The Catholic Version: Do pro-life policies reduce abortion? Or, Why Good Catholics can be Pro-Choice

[This is the "Catholic version" of this post; it contextualizes my thoughts about abortion into the question of if Catholics can support pro-choice policies. The post above this one is the "non-Catholic version" of the same argument, for those who aren't interested in the religious questions.]

[This is why being a blogger is so cool. I mean, a real writer would never be able to do unprofessional $#!+@ like this.]

Over on the Dallas News blog, Rod Dreher responds to an op-ed by his colleague Bill McKenzie (unfortunately, the Dallas News blog software doesn’t seem to include permalinks to particular entries). Here’s the best bit:

Besides, the Catholic Church is not proposing to kick out anybody, and certainly not everyone who believes in legalized abortion. It is specifically proposing to deny Holy Communion to lawmakers who favor laws that result in the legalized killing of unborn children.

Besides, it is Catholic teaching that the Eucharist is literally the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the Catholic clergy to get Catholics to heaven, not to help us all live with untroubled consciences, or to provide for social and political comity. Catholicism teaches that it is a very great sin to receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin — which a lawmaker who backs abortion rights with his vote almost certainly is in. Nobody has to believe in Catholicism or practice it, but those who profess it are obliged to try their best to live by its rules — and those who are responsible for teaching and upholding the rules have their duty too.

Look, I think the bishops ought to discipline pro-choice Catholic politicians, but I could be wrong about this. I am certainly open to hearing an argument that this move would be imprudent, given current circumstances. But I want to hear an argument made on Catholic terms, taking seriously the Catholic Church’s understanding of itself. I don’t find much value in an argument that tells me why Catholics ought to be better liberal Protestants.

Okay, let me try to answer that. I’m not a Catholic – and, given my admitted ignorance of Catholism compared to most Catholics, it’s likely I’m making a fool of myself. But I think it’s possible to argue that, even given acceptance of Catholic doctrine, a Catholic can also be pro-choice or vote in clear conscience for a pro-choice politician.

Please note that I’m not defending John Kerry’s motives in particular; I don’t know what’s going on in Mr. Kerry’s heart, and neither do the folks who have been criticizing him. It’s not possible for me to know if Kerry is a sincere Catholic or not. All I’m saying is that it’s perfectly possible for a sincere Catholic to hold pro-choice views.

First, let me state a few points, which I hope that Mr. Dreher is willing to agree to for the sake of argument:

1) All Catholics, if they accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, must be anti-abortion. By “anti-abortion,” I mean that they must work to make abortion as rare as humanly possible. For a politician, this means supporting legislation which she believes will make abortion as rare as the government can make it.

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to be using “Catholic” as shorthand for “Catholics who accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and are therefore anti-abortion.” No offense is intended towards Catholics who don’t accept those teachings.

2) “Pro-life,” for the purpose of this argument, refers to the position that abortion should be illegal except where the mother’s life is in danger. (I realize that many Catholics argue that “pro-life” refers to a larger tapestry of policies; I respect that, but it’s not what I’m discussing at this moment).

3) “Pro-choice” refers to the position that abortion should be legal in almost all circumstances.

4) It is possible to be a Catholic and yet disagree on what exact policy is the best policy for achieving a particular outcome. To quote from the US Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on War and Peace:

…We recognize that the Church’s teaching authority does not carry the same force when it deals with technical solutions involving particular means as it does when it speaks of principles or ends. People may agree in abhorring an injustice, for instance, yet sincerely disagree as to what practical approach will achieve justice. Religious groups are as entitled as others to their opinion in such cases, but they should not claim that their opinions are the only ones that people of good will may hold.

* * *

So if all Catholics must be against abortion, doesn’t it follow that all Catholics must be pro-life?

I’d argue not. For a Catholic to support the pro-life position, she would have to believe that supporting the pro-life position, in the current political climate, is the policy that would lead to the greatest reduction in abortions. But there are legitimate reasons to doubt that’s true.

First, even if legal abortion could be entirely banned, it’s unclear that this would actually reduce the real number of abortions by a significant degree. Before the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling, American women had somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million abortions a year in the U.S.. Although measuring something as hidden as illegal abortions is always difficult, the best pre-Roe scholarly assessment came to a figure of about a million abortions a year (“…prior to the adoption of more moderate abortion laws in 1967, there were 1 million abortions annually nationwide, of which 8000 were legal….” From Christopher Tietze “Abortion on request: its consequences for population trends and public health,” Seminars in Psychiatry 1970;2:375-381, quoted in JAMA December 9, 1992).

Another option is to look at what happens to birth rates; an significant increase in abortions should lead to a declining birth rate. So if Roe caused a big increase in abortions, the birthrate in the US would have dropped post-Roe. So what actually happened?

