The most important question in our politics
By Paul Stark
Editor’s note. Paul Stark is Communications Associate for NRLC’s Minnesota affiliate, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Last year he quoted from the Introduction to an essay written by Notre Dame Professor O. Carter Snead titled, “Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue.” Below we’ve reprinted excerpts from the Introduction that Mr. Stark quoted at length which remain very, very much worth pondering. You can read Mr. Stark’s original piece at http://prolifemn.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-most-important-question-in-our.html
Why should it matter whether the 2012 candidates for president are pro-life, especially given the vast array of other pressing issues facing the United States …? [W]hy should any serious person in the public square waste time on these issues when there are so many real matters at stake at this moment in our nation’s history?
These questions reflect an attitude that seems to be widely shared in certain circles of our polity. But I would respectfully submit that such questions reflect a badly misguided and inadequate understanding of the moral, cultural, legal, and political dispute of which the pro-life movement is a part.
At bottom, the “life issues”—including especially the conflicts over abortion and embryo-destructive research—involve the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice. That is, the basic question in this context is who counts as a member of the human community entitled to moral concern and the basic protection of the law? Who counts as “one of us”? Equally important is the related question of who decides, and according to what sort of criteria? These are not narrow concerns commanding only the attention of a small number of highly motivated activists at the fringes of our society. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a public matter that is more important than this “question of membership.”
The stakes could not be higher. … We, as a nation, must get this question of membership right. And it is imperative for the president of the United States to do so.
The pro-life movement offers the only answer to the question of “who counts” that is consistent with America’s grounding norms of equality and justice. Accordingly, it is of paramount importance that the president of the United States be pro-life.
My aim here is to show why this is so by giving a compressed account of the pro-life position (including the moral anthropology and foundational grounding goods in which it is nested), unpacking some of its key concrete entailments for law and politics, and explaining how the office of the U.S. presidency is uniquely situated to promote justice (or its opposite) in this profound context.