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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