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March 29, 2004

When Is Truth Going to Matter To Catholic Pro-Lifers?

The late Senator George Aiken (R-Vermont) was a crusty old curmudgeon who had the pronounced tendency to call a spade a spade. In the mist of the muck and mire of the weekly carnage of American military personnel in the President Lyndon Baines Johnson-produced quagmire known as the Vietnam War, Senator Aiken proposed in late 1967 the following solution: that President Johnson simply announce that we had won the war and was going to withdraw our troops. Aiken knew that that would have been a lie, that he was advancing a positivist solution to Johnson's self-made political dilemma, which had wide-ranging consequences for this nation. However, he figured that there would have been no other way to have called the waste of the sacrifice of American lives and heroism a success other than simply saying things had worked exactly the way American policy-makers in the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations had planned as they attempted to wage a war entirely on the basis of "social scientific" methodologies founded in something known as quantitative analysis. Johnson never took Aiken's advice. It was left to his successor, the late President Richard Milhous Nixon, to more or less do what Aiken had suggested, claiming that the Paris Peace Accords of January 22, 1973, which ceded much ground to the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong, had actually achieved his goal of "peace with honor" in Vietnam.

Something along the lines of the Aiken approach to public policy positivism was actually tried by the late Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller when he was Governor of the State of New York in 1969. Concerned about the poor service on the Long Island Rail Road, which had been taken over by the State of New York from the quickly degenerating Penn-Central Railroad in 1965, Rockefeller announced on August 7, 1969, that he was going to launch a sixty day campaign to make the Long Island Rail Road (which separates the words "rail" and "road"), which is the busiest commuter rail line in the nation, "the finest commuter rail line in the world." Well, sixty days later, on October 7, 1969, Rockefeller held a press conference to announce that the Long Island Rail Road had become the finest commuter rail line in the world. Even the hardened reporters who covered the press conference were doubled over in laughter, knowing that Rockefeller didn't even believe the positivist statement he had just made.

Sadly, rank positivism is practiced by many in the pro-life movement here in the United States of America. An article, "Affirming the Merchants of Death," that I wrote on this exact subject was posted as a special Communique on the website of the American Life League (www.all.org) on November 11, 2003. A two-part article of mine, "We Have Learned Nothing," dealing with related aspects of this issue was run in the March 15 and March 31 issues of The Remmant. Various articles of mine on the Seattle Catholic site in the past year ("Every Abortion Kills a Baby Dead;" "Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves") have also explored this pro-life positivism, which asserts that every flawed piece of bill passed by Congress or by some state legislature represents an "incremental" victory for the forces of pragmatism. Suffice it for present purposes, however, to focus quite briefly on two recent examples of this pro-life positivism, which has become a tool to deceive well-meaning, prayerful souls that "progress" is being made when in fact it is not.

Monday, March 29, 2004, marked the beginning of arguments in three United States District Courts (New York, Nebraska, California) over the constitutionality of the conditional ban on partial-birth abortions that was passed by the United States Congress last year and signed into law by President George W. Bush. As I have been noting endless since 1995, when this morally flawed bill was first introduced in Congress, the legislation now under review in three federal district courts contains an immoral provision permitting the use of partial-birth abortions to kill babies in cases where it is alleged that a mother's life is endangered. Even the American Medical Association admitted in 1995 that it is never "medically necessary" to use this particular form of child-killing to "save" the life of a mother. This did nothing to deter the National Right to Life Committee, which itself believes that the killing of preborn children is permissible in cases when it is alleged that a mother's life is endangered, from endorsing the bill with its "life of the mother" exception, proving once again that many "establishment" pro-life groups do not even try to get the best possible legislation, eager to put into the context of the law provisions that are contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Indeed, forces at the National Right to Life Committee actually work against those who try to take out immoral and needless exceptions to the inviolability of innocent human life, using all manner of reflexive slogans to denounce the "absolutists" as "extremists" and "unrealistic," among other choice terms. Those of us who have tried to point out that the law can never permit "exceptions" to the Fifth Commandment are called "bomb throwers" who do not want to accept little "victories" where we can find them, that we let the "perfect" be the enemy of the "good."

However, it is never morally permissible to do evil so that "good" may come from it. The legislation now under review in three district Federal courts has not saved one life as of yet. It will likely save no lives if it survives the constitutional challenges now underway, which will make their way to the United States Supreme Court sometime next year, well after the 2004 elections, as was planned by the Bush Administration and Congressional Republican leaders all along so as to remove the issue from the electoral radar screen this year. Just consider the "life of the mother" exception in the legislation for a moment. Do we really think that butchers who make their living from killing babies are not going to be afraid to lie to assert that a legitimate "exception" permitted in this legislation exists when it does not? And even if the baby-killers do scrupulously observe the exception, then we have to remember--and I will never tire of reminding pro-lifers of this--that there are two other forms of baby-killing in the later stages of pregnancy that remain perfectly legal. The hysterotomy (which is essentially a Caesarian section used to extract a baby from the womb so that his neck may be twisted before the head is removed) and the dilation and evacuation (which is the carving up of the baby in the birth canal, a method of child-killing that is more invasive for the woman but no less deadly for the child) will be the methods of "choice" if baby-killers cannot have recourse to intact dilation and extraction, the "medical" term for partial-birth abortion. The legislation under review in three different federal district courts does not end late-term abortions; and, as just noted, it will not even end partial-birth abortions.

