Has Ryan “Softened” His Pro-Life Views?

Brace yourself for the latest meme to hit the politosphere: the word is now that Paul Ryan has “softened” his views on abortion. Ryan has long opposed abortion in all cases save in a few cases where he believes it may be necessary to save the life of the mother. This means that he has opposed abortion in the case of rape. But in this post-Akin political environment, so the narrative goes, Ryan, in the interests of being a team player, is renouncing his opposition to rape exceptions.

What set this off? First there was the statement made by various Romney campaign spokespeople in the aftermath of Akin’s blunder:

“Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape”

Then there were Ryan’s responses to some reporters who were pressing him on the abortion/rape issue, and focusing particularly on some legislation he previously supported which made distinctions between different types of rape. Ryan said to the reporters:

“I’m proud of my record. Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I’m comfortable with it because it’s a good step in the right direction.”

One the basis of one or both of these statements, major news outlets and some in the Catholic blogosphere are claiming that Ryan has “softened” his views on abortion. Or, to put it in Mark Shea’s words, Ryan has “partly renounce[d]” his position. In response to a comment I made on Mark’s blog, he elaborated further:

 I just don’t see how anybody can regard movement from “It is always gravely evil to deliberately kill innocent human life” to “I am opposed to the murder of innocent, unborn children except in cases my boss tells me not to be opposed,” or, “unless I feel it jeopardizes my chances of becoming VP” and maintain that Ryan is not compromising.

It is quite obvious to me that Paul Ryan has not said or done a thing to warrant the attribution of such cynical and selfish motives to him – though I do believe he, like most pro-life politicians and even people such as myself, is willing to compromise on a few points to make significant gains, a point I will elaborate on below. In any case, Mr. Shea goes too far. Because I often find his commentary to be fair-minded (even when I disagree), I am surprised at this rather unjustifiable attack on Ryan’s character but also willing to grant the benefit of the doubt. So I will offer my take on these comments and Mark can reply if he feels it’s worth his time.

I’ll start by noting that I have observed a lot of frustration among some Catholic friends of mine who have decided to support neither ticket and are adamant in their choice. The frustration is certainly understandable, since it is clear that the two-party system and the hyper-partisan bickering that defines American political discourse offer no solutions to the major problems facing the country. I respect the decision some have made to support neither candidate, though as I have made clear, I believe it is the wrong decision.

This frustration can manifest itself in healthy ways sometimes. I think Ron Paul’s candidacy, for instance, has been a fundamentally good thing for the country and for the GOP. It has forced the party to take certain issues seriously that it had previously only paid lip-service to. The pro-life movement is another example; frustration with GOP sluggishness on life issues led to the formation of a movement that now has the power to demand fealty from anyone who would represent Republican voters in Congress.

But frustration can manifest itself in unhealthy ways as well. In some cases, the attacks on Ryan I have witnessed from the “fed up” section of the Catholic commentariat have been equal in fervor and as loose with the facts as those coming from the pro-abortion left. I’m not suggesting that the “fed up” Catholic contingent is comprised of crypto-leftist Obamaites, not at all. But I will say that the general premise that “both parties are evil” is leading some people not only to sniff out nothing but evil, but to also see evil where it doesn’t exist.

I think this may be what is happening with those denouncing Ryan now. It is manifest that Ryan has not “softened his position” on abortion, that he has not abandoned, in full or in part, his opposition to rape exceptions. The Romney campaign stated that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose exceptions for abortion in the case of rape. Ryan himself explained the significance of this statement: it is Romney, not Ryan, who will be president. It is Romney, not Ryan, who will set the agenda. It is ultimately Romney, and not Ryan, that the campaign spokeswoman was speaking for.

Exploring Ryan’s comments further, moreover, it becomes quite clear that he hasn’t abandoned or changed his position on abortion at all. He said he was comfortable with Romney’s position, because it is a “step in the right direction.” What this obviously means is that while it is good that Romney is opposed to 99% of all abortions (and this is undeniably good), he still has another step to take. His position is still not completely acceptable from a moral point of view. And maybe Ryan himself can be the one to persuade him on this point.

Frankly there is absolutely nothing here for a pro-life Catholic to be miffed about. For decades we have understood, or should understand by now, that the vast majority of Americans and people in general are morally confused on a great many issues. That we have managed to maintain a status quo in which the majority of public opinion can periodically be labeled pro-life is in itself nothing short of a miracle. To expect the average voter to have a morally consistent view on the sanctity of unborn life is expecting almost too much. I would love to see it happen, but my gut tells me that the vast majority of Americans, even if they come to oppose the 99% of abortions that have nothing to do with rape or complicated health issues that threaten the life of the mother, will always demand exceptions in these cases.

