Saturday, August 30, 2008

More On The Pro Life Ticket

Conservative leaders react to McCain’s VP choice of pro-life Gov. Sarah Palin

Dayton, Aug 29, 2008 / 12:55 pm (CNA).- Sen. John McCain’s pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won praise from many commentators within the ambit of the Republican Party, but especially among pro-lifers. Praising Palin as “strongly pro-life,” speakers remarked that Palin’s decision to carry her Down’s syndrome child to term was an especially sharp contrast with Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to legislation that would protect infants who survive abortions.
Sen. McCain announced the choice of Palin at a rally in Dayton, Ohio on Friday. McCain introduced her as someone "who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people who are counting on us."

Palin was born in Idaho on February 11, 1964. According to a biography on Alaska’s official web site, Palin moved to Alaska with her family later that year. Her husband, Todd, is a production operator for BP and a champion snow machine racer. They have five children, with Palin recently having given birth to a son with Down’s syndrome in April.

She has also served as city councilman and mayor of Wasilla, a south-central Alaska town with a population of reportedly more than 6,000 people, and served as chair of the Alaska Conservation Commission, which regulates the state’s oil and gas resources.

Speaking in a phone press conference, several expert panelists with Republican sympathies praised the pick.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, lauded the decision.
"Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn't be a better vice-presidential pick," said Dannenfelser. "Women voters are electrified,” she continued, describing Palin as a “reform-minded woman” who is “truly in sync with the way real women think.” She will “give all Americans, born and unborn, the authentic leadership they deserve," she said.

Father Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life, called Palin “strongly pro-life.”
Asked how the selection will be received by pro-life Catholics in particular, Father Pavone added, “It will no doubt be received very well.”

He noted that the pro-life community already was somewhat familiar with Palin because she recently gave birth to a baby with Down’s syndrome.

Father Pavone suggested Palin will bring more into play the “pro-life increment.” He explained that for the one-third or more of the electorate who consider the abortion issue in their votes, there is a two to one margin in favor of pro-life candidates.

Jill Stanek, a conservative journalist and blogger, asked the panel to contrast Palin’s decision to deliver her Down’s syndrome baby with Sen. Barack Obama’s opposition to legislation that would protect infants who survive abortion. (I sincerely hope the republican party does not make Palin's son Trig, a political football.)

Father Pavone replied, “the contrast between those two facts about the candidates is going to come out… we’re going to make sure that it comes out, it’s a very striking contrast.”

(Oh, I guess her son Trig is going to be made a political football. His birth has been mentioned about four times already in this article.)

Dannenfelser quoted Palin’s own comments when she discovered her unborn baby had Down’s syndrome: “We feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift.”

Dannenfelser remarked: “Contrast that with Sen. Obama’s approach to leaving born-alive babies left sitting there for dead, and also making the comment, if his daughter got pregnant, he would not ‘punish her with a baby.’ (Obama's daughter is twelve or thirteen, forcing her to have a baby at this age is punishing on the body.)

“It’s ‘punishment’ versus ‘privilege,’ that’s the contrast,” Dannenfelser asserted.
CNA asked the panel whether the Palin pick was a tacit acknowledgment of McCain’s weakness among pro-lifers.

Dannenfelser said that she believed people think McCain has genuine pro-life convictions, but suggested that anyone skeptical should see the Palin choice as a “perfect complement,” not as the filling of a weakness.

Father Pavone agreed, adding that the selection of Palin eliminates any concern about a possible pro-choice vice-presidential nominee.

“I think this will help us know he really does embrace this issue in political practice as well as in his voting record,” he stated.

Ken Blackwell, Vice-Chairman of the Republican National Committee’s platform committee, added his own comments.

He remarked that, as someone who guided the platform committee to the “most significant pro-life platform in the Republican Party’s history,” he thought John McCain’s “full embrace of the platform” is shown in the ticket. “This team does not reflect one iota of weakness. It is the strongest pro-life team with a pro-life platform in the history of the Republican Party.”

When CNA asked how McCain could be described as such a strong supporter of the platform in light of his endorsement of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Blackwell noted that McCain’s campaign has worked with the platform committee on the relevant language. Blackwell said he thought that McCain, if he recognizes that there have been breakthroughs in research that do not involve the destruction of embryos, “that [recognition] will make this argument… a non-starter.” (Yet, the fact still remains that McCain supported stem cell research. I seriously doubt the generosity being extended to McCain will be extended to any democratic candidate who voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, even if they too 'recongnize' breakthroughs in adult stem cell research.)

Leaders of other interest groups in the GOP also praised McCain’s vice-presidential pick.
Sandra Froman, former National Rifle Association (NRA) president and current board member, called Palin, an NRA member, an “outstanding pick” who would “energize the gun rights community.”

“How can you go wrong with a moose burger-eating, fishing governor?” she asked in a delighted tone. (Ask Dick Cheney, another gun toting VP whose gun competency would up shooting his friend. Thank God Palin has other qualifications than moose burger eating and fishing.)

