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The lesser of two evils

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The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:11 pm

In last night’s debate, Paul Ryan said,

Now I believe that life begins at conception. That's why - those are the reasons why I'm pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
After the debate, Ryan’s argument was praised by the Susan B. Anthony List, an antiabortion political group.

Tonight, Congressman Ryan explained the pro-life position with clarity and candor,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group’s president, said in a statement. “The Romney-Ryan ticket is clearly committed to protecting American women and unborn children — as well as our conscience rights and religious freedom.” (Washington Post)

Deal Hudson and Keith Fournier wrote:

Rep. Paul Ryan has faithfully represented the teaching of Blessed John Paul II in his historic encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the clear teaching of the magisterium, the teaching office, of the Catholic Church. (
I could have sworn that the “historic encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the clear teaching of the magisterium” are unanimous in teaching that the right to life does not allow “exceptions” for rape and incest.

For example, the CCC teaches:

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.
2272 Formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. 'A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae' 'by the very commission of the offence', and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law . The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
Also, from the Washinton Post:

Ryan opposes abortion under all circumstances, unless the procedure is deemed necessary to save the mother’s life. Romney says he would allow exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

Ryan is a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which defines a fertilized egg as a human being — similar to recent “personhood” efforts in a handful of states. He also won his seat in 1998 by running to his opponent’s right on abortion and emphasizing no exceptions. Romney has suggested he supports a constitutional personhood legislation, but has also said that he would allow for abortions in cases of rape and incest.
Mitt Romney said what?

1994: "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. ... You will not see me wavering on that."

1999: "When I am asked if I am I pro-choice or pro-life, I say I refuse to accept either label."

2001: "I do not wish to be labeled pro-choice. I have never felt comfortable with the labels associated with the abortion issue."

2002: "When asked, will I preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, I give an unequivocal answer: 'Yes' ... I do not take the position of a pro-life candidate. … Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government's."

2005: "I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice."

2007: "(In 2004, as governor of Massachusetts) the conclusion I reached was that ... we should therefore allow our state to become a pro-life state. ... I never called myself pro-choice. I never allowed myself to use the word pro-choice, because I didn't feel I was pro-choice."

2007: I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said we don't want to have abortion. ... I'd be delighted to sign that bill."

2008: "On every decision I made as governor, I came down on the side of life."

2011: "Absolutely!" (In response to the question asking if he'd support a constitutional amendment saying human life begins conception.)

2012: "What I'd like to see happen would be for the Supreme Court to say look, we're going to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states the authority to decide whether they want to have abortion or not."

2012: "I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother." ("health" later retracted)

What's Romney's position on abortion as of Thursday afternoon? Evidently the same position he's always held: He'll say and do whatever he thinks will win him the most votes.

Pro-choice? Pro-life? Better to describe it as firmly, consistently pro-Mitt.

Tuesday: Romney told the Des Moines Register editorial board, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." Banning abortion is always high on the agenda of many conservatives, and some quickly registered dismay and disappointment — though surely not surprise — at Romney's evident lack of vehemence and resolve on an issue that truly animates them.

Hours later, a spokeswoman offered the clarifying reassurance (hasty retraction), "Gov. Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life."

Wednesday: "I'm a pro-life candidate," Romney told the audience at a campaign rally. "I'll be a pro-life president." He added that he'd "remove funding for Planned Parenthood" and block federal aid to international agencies if they so much as provide abortion counseling services. (
Sure he will!

Notwithstanding the "exceptions" to the proscribing of abortion in the cases of incest and rape, does anyone really believe that Romney/Ryan will make a concerted effort to overturn the Court’s ruling on what defines “health of the mother”?

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that with postfetal viability--when the fetus's critical organs can sustain independent life--the state "may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother." And in Doe v. Bolton, a companion case issued the same day as Roe, the court provided further guidance on what preserving the "health of the mother" entailed. "Medical judgment may be exercised in light of all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age--relevant to the wellbeing of the patient," the court wrote. "All these factors may relate to health."

… the law does not specify which conditions or complications should be included in the legal definition of what constitutes a threat to the mother's health. That decision is left up to the doctor. Pro-life groups have long complained that the Supreme Court's definition is too vague and includes too many provisions. "It allows abortion under any circumstance because the Supreme Court has defined 'health' to mean a general feeling of well being or age or familial conditions or psychological factors," says David O'Steen, president of the National Right to Life (NRLC). "Health means anything." The NRLC has attacked Obama's own characterization of his abortion position in the debate as disingenuous. (
Is the lesser of two evils still evil?

Once again, real pro-life Catholics will have to hold their collective noses and vote for the lesser of two evils ... isn't that what Catholics always do as they convince themselves that the Republican candidate is "pro-life"; well, he will at least work to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court.

And how is that worked out?

Conservatives fear that an opportunity to appoint conservative judges will be lost if they don’t vote for the "more viable" major party candidate. However, Republican Supreme Court appointees gave the country Roe v. Wade and then a court of eight GOP-appointed judges (five by Reagan and Bush) strengthened it in 1992. The same court has rendered many other liberal rulings. Future appointments promise to be no better.

Does anyone think G. W. Bush [or Romney] is more conservative than Reagan (who despite his pro-life rhetoric nominated two pro-abort judges to the Supreme Court)? [Neither] Bush [not Romney] ... believe that unborn babies have a right to life. He says he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. In other words, who lives and who dies is a political decision. There is not a right to life in the mind or heart of Bush [or Romney] (
Is Congressman Paul Ryan selling his soul (OK, its called "compromise") for political expediency?

Isn't that how the game is played?


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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:13 pm

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a strong pro-life case against abortion during the Vice-Presidential debate on Thursday night.

Washington, DC | 10/11/12 11:07 PM

Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a strong pro-life case against abortion during the Vice-Presidential debate on Thursday night.

During a debate marked by Vice President Joe Biden’s snark and interrupting, Ryan calmly and cooly laid out why he takes a pro-life position and how his Catholic faith has helped guide him to a place where he opposes abortion.

“That’s why — those are the reasons why I’m pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don’t agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother,” Ryan said.

From the same

2/7/12 6:38 PM

Ron Paul’s Curious Position on Abortion in Cases of Rape

Libertarian Republican and presidential contender Ron Paul made headlines recently for an exchange with CNN’s Piers Morgan about how to handle rape pregnancies. Pro-aborts are scratching their heads wondering what “honest rape” means, while pro-lifers question just how pro-life the Texas Congressman really is:

MORGAN: You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped — and I accept it’s a very unlikely thing to happen. But if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?

PAUL: No. If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen or give them –

MORGAN: You would allow them to abort the baby?

PAUL: It is absolutely in limbo, because an hour after intercourse or a day afterwards, there is no legal or medical problem. If you talk about somebody coming in and they say, well, I was raped and I’m seven months pregnant and I don’t want to have anything to do with it, it’s a little bit different story.

But somebody arriving in an emergency room saying, I have just been raped and there is no chemical — there’s no medical and there’s no legal evidence of a pregnancy –

MORGAN: Life doesn’t begin at conception?

PAUL: Life does begin at conception.

MORGAN: Then you would be taking a life.

PAUL: Well, you don’t know if you’re taking a life either, because this is an area that is — but to decide everything about abortion and respect for life on this one very, very theoretical condition, where there may have been a life or not a life.
MSNBC’s Steve Benen claims that by “honest rape,” Paul really means that “American women are not to be trusted when it comes to rape claims,” a line which is “tragically common on the right.” Baloney. As someone active in pro-life and conservative commentary and activist circles, I’ve never encountered anyone who thinks that way, Paul included. Clearly, he’s just saying people shouldn’t be able to use false rape allegations to get abortions. With any criminal or medical matter, it’s pretty standard procedure to determine the facts of the situation, right Steve?

