The twenty-ninth annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C., on January 22, 2002. Between 100,000 and 200,000 pro-life Americans will gather to participate in what has become one of this country's saddest annual pilgrimages, which starts from the Ellipse and makes its way up to Capitol Hill. Thousands will have come the night before for a Mass held on the vigil of the March at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Many of those thousands will spend at least part of the eight or nine hours after the conclusion of the Mass in solemn prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament in the Crypt Church of the basilica. This army of prayer will be joined by thousands more by the break of the first rays of light on January 22 as busloads of marchers make their way to the nation's capital city. The fact that so many thousands of Americans make so many sacrifices to participate in the March for Life (as well as the Mass and all night vigil) should be a source of great encouragement at a time when abortion is as firmly entrenched in our national life as it ever has been.
Sadly, though, many of these good people (some of whom make the trip to Washington on buses from the Midwest and Southeast) are so desperate for any kind of good news that they will cheer wildly when President George Walker Bush gives them his annual pro-life crumb to keep them on his administration's reservation, which is composed of so many out and out pro-aborts. Last year, for example, the newly sworn-in President authorized Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey) to read a letter stating that it was his goal to "welcome every child in life and to protect every child in law," a remarkably meaningless statement in light of the simple fact that George W. Bush does not believe that every child should be protected by law. He believes that certain babies may be executed under cover of law in the cases of rape, incest, or alleged threats to the life of a mother. However, the crowd assembled on the Ellipse cheered wildly as Smith read those meaningless words. The crowd cheered also when Smith said that the President would restore the President Ronald Reagan-era "Mexico City" policy of banning United States tax dollars for the funding of "family planning" programs and agencies which perform abortions and/or counsel women where to kill their babies. As Howard Phillips demonstrated a few months later, the actual Bush policy is so porous as to be void of any real meaning. In actual point of fact, you see, employees of such "family planning" agencies are free to counsel women on "their own time" (during a lunch break, after hours) without jeopardizing their agency's funding. And what is left entirely unexamined by the average pro-lifer, so desperate to find political heroes, is the nasty little fact that this government continues to fund chemical abortions by means of those international family planning programs and by means of Title X funding in our own country. Little embryonic human beings are put to death by means of chemical abortifacients just as surely as they are put to death by the suction machine or saline solution or by the use of scalpels or scissors. George W. Bush is not pro-life. His administration is not a champion of the babies whatsoever.
Nevertheless, George W. Bush is as clever as his predecessor, former President William Jefferson Blyth Clinton. He knows that he can provide meaningless tokens to various segments of his political base while doing nothing of any real substance to threaten his attempt to broaden his electoral appeal beyond that base. This January 22, for example, the President will announce that he has been convinced that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is no longer eligible to receive the $34 million allotted to it in the Foreign Aid Bill he signed into law on January 11, 2002. Citing the evidence provided by pro-life organizations-and thousands of phone calls made to the White House by committed pro-lifers to convince him to use his discretionary power to issue an Executive Order to deny funds to agencies which engage in or support coercive "family planning" activities, the President will indeed use his discretionary power to deny UNFPA the monies allotted to it in the Foreign Aid Bill. The thousands gathered on the Ellipse will cheer wildly as some surrogate, probably Representative Christopher Smith, announces the President's decision. While the decision will be a good thing as far as it goes, it is nothing other than a carefully planned exercise in political tokenism, especially in light of the fact that this country continues to fund those chemical abortions with complete and total impunity in this so-called "pro-life" administration. Contraception is simply not an issue which most "establishment" pro-life officials and self-anointed leaders want to deal with. Indeed, the National Right to Life Committee, which is actually a pro-abortion organization in that it supports the execution of the innocent unborn in cases where it is alleged that a mother's life is at risk, takes no position on contraception whatsoever, even though Pope John Paul II pleaded personally with Dr. John Wilkie, the long time head of the National Right to Life Committee, to oppose this grave moral evil (which is responsible for undermining the integrity of the family, helping to feminize poverty, promoting promiscuity among the young, and whose cultural acceptance led inevitably to the acceptance of surgical abortion).
