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A Mostly Pro-Life Romney? Pro-lifers Do a Body Count

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 28, 2012

There are several ways in which you might look at Romney’s views on abortion, which allow what I call “the usual three exceptions” (rape, incest, health/life of the mother). The first is that Romney is not “principled pro-life,” meaning that he is really pro-abortion and only assumes a pro-life position (or allies himself with that position) as a matter of political expediency. The second is that Romney is in fact pro-life and actually does believe in life for every unborn child, but that he is untruthful (again, for the sake of political expediency). Neither is an appealing position.

A third viewpoint would be that Romney is in fact not clear-minded about the issue of abortion because he is not clear-minded on the issue of human dignity and human rights in general—to the extent that logic is thrown out the window. This should give pause to other groups that are marginalized because of they are perceived to be less fully human (consider who has been included in category within the United States alone over the past several generations). In electing Romney, you might be electing not a principled man but a confused man without moorings who hedges his positions according to popular sentiment.

And this, for concerned pro-life Catholics, represents the dilemma of the current election.

On one hand: President Obama. Pro-lifers occasionally dial down the rhetoric in order to remain part of the public debate, but in fact if you are truly pro-life you believe that abortion is a “hidden” and accepted form of genocide—and Obama is a champion of that genocidal movement.

On the other hand: Romney. One might reasonably take the view that he is an unprincipled (or confused) man who is highly unlikely to aid the pro-life cause in any significant strategic or tactical way while in office. It is hard to muster action around an issue where you do not hold true conviction. But optimists allow for the possibility that Romney will be able to make some changes around the edges with the force of a strongly pro-life vice president and the cooperation of an increasingly (it is to be hoped) pro-life Congress.

(In fact, both candidates are limited to how far each can stretch the powers of the executive branch and count on the cooperation of the other branches of federal government. You have to have multiple pieces in place to gain anything more than the tiniest of incremental victories.)

From the pro-life viewpoint, is it fair to paint Obama as “an advocate for genocide” and Romney as “an advocate for murder in some circumstances, possibly at the quantities where the word genocide might still be reasonably applied?” Then it would seem you are looking at the candidates by how likely they are to increase or decrease the body count.

It is this kind of math that will frustrate pro-life voters in the coming election and will, I believe, keep some at home. However, I would caution against this course of action, because I do not subscribe to the belief that a vote to either mitigate abortion or to slow its advance equals a vote for abortion itself—a subject that I have written about in the past (and about which I have argued with a few leaders in the pro-life movement). When you have the opportunity to save lives, even a few lives, you can fight a successful skirmish even if you can’t yet win the whole war. I acknowledge that not everyone will agree with my perspective.

But Romney’s camp knows all of this. Before reiteration of his current stance on abortion—pro-life with the stated exceptions—you have bet they have counted the votes. Despite what I or anyone else will write or say, some pro-lifers will stay home. In my opinion, the Romney camp hopes that Ryan will help to hold the confidence of pro-life supporters while Romney gambles in an attempt to win votes in the middle—from moderate Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. It is a gamble that is likely to pay off.

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: impossible - Sep. 04, 2012 12:30 AM ET USA

    Votes by honest people and honest groups come one vote at a time. That is why all who read these pages need to contact every friend and relative in each of the battleground states, encourage them to follow Archbishop Lori's advice and to vote for those who promote life, traditional marriage, traditional families, and genuine Catholic social teachings. They should ask each person to contact everyone they know to do likewise, etc., etc., etc.

  • Posted by: JoePip - Aug. 31, 2012 6:58 PM ET USA

    JMJ Good aricle. Thanks. Congressman Ryan holds the same beliefs.(His bishop praised him, I don't think his bishop knew about his True belief towards abortion nor Romey's) I still have to vote republican.Lesser Evil, I Pray. President(in name only, Obama Wants to b Dictator)Obama is Fanatical about abortion and Himself.Most democrats also, hence the name, "The Party of Death."

  • Posted by: msorensen71798 - Aug. 28, 2012 11:35 PM ET USA

    Just because the media never talks about them, there are 3rd party candidates out there. A vote for a 3rd party, while not as effective at the moment as a vote against Obama, is, at least, not a vote for "a little less evil". While it is unlikely to affect this election, it can help boost the potential of someday actually having a 3rd party that can win.

  • Posted by: stevebrock8157 - Aug. 28, 2012 10:24 PM ET USA

    Well written, Peter. That's exactly what I asked myself; Is there the chance I could possibly save a few lives if I voted for one over the other? Even though I don't believe he is pro-life, I believe there will be less promotion of abortion than under Obama. I will vote for Romney hoping that it might save a few lives.

  • Posted by: GymK - Aug. 28, 2012 5:55 PM ET USA

    On TV, yesterday, a reporter asked Newt Gingrich if, and why, he now supports Romney. Newt said, "That's easy, I look at Obama, and then I look at Romney, and there is no doubt who I support!" It really is that easy. Or we can read Aquinas and consider the choice between the lesser of two evils, etc. Or we could resort to common sense -- Staying home is a vote for Obama, and no Christian or pro-life person, can do either. We must vote for Romney/Ryan, or against Obama, if that is your attitude!

  • Posted by: impossible - Aug. 28, 2012 5:52 PM ET USA

    Well, folks, Section 2240 of the CCC says we have an obligation to vote. Romney is certainly not perfect, but one has to add up the intrinsic evils Obama promotes and the intrinsic evils Romney promotes and vote for the one who would do the least harm - obviously Romney. Laziness prevents me from listing the things that George W. Bush did to lessen abortion. That list exists and is real. Attempting to nominate judges more likely to follow the Constitution is one way to help.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Aug. 28, 2012 5:39 PM ET USA

    "In fact, both candidates are limited to how far each can stretch the powers of the executive branch ..." I think that when you look at his record on abortion funding, on non-enforcement of DOMA, non- enforcement of immigration laws, prosecution of pro-life activists, persecution of the church, on and on that the current president has stretched the powers of the executive branch quite far.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 28, 2012 4:59 PM ET USA

    I must confess that I am a man prone to fret (God knows) and I most definitely do NOT consider it a “character strength” At this point, what Romney “is” or “is not” is largely academic. I do not see what purpose hyper-criticality serves at this point in the process. It would seem that Rick Santorum would have been a much more desirable choice in this regard. But wisdom demands that we work with what God has allowed us to have, and stop looking as though our stare could change it.

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