Right to life hang­ing in the bal­ance

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Pat Buchanan

Near the end of a town hall meet­ing in John­stown, Pa., a woman arose to of­fer a pas­sion­ate plea to Barack Obama to “stop th­ese abor­tions.”

Mr. Obama’s re­sponse was cool, di­rect, un­equiv­o­cal.

“Look, I got two daugh­ters — 9 years old and 6 years old. [. . .] I am go­ing to teach them first about val­ues and morals, but if they make a mis­take, I don’t want them pun­ished with a baby.” “Pun­ished with a baby.” Mr. Obama sees an un­wanted preg­nancy as a cruel and puni­tive sanc­tion for a teenager who has made a mis­take, and abor­tion as the way out, the road to ab­so­lu­tion and re­demp­tion.

The con­trast with Sarah Palin could not be more stark. At the birth of her son Trig, who has Down syn­drome, Gov. Palin said: “We knew through early test­ing he would face spe­cial chal­lenges, and we feel priv­i­leged that God would en­trust us with this gift and al­low us un­speak­able joy as he en­tered our lives.

“We have faith that ev­ery baby is cre­ated for good pur­pose and has po­ten­tial to make this world a bet­ter place. We are truly blessed.”

Be­tween the con­vic­tions and val­ues of Mrs. Palin and those of Mr. Obama, then, there is a world of dif­fer­ence. In the cul­ture war that is rooted in re­li­gious faith, they are on op­po­site sides of the di­vid­ing line.

But more cru­cial than their con­flict­ing be­liefs is the po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity. This elec­tion is Amer­ica’s last hope to re­verse Roe v. Wade. Upon its out­come will rest the life, or death, of mil­lions of un­born chil­dren. The great so­cial cause of the Catholic Church and the Knights of Colum­bus, of the Evan­gel­i­cal and Pen­te­costal churches, of the en­tire right-to­life move­ment, hangs to­day in the bal­ance.

Why? It is not just that Mr. Obama is a pro-choice ab­so­lutist who de­fends the grisly pro­ce­dure known as par­tial-birth abor­tion, who backs a Free­dom of Choice Act to abol­ish ev­ery re­stric­tion in ev­ery state, who even op­posed a born-alive in­fant pro­tec­tion act.

Nor is it be­cause Joe Bi­den is a NARAL Catholic who has been ad­mon­ished by bish­ops not to take com­mu­nion be­cause he has, through his ca­reer, sup­ported a women’s “right” to abor­tion, the ex­er­cise of which right has ended the lives of 45 mil­lion un­born.

Nor is it even be­cause Mr. McCain pro­fesses to be pro-life, or Gov. Palin is a woman who not only talks the talk but walks the walk of life.

No. The rea­son this elec­tion is the last chance for life is the Supreme Court. For it alone — given the cow­ardice of a Congress that re­fuses to re­strict its au­thor­ity — has the power to re­verse Roe, and be­cause that court may be within a sin­gle vote of do­ing so.

Jus­tices An­tonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sam Al­ito and Chief Jus­tice John Roberts ap­pear steeled to over­turn Roe and re­turn this most di­vi­sive is­sue since slav­ery to the states, where it resided un­til Jan­uary 1973.

And John Paul Stevens, the old­est and per­haps most pro- choice jus­tice at 88, is a likely re­tiree in the next four years. And there is a pos­si­bil­ity Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg, at 75, a sur­vivor of can­cer, could de­part as did Jus­tice San­dra Day O’Con­nor.

Thus, in the first term of the next pres­i­dent, there is a strong prob­a­bil­ity that one or two of the most pro-Roe jus­tices will leave the bench. Re­place­ment of even one of th­ese two lib­eral ac­tivists with a ju­rist who has a Scali­aRoberts-Al­ito-Thomas record on the U.S. ap­pel­late court could ini­ti­ate a chal­lenge to Roe, and its rapid re­ver­sal.

Not only would that de­ci­sion be a stun­ning per­haps ir­re­versible victory for the pro-life cause, it would re­turn the is­sue of abor­tion to Congress and the states, where nu­mer­ous leg­is­la­tors are pre­pared to cur­tail if not out­law abor­tion on de­mand in Amer­ica.

Over­turn­ing Roe would re-en­er­gize the right-to-life move­ment in ev­ery state. In some, like Cal­i­for­nia and New York, where it could not wholly pre­vail, some re­stric­tions — i.e., no abor­tions af­ter vi­a­bil­ity — might be im­posed. Re­quire­ments such as for parental no­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore a teenager has an abor­tion and that preg­nant women be in­formed of what the pro­ce­dure means and the trauma that of­ten fol­lows could be writ­ten into law.

If Roe goes, all things are pos­si­ble. If Roe re­mains, all is lost.

Is there any cer­tainty that John McCain, who set up the Gang of 14 to give Democrats veto over the most con­ser­va­tive of Bush judges, would nom­i­nate an Al­ito or a Roberts? No.

But there is a cer­tainty that a Pres­i­dent Obama would move swiftly to re­place a Stevens or Gins­berg, or any other jus­tice who steps downs or dies, with a pro-choice ju­rist. For sup­port for Roe v. Wade is a lit­mus test in to­day’s Demo­cratic Party, where the right to an abor­tion has been el­e­vated to the high­est rank in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Bot­tom line. If Obama-Bi­den wins, Roe is for­ever. If McCainPalin wins, Roe could be gone by the decade’s end.

As Catholics are the swing vot­ers who likely will de­cide this elec­tion, one awaits the moral coun­sel of the Catholic hi­er­ar­chy.

Pat Buchanan is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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