If we take this as an unalterable given, then Ryan’s position is just about as principled and realistic as a consistent pro-life Catholic can come to. Without ever having actually stated or even implied in his own words that he believes innocent lives can be taken because they were conceived in rape, he is willing to work with and even campaign with 99%ers, while still maintaining that the ultimate goal would be to eliminate all abortions. This is exactly what I believe myself, in fact.

I simply don’t believe that one can honestly look at this position and consider it an unacceptable compromise, or maintain that he has “softened” or “partly abandoned” his views. I seriously doubt it is some “new” position Ryan has adapted. Again, the fact that we have to accept and work with people who want to allow rape/life-of-mother exceptions has been long established in pro-life politics. If we want to open up a discussion over whether this practice in general is acceptable, I would welcome that debate. But let’s not act like Ryan was one day espousing the sort of extreme sectarian position that would reject all compromise and collaboration with 99%ers, only to abandon this heroic stance when he was nominated to the vice-presidency. I think it is far more likely that this is what Ryan has always believed. And it isn’t a problem at all, not for me, and not for many in the pro-life movement who have accepted political reality.

Mark suggested I might be the one going in the wrong direction, from holding that Obama is simply worse than Romney-Ryan to attempting to “justify this absurd ticket.” So in closing, I will say that on life issues, the ticket needs to be justifiable. If Romney-Ryan really is unacceptable on life issues, then it is unacceptable, period. Allegations that the ticket is significantly deviating form acceptable positions on these issues (or in this case, drifting in such a direction) deserve to be taken seriously. And in this case, the allegations are absolutely bogus.

81 Responses to Has Ryan “Softened” His Pro-Life Views?

  • Bonchamps says:

    I’m sorry, Mary De Voe, but enough is enough. I deleted your comment because it is radically off-topic. You have a blog. I suggest you post that information there, and post here comments that are relevant to the issue at hand. Nothing personal.

  • “because it’s a good step in the right direction”

    It would be a giant leap in the right direction. Like Lincon in his fight against slavery, Ryan is willing to support legislative measures that hem it in and restrict it while never losing sight of the goal.

    “But I will say that the general premise that “both parties are evil” is leading some people not only to sniff out nothing but evil, but to also see evil where it doesn’t exist.”


  • LoneThinker says:

    “Politics is the art of the possible” and “politics involves compromise.” The compromise that Paul Ryan suggests does not violate his strong pro-life stand in principle. The choice the GOP has is to do what is the most- morally accepted public viewpoint right now, OR lose out to Obama’s absolute support for abortion to the point of infanticide, aka partial birth- recall his own actions as Illinois State Senator when he voted against funds for babies who survived abortion. The US Electorate needs further education on the absolute right to life of all babies, and hear the stories of all survivors of rape and incest. The Government is not Jesus’ Body, the Church. Extreme idealists do not make the best politicians The ideal for all issues is still to be achieved- Isaiah’s Lion is still chewing on the Lamb and the cash for plow-shares is being dumped on unwinnable wars.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Thank you, Bonchamps. It would be fruitful if certain Ryan critics actually examined the entirety of his comments rather than selected portions. It’s quite clear what Ryan meant, and that his personal opinion had not changed.

  • Tom K. says:

    Ryan may well not have played the “step in the right direction” angle before, but then he hasn’t been a vice presidential candidate before. His comments this week can be read to be in line with Evangelium Vitae’s “an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done.” (They can also accommodate a power-over-principle reading, but that butts up against his right to a good name.)

    Personally, I think this week’s lesson is not that Ryan is a power-over-principle politician, but that we need to evaluate candidates in an “art of the possible” light, not in a “speech to a friendly audience” light. If we’re not supposed to think less of a politician because he can’t fully effect his policies, we should nevertheless account for what he can’t effect in judging him as a candidate.

  • Jay Anderson says:

    “I often find his commentary to be fair-minded (even when I disagree), I am surprised at this rather unjustifiable attack on Ryan’s character but also willing to grant the benefit of the doubt.”

    You’re being charitable to Mark here, which is a benefit of the doubt that he rarely gives to the targets of his diatribes. The truth is that this sort of thing has become Mark’s stock in trade over the years. I’m completely disgusted by Mark’s calumny of Ryan, and I’m not even supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket (as anyone who has even slightly paid attention to anything I’ve written in the last 5 years knows that I will NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES vote for Mitt Romney).

    Mark, as is his schtick, will of course deny that he calumniated anyone, and will instead claim that he was merely pointing out “blah, blah, blah.” Which, of course, is total BS. Here is what Mark said: that Paul Ryan “partly renounced his pro-life convictions” and “Ryan now opposes the murder of innocent human beings [only] where it is convenient to Romney”. Mark is stating these things as fact – that Ryan has renounced his belief that there should be no rape exception to outlawing abortion. Apart from a press release from Romney HQ that merely reaffirms that their formerly pro-abort presidential candidate is, indeed, still at least somewhat pro-abort, Mark has absolutely NOTHING – ZERO -ZILCH – NADA – to back up his assertion that Paul Ryan has “partly renounced his pro-life convictions”.

