Identifying the best presidential pro-life candidate is very largely about judges, as well as particular issues. The next president is likely to (no one can say for sure, of course) have a couple of vacancies on the Supreme Court to fill. Given the Court’s present makeup and who is likely to be replaced, these two nominations will either tip the balance against Roe, or confirm it once again for a whole generation. For if the Court revisits the question of Roe’s basic validity in, say, 2010, it will not do so again for a very long time.(The last time was Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992.) McCain’s “model” of a Supreme Court Justice are — he has said — Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
I mentioned a recent South Carolina advertisement about McCain’s pro-life voting record. As good as that record is, the ad contained still more powerful evidence of his pro-life convictions. This part of the ad shows Cindy McCain walking beside a diminutive Catholic nun. Mrs. McCain is holding an infant in her arms. It is (the ad text says) “little Bridget, a baby she and John adopted in 1993 from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget has been a great blessing to the McCain family.”
Indeed she has. But there is a little more to the story than is there told. For one thing, there were two babies. Mrs. McCain brought home a second infant from the same orphanage. That baby became the adopted child of the McCain’s best friends. Second, Mrs. McCain did not go to the orphanage in order to adopt. While she was touring the facility, Mother Teresa unexpectedly said to her (in so many words): “If you do not take those two babies with you, now, they could die right here. But you can save them.” Cindy McCain did.
I believe that there is a profound lesson here about what it means to be pro-life, a lesson which goes beyond the important (but obvious) fact that the McCains live by the same principles which lie behind John’s voting record. “Little Bridget” was not sought out by the McCains. She was not expected or planned for. She was an unanticipated gift whom the McCains welcomed, not because she was antecedently “wanted” by them, but because she was a baby, a unique and unrepeatable human being with a right to life because she is a human being and not because some other people’s plans include her — or don’t.
— Gerard V. Bradley is a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame.