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Friday, October 15, 2004

Trump Issue

I've come across many people, Roman and Orthodox, who seem to believe that other issues weigh as heavily on the making of a political decision as the LIFE issue. Some hold up (in my view disinguenously, but perhaps that's a reflection of my passions) the "seamless garment" argument to support their position. Roman Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver effectively demonstrates why these arguments don't work from a Christian perpsective, from a LIFE perspective, in an interview with the New York Times. The following quote was not included in the published article, which the Archbishop characterizes as "misleading", but is from the transcript of the interview released by his office:

AB: "Let me say this. A lot of Catholic Democrats, whether they are clergy or laity, have used the "seamless garment" as an excuse to sideline the abortion issue, making it one among many others. And, we can't do that. The bishops, themselves, issued a statement several years ago, called [Living t]he Gospel of Life , which was a reflection on the centrality of the abortion and life issues for our public life. And it's important to read that in order to understand a document like Faithful Citizenship because it's a more theoretical background kind of document. You know, all of those issues that you mentioned are life issues that are very, very important, but they are not all foundational. In the way..similar issue in terms of Catholic theology. At the heart of Catholic theology is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. We believe it to be absolutely true. We also believe that Mary's Assumption into heaven is absolutely true. But one doctrine is foundational and the other doctrine depends on the foundation to be true and to be meaningful. And the same thing is true about moral issues. You know some moral issues, all moral issues are moral issues, and it's good to be on the right side of them all the time, but some are dependent on the basic principles of human life. The dignity of human life. You never violate it. Whether it's the creation of embryos for embryonic stem cell research or abortion, are violations of the dignity of human beings, from our perspective. And you can never justify it. You can sometimes justify going to war. You may think that the Iraq war is horrible, but there may be sometimes when you can justify [going to war]. It doesn't have the same moral weight. And, it's not calculating 40 million abortions against 40,000 deaths in Iraq. That's not how you do the calculus. The calculus is on the intrinsic act itself. You know, and abortion is never, ever, ever right. And so to elect someone who has no respect for unborn human life or has a kind of respect?...a kind of respect that is wobbly...it doesn't make any sense. Why would you trust someone with your life, if that person is willing to let unborn babies die?"
While I confess to having engaged in the type of "calculus" he dismisses, it has been only to make a point because this is the type of moral reasoning those willing to ignore abortion engage in, whether they realize it or not. However, the Archbishop is dead on. To say that food, clothing, education, etc., issues (all of which the best way to deal with is debatable - i.e. people of honest intention can disagree on the government's legitimate role in these issues) together might trump abortion is like a man who beat's his wife protesting that at least he puts a house over her head and food on her table. Gee, what a swell guy.

An episode of CSI I watched last night brought the horror of where our society is headed home to me in a graphic way (and I hope to many others who watched the show). A couple whose oldest child, and only son, had lukemia could not find a bone marrow donor that matched when their child was younger. So they had a baby conceived in a test tube precisely to be a genetic match for their son. The girl, over the course of her life, provided TWO bone marrow transplants (a tremendously painful procedure - think about a four year old going through this) and countless blood transfusions. Finally they were asking her to give up a major organ (a kidney or something, but I can't remember exactly). She didn't want to. At 12 she wanted to play soccer, to have fun with her friends, to have a LIFE. She didn't want to be an organ storage depot for her brother, as much as she loved him and he loved her. Her own parents turned her in to this. She was little more than a commodity to them, a means to keeping the child the really loved alive.

When we allow other issues to trump the fundamental reverance for LIFE, we turn people into nothing more than commodities, resources of the highest bidder be that the State, the corporation or some pol seeking election to office. The sanctity of life is the issue that trumps all others, that is foundational to any talk of any other human good, human right. To wink at a politicians support of abortion because of other issues is morally no better than to excuse Hitler because "he made the trains run on time."


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