Wanderer Logo

Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

Abortion and Evasion

(Reprinted from the issue of May 3, 2007)

Capitol Bldg, Washington Watch logo for Abortion and EvasionIn any normal week, with no spectacular crime usurping the headlines, the big news would have been the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that Congress has the constitutional power to outlaw late-term abortions, the grisly “procedures” that everyone knows are really infanticides.

Shocking as the Virginia Tech story was, I could dimly understand it; but I still find it hard to believe that anyone, particularly a doctor trained in the healing arts, could be inhuman enough to perform these barbaric crimes. Yet Bill Clinton, among others, still defends them. Take a bow, Satan. You’ve done wonders with the American conscience.

The Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart should have been an important political victory for opponents of feticide. Yet I wonder. The pro-abortion Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion, in which he was joined by the “Catholic bloc” for the first time I can recall, stopped far short of reversing Roe v. Wade, and stressed that it did not do so. In a concurrent opinion, Clarence Thomas, joined by Antonin Scalia, called for such a reversal, but the prospects are bleak.

The Democrats, the fanatical party of abortion, control Congress. The next president, probably a Democrat or (even worse) Rudy Giuliani, will very likely be pro-abortion and may name as many as three new justices to the Court. Given these basic facts, what are the odds that any new justice will be not only (a) anti-Roe, but also (b) confirmed by the Senate?

This is George W. Bush’s legacy. He vaguely dislikes abortion, but it doesn’t seem to horrify him, and he has subordinated whatever misgivings he has about it to the war he wanted to be — and assuredly will be — remembered for. If Roe should ever be overturned, he won’t get much credit for it, even if he miraculously wins his war. How sad.

Not that Bush is the only conservative to lose his head over such distractions. Rare is the man whose conscience has not become more or less callous about so many horrors in our popular and political culture: abortion, pornography, sodomy, nuclear weapons, war itself.

Consider contraception. A friend of mine once startled me by telling me he considered it even worse than abortion; it took me awhile, and some meditation, to see his point.

Within the lifetimes of many now alive, virtually all Christians regarded contraception as sinful. But the 1931 Lambeth Conference of the Church of England, while not denying the essential evil, made a fatal exception for couples (married and faithful, it went without saying) for whom an additional child would be a severe hardship. Even those who practiced contraception were expected to do so chastely, as it were.

But it didn’t take long for what was meant to be the rare “exception” to become the norm. By the time the birth control pill came along in the 1960s, we were speaking with a fatal casualness, and a kind of eloquent confusion, of “the sexual revolution” and “the new morality.”

This “new” morality was supposed to be a limited thing, applying to sexual pleasure but not, of course, to burglary, say, or gluttony, or calumny, or revenge, or murder; that would have seemed too obviously absurd, like a “new” morality of picking pockets or vandalizing churches. But as contraception became a norm (all the experts assured us that we faced a “crisis of overpopulation” in those days), it became a duty (when my fourth child was born, a well-meaning nurse urged me to consider vasectomy, sensing nothing presumptuous in the suggestion; I felt like urging her to consider having her tongue cut out), and somehow even murder had to be redefined. And sure enough, it soon was.

This, in turn, necessitated speaking of abortion in the hypocritical circumlocutions to which we have now become inured. The monkey pounding the typewriter will sooner or later, by blind chance, spell the word that will never appear in a New York Times editorial about feticide: “kill.” Babies aren’t killed in the womb; pregnancies are “terminated.” (Pregnancies used to be terminated by birth.)

And now, babies don’t have their skulls crushed and their brains sucked out; the editorialists have learned to refer delicately to “a certain procedure” (or “method”) which its “opponents,” for some reason, distastefully call “partial-birth abortion.”

Can you not read the signs of the times? Barack Obama, the sensitive young (he’s only 45) presidential hopeful, deploring the Virginia Tech slaughter, compares it to the “verbal violence” of Don Imus’s jokes and to the outsourcing of American jobs. Can you think of anything else, senator? A more literal and everyday form of violence? Think hard! But if you want your party’s nomination next year, watch your step.

In the party of Hillary, Harry, and Nancy, Obama can’t even afford to lie as brazenly as Rudy (“I hate abortion”) Giuliani, who at least has to try to placate an anti-abortion faction in his party. He merely has to dodge the whole subject until it’s forced on him, and then he can drone the “personally opposed” but “pro-choice” platitudes we are so familiar with.

Making allowances for his good marital behavior, I am reminded by Obama of nobody so much as Slick Willie Clinton back in 1992, another ingratiating young man whose tongue could deftly slither around specifics that might snap the spell of his charm. Clinton too oozed a deceitful “moderation,” to the delight of the liberal media that are now swooning over Obama, the very personification of pro-abortion “diversity.”

(As Bill used to say — daily — “Diversity is our greatest strength.” Why must diversity be so monotonous?)


Amid all this prevarication and equivocation, leave it to David Brooks, the neoconservative columnist of The New York Times, to write about the real subject with an admirable candor unprecedented in the Paper of Record. I could hardly believe my eyes. Brooks demolished the notion that a fetus is a mere clump of cells; he described the development of a personality in the womb, reacting to light and to its mother’s voice and moods, even beginning to control its own movements and learn language, as it displays definite individual traits and tendencies that will perdure “later in life.”

Read Joe Sobran's columns the day he writes 
them!And he spoke of “revulsion” at “killing late-term fetuses,” of doctors who “poison and dismember” the victim, and of “howling protests” at the Court’s new ruling by “people who can’t face the central concern.”

Bravo! What a happy shock to anyone accustomed, and resigned, to the moral amnesia of our liberal culture. And some Times readers reacted with “howling protests,” all right; but none could accuse Brooks of getting his facts wrong.

Even so, I’ve often noticed that the bitterest quarrels break out not when people disagree, but when they are forced, against their will, to agree.

“When you habitually violate your principles, you don’t just harden your conscience; you may even wind up forgetting what your principles used to be.” Regime Change Begins at Home — a new selection of my Confessions of a Reactionary Utopian — will provoke thoughts and smiles. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter, SOBRANS, yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

Already a subscriber? Consider a gift subscription for a priest, friend, or relative.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by The Wanderer,
the National Catholic Weekly founded in 1867
Reprinted with permission

Washington Watch
Archive Table of Contents

Return to the SOBRANS home page
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer


The Wanderer is available by subscription. Write for details.

SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 

This page is copyright © 2007 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.