Something has been bothering me all weekend about Doug Kmiec's much discussed LA Times' opinion piece; well, a lot of things, actually, most of which have already been dissected and examined by far better writers all over the Internet. And this thing, this one little nagging thing, has probably also been written about elsewhere, but having had time to think about it further I'd like to share some thoughts with you.
It's about the title of the piece: "For Obama but against abortion."
I understand that Kmiec is saying that while he's against abortion, he's still planning to vote for Obama. But I kept thinking about it in terms of the vote itself, as if Kmiec and all those other personally-swooning-for-Obama-while-still-disliking-abortion-Catholic voters were really trying to make the claim (which, in a way, they are) that it is possible to vote for Obama while voting against abortion.
But it's not. A vote for Obama is a vote for abortion. It really is as simple as that.
Now, the Catholics for Obama contingent may howl that it's unfair to put it that way; they've said over and over that they don't believe in abortion! And they don't. But Barack Obama does. He believes it's the right solution for an unwed teen mother, who will otherwise be "punished" with a baby; he believes it's so completely the mother's choice that partial-birth abortion must be allowed lest the mother's choices are curtailed by the removal of this gruesome late-term murder from the list of legal ways to kill your own flesh and blood before his or her birth; he believes in it so much, that should a baby survive his or her abortion, Obama said that having to call a second doctor to assess the child's viability (rather than leave the decision about leaving the baby to die alone in a closet full of dirty linen to the doctor who was already trying to kill the little tyke in the first place) places an "undue burden" on the woman's original decision to have an abortion. Obama may say that nobody is really pro-abortion, but unless he's quibbling about the meaning of the word "is" I'd say he's pretty much the illustration beside the dictionary entry for the term.
So a vote for the most pro-abortion candidate ever to run for the presidency in America is definitely a vote for abortion, however much one's own distaste for abortion may make the vote a conscience-wringer. The voter may be personally opposed to the candidate's stance on abortion, but the candidate's position is unlikely to change, and should Obama be elected and take office the unleashing of public funds to pay for abortion, the curtailing of the rights of protesters to stand against abortion, and all the other things Obama has promised NARAL and Planned Parenthood he will do will be done.
I think they, the pro-Obama Catholics, do understand this. After all, aren't they the ones who keep saying that a vote for McCain is a vote for war or a vote for poverty? The difference is that it's possible to argue that McCain doesn't intend to start any new wars and plans to finish (that is, not prematurely retreat from) the one we're in; it's also possible, and indeed, necessary, to point out that voting against socialism isn't the same thing as voting for poverty. It is not possible to argue that Obama doesn't intend to force taxpayers to fund more abortions, to work to strike down every state law that restricts abortion in any way (including parental notification and patient information laws), to overturn the ban on partial-birth abortion--because Obama has promised to do exactly this.
Don't believe me? Just look here. It's a campaign promise, true, but it's a promise, nonetheless. If John McCain were promising to start more wars or make people poor, you might be able to draw some kind of moral equivalence (though abortion is still the graver evil). But when Obama actually promises to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as his first priority as president, trying to tell yourself that he's really a fine choice for pro-life voters is an exercise in futility. He has promised to be the Abortion President, and that is exactly what he will be.
I know that some of the Catholics for Obama have engaged in extremely convoluted arguments to the effect that Obama will actually decrease the number of abortions: money taken from the rich and given to the poor = fewer poor people = fewer women in crisis pregnancies = fewer abortions, according to their calculations. But laying aside the fact that this version of the equation is quite faulty in places, including a) that only poor women have abortions, and b) that artificial contraception is the missing step in this equation, which ought also to be unacceptable to Catholics, we are still left with the fact that Obama's vocal support for FOCA has the same effect as trying to divide the end result of our "But Obama's really a good choice for pro-life voters!" equation by zero, a logical impossibility. Greater access to, and greater funding for, abortion will mean more abortion. And Obama has pledged to support both greater access to and greater funding for abortion.
Catholics planning to vote for Obama already know all of this. But they have decided that this time, things are different; this time, they can vote for the most pro-abortion candidate ever to have run for public office, and it doesn't mean that they approve of abortion. They may not, indeed, approve of abortion; but they appear to have decided that it's no longer necessary to vote against it. A vote for Obama is a vote for abortion; Obama himself has promised that it is.