Phi Beta Cons

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De-Emphasizing Life


I enjoyed reading NRO’s excellent symposium on Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame.  But as I read commentary after commentary by faithful pro-life Catholics, I was saddened that their voices (along with the voices of faithful pro-life Protestants) are increasingly drowned out in a faith community that keeps de-emphasizing life.  It’s not that our fellow travelers aren’t pro-life, exactly.  They claim to be and vocally support a modest pro-life reform or two, but they don’t necessarily elevate life over virtually any other policy or political position.

On the Corner, Kathryn points to a letter from a Notre Dame student that is a near-perfect illustration of this point.  Defending President Obama’s appearance, Beata Aldridge writes:

Secondly, to focus on one issue on his platform, or to focus on only one issue out of the many currently troubling our world is to completely miss the point. Obama stands for much more than a pro-choice platform. He stands for a chance for change, a drive for unity. His election was a monumental step forward for this country! That is what is important. That is what is being honored.

Yes, abortion is only “one issue out of many.”  How many times have we all heard that?  Why focus so much on abortion when we struggle with income inequality?  When the environment is in danger?  When the banking system is about to collapse?  

When I was in Iraq, there was a level of tension and gravity surrounding sometimes even the most routine decisions — a tension I’d never experienced at any time in my civilian life.  Why?  Because even questions of traveling from one base to another, supplying food at one time or another, or holding or releasing a single detainee were often quite literally matters of life and death.

A matter of life and death.  That’s a phrase full of meaning that immediately ratchets up the intensity of any situation, any conversation, or any decision.  Here’s my question to the nominally “pro-life” among us: If you actually believe that abortion is a matter of life and death, then how does “hope and change” compare on the scale?  What about tax policy?  Or earmarks?  Or carbon trading? Are President Obama’s policies so economically and environmentally marvelous that they outweigh his unrelenting, unwavering commitment to abortion on demand — for any reason, at any stage of a pregnancy?

If you answer “yes” to that, then I wonder how much life truly means to you.  


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