“Catholic, anti-abortion, and pro-Obama”

Cafardi.jpgNicholas P. Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer, and a professor and former dean at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, is a pro-life, pro-Obama Catholic. He joins Doug Kmiec as another high-profile conservative Catholic to endorse Obama–and put himself at odds with a number of bishops.
Cafardi makes his case in a column for Religion News Service; the piece is posted at NCR. In it, Cafardi notes that the bishops have said that there are a range of issues that Catholics must consider when calculating how to vote, and while abortion is paramount, many other factors figure into that decision. He finds McCain wanting in this calculus:


How, some may ask, can I compare these evils with abortion? The right to abortion is guaranteed by the federal judiciary’s interpretation of the Constitution. And while the president appoints federal judges, the connection between a president’s appointments and the decisions rendered by his appointees is tenuous at best. After all, in 1992, five Republican-appointed justices voted to uphold Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Yet on other intrinsic evils — an unjust war, torture, ignoring the poor — I can address those evils directly by changing the president.
There’s another distinction that is often lost in the culture-war rhetoric on abortion: There is a difference between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion. Obama supports government action that would reduce the number of abortions, and has consistently said that “we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion.” He favors a “comprehensive approach where … we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.” And he wants to ensure that adoption is an option for women who might otherwise choose abortion.
Obama worked all of that into his party’s platform this year. By contrast, Republicans actually removed abortion-reduction language from their platform.
What’s more, as recent data show, abortion rates drop when the social safety net is strengthened. If Obama’s economic program will do more to reduce poverty than McCain’s, then is it wrong to conclude that an Obama presidency will also reduce abortions? Not at all.
Every faithful Catholic agrees that abortion is an unspeakable evil that must be minimized, if not eliminated. I can help to achieve that without endorsing Republicans’ immoral baggage. Overturning Roe v. Wade is not the only way to end abortion, and a vote for Obama is not somehow un-Catholic.
The U.S. bishops have urged a “different kind of political engagement,” one that is “shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences.”
I have informed my conscience. I have weighed the facts. I have used my prudential judgment. And I conclude that it is a proper moral choice for this Catholic to support Barack Obama’s candidacy.


Cafardi is also one of the original members of the National Review Board, the blue-ribbon panel of lay Catholics created in 2002 to keep an eye on the bishops’ compliance with sexual abuse safeguards. So he is no stranger to controversy. His most recent book, Before Dallas, examines the bishops’ failures in handling the clergy sex abuse crisis.

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Maureen Sheehan

posted October 1, 2008 at 10:26 am

Sounds like someone (educated) spent some time in the Garden of Eden with the infamous snake, this time legalizing the lies.
What will history say about a civilization that kills its young?
puts creatures ahead of the Creator? Pride rears its ugly head again and again. This time they’re calling it a conscious!