Sleazy insinuations aside, Paul’s position seems to be that, if you don’t know whether fertilization has occurred yet, then we should act as if it hasn’t and prevent it through contraception. But contraception doesn’t only prevent fertilization; it can function by keeping an already-fertilized egg from implanting. This is apparently okay because we’ll never know if we ended a life anyway.

That’s an awfully backward understanding of ethics. In most cases, morality and common sense command us to err on the side of caution in cases of ambiguity—to avoid even the mere possibility of doing harm—but Paul recommends that we do the opposite and use the ambiguity as an excuse. That certainly isn’t how President Ronald Reagan [who appointed two pro-abort judges] saw things:

I have also said that anyone who doesn’t feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.
It also runs counter to the Hippocratic Oath Dr. Paul has taken:

Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
To dismiss the possible death of brand-new lives just because you can’t perceive them is worse than playing God—when God takes a life, He knows it and have a purpose in mind. I appreciate all that Ron Paul has said and done for the right to life, but his stance here desperately needs to go back to the drawing board. Note: Calvin Freiburger is a Live Action contributing writer. This column appeared at the Live Action blog and is reprinted with permission. (
Nope, no hypocrisy there! has no problem with Romney/Ryan making open-ended exceptions for incest and rape, but when Ron Paul says that he would approve of rape victims being given “a shot of estrogen” (or the like) only within the first 24 hours, he has “an awfully backward understanding of ethics” and is "playing God”.

I guess Romney and Ryan are excused from the accusation of “playing God” because neither has taken the Hippocratic Oath.

Actually, I agree with the writer’s assessment of Ron Paul’s flawed opinion, I just cannot understand the hypocrisy of pro-life organizations such as and the Susan B. Anthony List, or Catholic pundits (and neo-cons) such as Deal Hudson who act as if Romney/Ryan “faithfully represented the teaching of Blessed John Paul II in his historic encyclical entitled The Gospel of Life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the clear teaching of the magisterium, the teaching office, of the Catholic Church.”


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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  columba on Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:36 pm

Notwithstanding the "exceptions" to the proscribing of abortion in the cases of incest and rape, does anyone really believe that Romney/Ryan will make a concerted effort to overturn the Court’s ruling on what defines “health of the mother”?


Is the lesser of two evils still evil?

There really only is one evil.
The lesser of the two evils in this case is merely political expediency. None of them are committed to the protection of life.

Is Congressman Paul Ryan selling his soul


I just cannot understand the hypocrisy of pro-life organizations such as

Wasn't Life News one of the uncompromising, leading voices in America agianst abortion.? What's going on?

The first ever abortin clinic is due to open in Ireland (the north) next week amid much protest. The same arguments given above are being used to justify it.
God help us all.

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:01 pm

columba wrote:
The first ever abortin clinic is due to open in Ireland (the north) next week amid much protest. The same arguments given above are being used to justify it.
God help us all.
Yes, I was just reading about that. Apparently, the clinic is being opened for "chemical" abortions, while women seeking "regular" abortions will still have to go to the UK (of which over 4,000 did last year). Here are a couple of the news stories:

Ireland’s first abortion clinic opens in Belfast despite opposition - POLL

Read more:

The first abortion clinic on the island of Ireland has opened in Belfast.

Women over the age of 16 will now be able to make appointments for abortion even though it remains illegal in the Irish Republic.

The clinic will offer abortions up to nine week’s pregnancy, as well as offering contraceptive advice, HIV testing, and sexual disease testing. Two doctors will decide whether the abortion can go ahead.

The clinic will be owned and operated by Marie Stopes International, one of the leading abortion service providers in Britain.

Opposition is already mounting.

Bernie Smyth, of the Anti-Abortion group Precious Life, told the BBC that members want the centre closed before its scheduled opening.
The cost per abortion will be $500 according to clinic operators.

