Friday, July 24, 2009

The Fetal Obsession

I was reading Jamison Foser's discussion of the "privileging" of the anti-abortion position in discussions of health care reform, and was reminded of two recent incidents involving Pres. Obama and the Roman Catholic Church. Late last spring, a few anti-choice Catholics tried to create something out of nothing because the President was invited to give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. No matter how often it was pointed out that the "protesters" were a tiny segment of the UND community, and that many of them, including their leaders, were neither part of the Notre Dame community nor even Roman Catholic, the media continued to act as if the campus was on the verge of exploding over the issue.

Fast forward to Pres. Obama's trip to Europe earlier this summer for the G8 Conference, and I heard a report - on NPR? somewhere . . . - on an audience the President had with Pope Benedict XVI. Whoever did this report (and, no, I tried to find it and cannot; Google has failed me) spent quite a bit of time commenting on how the Pope seemed quite at ease with the President, even charmed by him (my guess is that's not hard as Pres. Obama seems like a pretty charming, disarming guy) despite the fact that Obama is pro-choice. Say what one will about Josef Ratzinger, my guess is he is astute enough as the currently-reigning Pontiff to raise issues with an American President that go beyond abortion.

Furthermore, there is more to Roman Catholic doctrine than abortion. There are many potential points of contact between a moderately liberal American President and a pretty conservative Roman Catholic Pope. Yet, it was the abortion angle that seemed to overwhelm at least the discussion I heard.

Is it at all possible to have some kind of public discussion in which the human fetus does not suddenly become all-important?

Virtual Tin Cup

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