NRL News

The Primacy of the Life Issue

by | Aug 29, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

I don’t know how long “The Public Discourse” has been in business (I discovered it about just a few months ago), but the site produces wave after way of thought-provoking pro-life material. To take the most recent example, there is “Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue” by O. Carter Snead.

Since we are already nearly the brim for material today (and because you can read the piece in its entirety at, let me offer just a couple of tantalizing nuggets—overview points, if you will.

Everybody knows the economy is, if not in the tank, in serious difficulties. We’ve been told repeatedly that in light of that, voters shouldn’t be “distracted” by what we call the life issues. Ephemeral stuff—protecting the unborn, the disabled newborn, and the medically vulnerable elderly—compared to the ever-lasting Dow Jones Index. Snead, professor of law at University of Notre Dame Law School, tackles that right out of the box and shows how radically short-sighted that is.

”At bottom, the ‘life issues’—including especially the conflicts over abortion and embryo-destructive research—involve the deepest and most fundamental public questions for a nation committed to liberty, equality, and justice. That is, the basic question in this context is who counts as a member of the human community entitled to moral concern and the basic protection of the law? Who counts as ‘one of us’? Equally important is the related question of who decides, and according to what sort of criteria? These are not narrow concerns commanding only the attention of a small number of highly motivated activists at the fringes of our society. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a public matter that is more important than this ‘question of membership.’”

To which Snead adds, “The pro-life movement offers the only answer to the question of ‘who counts’ that is consistent with America’s grounding norms of equality and justice. Accordingly, it is of paramount importance that the president of the United States be pro-life.”

The piece not only provides  an defense of that argument, Snead allows the reader to grasp just how much influence—long and short-term—a president wields.

Snead ends with this brilliant summary:

“Regarding the unborn child, the only path that comports with our best   moral traditions and our nation’s founding principles is to provide equal justice for all, even when it would seem more useful or convenient to do otherwise. In this regard, the office of the presidency offers a unique power to promote justice or do great harm. The man or woman who holds that office must have the wisdom, courage, and, yes, the empathy to use his or her powers to protect the least among us to the extent that the law allows.”

A great read.

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Categories: Pro-Lifers