A Cautious Man
October 18, 2008
Have You Heard The News?
Three Catholic writers (Nicholas P. Cafardi, M. Cathleen Kaveny and Douglas W. Kmiec) who describe themselves as prolife, and who support Senator Obama, respond to a column in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which George Weigel argued against the candidacy of Senator Obama, from a religious viewpoint. A sample:
George Weigel and his fellow McCain advisers are growing frustrated at the state of the campaign, and they should be. This election rightly continues to focus on the millions of Americans at risk of losing their jobs and their homes. The issue of abortion, of course, is tied to the nation's economic fortunes. In part, we endorsed Senator Obama because his tax-reduction plan focuses on the betterment of average families and those living at the margins. Center for Disease Control statistics reveal that prosperity directly affects the abortion rate far more significantly than Republican rhetoric pledging to outlaw abortion—a feat John McCain has failed to accomplish with nearly three decades in Congress.

In terms of health care, McCain makes no provision for the uninsured and proposes that the insured pay more, in all likelihood dumping people into a private insurance market that is more expensive and less responsive to those with pre-existing conditions.

By contrast, Obama does make provision for universal health care and recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (without spouse, without steady income, without employment prospects, and a particularly stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). Obama proposes to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life. A range of new studies–using U.S. rather than Swedish data–affirm this approach.

We're happy to continue to debate abortion, but the well-worn battlefield Mr. Weigel occupies should not distract voters from tangible policies that would actually reduce abortions. Before unwarranted Republican indenture, Catholic thinking gave proportionate consideration to how well a candidate addressed such important matters as a just economy, a living or family wage, access to health care, stewardship of the environment, fair treatment of immigrants and, not to be overlooked, the just or unjust conduct of a war. This is basic Catholic social teaching. It also just happens to be Barack Obama's policy agenda.

Is Obama the perfect pro-life candidate? No. Is he preferable to the self-proclaimed "pro-lifer" McCain? Yes, because promoting life in actuality beats McCain's label and all of Weigel's elegant theorizing and hand-wringing. The Republican alternative familiar to Weigel is simultaneously self-righteous, easy and ineffective. The Democratic path is practical, anything but easy—as no act of bona fide love of neighbor ever is—but inviting of a life-affirming outcome.

The whole thing is here.

(Found via dotCommonweal.)



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