(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.