Barack Obama’s meeting last week in Chicago with a high-profile group of Christian leaders from across the spectrum–T.D. Jakes, Franklin Graham, among others–was a coup of sorts for the candidate, as it gave some of his most important critics, and potentially make-or-break allies, a chance to take their measure of the man and his faith life. Naturally, abortion dominated the talks.
One of those who took part was Doug Kmiec, a former Reagan offcial and practicing Catholic with impeccable pro-life credentials who has endorsed Obama and paid the price in disaffected friends and even the denial of communion, as I noted here and here. In the Chicago Tribune today, Kmiec gives his take on the Obama meeting, which Kmiec attended.
Not to understand that there is more than one rather indirect and elusive judicial way to address an intrinsic evil understates the ingenuity of the devout. Describing the abortion decision as a “difficult, deeply moral one,” Obama sees it as one only the woman can make. Unless her choice affirms life that is not my Catholic view, and I told him so. But disagreement or not, it is abundantly clear from our conversation that Obama shares a common aspiration to reduce the incidence of abortion. How? Obama is committed to encouraging “responsible sexual behavior,” discouraging unwanted pregnancies, promoting adoption as a more viable, affordable and appealing option than it presently is, and putting off limits in a manner consistent with the law as the justices see it, late-term abortion. Obama will not exclude abortion from medical coverage to fulfill a health exception “rigorously defined.”
Kmiec is laudatory as ever, but seems unlikely to convince those who–unlike Kmiec–believe that change has to begin with overturning Roe v. Wade and then proceed to ending abortion. It always seems to boil down to principles versus pragmatism. It is still an open question whether Obama can bridge that divide, or convince enough of the pro-lifers who make the Supreme Court their focus that they can make common cause with him for a common goal.