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Douglas Johnson

posted October 1, 2008 at 11:45 am

Professor Cafardi asserts, “Obama supports government action that would reduce the number of abortions.”
This claim in part of a post-nomination marketing strategy by the Obama campaign, but to work, it requires deflection of attention away from the fact that Barack Obama is firmly committed to an agenda of abortion-related policy changes that, if implemented, would greatly increase the numbers of abortions performed.
The pro-life movement has won enactment of literally hundreds of state laws related to abortion — laws that save many lives, despite the severe limits imposed by the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion rulings. Studies by both pro-life researchers and pro-abortion researchers agree about this effect, although of course the pro-abortion side uses different language to describe it. These laws include informed consent laws (some of which now require the woman seeking an abortion to be offered ultrasound images of the unborn child), waiting periods, and parental notification and consent laws.
All of these laws, and any other law that would “interfere with” access to abortion, would be nullified by the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA, S. 1173), a proposed federal law that Obama has cosponsored. This bill would invalidate virtually every federal and state limitation on abortion, including all parental notification and consent laws, waiting periods, and limitations on public funding of abortion. As the National Organization for Women put it, it would “sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.”
On July 17, 2007, Obama stood in front of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying-political arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider, and pledged, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Cardinal Justin Rigali, in a September 19, 2008, letter to members of Congress, explained with great clarity the sweeping power of the language contained in the FOCA:
“First it [the FOCA] creates a ‘fundamental right’ to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, including a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons. No government body at any level would be able to ‘deny or interfere with’ this newly created federal right. Second, it forbids government at all levels to ‘discriminate’ against the exercise of this right ‘in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.’ For the first time, abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”
Rigali added: “We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion. . . . We cannot reduce abortions by insisting that every program supporting women in childbirth and child care must also support abortion. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”
Obama also advocates repeal of the Hyde Amendment, the law that since 1976 has blocked almost all federal funding of abortion. In other words, he wants to repeal one of the most successful “abortion reduction” policies ever adopted. By even the most conservative estimate, there are more than one million Americans alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute (linked to Planned Parenthood) and NARAL admit that the Hyde Amendment (and the similar policies adopted by many states) have resulted in many, many babies being born who otherwise would have been aborted — indeed, the pro-abortion groups periodically put out papers complaining about this effect. According to a 2007 NARAL factsheet, “A study by The Guttmacher Institute shows that Medicaid-eligible women in states that exclude abortion coverage have abortion rates of about half of those women in statesthat fund abortion care with their own dollars. This suggests that the Hyde amendment forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes instead.”
In 1993, there was debate in Congress over whether to continue the Hyde Amendment. The Congressional Budget Office (at that time under Democratic control) wrote, “Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and from States that currently pay for abortions using state funds, the federal government would probably fund between 325,000 to 675,000 abortions each year [if the federal government resumed Medicaid funding for abortion]. The increase in the total number of abortions would be smaller, however, because some abortions that are currently funded by other sources would be partially or totally paid from federal funds . . .”
Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other Democratic congressional leaders are hostile to the Hyde Amendment, the law has been extended anyway because President Bush issued a letter in early 2007 saying that he would veto any bill that weakens any existing pro-life policy (see However, because the Hyde Amendment must be renewed annually, things could change quickly under a president determined to re-establish federal funding of abortion on demand.
Obama has also pledged to make abortion coverage part of his proposed national health insurance plan.
Obama even advocates repeal of the national ban on partial-birth abortions, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007 on a 5-4 vote, in a ruling that Obama harshly criticized. Indeed, one of the major purposes of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” according to its prime sponsors, is the nullification of the ban on partial-birth abortions.
Let me close with with just more example of the phoniness of the Obama “abortion reduction” sales pitch. Across the nation, crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) provide all manner of assistance to women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies, and they save the lives of many children. A very modest amount of federal funding going to such centers in some states. Pro-life lawmakers have pushed legislation to greatly expand such funding, but it has been blocked by lawmakers allied with the abortion lobby. Late in 2007,, a prominent pro-abortion advocacy website (representing the side hostile to such funding), submitted in writing the following question to the Obama campaign: “Does Sen. Obama support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers?” The Obama campaign’s written response was short, but it spoke volumes: “No.”
Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
Washington, D.C.

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posted October 1, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Mr. Nicholas P. Cafardi has been around the academics too long. The amount of effort and rationale he spends to justify his support for Senator Obama should be a clue to him that he is dead wrong. As far as I am concerned, to his statement that he is Catholic, anti-abortion and pro Obama I can only say YOU”VE got to be kidding!!. Catholic and anti-abortion, no. pro-Obama, yes. You expect me to believe that Obama with a track record of supporting abortion should trump McCain and Palins track record of pro-life because he says he encourages less abortions? You expect me to ignore the fact that every democrat President has reversed the pro-life position of the U.S.A. in the UN doesn’t have an effect? Give me a break. I don’t know how the democrat party became the party of death and one on the leading edge of denigrating their own country nor do I know why most University Profesors hold the same view of vitrolic anti-Americanism but I pray for this country and the cafeteria catholics that are leading that charge.