While abortion is legal in Britain, religious opposition in Northern Ireland on all sides has stopped abortion clinics there.

The Belfast center’s programme director is Dawn Purvis, the former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, a fringe loyalist party, said it was time for such a clinic.

She stated: “We offer a safe place for women and men to find support, be provided with help and counselling, to feel that they are being listened to and not judged. It is a matter of choice, every step of the way.

“A woman may decide that she does not want to choose a termination. If she does, then offering early medical abortion cuts out the stress of having to travel outside Northern Ireland to access those services.”

According to The Irish Times, 1,007 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England or Wales for an abortion, and 4,149 women from the Republic.
Purvis stated that the centre would operate within all legal frameworks.

Northern Ireland Pro-Lifers Outraged by New Abortion Biz
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 10/11/12 11:00 AM

Leading pro-life advocates in Northern Ireland are outraged that the Marie Stopes abortion business is opening up a clinic there, in what amounts to the first abortion facility in that part of the U.K.

The pro-life group Precious Life says that Marie Stopes International’s opening of an abortion-center in Belfast is a matter for the police and courts.

Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said, “Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland and remains a criminal offence. The laws in Northern Ireland which protect our unborn children are the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 and Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945. These statutes make it an offence to abort a child from conception to birth. The crime is punishable by the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. What is legal in Northern Ireland, is providing genuine life saving treatment to pregnant women.”

“We will be contacting the Police, Public Prosecution Service, the Attorney General and our Department of Health, to ensure the law here is rigorously enforced. Our unborn children must be protected from hands of Marie Stopes International, who make millions of pounds every year by killing unborn children,” she said.

She added, “This shows the desperation of the pro-abortion movement who are attempting to bypass our government and legal system and perform abortions in Northern Ireland. They are riding rough-shod over the views of the vast majority of people here; over our Assembly; and over the authority of our courts.”

Bernadette Smyth concluded “Any attempt to start killing unborn children in Northern Ireland will fail. Anyone who kills an unborn child in Northern Ireland is committing an illegal criminal act. We remain confident that anyone who tries to perform abortions in Northern Ireland will be brought to justice.”

Smyth is urging pro-life people in Northern Ireland to contact their Assembly member to express opposition.

“Please contact your of the Assembly member and tell them you are opposed to the opening of a private abortion clinic in Northern Ireland,” she said. “Our unborn children must be protected from the hands of Marie Stopes International, who make millions of pounds every year by killing unborn children.”


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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:37 pm

columba wrote:
I just cannot understand the hypocrisy of pro-life organizations such as

Wasn't Life News one of the uncompromising, leading voices in America against abortion.? What's going on?
They hitched their wagon to the teflon and waffling Romney a long time ago (as soon as Santorum dropped out).

Now, get this:

Pro-Life Coalition of Catholics Forms to Support Mitt Romney

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 9/24/12 5:01 PM

A coalition of Catholic leaders and activists have come together to support the candidacy of Mitt Romney, who is taking on pro-abortion President Barack Obama. The coalition includes quite a number of significant pro-life leaders ranging from former Vatican ambassadors Ray Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon to Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Marco Rubio.

The list of members of the Catholics for Romany coalition includes dozens of elected officials, but also grassroots activists like National Right to Life attorney Jim Bopp, former Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork, columnist Rachael Campos Duffy, Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, and Dr. Robert George.

Responding to the outpouring of support from the Catholic community, both Romney and Paul Ryan mentioned pro-life issues in conjunction with the formation of the Catholics for Romney coalition.

“I am honored to have the support of Catholic leaders from all over this country,” said Mitt Romney. “The Catholic Church embodies all that is great about America—loving your neighbor, defending life, and helping the less fortunate to overcome poverty and rise in the world. Forming a more perfect union requires that we continue to turn these principles into reality. If I am elected president, that will be my highest priority.”

