Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is Contraception The Hill We Want To Die On? No, Says Austin Ruse

In my posting yesterday, entitled Pro-Life Champion Austin Ruse Betrays The Catholic Faith, Fuels Loss Of Souls Through Contraception, I exposed what I considered to be some serious flaws in Mr. Ruse’s piece over at Crisis Magazine. This morning I received a couple of comments from Austin Ruse (see comment box at end of yesterday’s article) claiming that I had misunderstood—and misrepresented—his position and that I ought to correct the matter for my readers.

He said:

You misunderstand my piece. I oppose Barbara Comstock's position on over the counter contraceptives. I say that clearly in my piece. Please correct the misimpression you have created.

I responded to his comment:

Mr. Ruse, thank you for commenting. I would like nothing better than to discover that I have misunderstood you. However, my first reaction to your response is that I don't possibly see how I could have. Your article certainly covered a lot of ground. And you really haven't addressed any of my chief criticisms. However, in the interests of fairness I will read and re-read your piece once again before making further comment.

And then he further claimed that he wasn’t giving up ground on the issue of contraception:

If you could, I would appreciate it is [sic] you would google "Austin Ruse Contraception" and you can see i have been fighting this batter [sic] for more than a decade, quite publicly. I do not advocate in the least that Catholics give ground on this topic.

I have reviewed Mr. Ruse’s article again and again and it truly baffles me how he can continue to make such claims. I do not question his intentions because I respect him greatly as a pro-life crusader and I have supported his organization financially on a number of occasions. I have also tried in the past to get the word out to help him by means of my blog.

Nevertheless I stand by my original posting of yesterday with a few further comments.

Based solely on the information provided in Mr. Ruse’s article, if he had been trying to make a case for supporting Barbara Comstock because electing her would limit the greater evil that her opponent would do, he might be forgiven somewhat. After all, there is allowance for such scenarios:

However, to vote for someone in order to limit a greater evil, that is, to restrict in so far as possible the evil that another candidate might do if elected, is to have a good purpose in voting. The voter's will has as its object this limitation of evil and not the evil which the imperfect politician might do in his less than perfect adherence to Catholic moral principles. Such cooperation is called material, and is permitted for a serious reason, such as preventing the election of a worse candidate. [cf. Gospel of Life 74]

So if it came down to two choices and two choices only, either Barbara Comstock, who supports contraception, or some rabidly pro-abortion politician from the pro-death Democratic party, it might make some sense. But remember, that was not his case at all. He did seem to indicate that there was only one other Republican candidate and that individual, he believed, had little or no chance of being elected. So perhaps, just perhaps he is:

…suggesting the strong obligation (even until the pain of mortal sin) to vote so as to exclude the electing of the candidate who would injure religion, liberty and morals the most. For such a purpose one may vote even for someone who is an enemy of religion and liberty, as long as he is less of any enemy than the candidate one is voting to preclude being elected.

But now it turns out that Mr. Ruse left out some extremely pertinent information which altogether destroys such a possible rationale for supporting the dissenting Catholic Ms. Comstock:

Bob Marshall, a Virginia state delegate, has filed to run against Comstock in the Republican primary. Rather than celebrating this solid pro-life candidate, Ruse, who supports Comstock, raised a straw man to attack Bob's candidacy. Contraception.

And, from the comments section of the very same posting, Mr. Ruse even admits that Bob Marshall is a very good man.

Bob Marshall is a very good man. My column was not about him....

So, having trashed that one and only possible defense for Austin Ruse’s advocacy of Ms. Comstock, we are left with only one conclusion, based strictly on the information he supplied. Austin Ruse wants us to vote for an enemy of the Church, a dissenting, betraying Catholic who openly supports—even flaunts—her efforts to increase the availability of a drug designed to facilitate an intrinsically evil act which is contrary to the natural law and which, at times, results in the death of an innocent human being. Why? His only argument, as I see it expressed in his missive, is because all other factors considered, she qualifies for the label “pro-life” and will work to fight abortion when elected.

Laughable. Ridiculous. Outrageous. Soul-Destroying.

Perhaps he didn’t mean to say that, I don’t know. Perhaps he just didn’t express himself well. Perhaps he was tired and dopey when he wrote the piece. But that is surely a summary, with varying subtleties, shared by not only me. Take a look here and here.

