Much is being made of the Democratic Party's decision to include a new phrase in its party platform. The new language is aimed at attracting the pro-life voter who finds Obama personally appealing, but abortion morally repugnant (admit it, he seems like a nice guy). At the same time, the McCain camp is sending out signals that the VP slot on the ticket may go to a pro-choice politician like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman.
On the one hand, I feel a degree of excitement that the Democratic party may be backing off on its radical support of abortion. On the other hand, the new statement is, in my opinion, less than breathtaking. The platform now states: "The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs."
You read that right. They "strongly support" the decision to have a child. That begs the question: what was the old position? Bloomberg reports that this new language was the result of negotiations between pro-life and pro-choice forces: "The compromise language is the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations with abortion-rights groups and religious leaders on both sides of the issue."
Is that chilling? How long were the negotiations? How long did it take pro-life forces within the Democratic party to get their pro-choice colleagues to acknowledge that they would support the decision of a woman to keep her baby? What was the starting point for the pro-choicers? "We support the decision of a woman as long as that decision is to terminate her pregnancy?" We live in a sick, sick world.
Lest it appear I'm taking sides, I don't know where John McCain will land on this issue. His campaign is at least sending signals that he will not end up in a place that pleases me. Picking a pro-choice running mate would clearly indicate that McCain doesn't consider it a core issue. Does anyone think he would pick an anti-war running mate? Of course not. McCain's convictions on the war are genuine and deeply felt. Unfortunately, his pro-life convictions may not run as deep.
I feel pretty confident Barack Obama has already staked out his territory on this issue. Pat Buchanan has an interesting article entitled "A Catholic Case Against Barak." Here are a few excerpts.
"Obama says he opposed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act because he feared it might imperil Roe v. Wade. But if Roe v. Wade did allow infanticide or murder, which is what letting a tiny baby die of neglect or killing it outright amounts to, why would he not want that court decision reviewed and amended to outlaw infanticide?
"Is the right to an abortion so sacrosanct to Obama that killing by neglect or snuffing out of the life of tiny babies outside the womb must be protected if necessary to preserve that right?
"Obama is an abortion absolutist. 'I could find no instance in his entire career,' writes Freddoso, 'in which he voted for any regulation or restriction on the practice of abortion.'
"In 2007, Barack pledged that, in his first act as president, he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would cancel every federal, state or local regulation or restriction on abortion. The National Organization for Women says it would abolish all restrictions on government funding of abortion."
It is my belief that as technology improves, it will make arguing the pro-choice position less and less tenable. The Democratic Party's "shift" may already reflect that. But my fear is that Obama and McCain's rush to the "center" on this issue reflects a disturbing undercurrent in our nation. We may find ourselves in a culture in which there is general acknowledgement that an act is reprehensible but simultaneously a widespread refusal to prevent it, either from apathy (McCain?) or lack of moral clarity (Obama?).