Aug 212012

(CBS News) MANCHESTER, N.H. – Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s strong views on abortion took a back seat to his new boss’s view in a Romney-Ryan campaign response to a Missouri Senate candidate’s controversial remarks about rape and abortion.

The statement on behalf of Ryan and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney said the pair would “not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”

Specifically Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote:

“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,”

One of the hopes of some pro-lifers was that the Ryan pick would help firm up Gov. Romney in regards to the pro-life cause. As an optimistic-pessimist I hoped that was true, but wouldn’t have been surprised if it was just some pro-life veneer lacquered onto Gov. Romney.

So I would guess if Ryan were asked about this personally we would get some version of “I’m personally opposed to abortion in the case of rape but …” statement. Plus what the hell does “would not oppose” mean? If the Supreme Court actually overturned Roe does it mean he would sign legislation allowing abortion in the case of rape? Though with politicians the weaselly words mean nothing other than dodging an issue for political expediency.

Though this has always been a problem with those who call themselves pro-life. If somebody said they were against racism except for the case of Inuits, would anybody say they were not racist? If somebodies says they are pro-life and then say except in the case of rape or incest they have become pro-life with exceptions as if you could get waivers for pro-life status. The same goes for people who say they are pro-life and have no problems with IVF. I guess this is American Exceptionalism where exceptions are made that are totally contrary to what they propose to be.

This is not a case of brandishing “I am more pro-life than thou”, but a complaint against a definition of pro-life that excludes persons. Direct abortion is always intrinsically evil, yes even during political campaigns. Direct abortion always kills an innocent person. The distinction of direct abortion is used because of the cases where double-effect would apply in moral theology which as the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia summarizes:

The principle of double effect in the Church’s moral tradition teaches that one may perform a good action even if it is foreseen that a bad effect will arise only if four conditions are met: 1) The act itself must be good. 2) The only thing that one can intend is the good act, not the foreseen but unintended bad effect. 3) The good effect cannot arise from the bad effect; otherwise, one would do evil to achieve good. 4) The unintended but foreseen bad effect cannot be disproportionate to the good being performed.

I find Rep. Ryan joining along with this just plain cowardly. That political heat because of idiotic and a bit insane comments by Representative Todd Akin invoke not a teaching moment, but a runaway moment. The issue of abortion and rape is highly emotionally charged and I can understand on an emotional level why so many how call themselves pro-life do this. When I became a “pro-life” atheist I also made the same exception and it was only when I became Catholic that I first heard explained a defense against these exceptions. Most Americans would be totally against affixing the crime of a father to a child, yet in the case of rape they would have the child killed and the rapist just sent to prison for an average of time served as 5.4 years. We very naturalize sympathize with the victim of this horrendous crime, but adding another victim does not diminish the crime. Rep. Ryan has been able to articulate the faith in the past despite political pressure and the sound bite mentality, that he choose not to stand up for the truth demonstrates why there are so few martyrs who were also politicians. Now they can’t even weather a political storm without buckling.

What they end up doing is undermining the pro-life cause. When you make exceptions based on circumstances then pretty much you are saying “all life is precious’ just not in so-and-so circumstance. The integrity of the pro-life stance is gutted for emotional appeals instead of clearly explaining the truth. Sure a lot of people don’t want to hear the truth, but they will never hear it if we keep making excuses for political expediency. Instead we will only hear arguments about why Romney is more pro-life than Obama. Well if you want to play moral limbo than yeah Obama can dance under a very low moral bar. If somebody said they were less for genocide than their opponent we would laugh at such a ridiculous statement. Yet we seem to swallow that argument every election and not learning the lesson in the next candidate go-around. Sure I totally understand incrementalism and political realism. Unfortunately the child who is slaughtered in the womb will not live long enough for such nuances.

  14 Responses to “Pro-Life Waivers”

  1. This is very disappointing. It’s the only circumstance in which people currently advocate executing someone for a crime committed by his parent.

  2. Shut up and vote GOP! We’ll hold their feet to the fire and make sure they don’t compromise–when we are done compromising.

