B16: A human life is a human life?

prod 874As we continue to ride the papal tsunami, it appears that The Politico has another interesting story all to itself (unless I have missed it elsewhere and, if so, please correct me). This is on a blog right now, but may show up in a digest in the dead-tree-pulp edition. The headline is really dry. Perhaps GetReligion readers (if there are any out there interested in this visit by Pope Benedict XVI) can offer comments to suggest improvements.

Here's the top of the story:

Pope resolution passes after "life" language removed

While Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to Washington received wall to wall coverage, Sen. Barbara Boxer briefly held up a Senate resolution welcoming the pontiff because she objected to language about how the pope values "each and every human life."

The measure later cleared the Senate Thursday afternoon after the sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), dropped the reference to "human life" because some Democrats saw it as a reference to abortion. According to Republican aides, Brownback, a devout Catholic, did not want a high profile fight over the resolution, which was adopted on a voice vote. In fact, Brownback blackberried his staff from the Pope's mass at Nationals Park to direct them to drop the references to human life.

In the WWW age, of course, it helps that the post includes the links to texts for the before and after resolutions.

Here is the crucial proposed language:

Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has been a clear and courageous voice for the voiceless, working tirelessly for the recognition of human dignity and religious freedom across the globe;

Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable, witnessing to the value of each and every human life;

An update to the original post has more information about what was removed.

Boxer's spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz has written The Crypt to say "we are very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Senator Brownback to remove the political language and pass this resolution welcoming Pope Benedict."

"Senator Brownback also agreed to remove the political language referencing religious expression on public buildings," Ravitz said in an email.

Here is what interests me. The conventional media wisdom is that arguments about abortion pivot on whether the state has the right to rule that an unborn child is, legally, a "human life." Thus, the original wording -- praising the pope for his action to defend the value of "each and every human life" cannot, under current law, refer to the unborn. Human beings are, by definition, those who have been born. Right? So what is the argument actually about?

Please let us know if you see coverage of this elsewhere. I think the odds of this showing up in a political ad are slim to none, since the GOP really doesn't have much courage on this issue. The libertarian wing seems to be calling for silence.

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