Friday, July 17, 2009

Common Ground on Life Issues?

There may be, among the readers of this humble blog, if indeed you readers are out there, those who think that during his recent commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, Barack Obama posed a genuine invitation to dialogue about differences of opinion on the right to life. During the address, Obama suggested that the two sides work through differences with open hearts and minds and fair-minded words. Well, here is a video link to just such a discussion between two Catholic pro-lifers-- Professor Doug Kmiec, who is an Obama supporter and Professor Robert George, who is not an Obama supporter. Their topic is 'The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life; Is There Common Ground on Life Issues?'

Doug Kmiec, a Catholic, is Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kmiec managed to wrest from Catholic teaching a justification for Catholics to abandon one of the central tenets of their faith in order to vote for Obama and his record of anti-life policies.

Robert George, also a pro-life Catholic, is Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and is the director of Princeton's James Madison Program for American Ideals and Institutions. He was also a member of George Bush's Council on Bioethics.

The discussion runs for about an hour and a twenty minutes, but the time flies, particularly when Professor George takes the podium. Kmiec and George each speak for about twenty minutes (with Kmiec going first) and then follows a question and answer period moderated by Mary Ann Glendon, law professor at Harvard and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

I think that 'casuistry' might be the right word to describe Kmiec's approach to the matter of Obama and abortion. Kmiec first describes Obama as everything he isn't, then comments on the importance of 'intent' and then talks about Obama's committment to limit, not abortion itself, but the conditions which might lead to abortion.

Professor George begins his remarks by noting that while speaking so judiciously at Notre Dame of open hearts and minds, Obama also said that 'the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.' (So much for dialoguing with President Obama!) Professor George points out that for Obama, abortion is no more objectionable than knee surgery, that is, our president is not even 'personally opposed' to killing the unborn and in fact finds it an acceptable alternative to the 'punishment' of having a baby.

But, my notes are a poor substitute for the real thing. So, watch, listen and comment, if you will.

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