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Bishops v. Politicians: An abortion alternative

Fallout over controversial remarks on abortion by Joseph Biden and Nancy Pelosi are continuing. And not just in the political sphere. The U.S. Bishops announced last week that in light of the conflicts and debates, they will address the topic at their meeting in November–but a week after Election Day.

Those who want the bishops (at least those prelates who have spoken publicly) to continue their critiques, even to the point of denying pro-choice pols communion, will be disappointed by the delay. But by discussing the issue at their Nov. 10-13 meeting (the vote is Nov. 4) the bishops may be able to tackle the question in more serene circumstances, out of the heat of a presidential campaign. Are they likely to reach a consensus by 2012? I’m doubtful. The issue seemed to be addressed adequately in 2004. But that clearly wasn’t the case.


In the meantime, in a Wall Street Journal column on Friday, I try to make the case that the bishops–and everyone else–might do well (ironically) to focus on the politics of abortion rather than on theology or natural law, or their hopes for a high court bailout…

Obscured by the polemics and theologizing…is the hard reality that abortion rates in the U.S., and legalized abortion, will not soon yield to restatements of the catechism or the notion that abortion is a violation of “natural law.” Such arguments have not yet proved persuasive to the American public, and minds are not likely to be changed by judicial fiat, even from the Supreme Court. That means that abortion today is primarily a political challenge, and in that context Democrats have been embracing a more effective strategy than the GOP.

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posted September 14, 2008 at 10:07 am

As I understand it, pro-choice Catholics don’t disagree with the theology of the Catholic church about abortion, but about whether or not abortion should be legal.
So, in essence, isn’t this already a purely political debate, in that the Church is telling Catholic politicians not just what to believe personally and how to personally behave, but how they must deal with public policy.
On the other hand, Eric Sapp argued that politicians should focus less on legality than on actually doing things to decrease abortion. Is that what you mean by focusing on politics?

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posted September 14, 2008 at 11:17 am

I wonder…will these bishops also be focusing on the continued crisis of pedophiles in their midst, and how their church should react to the ongoing revelations and investigations? Will they address the issue of dioceses filing for bankruptcy to “protect” the assets of the church? Will they address the issue of church leaders stonewalling or actively working against the victims in their midst in their efforts to recover from the abuse?
Will they begin to work out some sort of active, public penance for the generations of cover-up they have done to protect the monsters who perpetrated these horrors?
Until they begin to address these issues is a forthright manner, and give instructions to church leaders to cooperate fully with both law enforcement and victims in removing pedophiles from the church, why should we pay any attention to them at all on any other issues?
If they can’t apply moral teachings to their own people, why are they trying to force it on others?

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posted September 14, 2008 at 1:13 pm

If indeed the RCC could actually consider abortion rights as a purely politicial issue that is different than a religious issue that would be great, but I don’t think they can as they’d love to tell the rest of the women in the country (non-Catholics as well as Catholic women) that they can’t have one. However if they consider it a political issue, thus one of laws and government, then they have no right to tell women that they have no legal right to one. There is separation of church and state for a reason, and one is to keep religion OUT of the political realm. A candidate who is Catholic shouldn’t be getting messages from their leaders as to a decision made by that candidate. A church shouldn’t be threatening “punishment” by saying “no communion for you” until you do as we say.

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Reader John

posted September 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm

“the hard reality that … legalized abortion, will not soon yield to restatements of the catechism or the notion that abortion is a violation of ‘natural law.’ Such arguments have not yet proved persuasive to the American public, and minds are not likely to be changed by judicial fiat, even from the Supreme Court.”
It is a bit cavalier to say that pro life arguments, from natural law or otherwise, haven’t proven persuasive, and to pronounce the futility of judicial fiat. You must have had fun writing that taunt.
On January 20, 1973, all 50 states (yes, it’s 50, not 57) had laws far more protective of the unborn than what the Supreme Court imposed, nationwide, under false constitutional pretexts, a few days later in Roe and Doe. Since then, there has been no fair political test because the Supreme Court has held the trump card, striking down any abortion law it didn’t like. All you can say for certain is that the nation lacked the political will to impeach the Harry Blackmun and his co-conspirators for their usurpation of a political issue.
Some legislatures just stopped beating their heads against the wall when it became apparent that the Supreme Court would not allow any meaningful protection of the unborn at any stage of pregnancy. It only cost the states money, coming (to pay their attorneys general) and going (to pay Planned Parenthood’s attorney fees under 42 USC 1988 after the law was struck down), to create test cases.
The “pro-choice” side is desperate to keep the Supreme Court on its side not because there’s a snowball’s chance in the infernal regions that a conservative court would declare abortion illegal, but because a conservative court might well tell the truth: abortion is an issue on which the Consitution is silent, and thus is fair political game. The pro-choicers know who would win in most states were that status quo ante restored.

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posted September 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Here’s the thing. The church (and I’m talking Protestant too) in my opinion largely is to blame here. These politicians who support abortion but are on their church roles should be kicked out, period until they repent of this sin. Church discipline has failed to be issued and look what it caused! If the church had done this years ago, politicians who support abortion would have changed their minds as so many have always used their (supposed) faith as a means of attracting voters.

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posted September 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Herein the problem lies: When someone believes it is a FACT that a fetus is an American citizen who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then it is not even a religious issue, and not even on the table for political discussion…

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