Sunday, February 08, 2009

After 36 Years....

Michael Brendan Dougherty,excerpted here from an article in The American Conservative, nails it:

On Jan. 22, the March for Life turned 36 years old. In that time, Republican presidents have appointed eight Supreme Court justices, but Roe v. Wade remains law.

The annual demonstration attracts nearly 200,000 abortion opponents to Washington, where the atmosphere on the National Mall shifts between hope and outrage, occasionally tumbling into the macabre. Ray Miller, who drove in from Annapolis, Maryland, wore a black robe and carried a plastic scythe in his right hand. In the other, plastic chains with severed doll parts painted red. From behind his Grim Reaper mask Miller explained in a nasal voice, “I found that this costume most concisely gets across the message that abortion kills babies.”

Nearby, the Sisters of Life, a community of nuns dedicated to protecting the unborn, prayed the Rosary. A choir from Liberty University rehearsed their hallelujahs. Some of the homemade signs were splattered with fake blood, others wryly announced, “Technically You’re Just a Blob of Tissue.” One group passed out buttons asking, “What the FOCA?”—a reference to the Obama-supported Freedom of Choice Act, which would overturn nearly all restrictions on abortion. Parochial schools like Christendom College canceled all classes to allow students to demonstrate.

But one member of the Supreme Court has made it clear that the march will never influence his decision. In his dissenting opinion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which reaffirmed Roe, pro-life justice Antonin Scalia wrote:
I am as distressed as the Court is .. about the ‘political pressure’ directed to the Court: the marches, the mail, the protests aimed at inducing us to change our opinions. How upsetting it is, that so many of our citizens (good people, not lawless ones, on both sides of this abortion issue, and on various sides of other issues as well) think that we Justices should properly take into account their views, as though we were engaged not in ascertaining an objective law, but in determining some kind of social consensus. The Court would profit, I think, from giving less attention to the fact of this distressing phenomenon, and more attention to the cause of it. That cause permeates today’s opinion: a new mode of constitutional adjudication that relies not upon text and traditional practice to determine the law, but upon what the Court calls ‘reasoned judgment,’ … which turns out to be nothing but philosophical predilection and moral intuition.

(P)ro-lifers are stymied by a complicated, perhaps abusive, relationship with Republicans. The putatively pro-life party hasn’t delivered the goods. Shaun Kenney, the executive director of American Life League, complains, “We had a Republican White House and Republican Congress and the government is still funding Planned Parenthood? After Bush picked Harriet Miers, his popularity never got above 40 percent because he promised pro-life judges.” He insists that pro-lifers are committed to only one goal: “The sole issue is this: we want abortion ended. That’s it. All other issues boil down to practical insignificance.”

At 36 years old, the pro-life movement is still energetic and indignant—and trapped. Every year of Republican rule has increased the suspicion that pro-lifers are the GOP’s useful idiots. Planned Parenthood still received federal dollars, and Congress never stripped courts of their ability to overturn parental notification and conscience laws. A human life amendment was ditched for Social Security reform. And just one year of unified Democratic rule in the federal government may undo a generation of small victories for the movement’s incrementalists at all levels. In desperation, pro-lifers may turn en masse to the “Personhood Now” strategy in an effort to impose a “culture of life” that the movement hasn’t built consensus for in the opinions or lifestyles of its fellow citizens.

Celebrate Life!

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