Abortion as a "Political Challenge"

David Gibson, author of "The Rule of Benedict" and "The Coming Catholic Church," and a regular blogger on Beliefnet and Dotcommonweal, has a provocative piece on the abortion wars as a "political challenge."  The full article ran in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Preview: ’Obscured by the polemics and theologizing, however, is the hard reality that abortion rates in the U.S., and legalized abortion, will not soon yield to restatements of the catechism or the notion that abortion is a violation of "natural law." Such arguments have not yet proved persuasive to the American public, and minds are not likely to be changed by judicial fiat, even from the Supreme Court.


That means that abortion today is primarily a political challenge, and in that context Democrats have been embracing a more effective strategy than the GOP. In an interview with ABC last week, Mr. Obama wisely noted (a month after his "above my pay grade" gaffe) that the theological question was one "I don’t presume to be able to answer" for everyone else. "The better answer," he said, "is to figure out, how do we make sure the young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that’s unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child."’

James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 3 months ago
True, repeating something will not convince most people; for instance, repeating that evolution is a scientific fact will not convince some people unless they become curious enough to investigate what science has as evidence. Similarly, repeating that abortion is a violation of ''natural law'' will not in itself convince many but should someone wish to know more about why abortion is wrong they have a firm basis for their inquiry. But, knowing something is wrong does not mean that some or even many people will not do it. This is where some theologians go wrong - they claim that the ''voice of the people'' agrees with their dissenting voices against the Magisterium and teaching of the Pope. Remember, ''all the world'' was once Arian, and half the world was iconoclastic. The Popes and others were often martyrs for the truth which prevailed.
9 years 3 months ago
How does Obama's comments compare with the reality of his actions? He opposed protection and medical care for babies who survived an abortion and he has refused to define a baby as a person. He, sadly, told a meeting of Planned Parenthood that his first act as president would be to remove limitations on abortions and parental notification. He may say one thing, but his actions contradict his words. The Republican Party is the party of all who believe that the unborn child is a gift from God. Milbo
9 years 3 months ago
While I found the article to be provocative, it was ultimately unconvincing. Mr. Gibson points to the Catholics in Alliance study as demonstrating that a comprehensive perinatal social support structure is predictive of decreased abortion rates. As Catholics, we should, then cheer at the latest Democratic party platform which calls for such programs. Mr, Gibson, however, fails to mention the other part of the study which looks at the impact of extending medicaid funding for abortion (currently the federal dollars that go into state medicaid programs can be used for abortions for instances of maternal health, rape, and incest). It cancels out any putative reduction in abortion rates accomplished by social programs! That is, unless there is a mechanism in place to actively discourage abortions (such as not allowing government funding), social programs are not likely to be enough. Given that the Democratic party platform gives unqualified support to Roe v. Wade and promises access to abortion, "regardless of ability to pay", one can infer that the Democratic leadership is likely to propose repealing the Hyde Amendment. This, in addition to Sen. Obama's co-sponsorship of the Freedom of Choice Act which invalidates the Hyde Amendment, makes it hard to believe that the Democrats have a more "effective strategy", politically or otherwise, in abortion reduction. Contrary to Milbo, I am politically homeless. Out of pro-life convictions, I have voted for Republicans in the past though I have increasingly come to realize that many of them seek my vote without true regard for the pro-life cause. I am certainly not at home in the GOP! I have given up on my blind faith in Republicans, but I remain unconvinced that I should replace it with blind trust in the Democrats. Catholics would be wise to consider third party candidates and force the existing status quo to change.


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