Abortion Catholics Religious Right

Abortion and Social Justice – Douglas W Kmiec

Douglas W. Kmiec is a prominent Republican and committed Roman Catholic. He was head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Reagan and the first Bush.

He became notorious for coming out in support of then-Senator Obama’s campaign for the Presidency, and for publishing things like the following.

He speaks of “the Catholic tradition” as

not just
condemnation of the evil of abortion,
but also as
the building up of a society

where those at risk of falling or disregarding this boundary will be far less like to do so because of the tangible help of their neighbor, inspired by the witness of Christ rendered both personally and through government. [p45]

This necessary connection between concern about abortion and concern for a more just social order is something ignored and even vigorously rejected by what he calls RFP’s – “Republican Faith Partisans.” That split is what leads many of us to feel that “pro-lifers” are often functionally pro-life only until a child is born – after that, not so much concern, for things like infant care, health care availability in general, employment availability, just wages, good neighborhood schools, etc. etc.

He speaks of “younger Catholic voters” who

more readily perceive what the Church has always seen: namely, the linkage between abortion and a just social order. Improving the lot of the average working family and addressing the health care needs of the uninsured can determine whether one is practically welcoming of new life. [p49]

So, in a good summary paragraph of why he was supporting Senator Obama for President:

Senator Obama is not pro-abortion . . .

That’s a truth you won’t often hear a Republican admit. But he’s right.

Senator Obama is not pro-abortion but tolerant of an existing legal structure that permits the mother to make the decision,
further pledging to work toward a more just social system devoted to encouraging a culture that is welcoming to life. [p48]

Meaning, in case you missed it, a culture that is pro life – as ours in important ways can be seen not to be, even before we get to discussion of the abortion issue. And Obama’s approach seems to me likely to reduce abortion in this country far more than the strategy of trying to pack the Supreme Court with Republican judges by electing Republican politicians at all levels. That sure hasn’t done any good.

[quotes are from Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama, Douglas W. Kmiec, 2008, Overlook Press. Kmiec is Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University’s School of Law, and was previously on the law faculties of Catholic University of the Americas and of Notre Dame.]

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