    Which makes Mark’s statement a lie. He has painted Ryan is a false light for no other purpose than to brandish his own “see-I-told-you-so-pox-on-both-your-houses” bona fides. And I say that as a card-carrying member of the “pox-on-both-your-houses” club. Now, Mark will point to the press release mentioned above, and will highlight “Ryan” where the release mentions the “Romney/Ryan” ticket” and will say “SEE!!!! Ryan now supports murdering babies where it’s convenient to Romney.” Problem is that absolutely no words ever actually uttered by Paul Ryan, and no actions ever taken by Paul Ryan, could EVER lead any rational-thinking sentient human being to form the conclusion that Ryan has “partly renounced his pro-life convictions” or thinks it’s okay to murder children conceived in rape if it means electing Romney.

    So, I ask again: what solid proof – from Paul Ryan – does Mark have to back up his words? None. And what “proof” he does allude to doesn’t pass the basic smell test that our Church has provided us:

    2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

    2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

    Has Mark done this where Ryan is concerned? Has he, with sufficient proof, given the benefit of the most favorable interpretation in concluding that Paul Ryan (who has otherwise shown throughout his political career that he takes his pro-life beliefs seriously) has “partly renounced his pro-life convictions” and “now opposes the murder of innocent human beings [only] where it is convenient to Romney”?

    I submit not.

  • Jay Anderson says:

    Scott, my best answer would be to “Google it” and read his position for yourself. I don’t say “Google it” dismissively, but rather as a way of saying don’t listen to what someone else claims Ryan’s position to be, but do yourself the favor of searching out his views for yourself.

    That said, my understanding is that Ryan is a “One-Exception” Republican, in that he believes in a very narrow exception where the life of the mother is threatened by carrying a pregnancy to term. Again, though, don’t take my word for it, as I’m sure you can find something more definitive if you look for it.

    But that press release from Romney HQ is NOT the place where you or anyone else will find Ryan’s position. The funny thing is that my take-away from reading that statement was “Yep, that’s the Romney I know so well and for whom I will NEVER vote.” I certainly didn’t take the views of the top of the ticket as reflective of the views of the bottom of the ticket. Mark’s take-away, on the other hand, appears to be “Aha! Another opportunity to tarnish the pro-life credentials of yet another prominent RepubliCath pro-lifer and to put another nail in the coffin of the RepubliCath pro-life myth!” But Mark could accomplish the aim of questioning undying pro-life fealty to the Republican Party by pointing to Romney himself. There’s no need to try to drag Ryan down by claiming he is someone who is “pro-life” only when it’s convenient.

  • Mandy P. says:

    I’m confused here. I was under the impression that Mr. Shea supported Ron Paul. Now that may be a misremembering on my part. But if it is not then it is worth pointing out that Ron Paul’s position on abortion is a tenth amendment one in that Roe should ve overturned and the issue should be returned to the states to decide as they will. Which would definitively *not* be a no exceptions abortion position.

    Again, I may be misremembering, but I could almost swear I remember a column of his not too far back laying out why a Catholic could support Ron Paul in good conscience. If that is incorrect then the point is obviously moot.

  • Pinky says:

    Fantastic thread, I’ve got to say. The Evangelium Vitae quotation couldn’t be more on-point. And the Catechism passage, well, that’s applicable pretty much everywhere.

  • Pinky says:

    I think the reason for the anger directed against Ryan has to do with the continued distrust of Romney. According to the narrative, Romney couldn’t be trusted on conservative principles, so his VP had to be perfect. He chose Ryan, who is perceived as having unassailable credentials. So Ryan was supposed to keep Romney honest. The abortion exception statements shattered the narrative. Now, it’s seen as Romney contaminating Ryan, or Ryan not being strong enough to stand up to Romney.

    Of course, all of these narratives are fiction. They’re our interpretations, and we demand that all the characters wear white hats or black hats. We ascribe mystical powers to a VP nominee, or ridiculously claim that Romney can’t be trusted on abortion, or just as ridiculously claim that Romney can be trusted on abortion. It’s more complicated than that.

  • c matt says:

    I’m comfortable with it because it’s a good step in the right direction.

