Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But what about this other issue?

Some issues involve intrinsic evils, that is, actions that are never right under any circumstances. Others involve prudential judgments: in these cases, we must agree on the principles, but may disagree on how best to achieve them. For example, we may all agree that something needs to be done about the quality of public education in our nation, but while some think the answer is vouchers to give parents a choice about their children's education, others insist the solution is more funding for schools. Issues involving intrinsic evils are always more serious than those involving prudential judgments because we can be certain of the right answer. We can never deliberately choose to do wrong, even so that good may result. Further, not all intrinsic evils are equally serious: murder is much more grave than cheating on a test.

On a second level, we may compare issues of similar moral seriousness in terms of the number of victims and the gravity of the injury they suffer.

Abortion is, of course, an intrinsic evil. But the sheer magnitude of abortions is also stunning. For example, in 2005 (the latest year for which full figures are available), according to CDC statistics, the total number of deaths of American children under 15 from all causes except abortions was 39,798. This compares with deaths from abortion of 1.2 million, or more than 30 times as many. Nearly 3,300 babies are killed by abortion every day. Nothing else even comes close.

No wonder our Bishops have written that "Abortion and euthanasia have become pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition for all others." (Living the Gospel of Life)

It may be true that a pro-abortion candidate (such as Obama) has appealing positions on other issues, perhaps on health care, for example. However, let us bring to mind what Pope John Paul II said on this matter:
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fĂ­nds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, n. 38, emphasis in original)
False and illusory. Those are powerful words, indeed.

The Church affirms that some issues are more important than others. The right to life of an innocent person, which is under attack in a number of ways, takes precedence for several reasons.

1. All other rights depend on life. Without life, a person cannot exercise any other rights.

2. When abortion, cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, etc. are made legal, then the clear implication is that some persons have less value than others. Hence all are not equal under the law.

3. The view that supports the right to life and the one that instead affirms a "right" to abortion, euthanasia, etc. are based on two irreconcilable views of human rights and dignity:
  1. That all our rights come from God and the government has the duty to protect those rights.
  2. That our rights are granted us by the state (in the form of legislation, or the Constitution, etc.)
The former is the traditional Judeo-Christian view and is still the view of people of faith. The second view is extremely dangerous to human freedom; if the state is the source of our rights, then clearly the state can limit or even revoke them.

These are some of the reasons for the Pope's description of the "outcry .. on behalf of human rights" as being false and illusory if the right to life is not defended as part of the program; defending the right to life is not any part of Obama's program.

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