  3. Here is my question, and I am very open to correction: can we look at this in terms of steps?

    With a Romney/Ryan ticket and possible win, we are the closest we will be in overturning Roe v Wade, which would not make abortion illegal, but would send the questions back to the states for a vote. In the states that vote to make it illegal in most cases we can then use that to build to the next step. If we overreach, we may not get to that step.

    I think the early Christian approach to slavery. Paul advised that slaves be submissive to their masters, but that the masters treat the slaves as equals in God’s eyes. This was a step towards abolition slavery. Paul’s letter to Philemon shows how he urges the acceptance of Onesimus but not out of compulsion.

    I also think of the American Revolution and slavery. Based on the principles of the Declaration, the right to be free had to be extended to the slaves, even if those like Jefferson couldn’t see it. But that freedom could not be given unless America won its independence first. If the 2nd Continental Congress had insisted on abolishing slavery in 1776, the union may not have formed and independence may not have been won.

    First steps are not perfect but they move things in the right direction.

    The ban on partial birth abortion did not accomplish a ban on all abortions, but it was a step in the right direction. A ban on all abortions except in the case of rape will not ban all abortions, but it is a step in the right direction.

    Right now the question is not making abortion in cases of rape legal. It already is legal.

    The question is getting justices on the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade and put it up to a vote.

    I am conflicted about this and, as I wrote, I will be happy if those here can share their wisdom with me.

  4. […] indeed.  Go here to learn more about David Michalek. And if you missed the news on Paul Ryan, the Curt Jester can explain the word that  sick-bay commandoes can spell backwards and forwards.  Filed Under: Culture, Living Tagged With: Alan Rickman, Art, Beauty, Film, Paul Ryan, […]

  5. I think I agree with sky walker. If we could ban abortion after 20 weeks, after 12 weeks, totally, except in cases of rape….it would be an improvement on present conditions, without necessarily agreeing to abortion at all. It would be accepting that we might only be able to save one group of people at a time, but that is better than saving no one.

  6. As a Canadian I only ask one question:. In a two party system as yours, if you refuse to vote Romney-Ryan, doesn’t that mean your only alternative would be to vote for Obama -Biden.

    I don’t think you have another choice or am I missing something?

  7. Puff, just because third parties don’t generally win, doesn’t mean they don’t run. If those were literally my only two options, I’d abstain.

  8. Those of us who tried to remain “pure” in elections where we didn’t care for the candidate of either major party count ourselves responsible for electing Bill Clinton. To vote for a third party or abstain from voting in 2012 must surely constitute material cooperation toward the election of Barack Obama, the most incompetent if not most perverse and destructive man to ever hold the office. In this case it can only be immoral to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Sadly, the American democracy at this point in history increasingly hangs on the balance of the Supreme Court, an institution under the direct control (for all intents and purposes) of the President. There is simply no alternative in this election but to back the candidate(s) who can beat Obama.

  9. Yes, CatholicSkywalker, incremental improvements to lessen the evil can be morally good acts.

    As I see it, the problem isn’t whether Romney is an improvement over Obama. Rather, it’s the two-fold problem that, on the one hand, so much of the pro-life movement’s energy is expended trying to convince people that “pro-life” means whatever the Republican presidential candidate’s position is; and, on the other hand, Ryan’s “personally opposed but not in charge” is not, in fact, an incremental improvement.

  10. “A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    Blessed John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 73.

  11. John V,
    Thank you for that quote.
    And to everyone else for your insight

  12. A question for this prestigious blog about voting and the sin of omission:

    Suppose Hitler died before the fall of Nazi Germany and there was an election for a successor. Candidate “A” wants to keep the killing of all Jews legal. Candidate “B” wants only the killing of Jews who are a product of rape/incest or any Jew threating the life of a German. Candidate B brings less evil, or more good, depending on how you wish to view it. Is choosing NOT to vote at all a sin of omission because “B” could possibly save many lives?

  13. […] between him and Romney to maintain the fiction that he is “100% proliife”.  Sorry, no:Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote:“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan […]

  14. […] if you missed the news on Paul Ryan, Deacon Greg can fill you in. And the Curt Jester can explain the word that  sick-bay commandoes can spell backwards and forwards… It starts with a “W,” and it doesn’t rhyme with […]

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