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Kmiec Responds to Criticism on Abortion Reduction “Scam” (From Eric McFadden)

posted by Mara Vanderslice

Interview with Doug Kmiec by Eric McFadden in response to Right to Life Criticism on “Abortion Reduction Scam”

Recently Deal Hudson published a statement by Doug Johnson- Legislative director of National Right to Life, where Johnson and Hudson refer to abortion reduction as a “scam“. I recently went over the fine points with Doug Kmiec, an authority on this issue in his own right in the following interview.

Eric McFadden: Doug Johnson – Legislative director of National Right to Life and some others have suggested that “Abortion Reduction” is a “scam” used by Democrats to gloss over the issue of abortion with Catholics. They believe that you create the impression that Obama will merely preserve the legal status quo on abortion, while creating a token government handout for women experiencing crisis pregnancies. These folks are convinced that an Obama administration will simply increase the numbers of abortions performed.

Doug Kmiec: First, as I indicate in my book Can a Catholic Support Him?  Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama, my endorsement of Senator Obama has from the beginning indicated places where this conservative Republican disagrees with the Senator, and we disagree on the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which I oppose, and indeed, believe in its current form exceeds the power of Congress.  Second, to the extent FOCA is believed to mandate the public funding of abortion, and that is not explicit,  I would oppose that as well.

That said, while the Senator and I are in disagreement, it does not dim my enthusiasm for his presidency since I believe for the first time we will have a president who genuinely intends to address the poverty and anxiety that in the vast majority of cases determines a woman’s decision.

Second, I greatly respect Doug Johnson and his work in behalf of life.  In this regard, he has been in this vineyard long enough to know that there is a meaningful difference between pro-abortion and pro-choice.  Indeed, in Senator Obama’s case,  it is more aptly a difference between criminalization and compassion, or to be even more fair to the approach advocated by Mr. Johnson, regulation and restriction or the encouragement of a responsible exercise of freedom.

In any event, Senator Obama has never been pro-abortion, and is not now.

Eric McFadden: Some have claimed that Obama advocates repeal of the Hyde Amendment? — and he would enact national health care that would also mandate coverage of abortion on demand.

Doug Kmiec: Again, “mandate coverage for abortion on demand“? 

This has never been Senator Obama’s position, which instead accepts the Roe framework, leaving the ultimate decision to the expectant mother, and consistent with language the Senator was instrumental in having added to the Democratic Platform also “strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.”

Eric McFadden: Abortion opponents have argued that Obama will not renew the Hyde Amendment. 

Doug Kmiec: As Doug Johnson indicates, the Hyde Amendment is renewed year by year.  Even were the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) to pass, and even if my doubts about its unconstitutionality were determined to be unfounded, Congress has it well within its power to renew the Hyde Amendment after FOCA, which by well-settled, last-in-time interpretative principles would keep the abortion funding limitation in place.  What’s needed is what has always been needed, a convincing and legislatively winning argument that on balance public funding for abortion wrongly implicates the taxpayer in what many citizens, including me, see as a moral wrong.

I have not discussed this with him at great length, but I imagine that Senator Obama views health care funding as something that as much as possible should be governed by the needs and determinations of a patient and the patient’s doctor, and it is this nondiscrimination principle, which convinces him that just as public funds should be available for pre and post natal care so too a woman’s choice to bear a child cannot be coerced under criminal or regulatory penalty. 

Given that FOCA in one form or another has been stalled in Congress since 1989, arguably, FOCA’s fate will be more determined by the electoral outcome in Congress than the presidency.

Eric McFadden: Johnson and others point to a quote from Senator Obama: “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.” – they express the same fear that state laws would be nullified by the Freedom of Choice Act.

Doug Kmiec: Again, I believe this to be overstatement, both in light of the preemption principle noted above and the underlying constitutional doubt about FOCA derived from well-settled law that Congress lacks authority to redefine constitutional rights and liberties.  A Supreme Court that some years ago denied Congress’ ability to enact into law as against the states a super-protection of religious liberty is likely to have the same reservations, maybe more given the sensitive and controversial nature of the abortion subject.

Eric McFadden: Johnson has pointed out that Obama has also voted directly against parental notification requirements twice.  He also refers us a study of Cardinal Rigali’s regarding the Freedom of Choice Act.

