by Cardinal Timothy Dolan
To Be a Genuine Progressive, Protect the Baby in the Womb
We New Yorkers pride ourselves on being “progressive.”
A former governor, Theodore Roosevelt, often observed that government “needed always to advance whatever promoted human welfare and betterment.”
Another governor, Franklin Roosevelt, would insist that “government is the engine driving the progress of society.”
And our current governor has characterized his administration as “progressive,” as was obvious in his recent inaugural address.
One of the essential attributes of a “progressive” agenda is that it looks out for the rights of those oppressed. In different eras, this could be the farmer, the women and children working long hours in a sweatshop, the immigrant, racial minorities, the laborer, those unemployed or making meager salaries.
Another governor of New York, Al Smith, emphasized this feature of the progressive agenda, the protection of “the little guy,” people forgotten, overlooked, with no advocate to look out for them. As he remarked, “Always give voice to those without one; always lift up those at the bottom; always remember those forgotten; always defend the ones ignored.”
Is it not the case that today the one most without a voice, the one hidden and unseen, at the bottom, forgotten and ignored…is the baby in the womb?
Is it not legitimate to ask why the protection of the civil rights of the preborn baby is not part of the dominant progressive agenda?
Historically, the Democrats—claiming to be “progressive”—were passionately on the side of the helpless infant in the womb. One of my good friends has a letter of 1969 he proudly displays from Senator Edward Kennedy, hailed as the “lion of the progressives,” that he would always oppose “abortion-on-demand” and defend the right to life of the baby in the womb.
“Love the mom, and love her baby,” is a placard I often see during the mammoth pro-life march each January in Washington.
It would seem so logical for a progressive to support a mom in a challenging pregnancy with all the care—emotionally and physically—that she needs, as well as the fragile, vulnerable, tiny baby in her womb. Would not a truly progressive state rally around a mom in a challenging pregnancy to help her give life to her baby with a strong preference for the life of the infant rather than the termination?
Must not some of us speak up for the most forgotten, oppressed, marginalized, excluded in our culture today—the preborn infant?
People consider Pope Francis to be “progressive.” They applaud him for his opposition to the death penalty—as Governor Cuomo did last summer, his vigorous and prophetic advocacy for the immigrant and the refugee, his warnings about unjust economic systems, his care for the environment, his promotion of gun control, his vigorous preference for diplomacy and dialogue always instead of war. So how sane and consistent it is for him to ask, “How can an act that suppresses an innocent and helpless life as it blossoms in the womb be therapeutic, civil, or simply humane?”
For a genuine progressive, all human life deserves dignity, respect, care, and protection, no matter what stage, from the womb to the tomb. No exceptions! The more vulnerable, threatened, or fragile, the more dignity, respect, care, and protection life requires.
Behold the baby in the womb!