Regarding the Advice Being Given Prolifers by Certain 'Friendly' Conservatives

January-February 1994By Kenneth D. Whitehead

Kenneth D. Whitehead, a translator and writer in Falls Church, Virginia, is a former Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Federal government’s Department of Education. His latest book is Catholic Colleges and Federal Funding. He is the author of two books on the abortion issue: Respectable Killing and The Agenda for the "Sexual Revolution."

In their usual crude, pragmatic way, the politicians seem to be arriving at a rough consensus on how to deal with the abortion issue, namely, abortion will continue to be legal, but for the most part the government will not pay for it. This seems to be the meaning of the recent action taken by Congress reaffirming (in only slightly liberalized form) the Hyde Amendment, the perennial prohibition of federal funding for nearly all elective abortions under Medicaid. Even many normally pro-abortion legislators apparently decided a line had to be drawn at government funding of so controversial a procedure; even if they do not actually read their mail, apparently many of them have become aware of the volume of it against abortion.

With the re-enactment of the Hyde Amendment, the hardline pro-abortion forces in Congress suddenly had to draw back in disarray and dismay; at this writing they apparently no longer even dare to bring the FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) bill forward for a vote. They have clearly perceived that a line has been drawn by majorities in both houses of Congress. However, this majority is not doctrinaire: Some abortion funding has slipped through. Basically, though, the emerging consensus seems to be that the government will not use tax money for a procedure so many taxpayers find objectionable, if not abhorrent; meanwhile the procedure itself will remain legal, and at the moment nobody is really pushing to outlaw it. (Nevertheless, abortion could prove to be the slingshot pebble that kills the Goliath called national health care reform if the Clinton Administration persists in what appears as of this writing to be its determination to have abortion covered in the plan.)

This rough legislative compromise pleases neither of the two sides that continue to be passionate on the subject of abortion. But almost all politicians are sick and tired of the subject, and hence are ready to put it to rest on almost any terms. Some conservative friends of the prolife movement show signs of being as sick and tired of the "insoluble" abortion issue as the politicians; they too are apparently prepared to see the issue "settled," however minimalist the terms of the settlement.

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A very good and savvy article. However, regarding this section:

"Nor is affirming the right to life of this as yet unborn human being an instance of "enforcing" a view that is somehow alien to the American system. Before 1966 all 50 states had laws prohibiting abortion except where considered medically necessary to save a mother’s life (and in some states also to preserve her health). Between 1966 and 1972 a number of states liberalized their laws, mostly to allow abortions in accordance with certain so-called "indications" for abortion. Then Roe came along in 1973 and simply overturned all these state laws in one stroke, in what dissenting Justice Byron White called at the time "an exercise of raw judicial power."

People may take legal abortion for granted now. But Roe and the other decisions stemming from it are not carved in stone; they can be changed. Eliminating legal abortion does not represent some impossible dream; it merely means restoring what was in place a generation or so ago."

Please note that we must *not* make 'restoring' what was in place our goal, because pre-Roe law was unjust. Direct abortion is unjust in all circumstances, including health-or-life-of-the-mother cases.

It's hard work to close off every little moral and intellectual wedge Satan has in our speech and thought, but we must try our best...
Posted by: guerrero paciente
August 03, 2009 11:23 PM EDT
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