Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Kmiec: Pro-Life No Longer


For some months now, my former colleague, Prof. Doug Kmiec, has been everywhere in the press, as the pro-life conservative who, surprisingly, supports Sen. Obama.  In his latest piece, though, he seems to adopt the garden-variety “personally opposed, but . . . ” pro-choice position:

Sometimes the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively. When these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space. This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected. Nor for that matter does the reservation of space for individual determination usurp for Caesar the things that are God’s, or vice versa. Rather, it allows this sensitive moral decision to depend on religious freedom and the voice of God as articulated in each individual’s voluntary embrace of one of many faiths.

This is not the pro-life view. Nor, until a few months ago, would Doug Kmiec have regarded this as the pro-life view. It is emphatically not the case — at least, it is not the case for those who hold the views that Prof. Kmiec always professed to hold — that the regulation of abortion involves a burden on the religious freedom of those who do not believe that unborn children are entitled, as a matter of human rights, the protection of the law. To protect unborn children is to vindicate human-rights commitments. It is not to impose sectarian morality on non-adherents.


Subscribe to National Review