    I really don’t see how that can be interpreted as giving up his principles. Legalization of abortion did not come as a single step – it started with severing the link between intercourse and procreation through acceptance of contraception (first morally at Lambeth, and then legally through Griswold). Roe v. Wade was the culmination of many steps. Ryan is just doing it in the opposite direction, and the most realistic way it will happen – step by step. This is similar to claiming that a coach doesn’t really want to ever score a touchdown because he called for a 5 yard slant for a first down at his own 20 yard line rather than throwing a deep route hail Mary (sorry, it’s football season).

  • c matt says:

    It could still be a “no exceptions” position.

    Ron Paul’s position is a technical legal one – he is not saying that abortion should be legal, he is saying that as a Constitutional law matter, it is a decision for the states. If he were a STATE congressman he would feel 100% comfortable voting for a STATE law banning abortion. Whether he is right on the Con law matter is a different issue, but one that RCs can legitimately disagree about (it is, incidentally, the same position Scalia holds and has held for many years). So his issue is not whether abortion should be banned, but through what legal mechanism.

  • Mandy P. says:

    Yes, but that obviously leaves the door open to states choosing to go the full-on abortion-into-the-ninth-month way, too. I understand the premise of the tenth amendment solution (and I supported Thompson last time around whose view was similar, so this isn’t necessarily a criticism of Ron Paul) and am not necessarily condemning it. Claiming that Paul himself may be 100% against abortions with no exceptions personally and might vote for an outright ban if he were a state legislator is fine. But I’m not going to pretend that states like, say California or New York aren’t going to have an abortion free-for-all if we send it back to the states. He may vote against it, but he is fine with other states voting for it. And as a matter of pure Constitutional law, an amendment to protect the lives of the unborn is perfectly in line with Constitutional procedures outlined in the document as well.

    My point is that it seems to me to be a bit disingenuous to freak out over Paul Ryan’s percieved shift in position if you support someone who is OK with letting states decide its a-ok for folks to abort all they want.

  • icefalcon says:

    Wow. So Mr. Well-Informed Practicing Catholic isn’t aware that St. David of Wales was the product of a rape?

    Denouncing Akin’s views is not the same as saying that the life of a child conceived through violent rape is less valuable than that of a child conceived through loving intimacy. He can reject Akin without rejecting the immorality of abortion.

    I hope Ryan thinks this over–it is very disappointing.

  • Good post, Bonchamps. One would think that the words of the self-appointed piety / purity police of the Catholic Blogger Magisterium that seems to have arisen in this day and age of the internet should carry more weight than those of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him (many of whom have actually come out with kind words to say about Ryan’s Catholic witness).

    Paul Ryan is a good Catholic witness. What kind of witness is Mark Shea’s calumny (a term someone else used above, not me)?

  • Bonchamps says:


    I think what’s disappointing is your complete inability to understand that Ryan hasn’t rejected the immorality of abortion.

    Everyone Else,

    I think Ron Paul’s view on abortion is perfectly acceptable. We aren’t morally obliged to be federal supremacists. Few elected officials have spoken as eloquently about the natural right to life – and even written a book about it – as Dr. Paul has. He does so as one of the leading representatives of libertarianism as well, a movement that has historically not been too friendly to the right to life of the unborn. I’d say he’s probably done more for the pro-life cause through his argumentation than some “no exceptions, only a federal solution is possible” politicians have done with their votes.

  • Tom K. says:

    I think icefalcon’s comment touches on the downside of the “step in the right direction” approach taken by a VP candidate. There is a conflict between making one’s personal opposition known and the inherent deference to the presidential candidate’s position. A “personally opposed, but not in charge” argument is a dis-integrated witness to the truth. It may be justified under the circumstances, but it is not without its bad effects.

  • Bonchamps says:

    ” A “personally opposed, but not in charge” argument is a dis-integrated witness to the truth.”

    But Ryan explained WHY, and his explanation still gave witness to the truth. When you say someone’s views are a “step in the right direction”, you do a service to both that person as well as those who have already taken those steps. It was just about the best thing he could have said in the circumstances he was in and I can’t imagine why anyone would have a problem with it.

  • Jay Anderson says:

    What’s disappointing is that people continue to ascribe to Ryan – out of either maliciousness or ignorance – views that belong to his running mate.

    Surprise, surprise, a presidential nominee who once ran to Ted Kennedy’s left on abortion is … SHOCKER!!! … soft on abortion. The vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, by all indications, is not similarly soft on abortion (absent more proof than what has been offered thus far), but believes that Romney’s views are a move closer to the ideal than are Obama’s (and the current law of the land under Roe and Casey).

    WOW! Time to “think this over”. I wouldn’t vote for Romney under any circumstances, but nevertheless believe he’s closer to me on the issue than what the current law allows. In that sense, yes, even a ban on abortion with exceptions is better than what we currently have.

  • Tom K. says:

    “But Ryan explained WHY, and his explanation still gave witness to the truth.”

