Pete Buttigieg was challenged this week by a pro-life Democrat, Kristen Day. Ms. Day wanted to know whether Buttigieg would support changing the Democratic Party Platform so that it recognized differences within the Democratic party on the question of abortion. (A 2019 Gallup poll showed that 29% of Democrats identify themselves as pro-life.)
Buttigieg was poised and pleasant but unmoved, as he stood by the current pro-choice Platform language. Revealing his thoughts on the matter, he noted that there were sincere differences on the question, and then reasoned that if there can’t be agreement on “where to draw the line,” he thought the “next best thing would be to agree on who would draw the line.” His position on the who? … “the woman who’s facing the decision in her own life.”
This brought a strong round of applause from the audience. There’s no denying how reasonable it sounded coming from his mouth. But it was not reasonable. In a case of circular reasoning that dismissed the question of whether a fetus is a human, his solution assumed the answer is irrelevant. If he had considered the possibility of the fetus being human he would have recognized that the fetus would have interest in the discussion, as well. The person with the most at stake when it comes to abortion is the one who’s life is being considered for termination.
Perhaps he would have objected that a fetus cannot weigh in on the question. Of course. We would have to wait until the fetus was born…and then matured for, say, 21 years before putting the question to him or her. Yes, that would be too late. Or maybe it would be perfect timing, because it is always the right time to do the right thing.
Buttigieg, not satisfied that he had made his point strongly enough, decided to add, “I cannot imagine that a decision that a woman confronts is going to ever be better medically or morally because it’s being dictated by any government official.” His point here was to underscore the cherished ideal of individuals being able to act in accordance with their own consciences. This is a very important ideal. One that, I suspect, all people agree with, no matter what their particular views might be.
The problem, however, is that the ideal is not all the story. To live in a society is to have borders placed around the consciences of individuals. Individual consciences collide, and so there must be societal agreements that, hopefully, establish fairness and justice within the society. This is what laws do. As someone running for President, I would think Buttigieg would be more tuned into the President’s role as chief protector of the Constitution and the laws of the land.
And there also must be a recognition that human differences are not merely a matter of personal choice. There are some who feel that raping women is a fine and fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. But our society, these days more than any time in human history, is having none of it. We are rightly proclaiming that such behavior is monstrous. There are some who believe that dumping plastic and fishing lines and agricultural waste in the oceans is perfectly fine. But the sea creatures are speaking to this as clearly as the Lorax. There are some that equate the ownership of assault rifles with freedom of speech. But there are others who feel that being that being the soft recipient of flying lead is an abridgment of their freedom of speech.
There are many matters of taste in the world; there are many matters settled by opinion. But there are also many matters of right and wrong. These matters cannot be dodged, as much as we may try. Abortion has been a tough nut to crack because the aborted do not cry (though I believe with all my heart that they are crying out to their Creator and that he will address their concerns). But we, the living, granted the right to live, have also been assigned the responsibility to protect the weak. Justice demands an end to the practice of abortion.
Pete Buttigieg is a man of gentle and reasonable bearing. What a relief it is to listen to his voice, compared to the voice of the current pretender to the Presidency. But Mr. Buttigieg is not a reasonable man. He simply leaves out too many crucial facts.