The Spectacle Blog

Professional Pro-Lifer for Obama

By on 10.17.08 | 12:26PM

Doug Kmiec is at it again, trying to make the pro-life case for Barack Obama. To make this argument, he has to stack the deck heavily in Obama's favor. Because he judges John McCain unlikely to succeed at overturning Roe v. Wade -- an assesment I share -- a vote for McCain isn't necessarily pro-life. But a vote for Obama, who opposes extending legal protection to unborn children in most if not all cases, is permissible because he believes abortion is "a tragic situation" that should occur less frequently. There are plenty of well meaning people who hold the position that abortion is regrettable but should be permissible, a necessary evil. But that position is not pro-life.

No, Kmiec argues, Obama would actually try to reduce abortions through aid to pregnant mothers, sex education, adoption services, and other mechanisms aimed at reducing unintended pregnancies and making it more feasible to bring crisis pregnancies to term. All McCain would do is repeat Republican promises to overturn Roe, an "effort [that] has not saved a single child," according to Kmiec. But Roe isn't the only issue in play here. Obama has said he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which invalidate state abortion restrictions that have reduced abortion rates. McCain would veto such legislation. Obama supports taxpayer funding of abortion while McCain favor the Hyde Amendment, which advocates on both sides of the issue believe has prevented many abortions.

In short, there is no clear evidence that anything Obama is proposing would reduce abortions and some reason to believe his policies, if enacted, would increase them. Kmiec even suggests in his penultimate paragraph that legal protection for the unborn should be negotiable. Issues of war and peace might provide proportionate reasons for Catholics and other pro-lifers to vote against McCain (though I think Obama's about as likely to please such voters as McCain is to overturn Roe). But Kmiec's odd pro-life case for being pro-choice, as Ramesh Ponnuru puts it, doesn't do the job.

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