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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Would Kmiec Support Obama Even If It Meant More Abortions?

I've blogged before about the Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation of Doug Kmiec, from pro-life Catholic law professor to rabid supporter of pro-abortion Obama. Kmiec endorsed Obama as a "pro-life" candidate who "chooses life", arguing that Obama's policies encouraging adoption and personal responsibility will reduce the total number of abortions.

But as John McCormack observes in a recent article, electing Obama won't reduce the total number of abortion:
But Kmiec's argument ignores one very inconvenient fact: Obama's policies on abortion, taken as a whole, would very likely lead to a higher abortion rate. That's because Obama supports subsidizing abortion by repealing the Hyde amendment, which prohibits Medicaid and other government funding for abortions. According to a study by University of Alabama political scientist Michael New, "state laws restricting the use of Medicaid funds in paying for abortions" reduce the abortion rate by more than 29,000 abortions for every 1 million women of childbearing age.
McCormack then gives a fascinating account of his dialogue with Kmiec about this issue:
Squaring Obama's pledge to subsidize abortion with his goal of reducing the number of abortions is quite a difficult task. In a phone interview in late May, I asked Kmiec if he was aware that Obama supports public funding for abortion. "I can't say that I am quite frankly," he replied.

I asked Kmiec, in light of Obama's commitment to taxpayer funding of abortion, if he would consider renouncing his endorsement if the senator didn't change his position. "I haven't seen the social science literature that you're obviously much more privy to and obviously sending me," he said. But assuming that public funding would significantly increase the abortion rate, Kmiec added, "I would be at a loss to say anything other than I can't support the senator at that point."

Kmiec pointed to a piece he had written for Slate, in which he declared his endorsement of Obama "will be renounced more loudly than it was given," if Obama failed to "work to reduce the incidence of the practice [of abortion]".

I emailed Kmiec reports on a number of studies showing that Medicaid funding of abortion causes a higher abortion rate. But when he got back to me in mid-June, he said Obama's position on abortion funding was not a dealbreaker. Kmiec explained that one "must take full account of the church's social teaching" on other issues like poverty, war, and the environment. When I asked him about his statement that he would likely renounce his endorsement if Obama didn't reconsider abortion funding, he replied: "If I said it quite that categorically, that's not quite where I'm at."
Wow. It looks like Kmiec would still support Obama even if that meant an increase in the total number of abortions in this country. Kmiec now seems to be firmly in the camp that thinks that a candidate's positions on economics, the environment, and immigration can trump the candidate's position on abortion. Of course, that is an invalid position for a Catholic to hold, considering cooperating in abortion entails a penalty of excommunication, while the other issues don't.