In his Chicago Tribune piece, describing glowingly his meeting with Sen. Obama, Prof. Doug Kmiec writes:
The discussion dwelt at some length on abortion. Obama said he earnestly wants to “discourage” the practice — despite the distortions of some who think if they affix the “pro-abortion — won’t overturn-Roe-label” to the senator, pro-lifers like myself won’t give him the time of day. Sorry, good friends, not this year.
It’s no secret that, despite my longstanding affection for him, I’ve been, so far, unimpressed by Doug’s efforts to explain how and why it is that someone who has spent decades writing and saying what he’s been writing and saying — particularly on questions of constitutional law — has suddenly transferred his affections from Mitt Romney to Barack Obama. This latest piece, and the passage quoted above, don’t help matters much (for me).
The point that some of us have been making to Doug is not that it is impossible for someone who supports Roe to also have a good-faith desire to “discourage” abortion. It is, instead, that Sen. Obama’s record, and his public statements to people who, unlike Doug, very much want to hear him offer — and do hear him offer — his full-throated, unqualified support for abortion rights, do not seem to provide a basis for concluding that, in fact, he would be willing to do anything to “discourage” abortion, other than to support social-welfare initiatives which he would support in any event. (The point here is not to criticize such programs — if they work, fine [Which reminds me, has Obama endorsed 95-10 yet?]. It is to remind Doug that these programs and efforts will come packaged with a roll-back of the few pro-life legislative and executive-branch victories that have been secured during the past decade or so.)
Abortion aside, the judges that Sen. Obama will nominate (and that the Senate will certainly confirm) will bring an understanding of constitutional law to the Court that is entirely irreconcilable with the vision that Doug has been advocating for years. Again, it’s not just about Roe. I’d like to hear Doug’s account of why it suddenly no longer matters that justices approach constitutional interpretation as he has, for many years, been saying they should approach constitutional interpretation.
But, back to abortion: even if it is true — of course it is true — that overturning Roe would not end abortion, and that there are ways to reduce the number of abortions that do not involve overturning Roe — and even if we accept, as I do, that many reasonable, faithful Christians will conclude, given the givens, that their best option is to vote for Obama, the fact is that President Obama will sign legislation and issue executive orders that remove currently existing regulations, that undermine conscience-protections and religious-freedom protections for hospitals and health-care professionals who do not wish to participate in abortion, and that use public funds to pay for abortions and embryo-destroying research. This is not just about Roe, and Doug knows it. Perhaps there are “distortions” going on, but, with all due respect, they are not coming from those who report accurately Sen. Obama’s publicly expressed views and record on abortion. “Sorry, good friend.”