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The Confederate Lawyer
March 22, 2012

Ambition, Accommodation, and Abortion
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — Uncontrolled ambition can lead to “accommodation” (as they now call compromise) with evil. Such accommodations with small evils can hamper one’s ability to fight larger evils. In particular, compromises with contraception can make it harder to fight abortion.

When James and John asked to sit at the right and left hands of Jesus, the other 10 apostles became indignant. Scripture tells us this conversation, not as an unimportant detail, but to let us know that no one is immune from inappropriate ambition. We see in this and other episodes in Scripture that such ambition is condemned. The apostles did not yet understand that following Jesus meant being willing to lay down their lives. Jesus asks James and John if they can drink from the chalice from which He will drink.

Our politicians are not normally asked to lay down their lives for the Truth, but they often have opportunities to lay down their political careers for the Truth. Every time politicians say something they know is not true to gain votes, they put ambition before Truth. Every time politicians cling to a federal job too long, they place themselves above their duty. Every time clergymen postpone preaching an unpopular truth, they put ambition before Truth.

It is easy to give in on the little things without considering the consequences. For example, for many years religious institutions have treated couples considered married under civil law as married for purposes of insurance and other benefits. The couples may have had a long string of divorces or been in otherwise invalid marriages in the eyes of the church sponsoring the institution. Now when governments propose to require religious institutions to recognize homosexual “marriages,” the position of the institutions is weakened by their past acquiescence in invalid marriages.

Otherwise good people are particularly prone to compromises in the area of contraception. Contraception was generally condemned by most Christians until the 1930s. Then many Protestants began to embrace it as a means of reducing the growth of the population of blacks and other people not from Northern Europe. Ironically, it was Northern Europeans who then embraced contraception. In the 1960s, some people began to believe in good faith that the estrogen pill was not a contraceptive. This led to confusion precisely when sexual morality was collapsing. It became too easy to simply avoid talking about the immorality of contraception.

Among Catholics and others who share similar views about contraception, the lack of good catechesis was a disaster. The Church’s teaching looked more like a set of rules than an exposition of Natural Law. The moral treatment of innocent potential or actual rape victims, women with medical needs for estrogen, and persons licitly using natural family planning were not rules but necessary interpretations of basic moral principles.

A society was allowed to develop in which overt opposition to contraception was completely marginalized. Most politicians were comfortable with this development and did not feel compelled to take unpopular positions.

Open support for our permissive laws on abortion is not a political winner. People have kept quiet about the evils of contraception, and the administration now sees an opportunity to compel the unwilling to cooperate in abortion by disguising the debate as one about contraception.

The current proposed federal regulations would require Catholic hospitals, schools, and other institutions, as well as individual Catholic employers, to participate in the provision of contraceptive and sterilization services against their moral principles – in clear violation of their Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion. Catholics and a large number of non-Catholics will have to cooperate in providing medications and services that violate their beliefs against killing innocent people.

One such medication is the “morning after pill” or Plan B. This sometimes (perhaps usually) acts not as a contraceptive but as an abortifacient. The other covered pill is worse because it is an abortion pill.

The administration and the media have cleverly and dishonestly disguised the debate as being about contraception rather than about religious liberty, abortion, and sterilization. This tactic would not be successful if so many people had not fled from discussing contraception and characterized disapproval of it as eccentric.

We are seldom called to drink from the chalice from which Our Lord drank, but we are all called to speak the truth, even if it costs us an election, a federal appointment, or good attendance in our parishes.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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