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Scott R.

posted October 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm

How are McCain and Palin pro-life when they would continue a war indefinitely that kills other people’s children?
As I’ve stated elsewhere, the conservative only care about the health and welfare of their fellow human beings while they are still in the womb. After that, it’s open season.

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Alise H.

posted October 2, 2008 at 12:14 am

It is up to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. In the past eight years under a Republican administration it has not happened and I predict it will not happen in the next administration either no matter whether a Republican or Democrat wins the election. Whether Roe vs. Wade should or shouldn’t be overturned is another topic requiring much more analysis and discussion than this forum provides.
The reality of the situation is that abortion is now legal and some women choose this option when they are in very complicated and difficult situations. Many women who choose the abortion option did not have the necessary mental, physical or spiritual resources to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or to choose another option besides abortion. Poverty is not limited to lack of physical processions and lack of money, poverty includes lack of education, lack of emotional support, lack of spiritual and moral guidance.
“We know from other research that having lower income makes a woman more likely to get an abortion. Women of color tend to be lower-income, and so in turn when confronted with an unintended pregnancy are more likely to have an abortion,” said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a private nonprofit reproductive-health-research organization considered to be one of the most authoritative sources on abortion trends. The findings indicate “we need to figure out efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy, not only among teenagers but among all women, and in particularly women of color,” she said. “A lot of policymakers are stuck 30 years back when most women getting abortions are teenagers and college students, and that isn’t so much the case these days.”
Is it just and fair to condemn women who do not understand the world of morality according to certain mainstream religions? Is that truly a Christian position? Barack Obama is personally opposed to abortion but he is also a realist. He is committed to providing these underprivileged women with the resources they need to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and to increase their options if they do become pregnant. As a result the number of abortions will be drastically reduced. Should a civil nation punish these vulnerable women because they don’t live up to the moral demands of religious institutions? Isn’t that what Jesus preached against when he befriended and protected the adulteress, when he went into the house of Matthew, and ate dinner with lying and cheating tax collectors and when he told the powerful parable of the Prodigal son. He taught non-believers with love and genuine concern not hate and righteous indignation.
It seems to me Senator Obama is authentically practicing his Christian faith when he wants to eliminate abortions indirectly by educating and helping those poor women who often choose abortion instead of persecuting them for a crime by making abortion illegal. He is not only addressing the lives of the unborn he is also addressing the needs of impoverished women. If abortion becomes illegal, the teaching moment will be gone and these same women will go underground to get the abortion they think will solve their very complex and difficult situations-perhaps statistics will change but reality will not. These women may be misguided but they are not criminals. What would Jesus do? In this case, I think Barack Obama may be closer to that answer than the moral majority.

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Thomas B. Collins

posted October 2, 2008 at 9:41 am

Douglas Johnson’s rebuttal to Kmiec and Cafardi’s points, regarding support for Obama, is well researched, outstanding and compelling. Let me simply add the following: (1) Obama’s outspoken opposition to Protection of Born Alive legislation in the Illinois Senate, which would mandate care for babies unintentionally born alive in an abortion attempt. (2) The fact that two liberal justices of the Supreme Court will likely be replaced during the next administration. This will offer the best opportunity since 1973 to overturn Roe v. Wade, or to further entrench it for decades. If reducing abortions is the goal, ending Roe would be the single greatest strategy, yet Obama would almost certainly apply a “litmus test” of approving Roe for any prospective justice. (3) The sheer numbers of abortions is staggering — between 45 and 50 million in this country alone since 1973, some 4,000 every day. This is many times the casualty count of all American wars combined, throughout our history. The stakes are indeed very high in this election.

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Reaganite in NYC

posted October 4, 2008 at 7:03 pm

First we had Kmiec and now we have Cafardi. Wow, what a tidalwave!
I’m sure the bishops, the Catholic lay faithful and the pro-life movement are shaking in their boots right now. LOL!
OK, Dave Gibson, now that you’ve impressed your “progressive” friends with this post why not go back and do some real reporting.