    The fact that an explanation was required establishes that his witness to the truth as a VP candidate is not as clear as his witness to the truth as a member of the House.

    Here’s a simple test: Can Ryan the VP candidate unconditionally endorse Ryan the House Member’s Sanctity of Human Life Act?

  • Jay Anderson says:

    Actually, what you are accusing Mark of is properly rash judgment rather than calumny.”

    The object is no less harmed by the accusation if the speaker is being “rash” vs. being intentional. At some point, “rashness” becomes reckless disregard for the truth.

    But, for the sake of charity, I’ll consider amending my assessment of Mark’s statements from being calumny to instead being rashness that exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth. Honestly, however, I don’t think that particular spin puts him in much better stead.

  • “…I’ll consider amending my assessment of Mark’s statements from being calumny to instead being rashness that exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth. Honestly, however, I don’t think that particular spin puts him in much better stead.”

    Perhaps Mark Shea would do well to focus on the girth of problems in his own life instead of the lack of girth of problems in Paul Ryan’s life.

    Can’t that be said of all of us?

  • Bonchamps says:

    Tom K.,

    “Can Ryan the VP candidate unconditionally endorse Ryan the House Member’s Sanctity of Human Life Act?”

    I don’t see why not. I don’t see anything in his statements indicating that he could not or would not. I don’t honestly believe for a moment that Romney has demanded from Ryan total agreement on the “hard cases” or prohibited him from speaking on or endorsing legislation that would outlaw all abortions. Such suggestions – and Mark did suggest as much – are really outrageous.

  • Tom K. says:

    ” Such suggestions – and Mark did suggest as much – are really outrageous.”

    For my part, I don’t find it at all outrageous to suggest that a vice presidential candidate, to say nothing of a vice president, will not publicly work for the passage of legislation which the presidential candidate, to say nothing of the president, opposes. (Such, at least, were the circumstances I was trying to invoke by mentioning the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which on my reading entails legal prohibition of abortion in all cases.)

  • Bonchamps says:

    Tom K.,

    The suggestion was that Ryan was either a cynical power-seeker or a feckless coward. You’re rephrasing what was said in very neutral terms. We aren’t talking about what “a VP candidate” does in theory – we’re talking about what some people, like Mark Shea, are saying about one man, Paul Ryan.

  • Jay Anderson says:

    “But, for the sake of charity, I’ll consider amending my assessment of Mark’s statements from being calumny to instead being rashness that exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth.”

    And part of my re-assessing whether it’s “calumny” vs. “rashness that exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth” hinges on whether Mark persists in his claims, without further proof to back them up, that Ryan has “partly renounced his pro-life convictions” or that “Ryan now opposes the murder of innocent human beings [only] where it is convenient to Romney”.

    So far, at least in response to commenters at his post, Mark appears to be doubling down on his claims. In my book, that doesn’t lead one to easily dismiss it as “rashness”.

  • Foxfier says:

    So far, at least in response to commenters at his post, Mark appears to be doubling down on his claims.

    Well, of course.
    If you don’t have a tolerance for that, and for a “pox on both houses” approach, don’t read him. Or do, and realize you’re going to be annoyed. *shrug*

  • Jay Anderson says:


    As I stated above, I am a card-carrying member of the “pox-on-both-your-houses” club. I’m voting for the Constitution Party’s candidate, Virgil Good, who has a 100% pro-life without exceptions stance. Even if Goode weren’t on the ballot, I’d still NEVER vote for Mitt Romney.

    But being a member of the “pox-on-both-your-houses” club doesn’t excuse either “calumny” or “rashness exhibiting a total disregard for the truth”. And the only reason I read and commented on Mark’s post on the subject was because someone brought it to my attention. Otherwise, I don’t read him (or any other blog these days apart from this one and Creative Minority Report).

  • Jay Anderson says:

    In fact, I don’t read or write on my own blog much anymore (although I did post yesterday -for the first time in 2 months – to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the death of Irish soldier, statesman, and hero, Michael Collins).

  • Mandy P. says:


    My comments weren’t meant to be a criticism or condemnation of Ron Paul’s views on how to handle the abortion issue legally (as I said before, I supported Fred Thompson last time around and his views on the subject were similar). Like I said at the end of my last post, I just find it disingenuous that Mr. Shea, who I believe supports Ron Paul- whose own position would legally allow states to permit all abortions if they so choose- is upset about Ryan’s perceived shift in position.

    I’ve always really enjoyed reading Mr. Shea’s work on the faith, but it seems to me that when he gets into applying those principles in the political arena he goes off the rails into hysterical territory.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    In all fairness, the question as to whether the decision regarding abortion’s legality does or should rest with the states is quite different than the question of whether abortion should ever be legal and if so under what circumstances. The notion that the answers are yes and no respectively is quite logically coherent. That said, the inferential liberties that Shea takes with Ryan’s statements and positions are not logically coherent, but just emotional rants.

