely comparable, other issues would most certainly influence my decision in the voting booth. But with one candidate who quite literally supported infanticide and who has pledged that his first act as president will be to sign legislation that would block any state attempts to restrict abortion, and another candidate who opposes abortion and will nominate strict-constructionist judges who will not try to write into the Constitution the “right” to kill innocent children, the suggestion that one who favors the former has neglected either his moral or political duties isn’t convincing.

My best, Gil

Paula Ebert said...

As usual, you are spot on in your analysis and the comparison of the Palin family's actions and Obama's comment only serve to highlight the issue.
Paula Glover