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
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
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
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.