Could a pro-choice president, one who has openly run saying that he
was pro-choice, actually do more good for the pro-life cause than any of us who
are ardently pro-life could have ever imagined? I have tended to think this could be so for
some months now but I have found few who will agree with me in the pro-life movement. Pro-life people are very
ideological people. They are passionate, rightly so. I agree with that ideology and passion. I am ardently pro-life myself. I have been since 1973. The person who recruited me to the cause was Dr. C.
Everett Koop, who gave the commencement address to my graduate school class
at Wheaton that year, following the infamous Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision made in January. He told us the world we entered would not be the same. He challenged us to make a difference? I took his challenge that day.

But how could a pro-choice candidate make a real difference where
pro-life one’s have not? That is an intriguing question to say the least. (Do
not get me wrong here. President Bush, clearly pro-life, has made a difference on this issue by his
court appointments.) My answer to this question, however, is to remind you that politics
is about realism, not idealism. Politics is about how can you really change the direction of a culture and of the laws that govern that culture? Politics is about who can really
bring about change? And about how fast and through what means? It is far less direct in its impact than most of us realize.

Eric Johnston, a graduate student in theology at Catholic University,
offers the reasons why
a personally pro-choice candidate, like Rudy Giuliani, would likely lead a presidency that
would actually help the pro-life cause. His opinion piece, which is truly brilliant to my mind, is in a NY
op-ed published yesterday
, September 14.

In short, Johnston says Giuliani’s personal views (as a nominal Roman Catholic) are not that
different from John Kerry’s in 2004. The difference is that Giuliani’s actual
and big-picture views reflect a different perspective. As opposed to Kerry he has said he
would support the Hyde Amendment and for appointments to the courts he
has consistently expressed his philosophy and preference for strict
constructionists, even citing John Roberts and Samuel Alito as the very kind of
judges he would appoint. A look at his record as mayor also shows that he
consistently opposed vice from a position that looked like that of social
conservatives. So what’s the point?

Johnston writes:

Giuliani makes the same arguments that we pro-lifers make.
But he can be more persuasive because he will not be perceived as trying to
advance his own religious preferences
. By taking the side of pro-lifers for
democractic, but not devout, motives, a President Giuliani could shake up the
nearly 35-year old debate over Roe v. Wade. A pro-life evangelical president
like Mr. Huckabee would preserve the status quo for the abortion debate. Mr.
Giuliani, on the other hand, just might win it.

Read Johnston for yourself. I found his arguments intriguing and very convincing. I had thought about this for some months but could find no one who would agree with me, at least in a major print medium like Johnston does in the NY Times. Read it and see what you think. 

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  1. Mike Clawson September 16, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    You could also question whether the goal for pro-lifers ought to solely be the complete abolition of abortion or whether it would also be wise to work to reduce the actual number of abortions while it is still legal (e.g. by providing more healthcare options and other support for single mothers, removing obstacles to adoption, etc.). If this is also a goal, then this cause might actually be best served by a pro-choice president (Senator Clinton for example) who has expressed a desire to make abortions “safe, legal and rare“. Since they wouldn’t alarm the pro-choice camp by threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade, they might actually be able to make some progress towards the goal of actually reducing the number of abortions if pro-lifers are also willing to work with them towards these ends.

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