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Well, the inauguration of George W. Bush as president in 2001 ushered in yet another wave of pro-life enthusiasm. The enthusiasts ignored the comments Bush made in various interviews before his inauguration that Roe v. Wade was "settled law" and that there was thus little that his administration could do about the matter. They looked the other way as former Senator John Ashcroft mouthed that very line during his confirmation hearings to be Attorney General of the United States. They looked the other way as one pro-abort after another was appointed to high-level and medium-level positions in the Bush II administration. They held their mouths as the administration continued to fund Title X "family planning" programs in this nation and continued to fund such programs overseas through the United States Agency for International Development. They misrepresented Bush's Executive Order re-instituting the Reagan-era Mexico City ban on the use of USAID monies by organizations that perform or promote abortions, ignoring the fact the employees of such organizations in foreign countries could proselytize in behalf of abortion outside of the offices of their organizations and outside of official duty hours. The Bush enthusiasts held their mouths as their hero championed the cause of stem-cell research and campaigned actively for pro-abortion candidates in his own political party. And they didn't even seem to notice that the much vaunted issue of partial-birth abortion, which Bush had promised to have on his desk by March of 2001, was being delayed in the first months of his administration in order to delay its passage until sometime before the 2002 election as a means of energizing his pro-life political base. The defection of Vermont Senator James Jeffords in July of 2001 meant that the issue of a conditional ban of partial-birth abortions would be off of the radar screen until after the 2002 elections.
Despite all of this, though, the enthusiasts are it again, jumping up and down for joy at the Republican retention of control of the House of Representatives and the Republican recapture of control of the United States Senate. Now, we are being told, Bush's conservative judicial nominees, who had been rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee when it was chaired by the pro-abortion Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, [Editor's Note: Another supposed 'Catholic.'] will be confirmed. True enough. However, Bush's "moderate" judicial nominees will also continue to be confirmed. That is, judicial nominees not known to be defenders of life will also get nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate. And while Bush's excellent choice to head the Food and Drug Administration's Reproductive Drugs Health Advisory Committee, Dr. W. David Hager, might get confirmed in the new Senate, there is no guarantee of this. Indeed, it is sad that pro-lifers will have to lobby hard for Dr. Hager's confirmation.
"What? Don't we have a Republican Senate now. Won't all of the President's nominees be confirmed?" Oh, have we learned nothing from the past twenty-two years, ladies and gentlemen? Have we learned nothing at all? Even though the new Senate will likely have a breakdown of 51 Republicans to 48 Democrats and 1 independent (Jeffords), the actual reality of the situation is much more complex. Seven of those Republicans are complete and total pro-aborts: Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine; Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania; John Warner of Virginia; Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado; Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Hutchison will probably do whatever President Bush wants done. This is not the case with the other six, however, who are thoroughly capable of siding with the Democrats when it comes to anything to do with abortion. A similar situation obtains in the House of Representative, where there are between twenty and thirty pro-aborts in the Republican caucus. Thus, the elections of November 5, 2002, do not necessarily represent a victory for the babies any more than any of the elections of the past twenty-two years have. Babies are still dying by means of surgical and chemical abortions while some "pro-life" leaders congratulate themselves on what a fine job they are doing. Of course, all they are doing is enabling career politicians and misleading pro-life Americans who place their trust in them.
Sure, it is good to see the horrible Catholic pro-abort Senator Thomas Daschle removed as Senate Majority Leader. Yes, it is good to see the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edward Moore Kennedy in the minority party of the United States Senate. As satisfying as these developments are, however, they do not mean that happy days are here for the babies.
Thus, if Father Pavone, who understands that there are no exceptions to the sanctity of innocent human life (but who supports candidates who do embrace such exceptions), wants to take advantage of the changed political circumstances, then I suggest that he work with Judie Brown and the American Life League to try as hard as possible to take out all exceptions to the sanctity of innocent human life in bills pending before the Congress, starting with the ban on partial-birth abortions.
Even the American Medical Association admitted in 1995 that there was never a medically "necessary" reason to kill a child by the use of this method. Why, then, do the National Right to Life Committee and Father Pavone and others insist that it is "impossible" to get a complete no-exceptions ban considered by Congress? When you have the second most pro-abortion organization in the country, the AMA (second only to Planned Parenthood), on record as stating that there is no need to kill babies by what they call dilation and evacuation, then why don't you try to capitalized on this political gift by lobbying hard for the absolutely best legislation? Why not push and push and push for the best legislation all the time rather than settling in advance for legislation that compromises life and further institutionalizes the culture of death while giving careerist politicians a cheap vote to count on the political scorecards kept by the National Right to Life Committee and the Christian Coalition?
While I hope and pray that President Bush will do more than give lip service to the cause of the sanctity of innocent human life in the next two years, he will be able to give only lip service so as long as he is never criticized by his enablers. A flawed, needlessly conditional ban on partial-birth abortions will be passed by Congress and signed into law to await Court adjudication. This will be termed a victory as the babies continue to be slaughtered. Many pro-lifers will think that they have done all they can do in the midst of the cultural realities of our times. This will embolden Republicans to nominate such men as Rudolph Giuliani, who doesn't even opposed partial-birth abortions, with complete impunity. Pro-life voters will be told that a pro-abortion Republican is less dangerous and less evil than a pro-abortion Democrat. The strategy of the so-called "lesser of two evils" will thus result in the triumph of absolute evil at all times and a complete silencing of the life issue in the realm of electoral politics and public policy.
Mind you, we have an obligation as citizens to support those policy proposals introduced by truly pro-life legislators in Congress. We have an obligation to push the White House as hard as we can. However, we must also realize that Republican careerists know that most pro-lifers fear the evil more than they love the truth. These careerists know that an important part of the Republican electoral base remembers nothing, learns nothing, and is willing to settle mostly for mere rhetorical crumbs and policies of little real substance as a means of keeping them sated until after the next election.
When are we going to learn that we have gone backward in the last twenty-two years? When are we going to learn that the more we are silent about the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ, the more we make possible the reign of the Adversary in all elements of our national life, including electoral politics? When are we going to learn that professional politicians care only for votes, and that it is a sad thing to give them our votes cheaply when candidates of conscience put themselves on the line in defense of the splendor of Truth Incarnate?
It will not be until we learn these lessons, ladies and gentlemen, that we are going to awaken from our collective slumber, to awaken from the slumber of our misplaced trust in politics and policies, our projecting into the minds and hearts of career politicians our fondest beliefs and hopes, and our tragically mistaken belief that we can retard the culture of death without proclaiming the Social Kingship of Our Lord and working hard for the triumph of the City of Mary Immaculate.
Viva Cristo Rey!
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For the first page, see Page One
Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives