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Pro-life’ not only for abortion

Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 10, 2008

Being truly “pro-life” involves far more than simply opposing abortion. Consider the case of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. To increase the Romanian population, he banned abortion, but his despotic regime quickly became infamous for its egregious human rights abuses. Ceausescu’s secret police force dealt brutally with suspected political dissidents and his lavish lifestyle belied the sheer destitution which afflicted most of his country’s citizens. I can’t imagine that any person would argue that Ceausescu’s opposition to abortion offset the crimes of his tyrannical regime or that he ruled in accordance with Catholic moral precepts.Clearly, a leader’s antipathy for abortion does not necessarily override the consideration of other issues. During the 2004 presidential election, George Bush received the pro-life vote simply because his party traditionally condemns abortion. Although Bush claimed to be “pro-life,” he continued to fight an unnecessary, bloody war in Iraq which has been criticized as illegal by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and as unjust by the Vatican. The war in Iraq has killed thousands of American troops and, according to a range of estimates, between one hundred thousand and one million innocent Iraqi civilians. The Bush administration has also been guilty of numerous human rights violations, such as the torture of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition and the use of secret CIA prisons. Bush has also been a strong supporter of the death penalty and has even argued that he possesses the authority to indefinitely and arbitrarily detain “enemy combatants” and to deny them access to courts and lawyers. These policies, which have seriously corroded American moral legitimacy, are not those of a politician who is serious about preserving the sanctity of life and they are staunchly antithetical to core Catholic ideals.Many anti-abortion advocates claim that abortion is the singular issue in the election because the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade far exceeds the cumulative death toll of all other social injustices, including the war in Iraq. One could apply this argument to communist Romania and argue that the Ceausescu regime’s strong opposition to abortion compensated for its dismal of human rights simply because Ceausescu probably prevented at least several hundred thousand abortions. However, not many people would concur with that defense of Ceausescu. Additionally, that line of reasoning would free the Republican party from nearly all accountability on its other policies and positions, even those which directly contradict Church teachings.The innocents who suffer and die in unjust conflicts share a fundamental, ineffable human dignity which must be respected, even if that means voting for a candidate who does not oppose abortion. A presidential candidate’s position on abortion does merit careful contemplation by Catholic voters. It does not, however, automatically supersede all other moral concerns in a campaign.

Colin LittlefieldsophomoreSt. Edward’s HallNov. 5