Doug Kmiec: I fully accept the teaching of my church.  That teaching, including the thoughtful letter from Cardinal Rigali, indicates that “in recent months, the national debate on abortion has taken a turn that may be productive.  Members of both parties have sought to reach a consensus on ways to reduce abortions in our society.”  While his Eminence finds this consensus emerging especially on the regulatory front, I do not read his letter as denying the possibility of consensus by means of improved support for women in poverty and who are often alone and isolated. 

Quite the contrary, the Cardinal himself notes, quite consistently I might add with the perspective of Senator Obama (though, appropriately of course, the Cardinal does not mention any political figure by name), that “because many women have testified that they are pressured toward abortion by social and economic hardships, bipartisan legislation providing practical support to help women carry their pregnancies to term, . . . deserves Congress’s attention.”  

Senator McCain’s history here is curious.  On the one hand, the Senator voted in favor of amending those eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to include the unborn-while voting against legislation to expand SCHIP’s coverage to low-income children and pregnant women at least six times.

Eric McFadden: Johnson and others have been critical of your claim that Republican office holders have not achieved a “Human life Amendment”. In their critique, they claim that Constitution does not give a president any formal role in the constitutional amendment process.

Doug Kmiec: Yes, constitutional amendments depend on the initiative of members of Congress, like that which Senator McCain could have undertaken – but did not — during his almost 30 years occupying public office.

Eric McFadden: Johnson has stated that “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.

Doug Kmiec:  It is we
ll known that Senator Obama has clearly stated on numerous occasions his support for restrictions on late term abortions.  Indeed, Senator Obama has identified the need to draft a clearly defined health exception, the responsible narrowing of which Doug Johnson and I – and perhaps the entire right to life community — have been advocating for decades.

Eric McFadden: In a statement Johnson wrote: “Finally: Kmiec has written elsewhere of the personal work that he and his wife have done in assisting women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies, which is certainly commendable. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) across this nation help many, many women each year, and save the lives of many children. Before Kmiec speaks again about Obama’s purported commitment to “abortion reduction,” perhaps he should reflect on the question put to the Obama campaign by RHrealitycheck.org, a prominent pro-abortion advocacy website — “Does Sen. Obama support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers?” The Obama campaign’s official response was short, but it spoke volumes: “No.””

Doug Kmiec: Continue funding?  The counseling centers known to me and my spouse have not had the benefit of such funding.  Must be hard to get.  Anyway, Senator Obama’s signal of clear and strong support for women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term offers the kind of complementary assistance that will hardly impede crisis pregnancy centers.  And that’s the thing, you have to have the funding for pre and post natal care, income support and parenting skills before you can help anyone in the context of a crisis pregnancy center or otherwise.  And as I see it, only Senator Obama has made this clear.  All McCain-Palin have is platform rhetoric about finding “new ways to empower,” which is really rather tired, old verbiage more likely to mean embarrassingly little.



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Jonathan

posted October 3, 2008 at 11:19 am


McCain, Hudson, Johnson and the Republican party do not own the phrase “pro life”. This is a great piece.



