Moral Accountability: An Open Letter January 21, 2009
In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These men and women assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”
Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies. During his campaign for the presidency, Obama promised that his very first presidential act would be to push through the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would require federal and state funding for abortion and, in the gleeful words of the National Organization for Women, “wipe out hundreds of anti-abortion laws” across the United States. Even if he and his allies in Congress are unable to win sufficient support for this extreme measure to enact it as a package, they will no doubt seek to push through its various elements one by one. Bills will be introduced, for example, to override laws requiring parental consent or at least notification for abortions performed on minor girls—laws that demonstrably save thousands of lives every year—and laws mandating the provision of factual information about fetal development and the risks of abortion to women contemplating the procedure.
Barack Obama has also promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which protects states from being forced to recognize out-of-state marriages that are contrary to their public policy of treating marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. Despite his statement to voters that he favors preserving the definition of marriage as a male-female union, Obama actively opposed California’s Proposition 8, a measure—passed despite his opposition by the people of California—that preserves the traditional definition of marriage.
The Moral Accountability Project trusts that those self-identified pro-life and pro-marriage Catholics and Evangelicals who helped to put Barack Obama into a position to accomplish his goals were sincere in their admiration for him. We are willing to believe that they genuinely hope that he will go back on his pledges to attack pro-life laws and repeal pro-marriage policies. Still, actions have consequences, and the actions of these intellectuals and activists will have consequences that are all too easy to predict. With each assault of the Obama administration on laws and policies upholding the sanctity of human life and the dignity of marriage, we will ask all Catholics and Evangelicals, including those who supported Obama, to join us in resisting these assaults. That is what we will do at www.moralaccountability.com.
Our project is offered in a constructive spirit, not one of vilification. Our goal is to help ensure that never again will good intentions conspire with shoddy reasoning and wishful thinking to compromise the rights of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our community and to undermine the institution of marriage. And so in a sincere spirit of friendship, we invite those Catholics and Evangelicals who joined with Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and similar organizations in supporting Obama to join us now in repelling the attacks that will be launched against life and marriage in this administration.
With the revocation of the Mexico City Policy forbidding the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to promote abortion abroad, with the repeal of the Hyde Amendment protecting U.S. taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortions, with the demolition of laws requiring parental involvement and informed consent, with the promotion of “therapeutic” cloning and the expansion of embryo-destructive research, with the abolition of conscience and religious liberty protections for pro-life physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, and with the fulfillment of Obama’s other promises to the abortion and embryo-research industries, the death toll is sure to mount. In solidarity with the victims, we will document it as best we can, and we will demand moral accountability.
Robert P. George, Princeton University
Hadley Arkes, Amherst College
Francis Beckwith, Baylor University
Gerard V. Bradley, University of Notre Dame Law School
Robert Lowry Clinton, Southern Illinois University
Anthony Esolen, Providence College
Matthew Franck, Radford University
John Breen, Loyola University of Chicago
Patrick Lee, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Michael New, University of Alabama
Michael Paulsen, University of St. Thomas
Ronald Rychlak, University of Mississippi
Colleen Sheehan, Villanova University
Gregory Sisk, University of St. Thomas School of Law
James Stoner, Louisiana State University
Micah Watson, Union University
Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina
(Cross-posted on Southern Appeal)