Grover Norquist, a prominent fiscal conservative who is president of Americans for Tax Reform, praised Palin as a “reformer” who improved government transparency by putting government financial records online.

Several panelists suggested that the pick would also appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters disaffected by an Obama candidacy and the prospect of a victorious Obama’s control of the Democratic Party. They also thought the choice courts “Reagan Democrats” who voted against Obama in the primaries.

Panelists argued that the choice of Palin, Alaska’s governor for only two years, would not eliminate Republican charges that Obama is inexperienced.

“When you compare her experience to Barack Obama’s experience, her executive experience, her experience as mayor, her experience as assistant governor, her experience as a reformer, her experience as an environmental activist,” Blackwell argued, “she is more prepared, more experienced to be president than the top of their ticket.” (I don't know how you can call her an environmental activist, unless one means opening up the environment to more exploitation. McCain is more of an environmental activist than Palin is.)

Elsewhere, social conservatives were enthusiastic about the Palin choice.
“What a remarkable pick,” Austin Ruse of C-FAM told CNA in a statement. “Social conservatives are dancing in the streets. This is smart and dare I say sexy pick. My wife Cathy and I are gushing.”


I'm flattered that Austin Ruse took the time to leave a comment on this blog. It's nice to know this backwater blog has garnered the interest of the President of C-FAM. I have to admit I had to google C-FAM and to find out what C-FAM is about, so it didn't really do much for my self hate.

C-FAM's Mission

To defend life and family at international institutions and to publicize the debate.

C-FAM's Vision

The preservation of international law by discrediting socially radical policies at the United Nations and other international institutions.

C-FAM's Core Values

Fidelity to the teachings of the Church
Truth telling

Austin Ruse, along with Robert Royal, is also on the board of directors of C-FAM. These are a couple of pretty heavy hitters in the realm of Catholic neo cons. It's not surprising then that Austin would welcome the selection of Gov Sarah Palin.

In reading the above article from CNA I truly did get queasy reading how many times the birth of her son Trig was mentioned. It seems to me that for a woman who is as pro life as she seems to be that the decision to go through with the pregnancy was a no brainer. She and her husband rolled the dice on a late life pregnancy and the dice came up Down's syndrome. That's part of the natural law of late life pregnancies and actually has more to do with the age of her husband's sperm than her eggs.

They appear to have the economic resources to provide a very good quality of life for their son and he truly will be a gift. I have far more respect for people on the economic edge of life who carry through with a Down's type of pregnancy. It's tough to have a special needs baby when the resources aren't there for the special needs. Maybe this vaunted pro life ticket can do something about insuring all Down's children's needs are met---especially when these children aren't children anymore.

The problem I have always had with pro lifers is their lack of interest in changing the social circumstances which lead women to choose abortion. It seems to me it would be a no brainer for both republicans and democrats to get together and pass decent legislation supporting women after delivery. If that safety net was in place, maybe there would be more deliveries and fewer abortions.

Legislating away Roe v Wade is not going to stop abortions. Ecuador still has a significant percentage of abortions in spite of the fact the sentences for this criminal act are unbelievable. A first trimester abortion carries a sentence of 2-8 years and later term abortions carry a sentence of 30-50 years. Providers can garner sentences of 6-12 years and those providing any assistance 2-5 years. The real injustice in this law is that rich women go out of country for their abortions, making this a law which unjustly falls on the poor. A typical example is a woman who was the sole support for three small children who unintentionally became pregnant with a fourth. She aborted, was caught and is now serving a thirty year sentence. So much for the needs of her three other children.

I've written this previously, but it needs repeating. Only in abortion and sexual morality has the Church taken an absolutist moral position. Any other moral situation is weighed through a consequence based position. Hence we have the just war doctrine, under which many innocent civilians have lost their lives, but those lives are juxtaposed against the reasons for the war. The use of two different moral approaches undercuts the seemlessness of any notions of the Church being pro life across the board from conception to natural death. It is dissembling to treat one end of the life spectrum in absolutist terms while not extending this thinking to life after birth. The fact is, in spite of Cardinal Weurl's assertion to the contrary, the absolute value of the unborn has never been the traditional church teaching.

There is a whole series of prior teachings which did not consider the fetus to be a full human person entitled to either baptism or burial in consecrated ground. In previous generations the question was one of ensoulment. Quickening (or about the end of the second trimester) was considered the bench mark for ensoulment. This actually makes some sense given what we are able to do with neo natal intensive care. Only in the last four decades, mostly as the result of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops becoming politically vocal on the abortion issue, has ensoulment considered to have occurred at conception. This notion flys in the face of actual biology since many fetuses do not implant in the uterus and are therefore not viable as potential life. It may be that thinkers like Thomas Aquinas who promoted the quickening concept are closer to the truth.

The other reason I dislike this absolutist position is because it is based strictly in biology. Mankind is not just a product of a set of biological principles. Mankind is also the product of an eternal spiritual identity. Abortion does not kill the spiritual identity. That unique spiritual identity is free to try again, even with in the same family at a later date.