Congressman Paul Ryan added: “As a life-long Catholic, I learned very early that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That principle has informed my life in public service, and I am pleased to have so many leaders in the faith supporting Mitt Romney and me in this election.”

“We understand that policymakers must target the root causes of poverty with reforms that promote economic growth and opportunity. Free enterprise and strong communities remain the best means to promote upward mobility and help individuals escape the trap of government dependency. It is an honor to support Governor Romney as he advances solutions that champion the dignity of every human being. That is a goal that people of all faiths can support,” he said.

The Catholics for Romney list follows:

[…] Former Senator Rick Santorum […]

Rick Santorum on Abortion: There Are No Exceptions for Rape and Incest

On tonight’s Huckabee Forum2, a South Carolina man asked how the taking of an adult life through the act of the death penalty is different than the life of an unborn child that was conceived by the act of rape or incest. Santorum explained that he has no exception for rape or incest and he believes that all human life is sacred, but said when it comes to the death penalty, “we’re not talking about innocent human life.”
So, Mr. “Pro-life” Rick Santorum (well, he does sanction and even encourages the assassination [murder] of Iranian nuclear scientists without due process, even without knowing what they are working on) has joined the “Pro-Life Coalition of Catholics … to Support Mitt Romney”, when the waffling Mr. “Pro-life” Mitt Romney says he is not opposed to abortion in cases of incest and rape.

Selling one’s soul for political expediency has become quite fashionable. And, for Santorum, it a matter of common practice:

Santorum Haunted by Support of Pro-abortion Specter

A devout Catholic, Santorum has been a consistent advocate for pro-life issues, but he backed pro-abortion candidates in key political moves that could have benefited his own career.

The pro-life flier notes that Santorum has "a long and storied history of campaigning for radical pro-abortion candidates,” mentioning Santorum's strong endorsement for former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

Santorum seems most haunted by his 2004 decision to back the pro-abortion Specter in a Republican primary. Specter won narrowly, defeating his pro-life opponent Pat Toomey, and Santorum's support of Specter was cited as a key help to the liberal Specter. (
When asked during one of the debates to explain such hypocrisy, he could only reply that sometimes one has to take one for the team, the Republican party.


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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  George Brenner on Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:44 pm

How close are we to the wrath of God when current times are compared to the great flood and Sodom and Gomorrah? Abortion is murder. The Church must always stress that abortion is Murder. Thou shalt not kill.

Romans 1 18
8. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice.

George Brenner

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:07 pm

On the Culture

By Dr. Jeff Mirus | October 12, 2012 11:37 AM

Frustration with Ryan and Biden

It was frustrating to hear both Catholic Vice Presidential candidates botch the question of the relationship of abortion to their Catholic Faith in the debates. Joe Biden, of course, simply repeated the same canards that faithless Catholics have always used to justify being pro-abortion. Paul Ryan’s remarks were far more sound, but in the end he too foundered on the rocks of inconsistency and lost opportunity.

Biden’s argument that he accepts the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception but refuses to impose that view on others is obviously as disingenuous now as it was when it was first introduced over a generation ago. This argument turns abortion into a purely religious issue, asserting that the evil of abortion can be known only through Revelation, which would mean that avoidance of abortion cannot be required of unbelievers—and this manner of framing the question is false.

Moreover, the argument does not distinguish between a government which fails to punish an evil and a government which actively works to make an evil more widespread, including proclaiming it a right and coercing others into supporting and extending it.

Biden even slipped into the usual contradictions, admitting that the child in the womb is a separate person, yet framing the issue in terms of a woman’s right to control her own body.

That this line of argument—a tissue of self-serving inconsistencies—should continue to provide a safe political haven is an irrefutable testimony to our fallen nature.

But sadly Ryan also left himself open to criticism. He rightly stressed that we know abortion is wrong through reason. He did not use the term natural law, but his argument makes sense only in light of natural law, for he asserted first that science establishes that the fetus is a human being and second that taking the life of an innocent human being is morally wrong. But given that the Republican ticket would permit abortion in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, Ryan failed utterly to make the distinctions necessary to salvage what otherwise appears to be a glaringly inconsistent position.

