President’s Day In A Nation Past Presidents Wouldn’t Recognize

Fr. Frank Pavone | National Director, Priests For Life

President’s Day is an opportune moment to consider the office of the President of the United States, its previous holders, the man who sits in the Oval Office today, and the man or woman who might become the leader of the free world before the next President’s Day.

GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has run into trouble for his insistence that President Obama is intentionally trying to alter the kind of country the United States has always been. I can’t disagree with him, but I can say that our country, and the kind of government we have, changed in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. We can lay the blame for that on the steps of the Supreme Court.

We do not see in the 7-2 Roe v. Wade decision an assertion that the unborn are not human. The Supreme Court dodged that issue entirely. “We need not resolve the difficult question of when human life begins,” said the decision. “When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology cannot arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not competent to speculate as to the answer.”

But the decision continued, “The word person as used in the Constitution does not include the unborn.” We need to understand what the justices were saying and what they were not saying. In essence, they were saying, “Yes, the being in the womb might be human—we can’t say for certain—but we do have the authority to say you can kill it, regardless.” Now, if the court had said, “We have concluded that the unborn are not human, and thus we acknowledge your right to abort them,” this would have still been a wrong decision, but at least it would have preserved the principle that no government can authorize the killing of the innocent. But the justices did not preserve that principle. They subverted it. And when they subverted it, they established a different government than our Founding Fathers established.

We need to understand the seriousness of this reversal. What the Supreme Court said in Roe was, “We are now declaring that we the court, we the government of the United States, have the authority to remove some human beings from the protections of the Constitution. We have the authority to remove this protection not based on the humanity of the unborn, or lack thereof, but because we say so.”

I don’t think we as Americans have appreciated the absolutely radical break this decision represents, but President Obama does.

His abortion-supporting predecessors also understood it, particularly President Bill Clinton, who spoke about making abortion “safe, legal and rare” while vetoing a ban on partial birth abortion.

But Obama wants to go further. He wants to keep Americans from having children, and he has managed to sell that as a public good! Free contraception for all is now heralded as a right guaranteed to all Americans. And this once-unthinkable idea has caught on, with the news media now reporting that women having babies is a bad thing. “After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies,” screamed the Feb. 3 headline from the Los Angeles Times, reporting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine study. NARAL Tweeted out the news with a sad face emoji.

Babies are now bad news in this land of opportunity!

Of course the truth of the Texas story, carefully reported by Michael New in the National Review, is that this alarming baby boom consisted of 37 babies. The study’s authors looked at Medicaid-funded births among Texas women who lived in a county with a Planned Parenthood affiliate and received injectable contraceptives though a state program. After Planned Parenthood was defunded, Medicaid births among women in this program went up by 37. “Hardly a public health crisis,” said Dr. New.

Priests for Life is the plaintiff in one of the seven cases whose challenges to the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate are now in the Supreme Court, with oral arguments set for March 23. Our objection is that this government overreach tramples over our right to religious freedom. But we also think babies are pretty great, and deserving of our protection from the moment of conception. Many of the drugs the Obama administration is trying to force employers to provide have their effect after conception. That’s abortion, and fighting abortion is the very reason Priests for Life exists.

If the Supreme Court rules against us, and a pro-abortion candidate ascends to the Oval Office, our nation will continue on a path of embracing a form of government that most previous Presidents would not recognize or consent to. As we honor their memory, then, on President’s Day, let’s take stock of what changes we need to make to remain faithful to their vision.

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