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BY Donald DeMarco
between the White House and the jailhouse there is, allegedly, a mythical
region called the “middle ground.” Occupants of a jailhouse in South Bend,
Ind., had plenty of time to ponder President Obama’s message to Notre Dame
graduates on May 17, 2009, concerning this “middle ground.” They, including
Alan Keyes, who formerly ran for this country’s highest office, had been
incarcerated because they had protested both abortion and Notre Dame’s decision
to confer upon the president an honorary law degree.
If such a middle ground could be
found, it would most assuredly not be on the campus of the University of Notre
Dame. The presence of police officers made that only too painfully evident.
Obama stated in The Audacity to Hope
that no one can be exempted from helping to find this common ground, a curious
mandate since no one knows where the middle ground is. “Middle ground” has
become President Obama’s mantra: “When we open up our hearts and our minds to
those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we
believe — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.”
He also strongly advised against
each side of the abortion controversy reducing the other to a “caricature.” But
in urging pro-life people to open their hearts and minds, is he, at the same
time, confessing his appalling ignorance of what the pro-life side has been
doing for the last four decades? Consider the pro-life work of the heart, such
as the hundreds of Birthright chapters throughout the country that have come to
the assistance of women with problem pregnancies. Consider the numerous groups
that help women who suffer from post-abortion difficulties. Consider the
pro-life work of the mind: the innumerable scientists, researchers, historians,
philosophers and sociologists who have shed important light on the nature of
the unborn child, as well as on the adverse effects that induced abortion has
on the aborting woman, marriage, the family and society in general. The hearts
and minds of pro-life people have hardly been closed.
But the president himself seems
closed to this demonstrable fact. Has he no idea what has transpired in the
pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade in 1973?
It is a terrible injustice to pro-life people to reduce them to the caricature,
at least by implication, of not having open hearts or open minds. Yes, Mr.
President, you are guilty of the very offense you denounce. In fact, the
caricaturization you oppose is more present in your speech than it is in those
whom you urge to reform.
G. K. Chesterton once remarked that
“there is too much lawyer and too little law. For we must never forget one
fact, which we tend to forget nevertheless: that a fixed law is the only
protection of ordinary humanity against clever men — who are the natural
enemies of humanity.”
President Obama is no doubt a clever
man. But there is something odd about his receiving an honorary degree in law,
especially from a Catholic university. Law is supposed to protect human rights,
and the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life. Obama wants
to move away from protecting the right to life of the unborn to a region that
does not exist. He wants all the American people to meet in Nowheresville.
We need not continue to “find” a
common ground. We need to revisit and restore the common ground we lost when
abortion divided the country so thoroughly that it created a virtual civil war,
dividing mother against child, spouse against spouse, clergy against clergy,
doctor against doctor, Catholic against Catholic.
The real common ground is where the
middle ground coincides with the common good. This is also where politics and
philosophy happily converge. It is the place where we protect the right to
life, an “unalienable right” specified and honored in that hallowed document,
the Declaration of Independence.
Donald DeMarco is a professor
emeritus at St. Jerome’s University
and an adjunct professor at Holy
Apostles College and Seminary and Mater Ecclesiae College.