      Year  Births  Birthrate

      1973  3,136,965  14.9
      1974  3,159,958  14.9
      1975  3,144,198  14.8
      1976  3,167,788  14.8
      1977  3,326,632  15.4
      1978  3,333,279  15.3
      1979  3,494,398  15.9
      1980  3,612,258  15.9

Similarly, what happened when Poland banned abortions in the 1990s? If pro-life policies reduce abortion significantly, there would have been a spike in Poland’s birthrate. But Poland’s birth rate remained steady. (See Reproductive Health Matters (Volume 10, Issue 19 , May 2002): “The restrictive abortion law in Poland has not increased the number of births.”)

Pro-life laws may prevent a few abortions; but they don’t prevent enough to be measured statistically, or to have a noticeable effect on birthrates. That may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes sense. Why? Because most women don’t have abortions lightly. They have abortions because they are feeling very determined, or perhaps very desperate, and the anti-abortion laws don’t seem just to them. When something is desperately wanted by consumers – and when that something is fairly easy to supply – outlawing it won’t make it actually unavailable. Just look at the market for pot; and the proportion of casual pot smokers is far higher than the proportion of casual abortion patients.

Here’s another statistic to consider: Which countries have the least abortion? Belgium has an abortion rate of 6.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44. The Netherlands, 6.5. Germany, 7.8. Compare that to the USA’s rate of 22. Even better, compare it to countries where abortion is illegal: Egypt, 23; Brazil, 40; Chile, 50; Peru, 56.

According to the World Health Organization:

Contrary to common belief, legalization of abortion does not necessarily increase abortion rates. The Netherlands, for example, has a non-restrictive abortion law, widely accessible contraceptives and free abortion services, and the lowest abortion rate in the world: 5.5 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age per year. Barbados, Canada, Tunisia and Turkey have all changed abortion laws to allow for greater access to legal abortion without increasing abortion rates.

If pro-life laws are the best way of reducing abortion, then why are the world’s lowest abortion rates found in pro-choice countries like Germany and the Netherlands, while some of the world’s highest abortion rates are in countries that outlaw abortion?

Statistically, there’s no evidence that outlawing abortion lowers abortion rates; and there’s quite a lot of reason to think that it doesn’t.

Now, you may not agree with that statement, Mr. Dreher. But can you honestly say that you couldn’t possibly be mistaken about that; and that it’s impossible for a Catholic of good will to disagree with you on this question?

But what about “moderate” pro-life laws – those that don’t seek to ban abortion? As Fr. Rob Johansen asked on his blog,

Again, if “Catholic” Democrats were really “pro-life” but just in a “different way”, they would not be so rabidly opposed to even the slightest and most reasonable restrictions, such as parental notification, or a ban on partial-birth abortion, which every responsible medical organization has agreed is completely unnecessary by any reasonable standard.

Fr. Rob assumes that it is not possible for any reasonable Catholic to disagree that these bills are desirable and will reduce abortion.

However, it’s unclear that either of these restrictions would actually reduce the number of abortions. Parental notification laws don’t make it impossible for most teenagers to obtain abortions; they just make it likely that teenager will put off obtaining abortions illegally (for instance, with a false ID, or by traveling to another state) until after the pregnancy is more developed. This is problematic, because late-term abortions are much more dangerous for the mother.

The Partial Birth abortion ban is blatantly unconstitutional and will be overturned by the Supreme Court before ever becoming active law. Furthermore, even if it unexpectedly becomes active law, it will not prevent a single abortion; it doesn’t ban any abortions, it only instructs doctors on what method to use. Why is Kerry – or any Catholic – obliged to support legislation that will not prevent a single abortion?

(I feel obliged to mention that Fr. Rob is mistaken about what “every responsible medical organization” says. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that “partial birth” abortions “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman, and only the doctor, in consultation with the patient, based upon the woman’s particular circumstances, can make this decision.”)

* * *

There’s no evidence that any pro-life law will reduce abortion by any significant degree in the United States.

What will reduce abortion? If the examples of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium – countries that have incredibly low abortion rates – are any example, we should consider reducing abortion by reducing the demand, rather than reducing the supply. As Ono Ekeh recently wrote in National Catholic Weekly:

The conservative approach to reducing the number of abortions is a “supply-side” approach. The idea here is to criminalize abortion providers, thus resulting in a reduction in the number of abortions. Unfortunately, eliminating abortion providers is much like trying to solve the drug problem by solely going after drug suppliers, but ignoring demand. It is a fact of market dynamics that as long as demand exists, there will be supply.

Pro-life moderates and liberals embrace the “demand-side” approach. This approach seeks to reduce the number of abortions by addressing the social issues that compel too many women to contemplate what would normally be unthinkable. If social conditions were changed so that women were empowered, and if we effectively addressed issues such as health care, child care, family leave, wage inequity, domestic violence and other women’s issues, we could reasonably expect a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the United States. For instance, 21 percent of abortions in the United States are a result of inadequate finances. This category of women, though not exhaustive, represents a very fixable opportunity. Consider the following simplified example. If a woman for whom inadequate finances were the primary reason to consider an abortion is confident that there would be assistance to compensate for her lack of finances, the lack of finances then weighs less in her deliberations.

