Doug Kmiec's Departure From The Pro-Life Movement

Steven Mosher
and by Colin Mason
21 November 2008
Vol. 10 / No. 50
Reproduced with Permission

The more incredible the claim, the greater the number of column inches the liberal media devotes to making it. That's why The Washington Post, on November 18th, gave over such a large swath of its front page to religion writer Jacqueline Salmon, who fantasizes at length about the "growing number of anti-abortion pastors, conservative academics and activists [who] are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions." This, she would have us believe, is the future of the pro-life movement. The rest of us have given up, or are about to.

As Exhibit Number One for her argument, Salmon produces the now well-known Doug Kmiec, a conservative academic who teaches law at Pepperdine University. Kmiec early endorsed Obama for president, justifying his support for the abortion-minded candidate by claiming that legal efforts to restrict abortion have failed.

"If one strategy has failed and failed over decades," Kmiec told Salmon, "and you have empirical information that tells how you can honor life and encourage women to make th[e choice to keep their child] by meeting real needs that are existing and tangible, why not do that?"

Kmiec, a practicing Catholic, earlier elaborated his views on Catholic Online, writing that "if it's a choice between giving a boost to the work of my fellow parishioners who week after week in thinly-funded, crisis pregnancy centers, open their minds and their hearts and often their homes to pregnant women . . . and a Supreme Court Justice to be named later who may or may not toss the issue back to the states, I think I know which course is more effectively choosing life." He goes on to conclude that "good, evenhanded information and genuine empathy and love save more children than hypothetical legal limits -- which, as best as I can tell, have saved: well, zero" (read the entire piece here).

Salmon wishes her readers to believe that defeatists such as Kmiec, who have basically raised the white flag of surrender and are now trying to wheedle crumbs out of the federal government for crisis pregnancy centers, represent the new pro-life mainstream. Those of us in the movement, however, know that Kmiec is literally an army of one.

No serious pro-lifer that I know has followed him into the Obama camp, and for good reason.

Quite simply: Kmiec has his facts wrong, and his hopes misplaced. His claim that pro-life legislative and community service efforts have failed to reduce the number of abortions is demonstrably false. And his belief that Barack Obama will actually succor women in crisis pregnancies is hopelessly naive.

Pro-lifers have proposed, and state legislatures have passed, a considerable number of restrictions on abortion. These laws have saved many lives that would have otherwise been lost. States that have strict abortion laws, like South Dakota, have seen the number of abortions cut in half. States with parental consent laws, waiting periods, and informed consent laws have also seen marked decreases in the abortion rate.

Kmiec is not only factually wrong in dismissing past restrictions on abortion as ineffective, he is politically naive. Such laws don't work anyway, he seems to be saying, so why fight to preserve them? Does he not know that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are eager to pass, and Obama to sign, the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would overturn all such laws? Does he really want to provide wavering congressmen, not to mention President-elect Obama himself, with a further justification for passing such Draconian legislation?

Pro-lifers have saved millions of babies from abortion over the past few decades through their loving intervention. Hundreds of thousands of pro-life volunteers in the U.S. run crisis pregnancy centers, teach abstinence, engage in sidewalk counseling, and encourage adoption. Our people have dedicated their lives to helping women avoid the bad choice of abortion, and to caring for them through crisis pregnancies.

Even as the end of Roe v. Wade remained tantalizingly out of reach, we have continued to place restrictions on abortion in order to give women a real choice, and babies a chance for life. Our incremental approach to the abortion problem, coupled with the love and support that we give mothers and babies, continues to be the best strategy for reducing the number of abortions now.

Kmiec apparently supports a government program to "reduce the number of abortions." The problem with this approach is that, if you throw federal money at the problem, where is it most likely to wind up? Certainly not in the hands of the thousands of local crisis pregnancy centers (that run on love rather than money anyway.) Rather, it will go to abortion-minded beltway bandits like Planned Parenthood. And the abortion rate will go up, not down.

The mainstream media are happy to repeat Kmiec's false claims, of course. It is precisely to give credence to such claims that they have anointed him the new head of the "moderate" pro-life mainstream. They want to convince us that the battle to overturn Roe v. Wade is definitively lost, and that the best we can hope for is a new welfare program for unwed mothers.

But we know better. We know that Kmiec not only does not define the pro-life movement, but that he has in truth defected from it, not to mention from the teaching of the Catholic Church itself.

Finally, we note that the highest ranking Catholic in the Clinton Administration was former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, who was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

It is unlikely that the Vatican would accept the appointment of Doug Kmiec, however, on account of his high-profile advocacy of a pro-abortion candidate. What, pray tell, is to become of him?