Obama and his pro-life apologists

I have no doubt that the President regards it as deeply unfortunate, sometimes even tragic, that the problem giving rise to the woman’s need for an abortion exists; but there is equally no room to doubt that President Obama regards it as fortunate that a solution to the problem—in the form of abortion—is available. For someone holding this view, and many people in the academic world hold it, abortion is not in itself a bad or wrongful thing, any more than a knee replacement operation is in itself a bad or wrongful thing. Of course, it would be better if no one ever injured a knee and found himself in need of a knee operation. No one regards knee operations as desirable for their own sakes. No one deliberately injures himself just so that he can have a knee operation. And people don’t have knee operations performed on them for frivolous reasons. But a knee operation is not something that one would discourage or be personally opposed to. It is a solution to a problem, and should therefore be made as available and accessible as possible for people who need them. For those who share President Obama’s view of the moral status of the child in the womb, the decision to abort may be more wrenching for many women than the decision to have a knee operation typically is, but it is like a knee operation precisely inasmuch as it is a legitimate solution to a problem…

The President and the people he has placed in charge of this issue, such as Melody Barnes, have a deep ideological commitment to the idea that there is nothing actually wrong with abortion, because the child in the womb simply has no rights. This commitment explains the policy positions President Obama has consistently taken since he entered the Illinois legislature. It crucially shapes and profoundly limits what he and those associated with him regard as the “common ground” on which he is willing to work with pro-lifers. And it explains why he and they reject what we, as pro-lifers, propose as common ground.