While I agree that it is very important for pro-lifers to call the White House, as many solid pro-life organizations urged us to do in the last few days, anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that a truly pro-life President would not need to be "pressured" in order to make the right decision. He would simply do the right thing without any phone calls having to be made at all. Among other things, this is an attempt prior to the March for Life to show pro-lifers how much "clout" they have with their "friend" in the White House. Again, the decision to defund UNFPA will be a good thing if it happens. However, this nation is still funding chemical abortions here and around the world in "voluntary" family planning programs. And a truly pro-life President would issue an Executive Order barring any American individual or company from contributing to UNFPA or UNICEF or Planned Parenthood (and its allied agencies). If Presidents can issue Executive Orders to prevent Americans from contributing to organizations with suspected ties to terrorist organizations, they can issue Executive Orders to ban contributions to organizations which make war upon the Sovereignty of God over the sanctity of marital relations and upon the innocent unborn, both chemically and surgically.
No, the thousands gathered on the Ellipse on January 22 will convince themselves that they have a true pro-life champion in the White House. Most of them will either ignore the President's support for some abortions or seek to justify his intellectual shallowness and philosophical inconsistency. Most of them will not say a word of criticism about his horrendous decision to permit limited Federal funding on the stem-cell lines derived from embryonic human beings who were killed prior to 9:00 p.m. on August 9, 2001, specifically for the cultivation of their stem cells, a decision which was based on the President's blithe acceptance of the evil of in vitro fertilization as a necessary means to help infertile couples who desire to have children of their own. They will try not to think too hard about the fact that the "pro-life" administration contains numerous pro-aborts within its ranks and that the President himself has lent his political support to pro-aborts, including the pro-abortion Republican candidate, Michael Bloomberg, to succeed the pro-abortion Republican Catholic Mayor of the City of New York last year, Rudolph William Giuliani. Oh, no, most of the thousands gathered on the Ellipse and who will participate in the March for Life will not want to think too deeply (or at all) about the fact that the emerging Republican strategy for dealing with the life issue is to simply say gratuitously that one is pro-life while at the same time saying that Roe v. Wade is settled law and that there is nothing we can do to unsettle it. And many of these good people, most of whom are indeed on the front lines of the abortion battle by praying Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary regularly in front of the killing centers, will say nothing about the fact that the one thing Bush said he was going to do-sign a bill which conditionally restricted the killing of babies by means of partial birth abortions-is nowhere on the political horizon. The "thousands of babies" we were told by Bush apologists who were going to be "saved" by a Bush administration remain on the chopping block each and every single day.
The tokenism of the likes of President George W. Bush takes advantage of the political blindness caused by abortion's institutionalization in every fabric of our national life. This political blindness is one of the many consequences of the heresy of Americanism (the belief that the specific cultural milieu of the United States necessitated a response from Catholics which accepted religious indifferentism and naturalism as the foundations of public policy while eschewing any effort to subordinate our national life to the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ as exercised by His true Church), which was condemned in no uncertain terms by the great Pope Leo XIII on, of all dates, January 22, 1899, just seventy-four years before Roe v. Wade. The more Catholics convince themselves that it is somehow an exercise in preconciliar triumphalism to proclaim the truths of the true Faith as the only basis for personal sanctity and hence all social order is the more that they will permit themselves to look the other way as those who support one abject evil after another rise to the forefront in America politics. Contrary to the conventional wisdom among pro-lifers, things are not better now than they would have been in the horror of an Al Gore administration. Things are actually worse. Why? Precisely because good people are blinding themselves to programs and policies they would never be silent about in a Gore administration. The current administration is getting a free pass from good people who do not realize that most of what a Gore administration would have done is actually being done by the Bush administration.
