Like most public officials, Governor Gina Raimondo highlighted her own successes during her farewell “State of the State” last week. Understandably, the Governor’s leadership during the global pandemic figured prominently in her address. “What I hope we remember about this year,” the Governor stated, “isn’t so much the struggle and the sacrifice and the hardship. I hope what we remember is our strength, and our determination and our fortitude.” The Governor’s reference to the moral virtue of fortitude presumably originates from her Catholic education, for which she has expressed gratitude on numerous occasions.
Unlike mere secular concepts such as “standing your ground” or “being tough,” fortitude is a distinct cardinal virtue which helps a person maintain firmness in difficulty and constancy in pursuit of the good. Fortitude implies a distinct teleology, a meaningfulness and direction toward an end which is good in and of itself. Sadly, however, the Governor’s reference to fortitude lost all meaning when she subsequently lauded something inherently opposed to what is good: the codification of Roe v. Wade into state law.
One should be disappointed that a sitting Catholic governor, who touts her own religious faith as central to her success, would support a piece of legislation as barbaric and unnecessary as limitless abortion access. But opportunistically celebrating the license to destroy innocent human life in her final farewell to the people of Rhode Island — especially when the pandemic has taken so many innocent lives this year — remains a great stain on her legacy. If only our Governor recognized the value in defending what is ultimately good, she could have stood up to false prophets and protected every innocent person among us: the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable, and yes, the unborn. Sadly, she lacked the fortitude to do so.