Two intellectuals respond to Notre Dame Deanâs support of Catholics voting for Kerry
INDIANA, USA, October 12 (CNA) - Prominent Catholic intellectuals Robert P. George and Gerard V. Bradley of Notre Dame University have written a vehement response to an article by Mark W. Roche, a Notre Dame University dean, that appeared in the New York Times yesterday encouraging Catholics to vote for Sen. John Kerry as the best means of fighting abortion.
In their response entitled "Not in Good Conscience," Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law at Notre Dame and former President of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, argue that considering his positions and voting record on abortion and embryo-destructive research, to support John Kerry's bid for the presidency would be to help Kerry perpetuate a great evil.
Roche's New York Times article, "Voting our conscience, not our religion," stated that "History will judge our society's support of abortion in much the same way we view earlier generations' support of torture and slavery," and then argued that Catholics should vote for John Kerry in the upcoming election because his policies on social issues such as health care and the environment will be more effective in bringing down abortion rates than will direct opposition to permissive abortion laws, and that the issues of abortion and embryo-destructive research are not the only life-and-death issues in this election.
Pointing out Kerry's perfect voting record on pro-abortion and embryo-destructive research legislation, and the fact that neither he nor Bush will abolish the death penalty, George and Bradley point out the logical fallacies in Roche's argument.
They point out that issues such as the death penalty do not have the "same status or urgency as the Church's teaching against the direct killing of the innocent, whether in abortion, embryo-destructive research, euthanasia, or the deliberate targeting of civilians in warfare. Nor is the degree of injustice the same or even close to the same. Nor is the scale of the wrong anything approaching 1.3 million deaths by abortion plus thousands more, if Kerry gets his way, in embryo-destructive research."
Moreover, they point out, Catholics are not bound to specific policies on health care, environmental protection, agricultural policy, immigration, tax policy, the minimum wage, and a host of other issues; "No Catholic is bound by them in the way that every Catholic is bound to oppose policies that license the injustice of deliberately taking of innocent human life."
Roche's argument that during the Clinton years the abortion rate dropped by 11% is also attacked by George and Bradley who point out that it had nothing to do with Clinton, but the fact that the house was controlled by a Republican majority who put forward pro-life initiatives which even then were almost always vetoed by Clinton and almost all the Democratic members of the House; the rates lowered in spite of the Democratic presidency not because of it. (CFB Note: I have pointed out other reasons for this drop. Check near the bottom of this post.)
George and Bradley sum up Roche's argument as saying that "that the pro-life thing to do is to vote against the pro-life party and in favor of the party that would (1) implicate Catholics and other pro-life citizens in the evil of abortions by paying for them with taxpayer's money, (2) make sure that every single one of its Supreme Court nominees will support the virtually unlimited abortion license created in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and (3) create a massive industry in the production and destruction of embryos for purposes of biomedical research."
They note that Kerry's position on abortion and embryo-destructive research - what Roche has equated with slavery and torture in the nineteenth century as the great evil of the day - is worse even than voting for Abraham Linclon's democratic opponent Stephen Douglas in 1860 : Douglas - at least supported allowing states who opposed slavery to ban it. And he did not favor federal funding or subsidization of slavery. John Kerry takes the opposite view on both questions when it comes to abortion. When it came to the great evil of his own day, Senator Douglas was merely John Kerry light.