This demand-side approach will take time and does not immediately make abortions rare, but our goal is to change a culture, not just a law. This approach is a steady tide that lifts all boats of human dignity. It seems that this is a reasonable means of attaining the goal of a culture of life even if different from the process laid out by traditional pro-lifers.

Given that traditional pro-lifers cannot, as far as I know, point to even one country in which pro-life policies have resulted in a low abortion rate, it’s time for those who seriously oppose abortion to consider the demand-side approach to abortion reduction.

Even if you don’t agree with that, I don’t think anyone can fairly say that no reasonable Catholic could agree with that. To quote the pastoral letter again, “People may agree in abhorring an injustice, for instance, yet sincerely disagree as to what practical approach will achieve justice.” All Catholics agree that abortion is an injustice; but pro-choice Catholics and pro-life Catholics sincerely disagree on what practical approach will reduce abortion.

The disagreement is over means, not ends; and I don’t think bishops should discipline Catholic politicians over a disagreement in means. As Mario Cuomo once said, “there is no church teaching that mandates the best political course for making our belief everyone’s rule, for spreading this part of our Catholicism. There is neither an encyclical nor a catechism that spells out a political strategy for achieving legislative goals.”

* * *

Finally, regarding the current presidential race, the matter of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) should be considered. George Bush chose to defund the UNFPA, removing the $34 million US contribution, due to accusations that the UNFPA supports coerced abortion in China. Many people believe these accusations were not true (both a Bush State Department team, and a British inspection team including a well-known critic of UNFPA, found that the accusations were not true).

UNFPA does not provide support for abortions or abortion-related activities anywhere in the world. In fact, they prevent abortion, by providing family planning services and birth control in developing countries all over the world. They also help prevent AIDS, provide medical care which makes pregnancy and childbirth safer for mothers and babies, and work to prevent and treat obstetric fistulas. (Follow this link for more posts about UNFPA).

According to UNFPA, “UNFPA estimates that $34 million applied to family planning programmes could prevent some 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths annually worldwide.”

It’s certain that John Kerry, if elected president, would refund UNFPA – which in turn could prevent hundreds of thousands of avoidable abortions.

There’s virtually no evidence that pro-life policies will reduce abortion. There is, however, a strong possibility that having John Kerry in office will prevent thousands of abortions; not in some theoretical far-off time, but immediately, next year.

You may not agree with all this.

But do you feel that you couldn’t possibly be mistaken about that?

More importantly, do you deny that someone could believe all this, in good faith?

If your answer to those two questions was “no,” then I think you have to agree that it’s possible for a Catholic politician, of good will and out of sincere opposition to abortion, to endorse “pro-choice” methods of reducing abortion – and to support John Kerry for President.

[Some links via Open Book; and some data on abortion and birth rates via Eileen's Abortion Debate Place.)]

This entry posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Elections and politics, UNFPA. Bookmark the permalink. 

87 Responses to The Catholic Version: Do pro-life policies reduce abortion? Or, Why Good Catholics can be Pro-Choice

  1. I sense that a lot of the problem a pro-life Catholic has with a pro-choice position is referring to abortion as a right. One could say that as a matter of policy abortions should be legal (as making them illegal won’t reduce the number), or as a matter of constitutional law they must be legal (as the Supreme Court has interpreted the constitution). Saying that one has a fundamental right to an abortion, though, seems to be less a statement about what the Supreme Court has ruled, and more a statement about principles of justice. If one’s position is that abortion is never just, then it is hard to reconcile that with a belief that one has a fundamental right to an abortion (and certainly not a God given inalienable right).

    Of course the issue is not so much about a fundamental right to an abortion, as much as it is about a fundamental right to come to one’s own beliefs on such difficult theological issues. Still, I get the feeling that references to a “right” to an abortion is the most problematic issue from a pro-life perspective.

  2. 2
    Josiah says:

    You might want to consider that the countries you cite with low abortion rates (Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands) all have much more restrictive anti-abortion laws than does the U.S.

  3. 3
    Josiah says:

    Also, even assuming the million abortions a year pre-Roe figure is correct, that’s still several hundred thousand fewer abortions that there are currently. So, far from showing that pro-life measures increase abortion, your numbers seem to show the opposite.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Suddenly I see the flaw in my cunning “two posts” plan – Josiah, not unreasonably, posted his responses to me twice over, once in each post.

    Since Josiah’s comments aren’t specific to Catholicism, and since I don’t want to have a long exchange in which we both have to post everything twice, I’ve decided to answer him in the comments to the other post – anyone interested in following the discussion, please follow this link.

  5. 5
    Joe M. says:

    So this seems to be a consistent theme: Restricting abortion in any way won’t have any effect at all.

