Many things happen in modern societies that render a decent human being all but speechless. So many, in fact, that sometimes it seems the better part simply to let them pass and to move on. That seems to be what has already happened with President Obama’s outrageous speech  just three days ago to Planned Parenthood – the first such speech by a sitting president in American history. But it must not be allowed to pass or be forgotten. Not for a moment.
It’s not just the historical precedent that’s worrisome, bad as that is in a country deeply divided over abortion. It’s the way the President of the United States has settled into describing all those Americans – more than half of the population, if recent surveys are to be believed – who call themselves pro-life and act on their belief as threatening “basic rights when it comes to women’s health.” He has used similar language on multiple occasions in defending the HHS mandates.
The president may not regard this as “demonizing opponents,” something he professes to abhor. Way back when the powers at Notre Dame were still innocent enough to invite Obama to receive an honorary degree – which is to say, before the university had to join other institutions, Catholic and not, in a lawsuit to defend themselves from Obamacare – he said:
Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause. . . .the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
It sounded nice, but I myself did not believe he meant it then. And now, it’s even clearer. One slice of American citizens regards the rest of us as the functional equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan. Who else would dream of denying others “basic rights”? By using this sort of inflammatory language and pushing it hard on wedge issues – Obama and others use it increasingly on gay “marriage” as well – he may be gaining brownie points in certain places, but he is sowing discord in the body politic. Remember when there weren’t red states and blue states, only the United States?
The Catholic bishops and anyone else worried over religious liberty should not take this latest development lightly. You can live with a person you think mistaken on one or more issues, who is essentially of good will. You cannot tolerate the Ku Klux Klan.
If you can stomach going over the whole creepy thing, you’ll discover some other surprises in the Planned Parenthood text as well. There’s the usual smarmy lying, subtle but real, about what Planned Parenthood actually does.
In the president’s telling, apparently a horde of brain-damaged individuals (strongly represented in the Republican party) opposes Planned Parenthood because they want to deny “women” a variety of health services like mammograms. It’s not entirely clear why those lunatics want to take away simple health services, but it has something to do with “turning the clock back” for “women,” maybe even a “war on women.”
The time is long past when we might have expected some daring member of the media to get in the face of an administration official and press hard on just why, precisely, some people are so wicked as to be pursuing this demented war. But if this mentality is allowed to go on unchecked, it’s not hard to see how certain groups, among them the Catholic Church, Evangelicals, orthodox Jews, traditional Muslims, and even mere pro-life secularists – are going to be regarded by the Right Sort of People in the very near future.
And there was this further revelation:
Forty years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you. No insurer should get to decide what kind of care that you get. The only person who should get to make decisions about your health is you. (Applause.) That’s why we fought so hard to make health care reform a reality. (Applause.)
Say what? Before it passed, many people had qualms about provisions of Obamacare that clearly seemed headed towards getting the government involved in morally objectionable procedures. And we were told – sometimes by our own religious leaders – that those questions could be finessed while we pursued a fairer healthcare system for all. (Note to self: beware all talk of systems and programs in the future.) And now the president himself tells us that the “right to choose” is “why we fought so hard to make health care reform a reality”?
As is his wont, this whole exercise resolved itself into a naked political plea: that the good folks of Planned Parenthood and all their affiliates, friends, acquaintances, garage mechanics, dentists, dry cleaners, and cat groomers join with the president in explaining to people what a great thing is Obamacare. The president hasn’t been much able to make the sale himself, either on the merits or after the utter chaos in implementation, which members of his own party are starting to worry about in public.
But the greater threat may arise if Obamacare is implemented. He’s told us why he fought so hard for it. Even if he was half fibbing for political gain, we shouldn’t be surprised when those of us who disagree are informed that we’re no longer welcome in polite society.