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A Post-Election Reflection

- Fr. Frank Pavone

Fortunately, the nation now has a President-elect, and the indecision of this election has come to an end.

Throughout the election season, we -- along with many others -- stressed how important this race was for the fate of unborn children for the next generation, as well as for the preservation of so many other Christian values in our society.

Why did the election take so long to resolve? We can ask this question from many perspectives, and one of the answers certainly is that it was simply so close. But from a theological perspective, perhaps we could say that in this Jubilee Year election, God pressed a "pause" button in order to give us additional time to reflect at the significant crossroads at which we have arrived, and to offer more prayer and sacrifice for the leaders and policies of our nation.

There is a further perspective regarding the manner in which the election was finally resolved, namely, through a Supreme Court decision. The fact that unborn children have no protection from the violence of abortion resulted not from any vote or choice of the American people, but from an unjust Supreme Court decision in 1973 which, as the US Bishops have said, "deserve[s] only to be condemned, repudiated and ultimately reversed" (Abortion and The Supreme Court: Advancing the Culture of Death, November 15, 2000). Certainly, neither this election nor any election in itself resolves the abortion problem. But it is at least curious that in an election during which pro-abortion groups were saying that a George W. Bush presidency poses a tremendous threat to Roe vs. Wade, the process should be brought to a conclusion by the same institution that brought us Roe vs. Wade.

People committed to the cause of life have reason to be grateful that the new president-elect likewise believes that "A truly welcoming society must be a culture of life…We must appreciate the dignity of life in all its seasons ... and look toward the day when every child, born and unborn, is welcome in life and protected in law"(Remarks to the Catholic Press Association, May 2000).

Naturally, this does not mean and cannot mean that the new president -- or any elected official, no matter how committed to the right to life -- will do our work for us. The defense of the unborn child remains the work, the responsibility, of each and every one of us, in our own communities, Churches, and personal spheres of influence. The biggest mistake the pro-life community could make at this point would be to sit back and expect government to accomplish the pro-life task.

But it certainly makes a difference when those in the highest office of our land recognize that unborn children are not garbage, or "non-persons," and when they will not stand in the way of what the pro-life movement tries to accomplish.

Scripture tells us to pray for those in authority. This is a moment to do that, and to resolve to work in a positive, constructive spirit with our national leaders to advance the protection of life as much as possible. It is a time neither for unrealistic expectations, which can quickly lead to disappointment, nor for cynical rash judgment, which can cause us to lose sight of the new opportunities that we now have.

Some pro-abortion groups will claim that the new president-elect has "no mandate" to restrict "the right to choose." That's a strange line of reasoning for people whose philosophy of abortion-on-demand was never voted on, and had no mandate except the decision of seven unelected judges in 1973. Moreover, repeated surveys of the American people certainly do reveal that they want abortion restricted, and most of the abortions completely banned.

The fundamental American mandate, of course, for restricting and indeed ending abortion comes from the Declaration of Independence itself. Beginning today, may all Americans work with greater determination than ever to restore the teachings of that Declaration to our national policies.

 

 

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