The lack of moral clarity actually concerns me here more than the policy, which is old news. Ryan was on the right track with his unnamed appeal to the natural law, but he failed to argue that it is precisely this natural human perception of the moral order which makes it perfectly moral for government to make laws which restrict even those evils that some citizens cannot (or will not) admit—insofar as a proposed restriction is consistent with government’s obligation to secure the common good. Instead, Ryan reduced the argument to a claim that the Republican position was moderate as compared with the extremism of the Democrats. That may be a politically effective point, yet on Ryan’s own reading, it is morally wrong for a government to favor abortion under any circumstances.

To come at this from a slightly different direction, Ryan was also on the right track in protesting the Obama Administration’s violations of religious liberty. But again, the effectiveness of these remarks was vitiated by his failure to make the necessary moral distinction between a government choosing not to punish a violation of the natural law and a government promoting a violation of the natural law. For with respect to abortion, the issue is not primarily a question of religious liberty. The argument from religious liberty, while valid, is introduced chiefly because it might work under the Constitution of the United States even in courts which no longer recognize the natural law.

The real truth of the matter is that the Republican position, even if one does not agree with it, may be argued in a morally coherent way. Indeed, if the incidence of abortion is ever to be reduced, it is absolutely vital to argue about this matter in a morally coherent way. For Ryan’s implication that it is always wrong for government to favor abortion does not exclude the possibility of government choosing not to restrict and punish it in particular circumstances. This case must be made to distinguish a so-called right to abortion, or even a requirement for abortion (positions which are always false and evil), from governmental toleration of abortion, which may, like toleration of other evils, be justifiable on prudential grounds.

Thus the only unconfused position on this question—and the argument Ryan should have made—runs as follows:

1. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, which we know is immoral by reason through the natural law;
2. Adherence to the natural law, unlike adherence to truths known only by Faith, is morally binding on all persons and may be justly required of them by government when necessary for the common good;
3. This, and only this, justifies government prohibition and punishment of naturally recognized evils such as fraud, theft, assault, sexual abuse, and murder;
4. However, it is not always best for government to prohibit and punish particular violations of the natural law; [e.g., "in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother"]
5. Whether or not to do so is a matter of the legitimate purposes of government (which clearly encompass the prevention of murder) and prudence, which is necessary to determine whether government can act effectively and without doing more harm than good;
6. Government, therefore, may choose not to restrict or punish some moral evils which are otherwise within its legitimate scope;
7. But in any case government must never—never—encourage or promote these evils, give them the status of rights, or coerce people into supporting them.
The protection of the lives of those under its jurisdiction from attack, including unborn children, is clearly the first purpose of government. For this reason, it is also a sine qua non of its legitimacy. It ought to be extremely unusual, then, for any competent government to admit that it does not intend to do everything in its power to diminish a particular class of murders. Nonetheless, the preceding argument is not only sound but essential for a coherent discussion of this issue.

Now it may be that it is not possible to win a Presidential election in America by insisting on the truth of the second point in this argument. Too many people may fear that, given the right circumstances, a natural law advocate might deem it prudent to restrict and/or punish them for their favorite vices. The potential restriction of pornography and contraception, for example, terrifies huge portions of the American electorate. Nonetheless, when these questions are raised, they must be answered truthfully and coherently. The failure to do so contributes to the confusion of the electorate, as well as making it far more difficult for those who wish to do what is right to figure out how they should cast their votes.

One Vice Presidential candidate did better than the other on this issue, but neither articulated a coherent moral and civic understanding of faith, reason, abortion and the public order.