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Douglas Johnson

posted October 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm


Prof. Kmiec thinks that even if the “Freedom of Choice Act” is enacted, as Obama advocates, thereby invalidating the Hyde Amendment (along with all other federal and state laws that “interfere with” access to abortion), Congress could still re-enact the Hyde Amendment, and this later act by Congress would be the governing one. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Congress would have that power, Prof. Kmiec overlooks that Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. The FOCA would invalidate not only the federal Hyde Amendment but also the state laws and regulations by which most states block funding for abortion under their Medicaid programs. So under Kmiec’s hypothetical scenario, in which Congress enacts FOCA and then ;ater re-enacts the Hyde Amendment after that, the net effect would still be that every state would be compelled to pay for abortion on demand under Medicaid, with state funds, as mandated by the FOCA. The net effect in increasing the number of abortions would be exactly the same whether abortion on demand is paid for with federal funds or with federally mandated state funds.
Moreover, Prof. Kmiec overlooks that Obama need not wait for the FOCA to land on his desk, in order to attack the Hyde Amendment. Remember, the Hyde Amendment (and a number of similar provisions that govern other federal programs) are not “permanent law.” Rather, they are limiting provisions contained within annual appropriations bills. Thus, these pro-life provisions must be renewed annually, and they are subject to attack annually by foes in Congress, by a pro-abortion president, or both. Since the Hyde Amendment was first enacted in 1976, there have been years in which it was extended only because Republican presidents threatened to veto, or did veto, appropriations bills that did not extend the Hyde Amendment.
Already, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other current Democratic congressional leaders are hostile to the Hyde Amendment — but the Hyde Amendment has been extended anyway, for the past two years, because President Bush issued a letter in early 2007 saying that he would veto any bill that weakens any existing pro-life policy (see http://www.nrlc.org/Records/PresidentBushToPelosiProLifeVetoes.pdf). Things could change quickly under a president determined to re-establish federal funding of abortion on demand. If a president demanded that the Hyde Amendment be dropped and vetoed bills that contain it, it would require a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress to override such a veto.
The Hyde Amendment, and the similar policies adopted by many states, are saving many lives. 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 states that 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, which since 1976 has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion. 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 . . .”
Prof. Kmiec also says, “It is well known that Senator Obama has clearly stated on numerous occasions his support for restrictions on late term abortions.” I respectfully submit that this is balderdash. As a member of the Illinois state Senate, Obama led the opposition to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), and in 2003 he even killed, in a committee he chaired, a version of the bill that was virtually identical to the federal BAIPA that had passed Congress without a single dissenting vote in 2002. Obama made it clear at the time that he was unwilling to recognize what he called a “previable fetus” as a legal “person” even after that human had achieved “complete expulsion or extraction” from the womb, and was clearly alive. For documentation on Obama’s record on this issue and a response to the shifting disinformation that Obama and his defenders have disseminated about it, see http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/WhitePaperAugust282008.html
Obama also opposed separate legislation that would have tightened up the circumstances under which the presence of a second physician (to care for a live-born baby) would be required during an abortion after “viability.” Obama argued that this would “burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion . . . . [I]t’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births.” (Speech on the Illinois Senate floor against SB 1663, April 4, 2002)
In addition, Obama was a leading opponent of state legislation to restrict partial-birth abortions, the abortion method in which the baby is mostly delivered alive feet-first, after which the abortionist punctures the baby’s skull and suctions out the brain. Not many months ago, Obama and his defenders (including the Planned Parenthood president for Illinois) were quick to spring to Obama’s defense when the Hillary Clinton campaign suggested that Obama had pulled his punches on the partial-birth abortion issue. At that time, the Obama camp argued — accurately — that Obama had been in the forefront of opposition to this legislation. Read about it on the website of the liberal media-watchdog group “Media Matters,” here: http://mediamatters.org/items/200712140004
Obama was not yet in Congress when the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted in 2003 (with McCain’s strong support), but when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ban in April 2007, both Obama and Senator Biden harshly criticized the Court’s ruling. The FOCA was reintroduced in Congress the day after the Court’s decision, with the FOCA chief sponsors stressing that one of its effects would be to re-legalize partial-birth abortions. About a month later, Obama co-sponsored the FOCA.
Since effectively securing the Democratic nomination, Obama began to implement the “messaging strategy” of putting out quotes that would suggest, to the uninitated, that he was some kind of middle-grounder on abortion. Obama gave one interview to a religious publication in which he suggested that he didn’t favor abortion in the final months of pregnancy for “mental distress.” When some pro-abortion groups protested, Obama’s campaign quickly clarified that he does believe that abortion should be allowed in the final months of pregnancy for mental-health reasons, but not for merely “feeling blue.” This is all empty verbiage. The FOCA language says that no level of government may “interfere” with an abortion sought for “health” reasons even after the baby is “viable” (able to survive independently of the mother). If FOCA was enacted, no state would be able to pass a law restricting third-trimester abortions for some “health” claims but not others, because the entire thrust of the bill is that states may not narrow the scope of the right defined by the federal statute.
Prof. Kmiec seemingly objects to my earlier observation that Obama’s proposed health-care plan would “mandate coverage of abortion on demand.” But his objection seems to boil down to a claim that Obama does not want to force women to have abortions. But what I said, of course, was that he would “mandate coverage.” Various materials issued by the Obama campaign and direct statements by Obama indicate that his plan would require employers to provide a certain level of benefits, and that “reproductive health” services — which, of course, includes elective abortion — will be part of that mandated package.
Prof. Kmiec also observes that the Crisis Pregnancy Center that he had his wife have worked with has not enjoyed any federal funding, and that it “must be hard to get.” It is true that such funding is not as widely available as would be desirable, for at least two reasons. One, currently cooperation is required from a state government to apply for the funds, which is unlikely in California at this time. Secondly, legislation to expand federal funding has been blocked by the abortion lobby in Congress (which also resists such funding in many states). I leave it to the reader to judge whether the absolutely explicit written statement by the Obama campaign that Obama opposes any further federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers (read it here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2007/12/21/sen-barack-obamas-reproductive-health-questionnaire) can be reconciled with Prof. Kmiec’s claims regarding “Senator Obama’s signal of clear and strong support for women who choose to carry a pregancy to term . . .”
When Bill Clinton, a FOCA supporter, entered office in 1993, Planned Parenthood predicted that the FOCA would be law within six months, and they were not alone. The pro-life movement was ultimately able to block the bill in Congress, but only with an enormous effort by NRLC and other pro-life groups, including a campaign endorsed by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that resulted in millions of anti-FOCA postcards being received by members of Congress. Prof. Kmiec’s nonchalence in the face of the threat posed by the FOCA — which, unlike a constitutional amendment, does not require a two-thirds vote — is difficult to understand. And his confidence that the the federal courts would somehow prevent full enforcement of the terms of the FOCA is also puzzling, especially when we consider the ideological bent of the Supreme Court justices that a President Obama could be expected to nominate.
Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
http://www.nrlc.org
legfederal–at–aol-com