This is what has happened with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Even though he did, as I have pointed out in recent commentaries, spend himself tirelessly to demonstrate his support for the survivors of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the former World Trade Center, Giuliani himself supports state-sponsored terrorism upon the innocent unborn in our own country, making us more and more vulnerable to attacks from foreigners who have no mare regard for own lives than we have for our own innocent unborn. How scandalous, therefore, it was for Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, to tell Giuliani at the Christmas Midnight Mass that Time Magazine, which had named Giuliani "Person of the Year" for the year 2001, "got it right." No man who supports the destruction of the innocent unborn is anyone but Satan's man of the year. For a man who supports the slaughter of the innocent unborn under cover of law has no credibility when talks about the value of the innocent lives killed in terrorist attacks. None whatsoever. Cardinal Egan thus continues to feed into the notion that it is simply a matter of acceptable political expediency for Catholics in public life to support abortion in order to enable them to do the sort of work they would not be able to do if they did not hold the offices to which they have been elected. This is irresponsible and leads the average Catholic into thinking that support for the destruction of the innocent unborn does not disqualify one from holding any office of public trust, whether elected or appointed.
Giuliani's star power is such, however, that it blinded many Catholic New Yorkers into voting for Michael Bloomberg to succeed him as Mayor in the November 6, 2001, elections. Bloomberg had pronounced himself to be as thoroughly pro-abortion as Giuliani. Alas, Giuliani's hold on the electorate was such that many Catholics of Irish and Italian and Polish descent, grateful to the now former Mayor for the support he showed to the families of the firefighters and police officers and rescue workers killed in the terrorist attacks, just followed his lead without giving the matter of abortion any thought whatsoever. After all, these voters had supported Giuliani himself in 1989 (when he lost narrowly to then City Clerk David N. Dinkins) and 1993 and 1997 despite his unapologetic pro-abortion stance. Why should they abandon their political hero and cast a vote on the Right to Life Party line for Mayor of New York when could show their solidarity with and gratitude to Giuliani by voting for the man he endorsed, Michael Bloomberg? What difference did it make that Bloomberg is alleged to have said, "Kill it! Kill it!," to a pregnant employee of his Bloomberg media and financial empire whose services he did not want to lose to maternity leave? No, Bloomy was Rudy's boy. That was good enough for most of the ethnic Catholics who remain as residents of the five boroughs of the City of New York.
Well, the new Mayor is proving his pro-abortion bona fides very early on his new administration. He is advancing a plan to require all residents (recent graduates of medical colleges) serving in the City's eleven publicly run hospitals who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology to receive training in how to kill babies as a mandatory part of their residency program. Oh, he would provide a "conscience clause" for those who would want to opt out of such a program. However, it should come as no surprise that a man who supports abortion so militantly as Bloomberg would seek to curry favor with his political base by proposing a program which was actually drafted by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARRAL) itself. Even the New York State Right to Life Committee, an affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, found this too much to ignore. Although the New York State Right to Life Committee has given the pro-abortion Republican Catholic Governor of New York, George Pataki, a free pass by refusing to endorse Right to Life Party gubernatorial candidates Robert Walsh in 1994 and Michael Reynolds in 1998, it is pretty hard for its leaders to ignore Bloomberg's blatant effort to continue the process of politicizing the training of doctors for purposes of making them killers of innocent human lives. However, it is doubtful that even Bloomberg's outrageous decision is enough for the New York State Right to Life Committee to abandon its reflexive support of pro-abortion Republicans while actually opposing candidates of conscience who run on the New York State Right to Life Party line. Indeed, if Bloomberg had taken the lead of the pro-abortion Rick Lazio and said he was opposed conditionally to partial-birth abortions, that would have been good enough for the New York State Right to Life Committee to endorse his candidacy. For, sadly, all it takes for a candidate to receive the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee's political action committee (or the endorsement of its state affiliates' political action committees) is to proclaim himself conditionally opposed only to a certain form of child killing in the later stages of pregnancy. That is all it takes to be considered "pro-life" by the National Right to Life Committee and its state affiliates. Thus, the dumbing down of what it means to be pro-life makes it easier for out and out pro-aborts to trade upon the reputation of other pro-aborts whose support for abortion is ignored by prelates (such as Cardinal Egan) or rationalized by "pragmatic" organizations (such as the National Right to Life Committee).