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:52 am

I couldn’t agree more with the analysis of Dr. Mirus. And it is the failure of pro-life Catholics such as Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum to correctly frame this debate that will always result in the appearance of hypocrisy, and leave their arguments open to attacks by liberal dissenting Catholics such as MSNBC's Chris Matthews who respond, in effect, with “So, if life begins at conception and thus, abortion is murder, then women procuring an abortion for ‘health’ reasons (or any reason) should be prosecuted for murder”.

The logic is inescapable because that is how Catholics typically (and incorrectly) frame the issue.

Dr. Mirus is right, in a secular society Catholics cannot frame this debate on the strength of Catholic teaching (as a matter of revealed truth), but on the strength of the moral or natural law. And to that end, there may be “exceptions” that can be tolerated for the common good (and not punished), but never actively promoted as a matter of public policy.

Paul Ryan missed the opportunity to tear Biden’s hypocrisy to shreds, and to properly frame this debate such that it is not perceived as a “religious” issue that appears to want to impose Church teaching on the un-Churched masses who do not “reason” with the eyes of faith that says abortion is intrinsically evil, let alone that it is “murder”.

This was my motivation for posting the series of articles by Dr. Thomas Fleming (Christian Politics in PostChristian America), which should be read as a more detailed supplementation to the arguments of Dr. Mirus. Unless I am mistaken, I believe they are basically saying the same thing, though there may be points of disagreement.

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  Allie on Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:35 pm

I get very frustrated and annoyed with Catholics who were absolutely opposed to Romney in the primaries that are now among the first to "like" him on FB or put his bumper stickers on their cars or call out anyone who refuses to vote for the lesser of two evils (as presumably not voting properly? or not being "Catholic" enough?).

I am also totally disgusted with the hypocrisy & political opportunism of "pro-life" organizations who in 2008 called out Romney for not being pro-life but now act like he is the new savior for the pro-life movement and the only pro-life candidate. We all know his abortion record as well as his stance on gay marriage, etc... Nevermind that he wants to ramp up war in the middle east- who cares about "life' when it is not American, right?

Quite frankly, given what the GOP has forced upon us as candidates for the last several elections- I am not voting Republican any time soon. We need to knock out the neo-con/Christian Zionist faction of the Republican party and return it to being truly conservative (fiscally and morally); or we need to start a new party that actually is in line with Catholic teaching.

The Constitution Party is on the ballot in my state this year. I am looking into them more closely as well.

Can you tell I am annoyed with this election season?
Btw- haven't been on in a while- I pray everyone is doing well!!!

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  MRyan on Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:47 pm

Hi Allie,

So nice to hear from you.

I think you nailed it. I have no problem with Catholics endorsing Romney as the “pro-life” candidate, but I do have a problem with statements that say “a non-vote, or a vote for anyone but Romney, is a vote for Obama”, and with Deacons, Priests and Bishops who strongly insinuate that it is a Catholic’s duty to register and vote for the “pro-life” candidate, which is code for “vote Republican”. One Bishop even said that there is nothing in the Republican Party platform that is opposed to Catholic teaching, therefore …..

In other words, if the right platitudes are mouthed, it matters not that nothing will be done by Republicans to curb abortions (such as to frame the debate correctly so that we have a fighting chance). We hear the same meaningless platitudes and empty rhetoric every election cycle, and what do we get?

I have also come to the conclusion that politics on the national level is a complete waste of time. To think that we can effect change in Washington is simply naïve. It is totally corrupt, and it is totally bought and paid for. Anyone involved with politics at this level is already compromised (Ron Paul may be the only exception, though I have never heard him speak out against Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, or against a policy in Washington that allows lawmakers and policymakers who influence foreign policy to have dual citizenship with Israel, a nation that has the largest spy ring in the U.S. and steals our nation’s secrets with impunity; aided and abetted by willing politicians and top Washington officials.)

But, I digress!

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Re: The lesser of two evils

Post  columba on Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:40 pm

Welcome back Allie.

I think this lady agrees with you both.


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Re: The lesser of two evils

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