    But isn’t there opposing evidence? This is pasted from elsewhere, I admit, and it seems to suggest that notification laws have some effect:

    Minnesota: The state’s teenage abortion rate fell by an average of 28 percent between the years of 1981-1986. The teenage birth rate also dropped an average of nearly 10 percent over the same period. Researchers did not find any increase in the number of late term abortions among minors. Researchers conclude the data “suggests that parental notification facilitated pregnancy avoidance” among teenagers, ages 15-17. James Rogers, et al., “Impact of the Minnesota Parental Notification Law on Abortion and Birth,” American Journal of Public Health, March 1991, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 294-298.

    Minnesota, Missouri and Indiana: Following the passage of parental involvement laws in these three states, the in-state abortion rate for minors dropped and researchers found “no evidence that parental involvement laws [drove] up the [minor] birthrate” in any of the states, suggesting that more teenagers refrained from sexual activity. Charlotte Ellertson, “Mandatory Parental Involvement in Minors’ Abortions: Effects of Laws in Minnesota, Missouri, and Indiana,” American Journal of Public Health, August 1997, Vol. 87, No. 8, pp. 1367-1374.

    Arkansas, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah: Researchers studied abortion rates in 11 states, including these five that had parental involvement laws in effect. They found that “both parental consent and notification laws were related to significantly lower abortion rates and to significantly higher birth rates for minor and non-minor teens.”
    Annette Tomal, “Parental Involvement Laws and Minor and Non-Minor Teen Abortion and Birth Rates,” Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Summer 1999, Vol. 20 (2), pp. 149-162.

    Overall: It’s the conclusion of researcher Deborah Haas-Wilson that “parental involvement laws appear to decrease minors’ demand for abortions by 13-25 percent.” Deborah Haas-Wilson, “The Impact of State Abortion Restrictions on Minors’ Demand for Abortions,” Journal of Human Resources, January 1999, Vol. 31, No. 1, p. 140.

    All that is wrong? Misrepresented? What?

  6. 6
    Joe M. says:

    I’d add:

    How could abortion be the only thing that never responds to any criminal sanction at all? Maybe given that women are pregnant and they or their boyfriends/husbands demand abortion, they are going to have abortions regardless. But won’t strict abortion laws make people more careful about getting pregnant in the first place? A strict abortion law wouldn’t have ANY effect on a man’s willingness to wear a condom? Or a woman’s willingness to either take contraception or demand that he wear a condom? It wouldn’t have ANY effect on whether people have unprotected sex?

    Sorry, I just don’t buy it. The law isn’t perfect, and some people are going to do their own thing anyway. But surely SOME people would use contraception more often or refuse to have one-night stands in certain situations, etc. Right? Are you really saying that no one anywhere would ever change their behavior one iota?

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Joe:

    First of all, what I wrote was that “Pro-life laws may prevent a few abortions; but they don’t prevent enough to be measured statistically, or to have a noticeable effect on birthrates.” I’m not saying that they don’t effect anyone, anytime, anyplace; I am saying that it’s a very small effect, too small to be measured. I am saying that no country, ever, has become a low-abortion-rate country by passing a ban on abortion.

    Regarding parental consent laws, I’ve spent the morning reading through research and 1) I think you’re right, overall; it’s clear that parental consent laws do reduce abortion rates, but 2) the studies exaggerate the effect.

    First of all, none of the studies seem to account for illegal abortion; since my main claim is that pro-life laws cause people to substitute illegal abortions for legal abortions, strictly speaking none of those studies contradict what I’ve been saying. Don’t get me wrong, I am convinced that parental involvement laws lead to a drop in abortion rates; but the size of the drop may be exaggerated by a failure to measure illegal abortion.

    Second of all, most of the studies (even the ones published in the late 90s) are getting their data from the 80s and early 90s, when the AIDS scare was causing a massive increase in the use of contraception and sex-ed programs, and the pregnancy rate was declining not only among minors but also among young adults who wouldn’t be affected by parental consent laws. There’s also the effect of the growth of evangelicalism in the 1980s, which was on-average larger in states that passed parental involvement laws. (“Effects of parental involvement laws and the AIDS epidemic…,” Social Science Quarterly Dec98, Vol. 79; also Parental Involvment Laws, Religion, and Abortion Rates, Gender Issues Fall 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 4). Studies that don’t account for these other factors may exaggerate the impact of parental consent laws.

    That said, it’s clear that Parental Consent laws do lower abortion rates among girls under age 18. You’re right, I’m wrong.

    But even after parental consent laws, there’s STILL a higher abortion rate among teens in the USA than there is in countries with genuinely low abortion rates, like Belgium and The Netherlands. If our goal is really to reduce abortion as much as possible, we’d be better off pursuing a “demand-side” program encouraging contraceptive use as much as possible and providing generous support for parents, instead of (or perhasp in addition to) parental consent laws.

    And I stand by my larger point: banning abortion, as pro-lifers advocate, has never led to a country having a low abortion rate, nor has it caused measurable changes in birth rates in countries that have banned abortion. If the goal is to reduce abortion, then we’ll do a lot better by emulating the Netherlands rather than emulating Peru.

    Nonetheless, good post, Joe. Point well taken.

