Monday, February 7, 2011

The President's Abortion Statement

It seemed like an amazing statement at the time, and I was sure that somebody else - a professional writer far more capable than I of forming thoughts into coherent sentences - would jump all over it. However, in the two weeks following the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court made killing one's unborn child a Constitutional right, I haven't seen it noted by any of the pundits and prognosticators that I read regularly.

President Obama chose to frame his statement this year around what would appear to be a misunderstanding of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. The Acton Institute defines it this way: "This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be." President Obama, in his statement, said, "Government should not intrude on private family matters."

This is absurd nonsense! The government intervenes in cases of domestic violence on a routine basis, and quite justly so. It is hard to imagine a surgical abortion as anything other than an act of violence. What makes state intervention imperative when the victim is a spouse or a child, but forbidden when the child is unborn? Indeed, if a pregnant woman is assaulted and the baby in the womb dies, the person responsible will be charged with a crime for the death in addition to the assault.

When the British Empire ruled India, so a commonly cited anecdote goes, an upper-class Indian man died, and his body was to be burned. It was customary, the local British official was told, to burn the surviving widow with the dead body. The official replied that Britain also had a custom of hanging any man who burned a woman alive. "You carry out your custom, and we shall carry out ours," he said.

The principle upon which President Obama claims to base his acceptance of abortion, if logically extended, would likewise require acceptance of things like honor killings, infanticide, and euthanasia - so long as it is kept within the family. It is a misunderstanding of subsidiarity and a concept foreign to the Common Law principles upon which our system of jurisprudence is based.

Either he hasn't thought through the implication his own stated principles or, worse yet, he has.

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