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Steven Ertelt

posted October 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm


Kmiec’s support of Obama IS a scam.
Obama supports abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason, he opposes the ban on partial-birth abortions, supports taxpayer funding of abortion, repeatedly voted against bills for medical care for newborns, opposes informed consent, opposes parental involvement, and would likely sign the bill Democrats put forward to put crisis pregnancy centers out of business.
Kmiec rests his support for Obama on the HOPE that the FOCA bill would be found unconstitutional.
But what if courts uphold it?
Then Kmiec is guilty of supporting a candidate who will overturn every single pro-life law passed in all 50 states since 1973 that has resulted in the reduction of abortion to historic lows.
And if that happens, then Kmiec is perhaps the most hypocritcal “pro-life” Catholic of modern times and he will have alot to answer for.
Why take that chance? We already have a pro-life candidate on abortion in John McCain and Sarah Palin.
If Kmiec and anyone who is pro-life is really serious about protecting babies before birth, why gamble on Obama? McCain and Palin’s pro-life credentials are solid.



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Matt Bowman

posted October 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm


Eric: why don’t you ask real follow-up questions to answers that completely dodge your first question?



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Reaganite in NYC

posted October 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm


Frankly, who cares what Doug Kmiec thinks?
Here’s a guy who went from being a Romney adviser in January to an Obama supporter in February. Apparently he’ll go anywhere in his quest for a ride on a successful Presidential bandwagon and a seat in the Federal judiciary. His credibility is shot.
Doug Kmiec has become to the pro-life movement what David Gergen became to his old mentors in the Republican party: an always willing — though less than frequently useful — tool for the other side.



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ds0490

posted October 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm


Simply put, the GOP needs dead fetuses to wave before the faithful in order to get re-elected every year. Why else would they avoid pushing for the Human Life Amendment when they controlled both houses of Congress? They knew that the minute the amendment passed their branch of government, they would lose an issue that can reliably mobilize millions of folks to vote Republican.
It’s strange. When Wall Street comes calling, the GOP can move mountains in 48 hours. But for the pro-life movement, 14 years is not long enough.



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Northern Ox

posted October 3, 2008 at 3:48 pm


I would imagine part of the reason the Human Life Amendment did not succeed is because a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, not just a simple majority.



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Douglas Johnson

posted October 3, 2008 at 4:00 pm


Prof. Kmiec thinks that even if the “Freedom of Choice Act” is enacted, as Obama advocates, thereby invalidating the Hyde Amendment (along with all other federal and state laws that “interfere with” access to abortion), Congress could still re-enact the Hyde Amendment, and this later act by Congress would be the governing one. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Congress would have that power, Prof. Kmiec overlooks that Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. The FOCA would invalidate not only the federal Hyde Amendment but also the state laws and regulations by which most states block funding for abortion under their Medicaid programs. So under Kmiec’s hypothetical scenario, in which Congress enacts FOCA and then ;ater re-enacts the Hyde Amendment after that, the net effect would still be that every state would be compelled to pay for abortion on demand under Medicaid, with state funds, as mandated by the FOCA. The net effect in increasing the number of abortions would be exactly the same whether abortion on demand is paid for with federal funds or with federally mandated state funds.
Moreover, Prof. Kmiec overlooks that Obama need not wait for the FOCA to land on his desk, in order to attack the Hyde Amendment. Remember, the Hyde Amendment (and a number of similar provisions that govern other federal programs) are not “permanent law.” Rather, they are limiting provisions contained within annual appropriations bills. Thus, these pro-life provisions must be renewed annually, and they are subject to attack annually by foes in Congress, by a pro-abortion president, or both. Since the Hyde Amendment was first enacted in 1976, there have been years in which it was extended only because Republican presidents threatened to veto, or did veto, appropriations bills that did not extend the Hyde Amendment.
Already, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other current Democratic congressional leaders are hostile to the Hyde Amendment — but the Hyde Amendment has been extended anyway, for the past two years, because President Bush issued a letter in early 2007 saying that he would veto any bill that weakens any existing pro-life policy. Things could change quickly under a president determined to re-establish federal funding of abortion on demand. If a president demanded that the Hyde Amendment be dropped and vetoed bills that contain it, it would require a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress to override such a veto.
The Hyde Amendment, and the similar policies adopted by many states, are saving many lives. 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 states that 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, which since 1976 has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion. 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 . . .”
Prof. Kmiec also says, “It is well known that Senator Obama has clearly stated on numerous occasions his support for restrictions on late term abortions.” I respectfully submit that this is balderdash. As a member of the Illinois state Senate, Obama led the opposition to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), and in 2003 he even killed, in a committee he chaired, a version of the bill that was virtually identical to the federal BAIPA that had passed Congress without a single dissenting vote in 2002. Obama made it clear at the time that he was unwilling to recognize what he called a “previable fetus” as a legal “person” even after that human had achieved “complete expulsion or extraction” from the womb, and was clearly alive. Full documentation on Obama’s record on this issue and a response to the shifting disinformation that Obama and his defenders have disseminated about it is available on the National Right to Life website.
Obama also opposed separate legislation that would have tightened up the circumstances under which the presence of a second physician (to care for a live-born baby) would be required during an abortion after “viability.” Obama argued that this would “burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion . . . . [I]t’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births.” (Speech on the Illinois Senate floor against SB 1663, April 4, 2002)
In addition, Obama was a leading opponent of state legislation to restrict partial-birth abortions, the abortion method in which the baby is mostly delivered alive feet-first, after which the abortionist punctures the baby’s skull and suctions out the brain. Not many months ago, Obama and his defenders (including the Planned Parenthood president for Illinois) were quick to spring to Obama’s defense when the Hillary Clinton campaign suggested that Obama had pulled his punches on the partial-birth abortion issue. At that time, the Obama camp argued — accurately — that Obama had been in the forefront of opposition to this legislation.
Obama was not yet in Congress when the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted in 2003 (with McCain’s strong support), but when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ban in April 2007, both Obama and Senator Biden harshly criticized the Court’s ruling. The FOCA was reintroduced in Congress the day after the Court’s decision, with the FOCA chief sponsors stressing that one of its effects would be to re-legalize partial-birth abortions. About a month later, Obama co-sponsored the FOCA.
Since effectively securing the Democratic nomination, Obama began to implement the “messaging strategy” of putting out quotes that would suggest, to the uninitated, that he was some kind of middle-grounder on abortion. Obama gave one interview to a religious publication in which he suggested that he didn’t favor abortion in the final months of pregnancy for “mental distress.” When some pro-abortion groups protested, Obama’s campaign quickly clarified that he does believe that abortion should be allowed in the final months of pregnancy for mental-health reasons, but not for merely “feeling blue.” This is all empty verbiage. The FOCA language says that no level of government may “interfere” with an abortion sought for “health” reasons even after the baby is “viable” (able to survive independently of the mother). If FOCA was enacted, no state would be able to pass a law restricting third-trimester abortions for some “health” claims but not others, because the entire thrust of the bill is that states may not narrow the scope of the right defined by the federal statute.
Prof. Kmiec seemingly objects to my earlier observation that Obama’s proposed health-care plan would “mandate coverage of abortion on demand.” But his objection seems to boil down to a claim that Obama does not want to force women to have abortions. But what I said, of course, was that he would “mandate coverage.” Various materials issued by the Obama campaign and direct statements by Obama indicate that his plan would require employers to provide a certain level of benefits, and that “reproductive health” services — which, of course, includes elective abortion — will be part of that mandated package.
Prof. Kmiec also observes that the Crisis Pregnancy Center that he had his wife have worked with has not enjoyed any federal funding, and that it “must be hard to get.” It is true that such funding is not as widely available as would be desirable, for at least two reasons. One, currently cooperation is required from a state government to apply for the funds, which is unlikely in California at this time. Secondly, legislation to expand federal funding has been blocked by the abortion lobby in Congress (which also resists such funding in many states). I leave it to the reader to judge whether the absolutely explicit written statement by the Obama campaign that Obama opposes any further federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers can be reconciled with Prof. Kmiec’s claims regarding “Senator Obama’s signal of clear and strong support for women who choose to carry a pregancy to term . . .”
When Bill Clinton, a FOCA supporter, entered office in 1993, Planned Parenthood predicted that the FOCA would be law within six months, and they were not alone. The pro-life movement was ultimately able to block the bill in Congress, but only with an enormous effort by NRLC and other pro-life groups, including a campaign endorsed by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that resulted in millions of anti-FOCA postcards being received by members of Congress. Prof. Kmiec’s nonchalence in the face of the threat posed by the FOCA — which, unlike a constitutional amendment, does not require a two-thirds vote — is difficult to understand. And his confidence that the the federal courts would somehow prevent full enforcement of the terms of the FOCA is also puzzling, especially when we consider the ideological bent of the Supreme Court justices that a President Obama could be expected to nominate.
Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
legfederal–at–aol-com



