Letter to Democrats on Abortion

September 1, 2008 10:42

I watched your convention last week. As an independent, I want to share with you my concern for the direction of your Party and its role in preserving the health of our country.

I should start by saying my Catholic grandparents called themselves Democrats, even if they couldn’t tell you why. I assumed their lingering loyalty to the Party was fruit of the warm welcome their ancestors received. As immigrants, they were the weak, and the Democrats gave them a home.

This sentimental attachment changed with my parents’ generation. There were a number of reasons, I’m sure, but the Democratic Party’s embrace of legal abortion on demand was the deal breaker that pushed my parents and most of their brothers and sisters to the other side of the aisle. For this new generation of Christian voters, the defense of life was a non-negotiable issue which flowed from their most basic understanding of God and his divine will.

As you know well, over the last twenty years, the Republican Party has taken full advantage of the abortion debate to style itself as the political home for religious and moral values, even though this is not always the case. But many religious Democrats, wittingly or not, have reveled so much in being anti-Republican, that they have hidden their religion under a basket and have dismissed the defense of the unborn as a Republican cause.

And the political polarity has grown and grown, with religion and abortion serving as the great divides. The more I have witnessed this, the more uncomfortable I have felt. In a two-party system such as ours, our country can’t afford to allow one party to have a monopoly on God. That’s why I couldn’t have been more delighted when I saw the plans for a religion-friendly Democratic convention where public prayer, religious belief, and alternative views on abortion (ever so slight, as they were) were to have a place at the table.

But then something happened that brought into question for me whether your Party was on the road to such inclusiveness. Just days before the convention, your presumptive nominee said it was beyond his pay-grade scientifically or theologically-to know when babies get rights. Then your Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that as a fervent Catholic she too has struggled long and hard with the issue, but has now come to agree with a 4th century theologian’s take on human embryology, that pre-born things aren’t human babies (with the right to continue living) because of their supposed incapacity for sensation (St. Augustine’s antiquated argument).

Something very serious was happening. Two very smart people, at the highest levels of your Party, were pointing to science and theology as having something to say about the abortion debate. Yes, Senator Obama and Speaker Pelosi were saying that determining the physical and moral status of a human embryo actually matters. But strangely, Obama hasn’t cared enough to clear up his many doubts and Pelosi has decided to accept the view of an African theologian who lived 1,600 years ago.

Now, Democrats, I would argue the unique approach here by your new leadership of superficial scientific study will be detrimental to your goal of attracting more people of religious conviction. For 35 years, abortion rights in America have been about a woman’s Constitutional right to privacy. But not far beneath the surface of that argument was the scientific and moral assumption that the life in the womb was somehow less of a life than every other life, and so privacy, in this case, should win out. The law, of course, would never allow a woman to take the life of an infant in the privacy of her own home, because an infant’s life is real life, or so the argument would go.

But, warning, if you look seriously at science to re-examine abortion you may jeopardize your current platform and its short-term political force. For over 150 years scientists have known a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. That is not theology. It is not religion. It is not Republican.It is science.

If as a Party you pursue with Senator Obama and Speaker Pelosi some clarity about the status of the human embryo (a question they both consider important), you will eventually have to make a decision. You will either decide pre-born babies have rights because modern embryologists say they, too, are unique human individuals, or you will be forced to take the very hard line of saying some human individuals just don’t deserve human rights, for whatever sordid reason.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL will be watching. Their influence on last week’s convention is proof of their stranglehold on policy and candidates. At their bidding, the Democratic Party not only reaffirmed its total support of abortion on demand, but also made the new demand that a woman has a right to abortion, “regardless of her ability to pay,” meaning the government has an obligation to use tax dollars to fund it for her.

This old way of thinking of brushing aside the rights of the unborn because, “they aren’t really human humans,” in my opinion, will not stand the test of time because it is anti-science. There are simply too many pictures and videos of beautiful pre-born babies, reaching out their tiny hands or reacting to intruders.

Now is the time for you, rank and file Democrats, to take seriously the science and theology exams that Obama and Pelosi bombed last week. In the short-term, it will hurt — but don’t you agree our country will be much better off in a system where no single Party can claim to stand in for God in the defense of the weakest?

God bless,

Father Jonathan

Father Jonathan Morris is author of the new book, “The Promise: God’s Purpose and Plan for when Life Hurts.” For information go to www.fatherjonathan.com

Help Make A Difference By Sharing These Articles On Facebook, Twitter And Elsewhere: