Thursday, April 9, 2009

Notre Dame Betrays Its Principles in Honoring Obama

The University of Notre Dame is now enmeshed in well-deserved controversy because of its decision to “honor President Barack Obama by inviting him to deliver this year's Commencement address and by conferring on him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree” (link).

Honoring Obama is controversial primarily because of his extreme views on abortion. To some, honoring anyone in the least pro-choice is an outrage. I do not agree with this, for I think moral people can view abortion very early in pregnancy as not immoral. However, abortion later in pregnancy is all together another thing, especially when the fetus would be viable outside the womb. And as for so-called partial-birth abortions, where babies are killed while partially born, and so-called botched induced labor abortions, where infants born alive despite the attempt at abortion are denied all care and left to die – these practices are barbaric and disgraceful.

No moral person, even one “pro-choice,” could countenance such despicable acts. But Obama does. And Notre Dame chooses to honor him.

Of special importance in this story is Obama’s leading role, when he was in the Illinois legislature, in blocking adoption of an Illinois law that would require treating infants born alive, despite a failed attempt to abort, as any other infants requiring medical care and comfort. Obama led the fight to preserve the practice of denying infants born alive after failed abortion attempts any medical care and of simply putting them in a closet to die – in short, he fought to preserve infanticide.

Here is Peter Kirsanow writing at The Corner blog at National Review Online last August in a series of posts:
Obama's 2002 vote against the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act ("IBILA") [occurred] while he was in the Illinois state legislature. IBILA would have extended the same medical care to babies born after surviving an abortion attempt as is enjoyed by all babies born alive. When a similar measure, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act ("BAIPA") was introduced in the U.S. senate not one senator voted against it. Even NARAL didn't oppose it….
Obama sits through testimony that babies born alive after an unsuccessful abortion are left to die alone in a utility closet. The babies are provided neither comfort, care, nor sustenance during their brief lives. When this practice was brought to public attention horrified citizens petitioned their legislators to address the matter. Proposed legislation is drafted, [but Obama votes against it]….
Obama supposedly questioned the constitutionality of IBILA… Obama's rationale for voting against IBILA is questionable at best. What isn't questionable is that Obama, the constitutional law lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, offered no amendments to cure IBILA's purported defect…. Rather, after voting against IBILA, the bill was referred to a committee he chaired where he killed it by never bringing it up again for a vote. (It's also worth noting that while Obama voted "present" 100+ times in the Illinois state legislature, in this particular case he bestirred himself to vote "no".)
Another revealing aspect of the issue is Obama's mendacity in claiming that his vote reflected the purported absence of "neutrality language" in the Illinois state version of the Born Alive Act. It's been six years since his vote, there's irrefutable evidence that the state version was the same as the federal version, yet Obama persists in peddling his false explanation. He's probably judged correctly that the media won't call him on it…. Obama insists on calling living, breathing babies no longer in the womb fetuses; he refuses to call them persons.
David Freddoso has also covered this story in detail in an excellent National Review piece (link). And of course the media did cover for Obama (link).

This is the man Notre Dame chooses to honor this spring. A man so radical in his support for abortion, and so fearful that any restriction would threaten it, that he took a leadership role with fellow Democrats in the Illinois legislature to defeat a bill that would have outlawed the killing of babies born alive. He worked to protect infanticide.

Ten priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the order that founded and runs Notre Dame, wrote (link) in a letter just published in the Notre Dame student newspaper:
Notre Dame's decision has caused moral confusion and given many reason to believe that the University's stance against the terrible evil of abortion is weak and easily trumped by other considerations…. We prayerfully request that Fr. Jenkins and the Fellows of the University, who are entrusted with responsibility for maintaining its essential character as a Catholic institution of higher learning, revisit this matter immediately. Failure to do so will damage the integrity of the institution and detract from all the good work that occurs at Notre Dame and from the impressive labors of its many faithful students and professors.
Dennis Byre has captured the nub of the matter in his commentary the other day published in the Chicago Tribune and at his blog (link):
You can argue that the purpose of any university is discourse and disputation, so Notre Dame should invite whomever it pleases…. [But] If disputation is the reason for Obama's appearance, then let it be in a classroom or confrontational format, where the antagonists can fence. Honoring Obama is not the same as disputing him.
Disputation in the academic sense is not the reason for Obama's appearance. Notre Dame assuredly knew that the Obama honors would cause a massive controversy, one that would catch the nation's attention and divide the church. It was a cynical move by an institution captivated by its own "pre-eminence" to draw attention to itself. At the expense of its (now-dead) principles.

John M Greco