  8. (I also posted this on your next post)

    Ampersand:

    You wrote a compelling post, although I would argue that a tenet of Catholic doctrine is that the end does not justify the means, and that giving in to legalized abortion by conferring acceptability to this practice would do just that. I guess your argument is based on the usual utilitarian vs. principled perspectives.

    Anyway, in a comment above you wrote that:

    Finally, if Roe caused an increase in abortion, then why wasn’t there a drop in the birthrate immediately following Roe? And why not a rise following outlawing abortion in Poland? Until you can answer that, I find your case pretty unconvincing

    I don’t have the time right now to look for susbtantiating data, but is it possible that the live birth rate has been maintained based on annual influx of immigrants?

    Even if the population in the U.S. includes both citizens and immigrants (I will leave aside the issue of illegal immigration, which I think represents anyway a small amount compared to legal immigration), it is entirely possible that the frehsly arrived immigrants (they tend to be usually on the procreating than menopausal years) give births in greater number than the original U.S. population, so that the abortion effect on the original population becomes masked by the extra births from newly arrived immigrants.

    As for Poland, I suspect that your argument would hold for this country: the criminalization of abortion did not result in preventing abortions (i.e., the same number remains).

    Finally a side note: I read somewhere that the 200,000 to 1.2 million abortions performed before Roe was actually a bogus number (I think Dr. Nathelson refuted it on the grounds that he had been the one creating these numbers to justify Roe, when he was head of NARAL at the time) even though it is taken as gospel by the media since then …

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t have the time right now to look for susbtantiating data, but is it possible that the live birth rate has been maintained based on annual influx of immigrants?

    Only if there was a sudden large jump in how many immigrants were let into this country that just so happened to coincide with Roe.

    The main number I rely on is the one million number, which comes from a journal article I cited which was not written by Mr. Nathelson. In any case, I’m not sure that the statement of a dedicated pro-lifer (who used to be pro-choice) who admits that he has no problem lying for whatever cause he believes in should be taken at face value.

  10. 10
    Deep River Appartment says:

    Amp sez:
    “In any case, I’m not sure that the statement of a dedicated pro-lifer (who used to be pro-choice) who admits that he has no problem lying for whatever cause he believes in should be taken at face value.”

    A dedicated RELIGIOUS pro-lifer who believes he’s on a crusade for his god. Why should he bother with a little thing like “truth” when his cause is of such “cosmically moral” importance?

  11. 11
    lucia says:

    I don’t have the time right now to look for susbtantiating data, but is it possible that the live birth rate has been maintained based on annual influx of immigrants?
    Aren’t most birth rates often reported as number of births per 1000 women between 15-55?

  12. 12
    piraeus says:

    Ampersand:

    I’m not sure that the statement of a dedicated pro-lifer (who used to be pro-choice) who admits that he has no problem lying for whatever cause he believes in should be taken at face value.

    By that reasoning wouldn’t you have to throw out all his contributions to the debate, from both his pro-choice and pro-life days.

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Lucia: Quite right. So immigration is irrelevant. Never mind. :-P

    Piraeus:

    In light of Nathelson’s admitted tendency to lie, all his factual contributions to the debate should be ignored, regardless of which side he said them in support of, unless they can be independently confirmed.

    As far as I know, I haven’t relied on him for any facts in any of my arguments. (The 200,000 to 1.2 million number originated in the 1950s, and as far as I can tell does not come from Nathelson).

    As a matter of theory, I guess that Nathelson’s non-factual contributions to the debate (either pro-life or pro-choice) can still be taken seriously, since a non-factual argument should be judged on its own merits, not on the source. But I don’t understand why anyone – pro-choice or pro-life – would knowingly take his factual claims seriously.

  14. 14
    Pangloss says:

    “who admits that he has no problem lying for whatever cause he believes in”

    Amp, now you’re putting words in his mouth.

  15. 15
    Ampersand says:

    Heh. I thought it was obviously an over-the-top paraphrase; I didn’t mean to make anyone think it was a direct quote. Sorry if that didn’t come off right.

    Nonetheless, someone who says (and, again, I’m paraphrasing) “when I was on side A of this issue, I lied constantly in support of my cause. But now I’m on side B, and I promise that I would no longer lie in support of a cause I believe in” is not, in my opinion, someone to be trusted. You’re free to come to a different decision, of course.

  16. 16
    Pangloss says:

    y’know, this blog is way over it hyperbole quotient.

  17. 17
    Joe M. says:

    200,000 to 1.2 million pre-1973 abortions? One figure is six times the other. So for all we know, the abortion rate might have jumped by six or seven times since 1972, or it might have stayed basically the same. Doesn’t the real figure, whatever that is, make all the difference in the world? If you’re going to claim that Roe didn’t make any difference in the number of abortions, that is.