    My own considered view is that absent a constitutional amendment, the abortion decision does rest with states. Indeed, one can make a case that some of the same animations that justified the post-Civil War civil rights amendments also apply to the unborn and the protections they need, in which case a constitutional amendment may well be the most sensible answer — even if politically implausible.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    I would class you as a “they’re both wrong” sort, rather than “they’re equally wrong” sort. One is respectable, the other is cheap grace.

    Yeah, that would be my take as well. One group recognizes that there are legitimate differences between parties and ideologies, the other wallows in a sort of self-righteous loathing of everything.

  • Foxfier says:

    *cry* I use to love early mornings, got up at 5 all through high school, one of the few folks that was well rested even though I NEED at least 8 hours of sleep. Then I had children that agree with their father– 10PM is just STARTING on “bed time.”

  • Oh I never felt more helpless in my life Foxfier than at a 3:00 AM feeding with my twin baby boys with both of them howling! Until my wife and I broke up the week between us with me taking Friday, Saturday and Sunday and her taking the remainder of the week, she was staying at home at the time, we were complete zombies for the first few weeks after our twins were born!

  • Paul D. says:

    Far too many words have been spilled on this topic.

    A president who is partially pro-life is a step on the right direction from where we are today. That we are even discussing this says more about the likes of Mark Shea than it does about Paul Ryan.

  • simonne says:

    The Catholics I know agrees with Romney’s position on abortion when it comes to rape. I consider Romney to be a moderate conservative & Ryan more conservative but not an extremist. Anyway, I like these 2 men as they are both very decent.

  • T. Shaw says:

    Hey, Tom,

    Is that why bona fide catholics feel they can liciltly advance the 100% abortion agenda?

    I just walked by a couple pf persons that abruptly went to see St. Peter.

    They now know that you will not be getting into Heaven if you shoot people on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, or if you vote democrat.

  • T. Shaw says:

    K: I’m the worst sinner you ever met. I have no Catholic bona fides.

    I did not invent Church teaching. If you die in a state of mortal sin . . . Voting democrat is voing for abortion which is a mortal sin.

    I was referring to two dead and nine woounded outside my place of employment the Empire State Building in NYC. I was on the street 100 yards away when it happened. I’m only a little shaken. Sadly, I’ve seen more sudden death.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    That is an excellent question, Paul D. Tom, you know full well that voting for the Romney ticket is not remotely objectively evil, so why are you implying otherwise?

    Of course voting for the Obama ticket is not objectively evil either, even if the prudential calculus necessary to justify it is pretty doggone tricky.

  • T. Shaw says:

    I’m not familiar with the principel of double effect. I know the principle of double-tap.

    One of my co-workers was entering a taxi and saw the NYPD kill the shooter. “Driver, JFK Airport, and step on it!”

  • Mike Petrik says:

    And Tom, so in 1860 you would have encouraged Catholics to not vote for Lincoln since his position on slavery was constrained by pragmatic politics and imperfect? So America gets Stephen Douglas and a couple extra decades of men, women and children in chains, all in exchange for your phony principle?

  • T. Shaw says:

    MP: Apparently, K believes that stealing (government without justice is mass brigandage) other people’s money to give it to the democrat voting base (coincidentally including UAW, NEA, PLO, Wall Street bankers, green boondoggles like Solndra, etc.) is plenary indulgence. It wipes away about 5,000,000 mortal sins advanced by the democrat agenda. Because Matt. 25: The Final Judgment: “I was hungry and you voted for Obama . . .”

  • c matt says:

    “step in the right direction”

    Ok. so ‘splain to me how this is different from Benedict XVI’s statement that use of a condom by an HIV positive person is a “step in the right direction” brouhaha? In that case, it did not mean the Pope was backing off on the intrinsic immorality of artificial contraception, but rather that it showed the person was at least starting to recognize that consideration of others was more important than his own personal gratification, and hopefully someday that same person would arrive at the fullness of truth on sexual morality. IIRC, Mark defended the statement pretty much along those lines (and I would agree with him).

    How is Ryan’s statement different wrt hoping the country finally arrives at the fullness of truth on abortion?

  • Tom K. says:

    Mitt Romney’s position on abortion is objectively evil. If pointing out that fact constitutes encouraging Catholics not to vote for him, blame the party that nominated him, not me.

    And if people think pointing out that fact is implying that voting for Romney is objectively evil, blame the parish that catechized them.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    T. Shaw: “Cast your vote for the 88% pro-life team or for the 0% pro-life regime.”

    Tom K: “Bona fide Catholics understand that “88% pro-life” is a political euphemism for an objectively evil position ……. I don’t consider it a non-issue to use political euphemisms to represent what is evil as what is good.”

