Robert George, writing at First Thinigs, has an excellent tribute to the late Father Richard John Neuhaus. In it George offers a compelling reason for why Father Neuhaus abandoned the political liberalism of the post-Roe era. After making the case that Neuhaus was positioned well to become the next great liberal public intellectual--"the Reinhold Niebuhr of his generation"--George explains,
Then something happened: Abortion. It became something it had never been before, namely, a contentious issue in American culture and politics. Neuhaus opposed abortion for the same reasons he had fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. At the root of his thinking was the conviction that human beings, as creatures fashioned in the image and likeness of God, possess a profound, inherent, and equal dignity. This dignity must be respected by all and protected by law. That, so far as Neuhaus was concerned, was not only a Biblical mandate but also the bedrock principle of the American constitutional order. Respect for the dignity of human beings meant, among other things, not subjecting them to a system of racial oppression; not wasting their lives in futile wars; not slaughtering them in the womb.
George goes on to show how the abortion issue opened Neuhaus to other departures from liberalism--departures that would come to define him not as liberalism's next Niebuhr, but its "nemesis."
I'm praying that some of the great thinkers on the left today will have a similiar "conversion." Not, ultimately, for political reasons, but for the sake of the unborn.
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