In the January issue of First Things , we are proud to have Joseph Bottum and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus reflect on the current state of abortion politics in America. In “Abortion after Obama,” Bottum takes a hard look at the challenges facing the pro-life movement with the coming of the Obama administration:
On abortion, Obama is the complete man, his support so ingrained that even his carefully controlled public speaking can’t help revealing it. He’s not a fanatic about abortion; he’s what lies beyond fanaticism. He’s the end product of hard-line support for abortion: a man for whom the very question of abortion seems unreal. The opponents of abortion are, for Obama, not to be compromised with or even fought with, in a certain sense. They are, rather, to be explained away as a sociological phenomenontheir pro-life view something that will wither away as they gradually come to understand the true causes of the economic and social bitterness they have, in their undereducated and intolerant way, attached to abortion.
The result is already clear, with an announcement from Obama’s transition team, only days after the election, that the new president will remove all restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research immediately on taking office. The Mexico City policy (which requires all groups that receive federal funds not to perform or promote abortion abroad) will disappear the first day, as well. Back in 1992, the Clinton administration gave social policy at the United Nations and other treaty organizationsall the minor jobs in international affairsto the far left as part of its spoils in the Democratic victory, and the first signs suggest that the Obama administration will do the same.
And in “The Pro-Life Movement as the Politics of the 1960s,” Fr. Neuhaus highlights the striking similarities between the modern-day pro-life movement and the political revolutions of the 1960s:
Whatever else it is, the pro-life movement of the last thirty-plus years is one of the most massive and sustained expressions of citizen participation in the history of the United States. Since the 1960s, citizen participation and the remoralizing of politics have been central goals of the left. Is it not odd, then, that the pro-life movement is viewed as a right-wing cause? Reinhold Niebuhr wrote about “the irony of American history” and, were he around to update his book of that title, I expect he might recognize this as one of the major ironies within the irony.
If you would like to hear more about these two important articles, we’ve got some good news. Features editor R.R. Reno recently sat down with Joseph Bottum to talk about both, and you can listen to the interview below: