Msgr. Charles Pope is currently a dean and pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where he has served on the Priest Council, the College of Consultors, and the Priest Personnel Board. Along with publishing a daily blog at the Archdiocese of Washington website, he has written in pastoral journals, conducted numerous retreats for priests and lay faithful, and has also conducted weekly Bible studies in the U.S. Congress and the White House. He was named a Monsignor in 2005.
In a radio interview earlier this week, we discussed how some see the tables turned when it comes to abortion—that those who favor limited government “suddenly” want government intervention to forbid abortion, and those who favor expansive government “suddenly” want government to stay out of this “personal” decision. (Of course, how can it be personal since it involves another human being in her womb?)
But are the tables really turned? No. And I think the best answer I have read in response to this came back in 2002 from columnist Joseph Sobran, who wrote of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion:
Ostensibly libertarian, the ruling was actually one of the most tyrannical acts in American history. What greater power can the State claim than the power to redefine human life itself – to withdraw protection from an entire category of human beings? And what greater power could the Federal Government usurp than the power of the individual states to protect innocent life from violent death? (Quoted in Subtracting Christianity p. 248)
So, what cloaks itself as a freedom from government intrusion is, in fact, an expansive and intrusive act of government that has declared “legal” the death of well over 50 million children since 1973—and declared “illegal” most attempts by states to limit it in any way. Even common sense measures—like expecting the “clinics” where such dangerous procedures take place to meet minimum medical standards—are set aside by the Supreme Court over a supposed constitutional right that is nowhere actually mentioned in the Constitution at all.
The Court arbitrarily ruled that the U.S. Constitution shelters abortion. Did the court cite any passage in the Constitution saying so? No. Did it find any evidence that the framers hoped to protect abortion? No….It merely discovered, all of a sudden, that the abortion laws of all fifty states had been violating the Constitution all along, even when nobody suspected it. (Ibid 248-249).
Yes, the Roe decision, while admitting no explicit “right” to abortion existed in the Constitution claimed to find it the “emanations and penumbras” of the Constitution. And this sort of thinking has dominated the Court ever since, wherein many things are discovered in the Constitution that we never knew were there.
Enter judicial activism and the paradoxical result that something the government is forbidden to do (i.e. outlaw or even limit abortion) becomes the very means by which the federal judiciary can eventually “justify” almost anything it wants to do.
The cultural revolution has consistently marched under the banners of tolerance and freedom. But it is a cloak, and the tyranny of relativism always and eventually shows itself for it is: a demand that you and I will comply with its agenda or face serious consequences—legally, financially, socially and otherwise.
There is nothing of limited government in the legalization of abortion. It was and remains an abuse of power because it enshrines a lie, legalizes the death of tens of millions, and penalizes those who seek to end the bloodshed or even merely refuse to cooperate in making it available. If someone wants to call this act of the Court “libertarian,” they (currently) have the right of free speech to do so. But the truth is that they are staring tyranny right in the face.