So polarized are our politics and our churches these days that it takes a Republican praising the Democratic candidate in order to create enough interest in the hidden truth beneath the 35-year struggle over abortion. Prof Doug Kmiec has written a deeply thoughtful, well-reasoned discussion of why the Democratic approach to solving the abortion problem should appeal to Catholics of all ideological stripes.
The extremists on both ends of the rope have profited handsomely over the years from playing up the pro-choice vs anti-abortion debate, to the frustration of most of the rest of us. The rarely acknowledged dirty little secret is that the vast majority of Catholics and other people of faith believe simultaneously in both positions: that the ideal would be to bring every baby into the world, but that there are grave unintended consequences from trying to criminalize the decision.
Conservatives love to talk about the 43 million abortions since Roe-v-Wade, but they never acknowledge the 43 million that came before 1973--when abortion was largely illegal. In other words, illegality has been tried before, and found to be sorely wanting as a strategy to fix the problem. Add on top of that the fact that abortions rose substantially under Reagan and the first Bush, and then fell steeply under President Clinton. Now the data shows convincingly that abortion rates have stagnated under President Bush.
Prof Kmiec points out that the punishmentalists have clearly been betting on the wrong horse, content to take a chance that abortion might possibly be outlawed sometime in the very distant future, rather than supporting a Democratic position with a proven track record of abortion reduction in the here-and-now. Reconciliation being a cardinal principle of Catholicism, Dr Kmiec makes a convincing case that supporting an Obama presidency is the more rewarding way to address the tragedy of abortion for anyone who has seriously grappled with this problem in all its complexity.