Standing Alone

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

As early as the presidential campaign of 1976, pro-lifers were already receiving the message that their viewpoint was unwelcome among Democrats, and eventually they were all but excommunicated from the party to which most of them had belonged.

But, in effect, turning Republican has had its own problems, most of them due to the fact that Republicans are by no means of one mind on the issue, so that the party is always engaged in a juggling act. Pro-lifers find that they are often given verbal support that does not translate into anything very effective.

But a recent development puts the Bush administration in a very favorable light so far as abortion is concerned. The United Nations delegates appointed by President George W. Bush were largely responsible for the fact that the final document issued by the recent UN Child Summit did not include abortion as a fundamental “right.”

There were some anomalies here, such as the fact that America's chief allies on the issue were certain Muslim states, some of which have distinctly chilly relationships with the United States. (Liberals who accuse us of failing to respect Muslim culture never mean by that that we should respect Muslim beliefs on sexual matters.) But even more interesting was the fact that, in taking the position it did, the United States found itself in opposition to practically all the advanced industrial nations of the world, the very nations with whom ordinarily we are aligned. What accounts for that extraordinary fact?

Much credit must be given to President Bush himself. He understands the concerns of his pro-life constituents, and he has responded to them unwaveringly so far as the United Nations is concerned. The United States was a similarly lonely voice during the administration of President Bush's father, but that stance was reversed under President William J. Clinton.

Some Americans are driven almost frantic by the very fact that we find ourselves out of step with “the rest of the world,” by which they mean primarily Western Europe. They find it an acute embarrassment that French, Germans and other Europeans regard our position on abortion as neanderthal. (Left-wing sensitivity to the “third world” ends at the point where such sensitivity would require Western liberals to revise their own ideas.) It thus takes a certain amount of courage for President Bush to support this lonely stance.

As far as I can see, he is also trying to appoint federal judges with a responsible view of the Constitution. I do not of course know the personal views of most of his nominees, but the Democrats in the Senate fear those nominees and have prevented many of them from even being voted on.

There is something deep in American culture that makes all this possible. It bears frequent repeating, because it is so improbable, that the United States is now the most religious nation in the Western world, for reasons which are complex and not even fully understood. That reality in turn creates the constituency to which President Bush responds.

Along with the abortion issue, the United States also recently helped defeat a clause in a UN document that would have defined the family to include homosexual couples. It is an intriguing fact indeed that the world's most technologically advanced nation, the nation supposedly the most deeply immersed in modernity, is also the nation which stands almost alone in the Western world in its defense of traditional moral values.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage