In the past month The Distributist Review has published two pieces which, inter alia, take aim at the incomplete (if not inept) pro-life platform of the Republican Party: Arturo Ortiz’s “Towards a Pro-Life and Pro-Family Economy” and John Medaille’s “Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion?” (I previously discussed Medaille’s article here.) Unfortunately, neither offer up equally excoriating remarks for the Democratic Party despite the fact it continues to lead the political charge in America for wider access to abortions. Consider this passage from Ortiz’s article:
While most Republican candidates tend to be nominally pro-life, their platform has little to offer that is truly pro-life and pro-family. Influenced by the principles that promote radical individualism and low wage dependence, the Republican Platform makes it difficult, if not altogether impossible, for expectant mothers to support their children post birth. Even if abortion is made illegal, if Roe v. Wade is overturned (both of which would be good things), an economic philosophy that makes abortions desirable and resolves to have charity provide for those who take the courageous decision to keep their children, is hardly pro-life.
How do the Democrats fare any better here? Although the average Democrat is more likely to support entitlement programs and transfer payments than the average Republican, the Democratic Party is by no means anti-capitalist nor anti-individualist. Moreover, Ortiz’s low view of the role charity can and ought to play in assisting “those who take the courageous decision [“right decision”?] to keep their children” betrays a lack of knowledge of what the Church’s social magisterium actually teaches. In a first-best world, local charities, with the cooperation of Church and state, ought to be providing assistance to those in need, including single pregnant women who cannot afford to properly care for themselves and their unborn child. While it is true that we have to face the second-best reality that charities alone are likely not enough to provide all of the support these women and their children require, looking to a large, centralized, and bureaucratic distributional scheme is not necessarily the answer either.
Granted, neither Ortiz nor Medaille come right and proclaim that the Democratic Party is the answer, but there appears to be an underlying implication in both articles that attacking poverty through entitlement programs and transfer payments will reduce abortion rates in the United States. The empirical evidence for such claims is thin at best, and it is far from clear that the Democrats, should they take the reins of governance in Washington in November, will deviate from its pro-abortionist platform. While no distributist worth his salt should cast anything other than a scornful glance toward the Republicans, it does not follow that the Democrats — or, for that matter, the modern administrative state — will set things straight. In fact, there is good reason to believe they will simply make matters worse.
March 18, 2016
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