The Corner

Kmiec’s Pro-Life Case for Being Pro-Choice

He shows a bit more leg in an L.A. Times op-ed on abortion:

The way out is to remember that when there are differences among religious creeds, none is entitled to be given preference in law or policy.

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.

As usual, the writing is a bit opaque. (“This does not, of course, leave the right to life undecided or unprotected.” What on earth can Kmiec mean?) But it’s pretty clearly an endorsement of the view that given the existence of moral conflict over abortion, the compromise position we should adopt is to be pro-choice. Obviously I disagree with that view. But agree or disagree, it’s not the spiel Kmiec has been giving for most of the year.

The previous argument has been that someone who favors legal protection for the unborn should be willing to support Obama even though he is pro-choice. Now we’re being told that we should support Obama by jettisoning our views about the appropriate legal status of abortion. In which case we’re left being “personally opposed.” Again, there are people who believe that “personal opposition” to abortion is a sensible and coherent position. But it is just a repackaging of the Mario Cuomo position with the addition of a “pro-life” label.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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