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Hannah

posted October 3, 2008 at 5:04 pm


Sarah Palin: Wrong For Catholics
Palin Cut Nearly $200,000 From Catholic Run Social Programs. During her two years as Alaska’s Governor, Sarah Palin cut $190,000 in funding from Catholic Community Services.
From the Alaska Budget:
Catholic Community Services – Angoon Senior Center Stove, Refrigerator, and Freezer
Palin Cut $20,000 – S.B. 53 FY 2008 and an additional 20k for the same project from S.B. 221 FY 2009- So Catholic Community Services is out 40k thanks to Sarah Palin.
Catholic Community Resources – Fairbanks Counseling & Adoption
Palin cut $150,000- S.B. 221 FY 2009 – Apparently Palin’s “Family Values” do not apply to the Catholic Community Resources in Fairbanks.
If Sarah Palin rejects the good work of the Catholic Church in Alaska, how are Catholic voters expected to support her for Vice President?
Catholic voters should not have a hard time saying “thanks but no thanks” to McCain and Palin this November.



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Don

posted October 3, 2008 at 6:44 pm


Both candidates are fudging and massaging their views about abortion in this campaign.
I found this on the Guttmacher Institute web page:
http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/10/1/gpr100112.html
“Perhaps the most tragic result of the funding restrictions, however, is that a significant number of women who would have had an abortion had it been paid for by Medicaid instead end up continuing their pregnancy. A number of studies have examined how many women are forced to forgo their right to abortion and bear children they did not intend. Studies published over the course of two decades looking at a number of states concluded that 18–35% of women who would have had an abortion continued their pregnancies after Medicaid funding was cut off. According to Stanley Henshaw, a Guttmacher Institute senior fellow and one of the nation’s preeminent abortion researchers, the best such study, which was published in the Journal of Health Economics in 1999, examined abortion and birthrates in North Carolina, where the legislature created a special fund to pay for abortions for poor women. In several instances between 1978 and 1993, the fund was exhausted before the end of the fiscal year, so financial support was unavailable to women whose pregnancies occurred after that point. The researchers concluded that about one-third of women who would have had an abortion if support were available carried their pregnancies to term when the abortion fund was unavailable.”
I take your point, which seems valid in that it lessened abortions, but please quote directly from studies you use, especially when figures are used.



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Micheal

posted October 5, 2008 at 6:32 pm


Seems like Doug Johnson is carrying water for the McCain campaign for partisan purposes while Kmiec speaks from his Catholicism.



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Ben

posted October 5, 2008 at 8:33 pm


Michael-
Kmiec carries water for Kmiec. Johnson has a lifetime of concern for the unborn (as if you pro-choicers care). Maybe you want to pay for abortions, count me out. Kmiec jumped from Romney to Obama in about two weeks time, looking for a court appointment. He’s a disgrace, and a coward to boot.



