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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Case Of Flawed Reasoning

I have a friend who complained about the re-instatement of the "Mexico City Policy," a prohibition against the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions internationally. (We have a similar policy domestically: the Hyde Amendment.) Presumably because some of the groups that will now lose funding also do other things of which he heartily approves, he added, "This [policy] will actually increase abortions. It would be funny, if it weren't so sad." The argument goes thusly: why not support oral contraceptives and other services provided by these now-disfavored groups, if I really want fewer abortions?

The plainest answer: I don't want fewer abortions; I want none.

Let us assume for a moment that the basic anthropology offered by the Catholic Church is correct; abortion and contraception are contrary to humanity's purpose and destiny. Let us further assume that I am a Catholic politician. My understanding of my obligation as a legislator and a Catholic is that I may work incrementally, permitting moral evil, provided that I have no other good option, and that I make clear what I am doing, and that the present state is not morally acceptable.

I have no obligation to cooperate even remotely in evil. I would be happy to cooperate in a more general sense, when moral obligations are not at stake. It is usually at this point that an objection is raised: Religion is being imposed! More than that, we are a pluralistic society.

This objection mistakes advocacy for imposition; it also assumes that the multiplicity of value systems implies that no one is correct. Tolerance is meant to serve peace and solidarity; pluralism is not a virtue in itself.

I regard this latest change in policy as a good one. We may have to do other things to make the horror of abortion less likely. If we fail, through callousness or imprudence, the fault is ours. But we never will serve the greater good by doing evil.

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