Some Catholics and Evangelicals in the pro-life community made a significant wager based on Barack Obama’s promise to reduce abortions during the last election, a bet that Princeton philosophy of law professor Robert George is convinced was “foolish.” In order to document the outcome of this gamble, regardless of the results, George and some of his colleagues have launched Moralaccountability.com.
Professor George took time earlier this week to explain to CNA what led him to create the website, and he began by recalling the debate surrounding the election.
“In the run-up to the presidential election of November 2008, a small number of outspoken Catholic and Evangelical intellectuals and activists were pushing the idea that it was legitimate to vote for Barack Obama and other pro-abortion liberal candidates, not despite the likely impact of their policies on abortion, but because of the likely impact of their policies on abortion.”
Professor George summed up their reasoning as ignoring the anti-life voting record of the candidates and voting for them because of their economic policies, which would be “so enlightened” that they would reduce poverty, the main cause of abortion, according to these scholars.
“Paradoxically,” said George, “their argument was that voting for the explicitly so called pro-choice candidates was the pro-life thing to do.”
Saying that this argument struck him as “not only as paradoxical but as foolish,” the professor told CNA that he resolved to create a website after the election to track the decisions of the Obama Administration on the issues of “the sanctity of human life and the defense of the institution of marriage.”
The resulting website, Moralaccountability.com, is dedicated to holding accountable “everyone in the debate: those politicians who declared themselves to be opposed to abortion but in favor of its legality and public funding and the expansion of its availability …those intellectuals, Catholic and Evangelical, who in effect gave cover to politicians who were opposed to pro-life laws…and people like me, who were skeptical.”
“We are going to look at what actually happens when a liberal pro-abortion president and a liberal pro-abortion Congress are voted into office.”
“Despite my view that the argument was foolish, if it turns out that I’m wrong, and they were right; if I was foolish to think they were being foolish, I will be held accountable by this website.”
The website is going to publish facts and analysis, George stated.
“It’s going to publish the facts about what happens when abortion is extended, when it’s paid for with public dollars, when laws requiring parental notification for minors who are contemplating abortions or informed consent laws are wiped out…we’ll be able to see the impact was.”
Lest anyone level the charge that George’s new website is about being able to say “I told you so,” he stressed, “That’s not the goal of moral accountability the website, and that’s not the goal of the ethical concept of moral accountability.”
“The goal is to make sure, going forward, -that people in our movement do not repeat mistakes we have made in the past.”
Prof. George explained to CNA that he is willing to believe that the scholars and activists who supported candidates with records in favor of abortion were sincere in their stated beliefs and that they too have a stake in knowing whether they were right or wrong.
Currently, George’s website contains submissions on topics dealing with the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, the Freedom of Choice Act, Obama and same-sex marriage and other decisions made by the new Administration.
The contributors thus far represent both Catholics and Protestants and come from a wide range of disciplines: Constitutional law, political science, theology and philosophy.
Prof. George said that he is interested in engaging in debate with people of opposing views and welcomes their submissions as a way to hold those on his own side of the argument accountable.
In the end, George summarized, “somebody is going to be right, and somebody is going to be wrong.”