God, through the auspices of the Archangel Gabriel, most certainly gave Mary a choice. God affirmed that pregnancy should be a freely made choice---one not forced on the woman. Had she said no, it wouldn't necessarily have precluded Jesus incarnating at another time or in another woman. A no would have effected His material biology, but not His spiritual identity.

I really hope that the selection of Sarah Palin is not indicative of another election being sidetracked by the absolutist abortion position. There are other issues and many of them, such as universal health care, could have far more positive consequences on the number of abortions than the repeal of Roe v Wade.


  1. I see a several issues with this selection.

    First, the issue of a mother with children at home, one of whom is a special needs child. If McCain lasts 4 years it would not a problem. However, if McCain should become incapacitated, then she becomes the President. I'm not sure how much confidence I would have in someone with those family obligations stepping into the presidency.

    Second, lack of experience. Lets face it, politics in Washington is "ugly". It is hard enough for those with experience to be effective. Again, if 4 years pass with McCain still in office, not a problem. However, ...

    Third, popular support only goes so far, and it only takes one decision for that to evaporate and for life in that position hellish, not that it isnt already that in the best of times. Does she have the political connections and washington savvy to be effective?

    But she is anti-abortion, and as we are being told by our infallible leadership, nothing else matters. God save us in this election from the vatican and the anti-abortionist lobby.

  2. Interesting about Austin Powers, I mean, Austin Ruse commenting the other day to insult not just you, but everyone here and how "silly" we are. What a Christian, I mean Pharisee.

    It is always so interesting how people who think they are more superior pretend that they can read but obviously can't comprehend much because it goes in one ear and out the other. Jesus had the same problem with some people who were leaders in His Church, I mean, in His synagogue. He said His followers would face the same stuff as He did. It sure looks like the same hypocrites to me.

    Yes Colleen, the rich will go to some foreign country and get an abortion while the poor, well, I guess it's just too damn bad for them, they'll just have to take care of themselves somehow. Let's bring back the days when women went to back rooms and had abortions and either died or they could never have another child. Nothing like a death sentence for the woman and the child or children that might have been born later and then calling yourself "pro-life."

    It's simply amazing to me that in cases such as rape or incest that fundamentalist want to force women to carry a child and then take care of themselves somehow. But, war, collateral damage, those are ok types of killing. Give me a break! Are these "pro-lifers" in 5th grade still? I really think that such people, if they really care about people, should do something to care for people instead of placing burdens on them without lifting a finger to help them.

    How do you spell H Y P O C R I S Y.

  3. Whereas previously, a Down’s child could be born without the prior knowledge of the mother, going forward, a parent with a Down’s child will likely have made a conscious choice to have that child. As prenatal testing for trisomy 21 becomes ubiquitous, Down’s children (and eventually those with other genetic disorders) will increasingly become symbols of faith – a freak show meant to communicate the “family values” of their parents. The children will become public sacrifices made by their parents for their faith. They will be a symbol of religious reverence in the same way as the scarred backs of Catholics who flagellate themselves, or Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire, or Sunni Muslims who mutilate their girl’s genitals or Shiites who bloody their children’s heads with swords.

    Genuine moral virtues – such as integrity, honesty, and productivity are not useful as evidence of religious virtue. To the extent that their practical benefit is visible to everyone, they do not represent the special domain of religion. To demonstrate religious virtue, it is necessary to sacrifice authentic moral values in favor of “religious” values. The particular object of the sacrifice is not important – there is nothing particularly “biblical” about being prolife (the Christian bible just as easily supports the opposite position.) If Christian fundamentalists decided that cutting of one’s hand sufficed as proof of moral virtue, they would be wrong to do so, but not much more so than the numerous other ways that people find to be self-destructive.

    What is really vicious about fundamentalists in America is that the prey on the most vulnerable –poor pregnant young girls and women, those dying from painful terminal illnesses, the loved ones of brain-dead patients, — and children afflicted with terrible genetic illnesses. One can at least grasp the moral indifference with which a fundamentalist can force a single young mother to abandon her goals and dreams and condemn her and her child to poverty. But what can we say about a parent that chooses a life of suffering upon their child? If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?

  4. heroiclife, this is a brilliant post and I am truly sorry I didn't see this earlier.

    You made a point in this post that I hesitated to make, and that's using your children to prove your faith. The cynic in me wondered when I first heard this story about Trig if the Palin's didn't make the choice to go ahead with the pregnancy because it was as much to their political advantage to do so as it was a moral choice. Everything I've read about her since then is making that suspicion stronger.

    And you are absolutely correct when you wonder "But what can we say about a parent that chooses a life of suffering upon their child? If we are morally outraged by child rapists, how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child?"

    This is a very sticky question, and one I've frequently faced in my professional work. It only works well when the parents are capable of getting beyond themselves and how it impacts them. That takes a special kind of selflessness. Exactly the opposite of the kind of selfishness you write about, that makes a child a public statement of their faith.

    This is a great comment. Thanks for joining the ranks and I hope you stick with us.