    Tom, do you seriously consider your response a fair or honest characterization of Mr. Shaw’s comment? In other words, was Mr. Shaw saying that 88% was perfect or simply better? You do realize that the bishops have repeatedly stated that supporting measures that are less than 100% pro-life can be morally acceptable if they are the best practical option for advancing the pro-life cause, do you not?

  • c matt says:

    If I also recall, the letter sent out by B XVI last election dealing with what legislators could and couldn’t do wrt objectively evil legislation seems relevant here. The letter said something to the effect that a legislator whose pro-life position is well known, could vote for a law that while not removing an evil entirely, limits or restricts the evil from the current norm. It would seem said legislator could morally vote for a law restricting abortion to rape or life of mom, given the current status, so long as it is clear it is intended as a step, not the end game.

    How is Ryan’s position different from that? And how is voting for Romney, given his exceptions and the current state of law on abortion, substantively different from a legislator voting for such a law in the situation above? Or am I not recalling the letter correctly?

  • Tom K. says:

    I like Tom better when he’s not being ornery. I also refuse to believe that he doesn’t know he’s being ornery.


    But we have grown accustomed to talking about things like “88% pro-life” as though they were good things.

    “88% pro-life” is not a good thing. It is a gravely evil thing.

    “88% pro-life” is, as I said, a political euphemism. It means “not pro-life.”

    Here’s my proposal: If politically conservative Catholics spent more time talking about why “88% pro-life” is a gravely evil thing, and less time talking about why people can vote for candidates who are not pro-life, there would be more pro-life candidates to vote for.

  • Paul D. says:

    I’ll drink to that proposal and offer one of my own:

    If the bishops would spend less time talking about being Catholic and more time ex-communicating there would be more pro-life candidates and less scandal.

  • “88% pro-life” is a gravely evil thing, and less time talking about why people can vote for candidates who are not pro-life, there would be more pro-life candidates to vote for.”

    Doubtful. The abolitionists proved completely politically ineffective. It took the election of an anti-slavery Abraham Lincoln, who was regarded with disdain and opposition by quite a few abolitionists, to set in motion the events that led to the end of slavery. I find that historical memory instructive in regard to candidates and abortion. Currently pro-life legislation is being passed around the country in legislatures that are now dominated by Republicans, most of whom are pro-life, but a majority of whom also support rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions. Should we turn our back on this good work because the elected officals are not one hundred percent against abortion?

    If the goal is to restrict abortion and ultimately end it, not wanting to vote for anyone other than someone who is 100 percent against abortion, my position, is completely counter productive. If a candidate is for rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions, and will work to ban all other abortions, then he is clearly preferable to someone who is one hundred percent pro-abortion. After we reach the goal of banning all abortions, except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother, then we can work to close those exceptions.

    If the goal is merely to vent in com boxes and concede the political struggle to the pro-aborts by effectively leaving the political arena, then a pure pro-life strategy is appealling.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    “88% pro-life” is a gravely evil thing, and less time talking about why people can vote for candidates who are not pro-life, there would be more pro-life candidates to vote for.”

    I’m not so sure that Tom is wrong on this, I can see how this type of conversation might produce more candidates who would appeal to our rather small echo chamber. This would not advance the ball, of course, any more than voting for Radical Republican abolotionists rather than Lincoln would have advanced the ball on slavery, but I suppose it might make a voter *feel* pure, holy, righteous and all that.

  • Ioannes says:

    To not vote for someone who can further the culture of Life is akin to say: Let’s not ever vote for a Christian! Let’s only vote for Catholics because we know it’s the one true church founded by Our Lord himself!

  • DWaller says:

    “I’m comfortable with it because it’s a good step in the right direction.”

    I’m willing to hold my breath, give the benefit of the doubt, and take the wait-and-see approach. After all, he has to get into office first, and with all the hatred (mis)directed towards Catholics in our world today, and the number of Catholics who vote for Obama and the pro-choice stance, getting into office would be much more difficult if he came right out arguing against Romney full frontal on this issue. This issue has been and will continue to be an on-going one; one that will not be immediately and tactically resolved even if he were to go into office with a 100% pro-life position. I feel IT IS a good step in the right direction – it’s a MOVEMENT in a direction that is closer to being 100% pro-life than not. If he were to get into office, then we can only pray (and as always make our voices heard) that he takes that step further until there is NO death to the unborn innocents – EVER. We should stand in unity to continue to work on this issue realizing that it’s a long-term war — not a short-term battle. Right now, I’m choosing not to be so quick to judge or join in on the ugliness of politics…and pray.