  18. 18
    Ampersand says:

    Sigh… this is the problem when little details are focused on, and the original context for them is forgotten. Here’s what I wrote, that the figure you’re referring to came from:

    “Before the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling, American women had somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million abortions a year in the U.S.. Although measuring something as hidden as illegal abortions is always difficult, the best pre-Roe scholarly assessment came to a figure of about a million abortions a year… Another option is to look at what happens to birth rates; an significant increase in abortions should lead to a declining birth rate. So if Roe caused a big increase in abortions, the birthrate in the US would have dropped post-Roe.”

    Because illegal abortions are by their nature very difficult to measure accurately, it probably makes more sense to look at birthrates. But even if we look at abortion measurements, the best pre-Roe estimate (which was actually from the mid to late 1960s – as the citation indicates, the article was published in 1970) is about a million a year.

  19. 19
    Deep River Appartments says:

    Amp sez:
    “Sigh… this is the problem when little details are focused on, and the original context for them is forgotten.”

    The anti-choice methodology in a nutshell.

    Works well with: “Woman? what woman?”

  20. 20
    Deep River Appartments says:

    D’oh! I did it again!
    Sorry Amp for hijacking your post for insult purposes.

  21. 21
    shanninger says:

    Amp said (several posts ago…)
    “Regarding parental consent laws, I’ve spent the morning reading through research and 1) I think you’re right, overall; it’s clear that parental consent laws do reduce abortion rates, but 2) the studies exaggerate the effect.

    First of all, none of the studies seem to account for illegal abortion; since my main claim is that pro-life laws cause people to substitute illegal abortions for legal abortions, strictly speaking none of those studies contradict what I’ve been saying.”

    I just wanted to say that as a young woman from a state that passed parental consent laws, the statistics posted by Joe M. are really ridiculous. Amp is much closer to the mark. But I’d like to clarify that “illegal abortions” aren’t usually the sketchy doctor scenario that most people imagine. My high school friends are much more saavy than that, and much more desperate, I guess! Rather than a legal abortion complete with daddy’s signature, they punch themselves in the stomach until they have a miscarriage. Or they’ll run to the hippy-store for Penny Royal and massive quantities of Vitamin C. Girls who get pregnant can always find someone else who ‘fell down the stairs’ just right so that they can learn to do the same. If you catch it really early on, a little starvation, combined with lots of high-impact exercise may knock it loose.
    I’m sure that sounds callous, but when girls get desperate, they find a way. They may be compromising their health, but they don’t really care. I did it once, too. I punched myself in the lower abdomen every night for a week. It worked and I’ve never been so relieved. I don’t know if I hurt myself… not that it matters. I did what I had to do. No way was I going to tell my parents. Screw the doctors and lawmakers.

    So, that’s what happens to your statistics in states with notification laws. 16 year olds are much more aware than people give us credit for.

  22. 22
    LMA says:

    Ampersand has attempted to create a distinction between advocacy of abortion rights, and actual outcomes (viz., number of abortions, birth rate, etc.) in arguing the case as to how a Catholic can be pro-abortion-rights yet retain standing in the Church.

    What about public figures (and others) that advocate measures that are will result in more abortions over time? An example of this is support for Medicaid funding of abortions. This clearly falls outside the distinction that you have drawn. But here is the rub…most pro-abortion-rights politicians also take the next step of advocating Medicaid funding. Over the years, hasn’t John Kerry routinely voted to defeat the Hyde Amendment? Would not defeat of the Hyde Amendment result in more abortions? Answers: yes and yes.

    Such politicians have done more than simply advocate for the right to abortion; they have supported measures that will make abortion more common. This falls outside the bounds of what a Catholic can believe and do. Such people have separated themselves from the Church, regardless whether the hierarchy has the courage to make a public declaration of such.

  23. 23
    rick freedman says:

    How can Kerry reach out to Christians and other voters who are motivated by faith? Take a look at this imaginary speech by Kerry that ties Christian values to Democratic principles:

    http://worldonfire.typepad.com/world_on_fire/2004/04/god_on_our_side.html

  24. LMA: Governor Cuomo addressed this in the speech Amp linked to the other day. He says

    Nor would a denial of Medicaid funding for abortion achieve our objectives. Given Roe v. Wade, it would be nothing more than an attempt to do indirectly what the law says cannot be done directly; worse, it would do it in a way that would burden only the already disadvantaged. Removing funding from the Medicaid program would not prevent the rich and middle class from having abortions. It would not even assure that the disadvantaged wouldn’t have them; it would only impose financial burdens on poor women who want abortions.

    Apart from that unevenness, there is a more basic question. Medicaid is designed to deal with health and medical needs. But the arguments for the cutoff of Medicaid abortion funds are not related to those needs. They are moral arguments. If we assume health and medical needs exist, our personal view of morality ought not to be considered a relevant basis for discrimination.

    We must keep in mind always that we are a nation of laws—when we like those laws and when we don’t.