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Paul A. Buechler

posted October 7, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Cafardi is full of it. He hangs around and gets paid by a Catholic University for years probably because he couldn’t get a job anywhere else. He doesn’t have the guts to just dump Catholic doctrine and declare himself a true liberal thinker with no ties to any religion.
Maybe he’s like Pelosi – comfortable being a Catholic for the sake of friends, family, and tradition and then use the Vatican II excuse of freedom of conscience to believe anything he wants.
That’s more hypocritical than Obama who was baptized in Reverend Wright’s “God damn America” Church.

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posted October 9, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Kennedy, Biden, Pelosi, Kmiec, Cafardi…

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posted October 14, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Mr. Cafardi is an sample of a regular blood socking democrat attorneys, they express their opicnion but they do not back them up with action. If he is for Obama and abortion, than hi should refuse the check given to him by the Catholic University, quit and go somewere else. Shame on him and all others like him.

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posted October 23, 2008 at 8:07 am

Before Pope Benedict came to America to celebrate Mass in New York and Washington, it was revealed that as a young boy in Germany he had had a cousin with Down Syndrome. One day a Nazi doctor came and claimed his cousin for the Third Reich. Taken to be “cared for” at the “hospital” young Karl Ratzinger never saw his cousin again: one of the host of “useless eaters” marked for extermination by that brutal regime.
My wife and I operate St. Joseph’s House, a daycare and respite care home for handicapped children. As it happened one of the children we care for, a wheelchair bound young lady, was chosen along with three other handicapped folks to carry the gifts up to the altar before the consecration at the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington D.C. on April 17, 2008. One of these was James, a 30ish man who works in the Officer’s Club at Andrews AFB. James has Down Syndrome. He was chosen to carry the large host which would become the Body of Christ lifted up before the assembled. As James with great ceremony advanced toward the Pope, his native enthusi­asm overcame his reserve and he started to run. Simultaneously the Holy Father leapt from his chair and walked towards James with his arms out­stretched. We have a picture of this moment which I cannot look at without tearing up. What did he see as he gazed so lovingly at James? I believe he saw his cousin. I believe he saw the face of Jesus. And I believe that his great prayer as he elevated that host on that impossibly beautiful day was “As long as you did to these the least of my brethren, you did it to Me.”
The next day April 18th, a boy was born to of all people, the Gover­nor of Alaska. They named him Trig.

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posted November 2, 2008 at 8:14 pm

All of you, shut up be silenced and pray
we are all the children of God, regardless of the party, pray for your brothers and sisters, they are no better than us in their times of sin, pray that they may become the true children of God they were ment to be. It is never too late. Obama needs your prayers especially. It is never too late for anyone. Pray that Gods will be done.
Stop arguing.

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posted November 16, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Kennedy, Biden, Pelosi, Kmiec, Cafardi, they all know what they’re doing is morally wrong, they are rationalize (lying)to them self, to justified their conscious. They are only fooling them self
They all need your prayer

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Your Name

posted November 16, 2008 at 10:16 pm

…Human Life International e-Newsletter
Election Part I: “We Have No King But Caesar”
The following is the first of a three-part series on the 2008 Elections. In the next two weeks we will deal with issues of Culture and Conscience.
Now that the election is over, we can separate the real Catholics from those who just act the part. Those still reeling from the results of the election can rest assured that they are in good company with the saints. Those who have drawn a line in blood and made a decision to stand with the culture of death need a serious examination of conscience. Now look at what we’ve done to ourselves. America has made her “choice” for maximum leader and it is not pretty. In fact, it is one of the most devastating blows to American civilization that we have ever undergone, and I do not speak in hyperbole. Even such a saintly figure as Mother Theresa said that “a nation that kills its children has no future;” likewise, an authority like Fr. Benedict Groeschel recently commented that we have entered into “the beginning of the twilight” of our country—dire words that touch on the reality of electing the most extreme, pro-abortion candidate America has ever had the misfortune of occupying the highest office of our land.

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Tania Gail

posted March 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

2011…was Obama the right choice?

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