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Andrew H

posted October 18, 2008 at 10:58 am


If Prof. Kmiec is so convinced that Barack Obama is not pro-abortion, what is his opinion of Obama carefully equivocating on the sanctity of human life in the unborn stages–stating, in Debate III, for example, that it is a “moral question” that people can come to different opinions on. Funny, Mr. Kmiec, I thought your Catholic teaching you purport to champion posits expressly that abortion, as an intrinsic evil (again, something you completely proffer as a defense of your credentials), is something that people may not reach different positions on in order to recognize the good.
If Obama was truly as brave and pioneering as you suggest, then why does he also Pander to the Pro-Abortion lobby. How do you explain his 100%, better-than-boxer, NARAL rating ?
Doug, whatever is animating you, it isn’t a seamless desire to decrease abortions (a disquietingly utilitarian concern for you in how you champion that over wresting control over our wayward law itself), or a desire to see the public grow in its appreciation of life. Do I think you have jettisoned your values ? That’s definitely not guess number one. But you have a gremlin in your conscience. Where is the personal stake pulling your strings ? Did you lose someone close to you because McCain didn’t support a minimum wage increase (an odd foil for vacillating on which party champions life and love) or because he supported the surge in the War ? I don’t want to think you’ve been promised a Supreme Court appointment (surely that would be too crude).
Whatever it is, no amount of your cherry picking of Catholic authorities can convince those of us who knew you when that you’re not b.s.ing us, or yourself.
You deliver us death, man.



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JOsh

posted October 27, 2008 at 2:19 pm


More abortions can be prevented with birth control, which I do not expect Catholics to support than almost anything else. Next is support and education, and adoptive services.
Even if oevswade falls, when would California make abortion illegal? A long long time. But we can stop it now with supportive services, healthcare, birhcontrol.



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Jon Trott from Chicago, Illinois

posted October 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm


I do wish the personal assaults would stop on this thread. Let’s progress as though both Doug Kmiec and Doug Johnson are sincerely convinced of their positions. There’s no need for the personal attacks — just creates noise instead of thought.
I am pro-life. I’ve written on this topic for decades, including a number of articles which appeared in Cornerstone magazine (1972-2003). I am also voting for Barack Obama. This decision has to do with a number of factors.
1. Being pro-life has long been equated w/ overturning Roe v. Wade. I believe that if we Christians really, really wanted to, we could begin that process at any time. It would not, however, be via electing Republicans to office (more on that momentarily). It would take a mass populist set of actions, rooted in complete non-violence and without taking sides whatever politically speaking. This was tried once (Operation Rescue), but the leadership of O.R. was highly flawed, did side with the Republicans (a fatal error in my opinion), and eventually lost track of its original commitment to totally non-violent means. But the other reason O.R. failed happened — or did not happen — early on. Namely, that the vast majority of Evangelicals and Catholics decided not to participate in such a “radical” action as praying while blocking abortion clinic doors. I think we could start doing this any time, and would have an excellent chance to reshape the entire abortion discussion.
What will *not* work is the continual voting for Republicans over and over again in order to appoint “pro-life” Supreme Court Justices. Ronald Reagan appointed two who voted to UPHOLD Roe v Wade when given the opportunity. George Herbert Walker Bush (Dubya’s dad) appointed another one, Sutter, who also voted to UPHOLD Roe v Wade. Currently, Roe has been law for over 35 years, and it is very unlikely that it will be repealed, for all sorts of reasons. We Obama voters are not at present voting FOR Roe v Wade (which was authored by Blackmun, a lifelong Republican, by the way). We are voting for a radical break from Republican Presidents, who have owned the White House for all but 12 of the 35 years since Roe v Wade, and for all but 8 of the past 28 years (1980 being when the first overtly “pro-life” President, Ronald Reagan, was elected).
There are all sorts of reasons all sides could attack for why these pro-life Republicans could not and did not get the job done regarding the repeal of Roe v Wade. But in the end, isn’t it apparent that trying to get Roe flipped by electing Republicans is a bit like trying to change a light bulb with a wrecking ball?
Doubtless, I will not be happy with some choices President Barack Obama makes. But as someone who has watched his career here in Chicago for years, I believe he really will attempt to find a middle way re abortion. But again, I don’t think he matters nearly as much regarding Roe as we ourselves matter. That is, we can begin a social movement within this nation whenever we get the — ahem — to risk our reputations and possibly arrest by peaceful mass protest. That is the way to bring about social change for the marginalized, and we know this via America’s own history.
One other reality that only the most self-delusional must grasp… there will always be legalized abortion in America. Overturning Roe v Wade would not do away with legalized abortion. It would at best ameliorate it, put more regulations on how, to whom, and when it could be done. But we do not now live in a Christian nation, and this Evangelical at least doesn’t really want to live in a Christian nation. I know the leaders in my own movement, and none of them ought to be made equivalents to, say, the religious leaders in Iran. We don’t need or want a Theocracy here. Do we?
I haven’t given my reasons for voting for Obama. This is already too long. So, in short, I am voting for Obama because I believe he is extremely uncommon in the best of ways, as a thinking Christian in politics. I think he’ll make a stellar leader. And I think the Christian Right has so badly frightened me, as a morally conservative Christian, that I believe Jesus is currently being held hostage by these people who are sometimes outright hate mongers. That, on top of what our current Evangelical President has done in Jesus’ name, completely forces my hand.
My conscience convicts me to vote for Obama. And I respect those whose consciences convict them otherwise.
Blessings to all as they pray and act in Christian hope and faith.
Jon Trott, Chicago
Jesus People USA Evangelical Covenant Church