    The Supreme Court has established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. The Congress has decided the federal government should not provide federal funding in the Medicaid program for abortion. That, of course, does not bind states in the allocation of their own state funds. Under the law, the individual states need not follow the federal lead, and in New York I believe we cannot follow that lead. The equal protections clause in New York’s constitution has been interpreted by the courts as a standard of fairness that would preclude us from denying only the poor—indirectly, by a cutoff of funds—the practical use of the constitutional right given by Roe v. Wade.

  25. 25
    Joe M. says:

    I don’t see how the above detracts from the commenter’s point: If Kerry is really “against” abortion but just thinks that it will be impractical to make it illegal, wby on earth would he go so far as try to pay for it?

    I suppose that after Dred Scott, the federal government might have tried to pay for slaves on the theory that poor people should be able to own slaves as well. Right or wrong, it would be simply staggering to claim that someone who wanted to pay for slaves was in any way AGAINST slavery.

  26. 26
    lucia says:

    You know.. I’ve been reading this, and I’m finally going to post on two more RC issues:

    1) What should the American Bishops do?
    The Bishops must do what their consciences and their religion guides them to do.

    2) What should Catholics do?
    Catholics must listen to the Bishops, and then follow their own consciences with regard to how morality affects law. This may mean agreeing with the Bishops, or disaggreing. If they disagree, they can staying in the Catholic church, or leave it. (This is obvious, duh.)

    3) Should Kerry take holy communion?

    Actually, this is the only real question regarding Kerry and the Church. It’s clear he’s decided to disagree in at least some sense,. It’s clear he’s decided to remain RC; presumably he thinks his belief is consistent with RC teaching.

    So, what about communion?

    If an appropriate Bishop decrees that Kerry should not accept communion, Kerry should not take communion in tthat Bishop’s jurisdicstion. Kerry can decide for himself what to do in congretations under the other 190 or so bishops who have not said they will deny him holy communion. (It appears at least two American Bishops would deny Kerry communion.)

    I think, that is my former Catholic school girl spin on the Catholic issue.

    By the way, there are some devout Catholics who attend Church ever sunday and never take communion. I have never stopped to ask them why they do not take communion. If I asked, I suspect most would tell me that they are not in the State of Grace. (Some chatty ones might explain further, but why should a stranger answer the question: “Well.. what’s big unforgivable sin did YOU commit?”)

  27. 27
    LMA says:

    The posting by Gabriel Rosenberg digresses from the premise of Ampersand’s argument, viz., that pro-abortion-rights advocacy by Catholic office holders has no effect on the number of abortions actually performed. This being the case, such advocacy causes no harm to preborn human life, and consequently does not separate the office holder from the Catholic Church.

    My posting pointed out that almost all of these pro-abortion-rights Catholic office holders (Kerry, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc.) also support Medicaid funding of abortion (i.e., defeat of the Hyde Amendment). This position, if enacted, would increase the number of abortions actually performed. By the threshhold set in Ampersand’s argument, these office holders are causing harm. Thus, they have separated themselves from the Church by the nature of their acts. This is equally true whether it is or is not declared by a bishop.

  28. The posting by Gabriel Rosenberg digresses from the premise of Ampersand’s argument.

    That’s true. I’m a math professor. I often digress. It is quite relevant, in that it points to other issues at play here. Either abortion is going to be legal or illegal. His point is that it doesn’t make sense to say it’s okay for rich people ot have abortions, but not for poor people. Not only does it not make sense from a moral perspective, but it violates constitutional principles he has sworn to uphold. Nor does it further the objective of getting all of society to share his moral conviction that all abortions are morally wrong. It doesn’t even prevent the poor from obtaining abortions. In fact, in his mind, it would work against this goal as people naturally resent having other’s beliefs forced upon them. He believes there are other more effective ways of pursuing this goal.

    As Lucia points out, just as the politicians themselves face difficult decisions in how best to pursue these goals, so do the bishops. It is certainly not my place to decide whether these politicians have separated themselves from the Church. That is a complex theological issue both the bishops and the politicians must deal with.

  29. 29
    Pangloss says:

    wow, I agree with lucia.

    I’d add another point.

    (4) Does anything a bishop decides to do vis-a-vis church doctrine, religious sanction, excommunication, etc. w/respect to a Catholic who’s also a political candidate implicate any constitutional concern?

    No, the hyperventilating of some pundits over supposed church-state issues is bogus.

    The bishops govern the church. Whether a Catholic pol wants to follow a bishop’s directive is the pol’s concern. If he doesn’t or he incurs some episcopal sanction that is made public, it’s left to the discretion of an individual voter whether to take that into consideration in the voting booth.

    All fairly obvious, I know.

  30. 30
    LMA says:

    A recent posting by Gabriel Rosenberg stated: “His point is that it doesn’t make sense to say it’s okay for rich people ot have abortions, but not for poor people. Not only does it not make sense from a moral perspective, but it violates constitutional principles he has sworn to uphold.”

    What provision of the Constitution requires public funding of abortion? What decision of the federal courts requires public funding of abortion. Precedents please.

  31. I don’t know LMA. That was Gov. Cuomo’s claim about what the New York constitution required in terms of equal protection. He knows more about New York law than I do. You’ll have to ask him.

