Not Imposing a Preference Against Killing
I’ve liked a good deal of what I’ve read and heard from Republican Congressional Candidate William Clegg, so it’s regrettable to find him taking the same horrible position as his primary competition (and Republican nominee) Mark Zaccaria. Here’s Clegg:
While my own beliefs are pro-life, I do not believe that the government should be intervening in what should be a choice between a woman, her doctor, and God. I do not seek to impose my views on another in such a private area. I believe that we can best reduce the prevalence of abortion through awareness and appeals to conscience and that religion can take a prominent role in this effort. In line with my belief in the limits of government, I do not believe that federal funds should be used for abortions. I am also a proponent of parental consent where appropriate, as well as waiting periods. Last, I do not subscribe to the view that there is a Constitutional right to an abortion as originally set out by the plurality in Roe v. Wade, and continued in the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The name for this political position used to be “pro-choice,” in direct opposition to “pro-life.” I’ve contacted Clegg and his campaign for clarification, but having not heard back in a substantive way, I can only pose my questions here:
- In what sense can one have “pro-life beliefs” and still believe that killing an unborn child is a legitimate “choice”? The determining belief of the pro-life side is that a human being at the earliest stages of development is indeed a human being, with a right to life.
- What significance could there be to disagreeing with Roe v. Wade, et al., if one sees government proscriptions against abortion as an inappropriate imposition of a pro-life view? From that stance, does Congressman Clegg side with those who would undo Roe v. Wade or oppose them? The latter sounds more likely.
As with Zaccaria, one gets the distinct impression that, having determined to take an untenable position, Clegg attempts to season his pro-choice mush with a few kernels of conservative principles. The attempted message is that such candidates will be better than their pro-abortion opposition, but pro-lifers shouldn’t expect any support from them.
For me, the politics are a secondary consideration. It’s a tricky business predicting what candidates will do when they actually face the pressures and compromises of national policy battles. We therefore should weigh heavily their intellectual and philosophical coherency and look for indications of their approach to constructing their positions. As I’ve said before, the attempt to acknowledge reality and credit the unborn with being distinct human beings while still characterizing their killing as the choice of the mother is monstrous.
Even for all that, though, voters must choose candidates from among those available, making decisions within the context of an array of issues. The politics may be secondary, but sometimes they’re all that’s left.