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Jon Trott from Chicago, Illinois

posted October 27, 2008 at 4:10 pm


Excuse me for numbering my first reason, then forgetting to number all that followed. In the heat of composition, I guess I decomposed.



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Sarah from Chicago

posted October 29, 2008 at 11:18 pm


I am a Catholic and my Catholic conscience convicts me to vote Pro-life, what have I got to loose, I either save a life or save a life. On the other hand if I were pro-choice, I would either save a life or destroy one. You can’t be pro-both if it is not for the good of society, i.e. giving a baby life. By the way, everyone who supports being Pro-choice perceives us as being anti-abortion and don’t forget anti-death (yes, we are anti-death, what’s wrong with trying to save a life when 93% of abortions occured because a woman decided that her baby was an inconvience or unwanted -go look it up yourselves, it’s a multi-billion dollar business and they are using our tax dollars!! why can’t i pick and choose where my tax money goes!?). How about perceiving Pro-choice people as being Anti-life or Pro-death for a change.
If someone wants to quote Douglas W. Kmiec, they need to quote him as an independent American speaking his opinion and not as a Catholic. He is not the Pope, nor does he come remotely close to a person whom the practicing members of the Church could ever regard as an expert. If he was truly Catholic he would never deprive himself of the most precious gift God left us–the Body and Blood of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. To be in communion with the Catholic Church is to be in a state of grace to be able to receive the Eucharist (ie. Communion). Since he cannot receive Christ, he cannot speak for the Church. By his own choice he has isolated himself from God.
To be Catholic is to believe in Catholic doctrine (think of it as a law), you cannot pick and choose. You either follow the faith or you don’t, there is no argument from a Catholics stance, read the doctrines that have been written, don’t get your resources from someone who is American first then Catholic. My religion comes first, just like any other “religious” person would say. The following is what Catholic doctrine:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on when life begins and abortion (2270-2275):
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…having the rights of a person–among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life”
“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”
“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.”
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation…The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law….the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined”.



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j

posted January 14, 2009 at 5:34 pm


McFadden was arrested and charged with 7 felonies relating to allegedly running a prostitution ring. Nice being hectored on morals by a guy that has none.



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Your Name

posted January 30, 2009 at 1:20 pm


I am an imperfect, conflicted Catholic struggling to respect a woman’s choice and protect the unborn life…and I voted for Obama. I live in Modesto, California, were Fr. Joseph Illo is being lionized by his St. Joseph’s parisioners for a letter to his parrishoners that they must go to confession before receiving Communion if they voted for Barack Obama. While I attend a neighboring parrish, I have read the letter (and Fr. Illo’s subsequent clarifications), and I have spoken with many of his parrishoners. And, I have several observations:
(1) Fr. Illo struggles to recognize that the “sin” is not voting for Obama, but voting for abortion. I couldn’t find a single Obama voter who voted for Obama because his platform was pro-choice;
(2) Unable or unwilling to make the distinction, Fr. Illo misses the opportunity to inform and offer reconcillation to his parrishoners if they cast their vote for any “sinful” purpose…like to continue war and torture because of fear, or deny welfare assistance to the poor and marginalized.
(3) By making abortion a single-issue determinant of how one will vote, many Catholics are abdicating responsibility for other “life” issues. The black and white clarity on abortion provides shelter to the conscience of voters who quite honestly just think they are paying too much taxes, or want taxpayer funded vouchers to offset private education costs, or want less government regulation of the business.
The Church must continue its advocacy of respect for life, but many Catholics just cannot see past this single issue. When is the first or last time a parrish priest used his homily to condemn the death penalty, “enhanced interrogation” or this unjust war? Here in Modesto, the answer is never.



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Patrick

posted March 24, 2009 at 12:29 am


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