Way to be progressive

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You’ll recognize this.

It’s a familiar scenario: a tall, photogenic, charismatic left-leaning President who outsmarted traditional political forces to win office with 51.7 percent of the national vote. His platform is social justice, tax reform, human rights, better health coverage…His party controls both houses of the legislature. Elected in the midst of an economic crisis, the pundits described his campaign of hope as “the most profound political rupture in recent history”.

Barack Obama, right?

Wrong. The president of Uruguay, who just stunned the world with a decision he announced.

So what did President Tabaré Vázquez, do about a bill to give Uruguay the most progressive abortion law in Latin America? He vetoed it.

And with compelling reason.

What was most interesting about Vázquez’s veto, however, is not the politics, but his thoughtful, scientific response to the proposed legislation.

Though based on biological truths about life, there is a moral grammar to his language, reflecting the fundamental truths of natural law.

There is a consensus that abortion is a social evil which must be avoided. Nonetheless, in those countries where abortion has been liberalised, it has increased. In the United States, in the first ten years, they tripled, and the figure has been maintained. It has become customary. The same thing happened in Spain.

Laws cannot ignore the reality of the existence of human life in its gestational stage, just as science reveals it. Biology has evolved greatly. Revolutionary discoveries, such as IVF or sequencing the human genome, show that from the moment of conception there is a new human life, a new being. So much so, that in modern legal systems, including our own, DNA has become the acid test of determining the identity of persons, independent of their age, even if the body is destroyed, or when practically nothing is left of the human being, and even after a long time.

The true degree of civilisation of a nation is measured by how the neediest are protected. Therefore we must protect the weakest amongst us. Because the criterion is not the value of the subject with respect to how others respond to him, or his usefulness, but the value which exists due to his mere existence…

This is an unapologetic, apolitical appeal for true universal human rights and the common good. It is more intellectually honest than just about anything we’ve seen in US politics in a long time. President-elect Obama highly admires Abraham Lincoln and seems to think he is styling himself after that great American leader. But just as Lincoln accused Douglas of “trying to blow out the moral lights” in their famous presidential debate, a liberal official who promotes “the common good” and a whole agenda of rights while denying the most fundamental human right is stumbling along a dark path.

Various media are declaring “the whole world is watching” in recent days after the elections here. They sure are. Earlier today, an international member of the World Youth Alliance sent me this blog post on the above MercatorNet article, on the Uruguayan president, who found a way to be truly progressive.

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