  • boxerpaws Sarver says:

    ” If a candidate is for rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions, and will work to ban all other abortions, then he is clearly preferable to someone who is one hundred percent pro-abortion. After we reach the goal of banning all abortions, except in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother, then we can work to close those exceptions.

    If the goal is merely to vent in com boxes and concede the political struggle to the pro-aborts by effectively leaving the political arena, then a pure pro-life strategy is appealing.” Exactly how a Catholic must vote. Sometimes the choices are difficult and you have to ask; who is MORE pro life or MORE pro abortion. It’s the reality we deal with and we have to do the best we can. Clearly we must defeat Obama and if that means voting when we really don’t feel we have any choice-then we’d better vote. Otherwise it’s just a vote for Obama anyway. You may as well fill out the ballot with BHO’s name on it.

    The REAL problem is candidates are afraid to stand up and be totally pro life-from conception to natural death and don’t realize you cannot start making exceptions.
    They think if they go that far they will not get elected. The truth is they may not and no candidate who is PRO LIFE and can’t win does us any good. What we need to do is finally stand up to those that are pro abortion,steal the narrative away from them and elect someone who is truly pro life in spite of them. We can have the discussion later on why there are no exceptions to deliberately murdering an innocent.

  • Donna V. says:

    One of the most irritating aspects of the left is that they judge programs, not by outcomes, but by how good and morally superior it makes them feel. By any objective standards, LBJ’s War on Poverty is a failure, which has degraded the lives of millions trapped in the inner cities and dependent on government checks. But hey, those policies make white libs feel “compassionate” so let’s continue them.

    It’s disheartening to see people on our side engage in the same sort of thing. The bottom line is this: babies are left to die on tables every day, they get their brains sucked out, abortions are available right up to the delivery date – and our president and his party are completely OK with that. If he is elected in November, he will name SP Justices who are also OK with that. The entire pro-life cause will be set back for decades. However, the pro lifers who sit this one out will be able to congratuate themselves on their moral purity – nevermind the actual results or political reality.

  • Tom K. says:

    “It’s disheartening to see people on our side engage in the same sort of thing.”

    Bulverism like this — and Mike’s “it might make a voter *feel* pure, holy, righteous and all that” — demonstrates only the poverty of thought on the part of the bulverist.

    It’s all the more shameful in that Catholics show themselves unable to conceive of a reason to point out evil other than to feel morally superior.

  • Mike Petrik says:

    Tom K,
    A sane person understands that going from 100% abortions legal to 5% is a good thing even if 5% abortions legal is a bad thing. So a sane man battles to see this good thing happen and resents being opposed by the man who opposes the good thing happening because a bad thing remains. The latter man is either a fool or evil.

  • PM says:

    What is the ‘bul’ part with ‘verism’ ? Is it a superior way to cut at the verism of Catholic reason? My B student dictionary mentions ‘bull’ session.
    If bull prefixes truth or realism, then it must mean that an “l” is dropped.
    So, that last sentence sounds like you are maybe looking for cites from Scripture or the Catechism in the pointing out of evil.

  • Robert says:

    I believe it’s because of people like Mark Shea that we wound up with the most pro-abortion president in history and I truly feel he will be judged accordingly, just as anyone who supports abortion rights candidates over pro-life candidates. Ryan had to be carefull how he answered that question because it was a trap type question to tie him to Aikin which would give the dem’s and media enough ammo to likley re-elect Obama. Romney pledged to Jay Sekuluv who stated on EWTN radio that he will appoint judges to the court that respect life from conception to natural death and now with a real Catholic on the ticket you can bet he will……

  • “What is the ‘bul’ part with ‘verism’ ?”

    It was devised by CS Lewis:

    “You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism”. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than a third — “Oh you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment”, E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.” That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.”

  • T. Shaw says:

    I agree with all Robert that writes, especially on how some self-anointed have employed the perfect to ruin the good. It’s comes really close to “detraction.”

    The Obama-worshiping shills that populate the so-called media’s have two jobs. Ambush GOP candidates and lob “softballs” at liberals.

    Typical question to Obama, “Do you like fried onions on your cheeseburger?”.

    Typical question to Romney, “When did you stop beating your wife?”.

    Here’s one I would ask Obama, “Do you prefer fried or roasted canine?”

  • PM says:

    Thank you for the explanation, Don – I should have looked it up in the web search area.
    Never would have guessed the word was another gift from CS Lewis. It really does define the way governments have gone from keeping outward order to ruling to roost of its people.
    Maybe E. Bulver’s mother was one of the makers of 1960′s ‘feminism’, when fifty years later, some in government want to be sure that public schools provide birth control for age 12 more than teaching them how to think. And on to results in ‘fashion’, greed, and bad manners.
    Oh, relieved that T. Shaw didn’t get bulverised at the ATM wall on Friday AM.

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