Some pro-lifers, who must be living in a fantasy world worthy of Al Gore (who believed he had won the popular vote in Florida) after the 2000 elections, said that Bloomberg had "shown his true colors." What are these people using for brains? Bloomberg said he was pro-abortion. Isn't that enough? Have we reached such a nadir in our cultural life that we refuse to be outraged when an aspirant for elected office says matter of factly that he supports child-killing under cover of law? Does such an aspirant, once elected, have to do something to stir our outrage? When are we going to accept the simple fact that anyone who supports even a single abortion under cover of law is not pro-life, and those who support Roe v. Wade unconditionally are the sworn enemies of objective justice founded in the Splendor of Truth Incarnate? Bloomberg said quite unapologetically during the course of the campaign that he was a "straight male" who liked to womanize. As a man who is an unrepentant violator of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, Bloomberg has a vested interest in promoting abortion. His own personal pleasure depends upon it. However, once one accepts the public scandal of the married Catholic Mayor of New York consorting with a mistress in public, what's the big deal about accepting an admitted Jewish playboy who believes that a violation of personal purity is not a matter for the confessional and thus a call to amend one's life by attempting to live according to the precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law? The unwillingness of Catholics to think and to act as Catholics is astounding.
As if the proceeding was not enough, State of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, attempting to re-do the work of one of his nefarious predecessors, Robert Abrams, is busily issuing subpoenas to those who run and staff Crisis Pregnancy Centers. This is really not new. Abrams, who was New York State Attorney General between 1975 and 1992, waged war on Crisis Pregnancy Centers in 1987 and 1988 after many of them first started operations. Spitzer is attempting to prove himself to be as militantly pro-abortion as Abrams, who came very close to defeating then Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato for re-election in 1992. Spitzer is positioning himself to run for higher office himself, perhaps Governor of the State of New York in 2006, especially if the Democratic nominee for that office this year loses to the expected Republican nominee, incumbent Governor George Pataki. However, it should be pointed out that Spitzer got elected in 1998 because his predecessor, Attorney General Dennis Vacco, refused the Right to Life Party line and refused to take a clear position against abortion. Vacco took the advice of D'Amato, who counseled any number of aspiring Republicans in New York to avoid the issue of abortion or to say that they were "pro-choice," and ran away from the most important moral issue of the day. Spitzer would be in private law practice today if Vacco had the courage to take a clear stand against baby killing. Again, the political blindness of those who fear the evil more than they love the good, more than they believe in the power of God's grace to effect the conversion of hearts and minds and souls, is resulting in another needless attack upon the brave and selfless volunteers who seek to direct women into giving birth rather than dealing death to the fruit of their own wombs. How very tragic that the state in which most of the deaths caused as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks is busily attacking innocent lives (and those who defend them) quite terroristically. None of the proper lessons from September 11 have been learned. None at all. And no amount of bombs dropped in Afghanistan is going to make us more secure as a nation as long as we continue to protect and further institutionalize legalized baby killing in our own midst.
Tokenism and blindness know only one antidote: a defense of the primacy of the Divine positive law and the natural law as those laws are protected and explicated by the Church the God-Man founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. It will not be until Catholics take the truths of their Faith seriously and actually believe that it is possible to Catholicize this land and to establish the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ and the Queenship of our dear Blessed Mother that will stand a chance, humanly speaking, of replacing this culture of death and cynicism with a culture of eternal life.
Our Lady of Life, pray for us to see clearly through the eyes of the true Faith and to act courageously in defense of the standard of your Divine Son's Holy Cross as the only foundation of personal sanctity and hence all social order.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Next Friday: Part Thirty-six The Germs of G.I.R.M.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives