John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


A Theory on the Life Issue

Posted on December 2, 2008



            File this under theory.


            I am pro-life.  I believe that abortion is wrong, counter-productive, inhumane, and bad for society.  I was pro-choice when I was in college, but I slowly changed my position the more I learned about the ethical reasons behind that position.


            Watching my son arrive in this world only confirmed and deepened my pro-life position.


            If you disagree with my position on abortion, I respect your right to have your position.


            I do understand, however, why if you had such a position, you would be offended by some of the rhetoric that has come from my side.


            Basically, the argument over abortion has broken down into two hyperbolic camps.  One camp believes that if you are pro-life, you hate women and women’s rights.


            The other camp believes that if you are pro-choice, God will strike you down because abortion is an affront to Him.


I am concerned about the second argument.


            I believe that the religious nature of the pro-life argument undermines the pro-life cause.  


First of all, religion should have no place in our political and policy arguments.  The First Amendment to the Constitution makes that clear.   “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereon.”  Yep, pretty clear. 


So why do the pro-lifers insist on arguing that they have that position because that is what the Church tells them?  That argument is positively irrelevant, under our Constitution. 


Second, religious conviction is nice in a theocracy, but in a democracy, it can be off-putting to those who don’t share that religious conviction.   The idea is to attract votes to a policy and not to a religion.  Why do pro-life proponents continue to cite religious reasons for their positions, when they risk alienating those who don’t share them?


There are plenty of good ethical, scientific, moral, psychological, health and practical  reasons to be against abortion,  but proponents continue to beat the religious drum.  If you don’t believe me, take a walk to the Supreme Court sometime or go to a pro-life rally.


I am Catholic, and while I agree with the Church’s position on abortion, that is not the reason that I support limits on abortion and efforts to make it rare.  There are plenty of Church positions that I have no interest in making public policy.  For example, making pre-marital sex a crime is not a position that I would ever take.  


I believe that the pro-life community should find a way to promote more of the unreligious reasons to be pro-life.  Then, they should find a way to work with the pro-choice community to find ways to make abortion as rare as possible.  Make third trimester abortions illegal.  Fund more adoption alternatives.  Educate kids so they don’t get pregnant in the first place.  And fund research into those first critical moments of life’s conception, so that all Americans can understand that being pro-life is not just for the religious.  It is for everybody.

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