Anyone who follows this blog or my Facebook page knows that I am constantly arguing that contraception and the definition of the family are the fundamental issues that should always be on our minds in politics. They are the crucial issues of *any* age, but particularly our own since the family is directly under attack in contemporary Western societies.
Thanks to the HHS Contraception Mandate under Obamacare, and the fact that the US Bishops are finally taking a stand on it, and thanks to the bitterness of the Republican Primary, and thanks in part to the fact that Obama and the Left have characterized the Catholic Church’s efforts to NOT be forced to support contraception as a “GOP War on Women,” family issues have become one of the top concerns in this election, even while some commentators on both sides still insist they’re “distractions” from the “real issues” (Catholic Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has lost a lot of “points” in my book for saying that).
In the GOP Primary, great efforts were made by the neoconservatives to argue that Rep. Ron Paul, MD, from Texas is “not pro-life” because his approach to ending abortion is based upon constitutionalist, subsidiarist grounds, even though he has one of the best and most consistent pro-life voting records in history, even voting for measures like the Partial Birth Abortion ban that otherwise violate his principles. The fact that he once observed a medical partner performing an abortion–which Dr. Paul says was a major point in converting him to being adamantly pro-life–is used against him by his detractors, while the fact that he ran a pro-life OB/Gyn practice and primarily served poor women in a Catholic hospital is ignored. Similarly, those who would normally laud a politician with a large family ignore the fact that Dr. Paul has seven kids and has been married for over 50 years, instead focusing on the fact that his son the senator was apparently named after Ayn Rand. It’s absurd.
Then there’s Rick Santorum. Now, Santorum has his problems, like any politician. His claim of being unequivocally pro-life is mitigated by his fervent support of neoconservative policies on war, torture, “national security” and even assassination. While abortion should have #1 importance both in its objective evil and its horrendous scope, most authentic teachers of pro-life theory in the Church recognize the importance of being consistently pro-life: Bl. John Paul II, the late great John Cardinal O’Connor, and even “EWTN priests” like Frs. Frank Pavone, Robert Levis and Benedict Groeschel–and even Mother Angelica herself–are all anti-war and anti-death penalty. So Santorum’s positions on those issues are problematic from a consistent pro-life perspective. However, his positions are more or less consistent with Church teaching, in that he sincerely believes he’s applying Just War Theory. Santorum has also proven himself capable of changing his views, more than any other politician, so that’s a plus.
Then there’s his controversial endorsement of Arlen Specter, but he has made statements on EWTN since then that indicate his repentance of that decision.
Nevertheless, per the point of this particular thread, Santorum has 7 kids. Santorum has been mocked by the Left and some on the Right for revering the body of his dead son Gabriel after the child died in childbirth, and showing the body to his other children. Why he should be mocked for this when it is traditional to view a body for an extended period of time before burial is beyond me. Indeed, the practical purpose of a wake is to make sure the person is really dead, and the recent headline about a “stillborn” baby being found alive in a morgue shows that maybe Rick and Karen Santorum aren’t weren’t so “nuts” after all. His daughter Isabella has the genetic disorder Trisomy 18, and they were strongly encouraged to abort her but did not. Santorum had to stop campaigning twice to tend to Isabella during illnesses, and he suspended his campaign after the second time. In spite of his positions on war, these facts ought to make him the #1 choice for any pro-lifer, and he ought to have one the nomination by a landslide if the GOP were as pro-life as it claims.
Santorum also supports Church teaching in his position that contraception could and should, at least theoretically, be outlawed. This has been a politically suicidal position ever since “Catholic” Democrats led by Ted Kennedy thwarted the nomination of Judge Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. _Roe_ would be gone if Bork had been appointed, and the fact that a mass murderer like Kennedy was given such a lavish Catholic funeral and such accolades from Church officials is objectively a worse scandal than clerical sexual abuse.
I strongly support both Dr. Paul and Rick Santorum, and both have great strengths and great weaknesses in my calculations of candidates. I ended up deciding to support Santorum, for the reasons here outlined, but I applaud both of them for how they’ve personally lived a pro-life witness in their personal lives.
Then there’s Mr. Rockefeller Republican Mitt Romney. He’s the stereotype of a guy who’s only Republican because he’s rich. He has inconsistent political views. In his past, he donated to Planned Parenthood. He was openly pro-choice when governor of Massachusetts. He passively legalized “gay marriage” in Massachusetts. He forced hospitals, including Catholic hospitals (though he claims they “voluntarily complied” with the law he passed) to provide abortifacient contraceptives.
Then he suddenly decided he was pro-life when he ran for President. Now, that’s common enough on both sides. Al Gore had the best pro-life voting record in the Senate but suddenly became pro-abortion when he ran for president in 1988. Reagan and the Bushes all started out as pro-choice. However, politicians have switched from pro-life to pro-choice have done far more for abortion than politicians who’ve switched from pro-choice to pro-life have done against it, except for those like Santorum and Sam Brownback whose political conversion coincided with a spiritual conversion.
So, right after Santorum suspended his campaigning for family reasons, suddenly the big issue of the campaign was what a family man Mitt Romney supposedly is. Democratic activist Hilary Rosin criticized Ann Romney for always being a stay-at-home mom, having five kids and never “working” a day in her life. Now, there are several issues here.
First, again, the Democrats’ War on the Family should be the number 1 issue of any campaign, and Rosin’s statements drive that home.
Second, the only reason for men *or* women to work is to earn money. Chesterton teaches that it is wrong for a person to earn more money than his family needs. Why should Ann Romney, whose husband is rich, have a career and take up a job that could be held by someone who *needs* the job? The feminist movement is a major factor in our contemporary job crisis. Yes, there are women like my own wife who need to work either because they are unmarried or their husbands are disabled. However, now that it’s taken for granted that women *should* have jobs outside the home, we have twice as many people trying to get jobs as we would have if society was in favor of families having stay-at-home spouses.
It’s highly tempting, in jumping to Ann Romney’s defense on this issue, to turn to supporting the Romneys. However, as the Internet is plastered with pictures of their family that are made to look fairly recent, the Romney children were all born in the 1970s and early 80s. They’re all grown adults now. That doesn’t make a difference in terms of their family–Ron Paul’s children are also grown up–but the fact that they’re showing pictures of the Romneys with 5 *young* children is clearly a campaign ploy.
It would be one thing if, like the Santorums, they started off pro-choice and changed their views and then started living an actively Christian life. However, the Romneys had their kids in the 70s, and then supported Planned Parenthood in the 1990s and early 2000’s. They ought to have known better by then. No, the implication is the Romneys are pro-family if you’re rich.
The Catholic Church teaches that couples are to be as fertile and productive as their situation allows. Technically, by Catholic standards (and traditional Mormon standards), the Romneys ought to be like the Duggars by now. They’re mega-rich, so they can afford lots of kids. If they choose to abstain from relations to postpone children for other reasons, or if they have secondary infertility, then the Church would say that they should adopt.
Yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a noble profession, but how many servants does Ann Romney have to help with the housework? I hardly see how a struggling middle-class family trying to be consistently pro-life is expected to identify with the Romneys. The Santorums or the Pauls, certainly. But this voter is not buying the attempt to package Mitt Romney as pro-family *after* the personal merits of Paul and Santorum were either ignored or criticized, and now we’re supposed to believe a trumped-up image of the Romneys as pro-family.