The positivism associated with this flawed piece of legislation is never-ending. An Assistant United States Attorney argued in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that killing a child by means of partial-birth abortion was "inhumane." Indeed, it is. However, that implies there is a humane way to kill babies. This is an absurd line of reasoning. Every abortion kills an innocent baby dead. Every form of child-killing (suction abortion, saline solution abortion, dilation and evacuation, hysterotomy, partial-birth abortion) is the same crime morally. No one procedure is more morally heinous than any other. The killing of an innocent human being is the same crime morally no matter whether the crime is committed just after conception (by means of abortifacient contraceptives) as it is when committed on a ninety year old man. It matters not whether the instrument of murder is a scalpel or suction machine or bullets or bombs. There is no such thing as a "humane" to kill any human being, including a preborn baby. You see, words matter. A line of reasoning that accepts as a matter of "pragmatism" the supposed impossibility of ending all abortions as either politically or culturally unachievable will be unable to present any coherent argument to explain why some forms of child-killing are more heinous than others.

Similarly, the cheering over the passing of the Unborn Victims of Violence Bill is very misplaced. Inspired by the murder of Laci Peterson and her preborn son, Conner, the bill makes it a federal crime to injure or kill a preborn baby, who is termed, rightly, as a human being in its text. However, as the American Life League indicated in a press release issued on March 26, 2004:

"This law has a clearly stated exemption for abortions, which is why American Life League cannot approve of the language in this bill. This is also why we will continue to educate the American people and our legislators to the simple truth that all preborn babies' civil right to life must be defended from acts of murder, no matter what the method-especially if the child is killed by abortion."

Once again, you see, a bill that is viewed by so many good people as indicating "progress" against the merchants of death actually cedes the "protected" nature of child-killing if it is "chosen" by a mother in consultation with medical "professionals." This is not progress. It is a means, I am afraid to say, to bolster the pro-life voting credentials of members of Congress just before election time. Although the debate over this bill has highlighted the humanity of the preborn child--which is a good thing, the bill's concession that voluntary child-killing is not a crime illegitimates it in its entirety. It is nothing to celebrate whatsoever, all attempts at positivist spin-doctoring notwithstanding.

The inability to recognize positivism as such is once again one of the tragic consequences of the overthrow of the Social Reign of Christ the King, something that the Church herself has more or less conceded in the past forty years is an irreversible aspect of modernity. If the Social Reign of Christ the King had not been overthrown as a result of the forces of the Protestant Revolt, the rise of Freemasonry and the concomitant emergence of the modern secular nation-state, then the Church herself would interpose herself quite directly if any piece of legislation was passed or any judicial decision was rendered that was contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law--and hence injurious to both the common good and the sanctification and salvation of human souls. There is no piecemeal, secular, religiously indifferentist way to fight the evils of modernity that has produced this situation. Contraception, abortion, euthanasia, sodomy, and all of the other grave evils of our day are, as horrible as each is, merely manifestations of the systematic de-Catholicization of the world. Although we must work as citizens to do what we can within the framework in which we live, we must do so in complete accord with God's law, understanding that there is never an exception to the binding precepts of the Ten Commandments. And we must understand that we have the responsibility to plant the seeds for the conversion of this nation to the Social Reign of Christ the King, which will be restored completely only after the fulfillment of Our Lady's Fatima request for the consecration of Russia to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

We do the cause of the splendor of Truth Incarnate no good at all when we permit ourselves to buy into positivist spin doctoring. Truth must matter to us, no matter how it hurts and how many bubbles are burst in the process. We must pray to Our Lady that we will be given the grace to be courageous to insist that our legislators work only for legislation that is in complete conformity with God's laws. And don't tell me that this is not possible. All things are possible with God. The graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on Calvary are as powerful now as they were nearly two millennia ago. The reason that pro-life absolutism has not been successful is that it has not been tried. So many good people fear the evil more than believe in the power of God to effect miracles as a result of our total fidelity to His commandments without looking for worldly success.

Let us not be fooled by false claims of progress and success. Let us speak and act only as Catholics. Remember: we cannot fight secularism with secularism. We can only fight secularism with Catholicism. Period.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of the Unborn, pray for us to do what the missionaries of yore did in this hemisphere: to work assiduously for a Catholic America that recognizes you as our loving Queen and your Divine Son as our King.



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