If Kmiec wanted to explicitly argue that he was supporting Obama in spite of his pro-choice views because of the war or some other proportionate reason, that would be one thing. But instead he wants to pretend that a vote for Obama somehow advances pro-life goals on abortion in some meaningful sense.
It seems to me that Prof. Kmiec tried making that first argument, and he was bludgeoned and mocked by quite a few critics for ignoring Obama’s position on abortion. Since then he has been advancing the argument that Obama is fair-minded and willing to engage others’ ideas, which theoretically means that he will be open to pro-life proposals such as those Kmiec keeps offering. That’s all very well, except that it just isn’t so, as I was saying over a year ago:
The rest of the excerpt is the recounting of another story related to abortion politics, where we are again treated to just how fair-minded (and pro-choice) Obama is (”I understand your deep conviction on this matter, which I am now going to dismiss with stock soundbites about the safety of women”), which apparently ought to make other “fair-minded” people happy enough to notice that he hasn’t really addressed the central question of whether abortion can be morally justified or not, whether it is right for a Christian man to sanction or tolerate the constitutional fraud that gives legal protection to the murder of unborn children.
Of course, it can’t be justified and it isn’t right, which is why “fair-minded” Senators who might one day like to be President have to engage in roundabout justifications for their position, saying that they support “choice” for the sake of poor women everywhere. The phantom of the back-alley abortionist, whom the pro-choice pol has summoned from the ether, hovers nearby and is supposed to cloud the judgement of people who recognise a moral abomination when they see it. But the phantom just provides a comforting excuse to endorse something that it would be politically dangerous for a Democrat in most places to oppose. All of this is supposed to show us that Obama is thoughtful, rather than callous, profound rather than predictable, but it does not. It is the tactic of the man who says, “I appreciate your point of view,” when in fact he does not appreciate it and wants to neutralise your criticism by deflecting the question in an entirely different direction.
If Obama wants to discourage abortion, he could start by not supporting public funding of it. That would discourage the practice. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. He couldn’t bring himself to vote for legislation protecting children who survived botched abortions. Opposing the legislation in committee, he then audaciously voted present when the bill came to the floor, which is as good as voting against without incurring the same political risk. Here was his argument against it:
Number one, whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — child, a 9-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place.
I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.
His campaign’s own fact check page does not dispute this, but says that he would have supported the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act because “the difference between the state and federal versions, Obama explained, was that the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade.” Of course, opposing legislation with which he substantively agreed (if we are to believe this unverifiable claim of support) because it lacked this technical language is the most obvious dodge. Wouldn’t the great and fair-minded negotiator and bridge-builder have proposed amending the legislation to make it more broadly acceptable? Of course, he had no incentive to go against pro-choice interest groups when he was in Springfield, and he has and will have none in Washington. It’s not clear to me why anyone should entertain the notion that Obama is going to break with key Democratic interest groups to heed pro-life proposals.
But the real problem is that Obama’s analysis of the bill was quite astute and his logic impeccable–if a child born alive after a botched abortion is entitled to protections under the Constitution, it becomes exceedingly difficult to justify denying those protections to unborn children, which would render the “right” to terminate their lives moot. Qualifying language saying that the legislation in question does not undermine Roe does not undo the reality that the rationale for the legislation voids the entire concept of a “right” to abortion. If the child is deserving of protection at a particular moment, why not before that? In order to keep the Roe regime intact, even the most straightfoward, pragmatic legislation designed to protect the weakest among us must be defeated, because it might lead to those protections being extended even to the unborn, which Obama and his campaign make clear is unacceptable to him.