UPDATE, 5/29, 5:30a: CSPAN is currently featuring video of yesterday’s “discussion” between Profs. Robert George and Doug Kmiec about Obama, Catholics, and the Life issue. The Catholic University of America states the video can be viewed on its site, but the link isn’t working for me at the moment.
michael thinking.JPGUPDATE, 5/28, 6p: Professor Michael New (who got me in to this gig!) wants to say a few words about the debate:

Jill is being very brave by giving me permission to guest post. Here are a few quick thoughts.
The format could have been better. Essentially it did not allow for much dialogue between George and Kmiec, which was a bit disappointing….

That having been said, the best word to describe Doug Kmiec would be evasive. He tried to argue that other issues trumped sanctity of life issues when voting. He tried to make the case that the new stem cell regulations were part of a reasonable compromise. He said that denying holy communion to Catholic politicians who support legal abortion was counterproductive. Finally, he argued that science has not come to a consensus about the sanctity of human life. He was all over the place and on no issue was he particularly persuasive.
Interestingly, Kmiec did not spend much time talking about abortion trends. He briefly claimed (wrongly) that abortions increased during the presidency of the first President Bush. He briefly cited the decline in the abortion rate that occurred during the Clinton administration. But he gave credit to the strong economy. While this is partly true, he did not mention state level pro-life laws. At least he did not claim welfare spending caused the 1990s abortion decline.
Professor George, on the other hand succeeded in describing vivid constrasts between President Obama and the pro-life movement. Professor George described in great detail Obama’s refusal to support incremental pro-life laws and his administration’s efforts to fund abortion both in DC and in other countries. He also found it telling that while the Obama administration wants to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, they never express an interest in lowering the number of abortions. Overall the Obama adminstration does not think that fetal life is worthy of legal protection which makes finding common ground very difficult, if not impossible.
Overall, Professor George, was concise, hard hiting and made his points well throughout the course of the debate.

UPDATE, 5:45p: Just spoke with Kmiec. I told him I thought his understanding of Obama’s opposition to Born Alive was wrong. He said he got most of his information from Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune (?!), who I told him was a liberal, pro-abort columnist, not a reporter.
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UPDATE, 5:27p: just learned this Kmiec/George Debate can be watched on C-SPAN2 now: http://tr.im/mJ2V Wish I’d known this b4, sorry!
UPDATE, 5p: Glendon: Explain how abortions will be lowered if funding is increased and laws are less restricted?
Kmiec: President has taken FOCA off the table. Scientists don’t say life begins at conception. They say properties are there for nascient human life. They will not say that that results in a legal conclusion of personhood.
Glendon: What do you say to pro-lifers who vote for anti-lifers.
George: When we look at the scope and magnitude of abortion stacked up against other injustices it outways all others.
George to Kmiec: Do you know of a single book that denies conception launches human life? There is none.
George: It just seems to me implausible that you would want to reduce the # of abortions and then subsidize it and oppose laws trying to restrict it.
Glendon to Kmiec: Can you name one legislative action by Obama – not rhetoric – that has contributed to the preservation of human life?
Kmiec: Faith based initiatives.
George: I am for incremental strategy. If they’ll begin with common ground of forbidding 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions, that’s a start. If they’ll agree to ban sex-selection abortions, that’s great. Ban PBA, that’s great. I’d like them to do ANYTHING….
Kmiec arguing we shouldn’t only discuss “blood and bones” late-term abortions.
UPDATE, 4:40p: George:

Must oppose Obama on the taking of human life. “Frustrate on every turn.”
Professor Kmiec and I are on one side of the human divide, President Obama the other.
I appreciated the President’s candor at Notre Dame. “Now understand that the debate should go away. No matter how much we want to fudge it, the views of the 2 camps are irreconcilable.
He is right. His view and the view of Professor Kmiec and myself are irreconcilable.
Describing how children are killed by abortion.
The argument is whether all humans beings deserve respect and protection.
The President holds, and we deny, those in the embryonic and fetal stages of development that they are dispensable.
Obama doesn’t understand the concept of human rights as Professor Kmiec and I do.
For the President, being human is not enough.
Mentioning my experience at Christ Hospital and Obama’s opposition to Born Alive as state senator.
Throughout his career Obama has opposed every attempt to protect preborn human life.
“President Obama’s supporters do him no good service” by not helping him recognize and respect preborn human life. Eww.
Discussed recent meeting at White House with Melody Barnes. She spoke of “reducing the need” for women to seek abortions. President repeated something similar at Notre Dame. The president and his admiinstation will not join us on common ground to discourage abortion… The idea that the interests of the children should be taken into account is simply off the table.
“Plainly the president’s views are far more favorable to abortion than the general public’s.”
The common ground I’m interested in…

UPDATE, 4:20p: Kmiec:

President Obama set up from the first moment of his campaign to not win by dividing, stirring hate, reigniting the culture war, but instead to find, explore, whether common ground can exist.
Common ground must be anchored in truth.
I would find it unacceptable that abortion should be permissable.
Hearkening back to John Kennedy, when he was asked whether one could be both Catholic and America.
“Could a Catholic support Obama in 2008? This Catholic believed unequivocably yes.” Bringing up Obama’s position on economy, “unjust” war, environment, “as a matter of life he seeks to reform the health care system….”
Considers it “intimidation” to withhold communion. Said it is wrong to say it is wrong for Catholic Church to say it is wrong to vote for a pro-abort.
Fr. John Jenkins showed “brilliantly” how to engage pro-abort. “It wasn’t just the invitation that was controverial… It was also the acceptance.”
Says Obama recognizes competing moral claims on embryonic stem cell research. On the topic of escr, he has already illustrated in the NIH draft regs that he’s listening.
“Listening doesn’t mean 100% agreement with us.”

UPDATE, 4:15p: Rules being read. Professor Glendon will give an introduction. Then Profs. George and Kmiec will have 20 minutes to speak, then Q&A, then closing comments. We’ve been informed twice now this is a discussion, not a debate.
Glendon: “Both our speakers are pro-life.”
Aims: to promote informed opinion in pro-life community on the current administration’s stance on pro-life; to explore whether there is common ground. Missed 2nd point.
First speaker is Kmiec, as determined by coin toss.
UPDATE, 4:10p: Senator Rick Santorum and Mary Ann Glendon
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Hello from the National Press Club. Am sitting in a blogger/reporters’ row between a reporter from the Washington Times and a reporter from USA Today (both women, yeah!).
Emily Belz from World mag has also popped over to introduce herself. Dan Gilgoff from US News & World Report just introduced himself as well. Dan kind of got this debate going when he moderated an email discussion between Profs. Robert George and Doug Kmiec last month, as I mentioned yesterday.

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