I certainly hope and pray that something hasn’t seriously compromised Austin Ruse's good record and character. 


Unknown said...

My few comments on your blog were not meant as a full throated defense of what I wrote at Crisis. I wanted you are your readers to understand that I do not support the Comstock position and that I have toiled for going on twenty years exactly fighting on the contraception hill. I suspect I have done as much or more than many pro-lifers exactly on the question of contraception.

I am happy to fight on that hill. I have been fighting on that hill. Just what is that hill? The hill of UN policy and public acceptance of contraception. I firmly believe that we as Catholics are obligated to make the case against contraception in the public square, which is what I have done.

The contraceptive hill I recommend not fighting on is the political one. That is what my column was about, the prudential decision not to make contraception an issue in a political race.

Why? Several reasons.

First, I don’t know about your country but in the US folks just love their contraceptives. Love them. Can’t get enough of them. We have among the highest rates of contraceptive use in the world. To make an election about banning contraceptives would be an unmitigated disaster. If there was a litmus test on contraception for political candidates, we could kiss the life and marriage issues good-bye, for generations.

Second, because the love of contraceptives is so widespread and intense, the only way that changes is not by politics and political campaigns. Politics is far far far downstream from culture. The only way to change politiccs is the change the culture, which is where we come in. It is up to us in season and out of season to change the contraceptive culture.

Our enemies really want us to fight about contraception. This is why whenever we talk about abortion, they immediately change the subject to contraception. That we are now debating contraception in the Virginia House race means our enemies are laughing and are just delighted.

I do not believe for a second that Barbara Comstock is a dissenter to the faith. I believe she tried a political maneuver to achieve the following. She wanted to take the contraceptive debate out of this race and thus to end this phony war on women. There is a reason that Secretary Sibelius did not allow OTC contraceptives and it is not because she is afraid of the spread of contraceptives, which are now free in this country, by the way. Sibelius said no because she knows the war on contraceptives is an electoral winner for the abortion crowd.

Finally, let me say that my column was not about Bob Marshall. I wrote to him and his wife Cathy and assured them of that. He is a true believer as you are, as I am. My column was really aimed at a political opportunist and his buddy who are ginning this whole thing up. And these guys really do not care about this issue. They are only using it to gain an advantage. They are using good people in the process.

I will be writing more about this at Crisis next week and will lay out a plan on how I think we should proceed to change the contraceptive culture and it will hardly touch on politics at all.


Austin Ruse

PS Many thanks for your past support of my work. I am still that guy!

PPS Please consider changing your comment program to Disqus! It does not make you figure out those cockamamie letters.

ELA said...

Thanks for your comments Mr. Ruse.
I realize you have been a pro-life warrior for many years, and also at UN, and I thank you for all the good work you've done.
My posts were based only on the information you supplied in your article at Crisis. On that basis I stand by what I have written.
I'm not very familiar with the political situation in Virginia and can't comment on the remarks you made. However I can't accept that Barbara Comstock is not a dissenter from the Catholic faith, based on her public support of contraceptives. It is impossible to think otherwise, based on her actions. Your story about her "political maneuver" sounds quite ridiculous to me.
Hopefully you can get everything straightened out and I can continue to support your good work in the future.
All the best.

Jon Scott said...

Ruse supports Barbara Comstock, a Catholic politician, who campaigns on wider distribution of chemical abortifiacients.

Deal Hudson, a solid Catholic, first brought this to light. Ruse wasted no time attacking Hudson. Ruse is part of the Catholic cocktail set of the DC beltway region. I was surprised at the speed of Austin's attack against Hudson. I have not seen Austin move that fast before. But Ruse, through his support of Comstock, supports a policy that the Church opposes. Ruse is not changing his position, but if you read his article, it is clear he is supporting a policy which violates Church teaching.

But thank you Deal Hudson for raising this issue. Thank you Rob Wasinger for running a reasonable and effective campaign for VA-10.

ELA said...

Jon Scott,
Thanks for leaving a comment. After reading it I checked the three related links at the end of my posting and noticed one of them (Can Barbara Comstock Explain Her Abortion Vote?) had incorrect link. It should have linked to Deal Hudson's story on Barbara Comstock. It is now fixed.