Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"His Sister’s Qualms"

In a recent NYT column, Ross Douthat contrasted the differing positions of Senator Ted Kennedy and his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (pictured above, center), on abortion.

Some graphs:

... Along with her husband, Sargent Shriver, Eunice belonged to America’s dwindling population of outspoken pro-life liberals. Like her church, she saw a continuity, rather than a contradiction, between championing the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed and protecting unborn human life.


In 1992, Eunice participated in the last significant effort to push the Democratic Party away from abortion on demand, petitioning her party’s convention to consider “a new understanding” of the issue, “one that does not pit mother against child,” but instead seeks “policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”


It’s worth pondering how the politics of abortion might have been different had Ted shared even some of his sister’s qualms about the practice. One could imagine a world in which America’s leading liberal Catholic had found a way to make liberalism less absolutist on the issue, and a world where a man who became famous for reaching across the aisle had reached across, even occasionally, in search of compromise on the country’s most divisive issue.

That was not to be. And it’s entirely fitting, given his record, that Kennedy’s immediate legacy is a draft of health-care legislation that pursues an eminently Catholic goal — expanding access to medical care — through a system that seems likely, in its present design, to subsidize abortion.

But his sister would have written it a different way.

Hat-tip: The Anchoress

The Boston Globe photo above is from here. It is credited to Bill Brett.

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