  32. Specifically he said:

    The equal protections clause in New York’s constitution has been interpreted by the courts as a standard of fairness that would preclude us from denying only the poor— indirectly, by a cutoff of funds—the practical use of the constitutional right given by Roe v. Wade.

  33. 33
    LMA says:

    I do not believe that Mr. Rosenberg is correct re court decisions requiring public funding of abortion in NYS. I would like to see a citation please.

    But even if this is so, it has no bearing on those seeking federal office. No such court decision as Mr. Rosenberg claims was handed down in NYS has ever been handed down by a federal court. Thus, since there are no “constitutional principles” requiring such, why do Sen. Kerry, Sen. Kennedy, and Rep. Pelosi advocate such policies?

    Let’s not forget the premise of the initial blog posting, viz., that it is acceptable for Catholic office holders to be pro-abortion-rights because the policies that secure abortion rights do not lead to any increase in actual abortions. The matter of public funding is fundamentally different. An office holder who advocates public funding of abortion and also asserts his/her bona fides as a Catholic in good standing is making a claim that is implausible and self-contradictory.

  34. 34
    lucia says:

    wow, I agree with lucia.
    Well.. fancy that? LOL!

    As to this:
    4) Does anything a bishop decides to do vis-a-vis church doctrine, religious sanction, excommunication, etc. w/respect to a Catholic who’s also a political candidate implicate any constitutional concern?

    Nope. It doesn’t implicate any constitutional concern.

    However, it is a newstory, and the press tends to pick up lots of stories. So, any politician running for office has to know that stories like these will be reported.

    Pundits hyperventilate for a living. That’s why they get the big bucks! :)

  35. OK. Here’s what I’ve found with just a very brief search on whether public funding of abortions is constitutionally required by various state constitutions, or the federal constitution.

    New York: The legislature has voluntarily provided medicaid funding for abortions, so as far as I can tell the issue has not come directly before the courts. Here’s a memo by the NYCLU, giving some precedents to support the position that public funding would be constitutionally required. It’s not a legal brief, just a quick memo. Until the court decides one way or another, a government official must make their own decision of what would be constitutionally required. This decision is a legal one, not a moral one.

    Other States: This article from Feb 2001 on how things stand in the states. Some states have interpreted their constitution as requiring medicaid funding of abortions.

    Federal: The controlling case seems to be the 1980 case of Harris v. McRae which upheld the Hyde amendment limiting the use of federal funds to pay for the cost of abortions. My understanding of Rep. Pelosi’s position is that even if federal funding of abortions for the poor is not constitutionally required, it is the right thing to do as a matter of the principle of not discriminating against the poor. It is one thing to say “nobody should get an abortion”. It is another to say “only the poor should be prevented from getting an abortion”.

    You are correct that in regards to policies which increase the number of abortions, medicaid funding could be different. I have not seen any studies on this either way as to whehter such policies increase the number of abortions.

  36. 36
    Matt says:

    As a Catholic, I thought I would throw out some big facets of this argument I see are missing.

    You wrote the following very early on in this diligent entry, and, unfortunately, failed to get at the very heart of this matter do to errors found herein:

    “So if all Catholics must be against abortion, doesn’t it follow that all Catholics must be pro-life? I’d argue not. For a Catholic to support the pro-life position, she would have to believe that supporting the pro-life position, in the current political climate, is the policy that would lead to the greatest reduction in abortions. But there are legitimate reasons to doubt that’s true.”

    ***
    You defined several terms but failed to define “support”. This is the crux of the matter. Many Catholics are aware that people can vote for a pro-choice candidate for serious reason despite his stance on abortion. If that is what you mean by support then sure you can support a pro-choice candidate given an alternative that is more dangerous to the common good (only you would be hard pressed to find an issue more threatening to the common good–but they are out there).

    If you mean support as in active campaigning than the same rules apply, however a Catholic can not unequivocally endorse such candidates as good in themselves, but only better than an alternative, because simply put…you can’t lie. It is that simple. Good politicians, good stewards of the common good do not actively seek the slaughter of innocent life. And just as before it must be true that the candidate is indeed better than the alternative in light of the terrible reality of abortion.

    I am sure that some overly clever long-term strategies might convince some Catholic pro-life voters to vote in good conscience for the pro-choicer, but that is a question of imprudence and ignorance. Those good hearted people can vote in good conscience but their consciences are misinformed.

    The problem is this. Abortion is not like the weakening of the nation-state, or a slow slide into paganism. It is an immediate humanitarian crisis. The babies are currently being murdered. If a nationwide gang decided that their Friday night custom would be to indiscriminately behead 12 year old girls with blond hair, we could not in good conscience develop clever long term solutions without also doing all that you can to call attention to the horror and injustice in the present moment. Catholics must BE pro-life, and vocally so. Catholics can never BE pro-choice. They can’t say pro-choice is good, march in a pro-choice rally, unreservedly praise a pro-choice candidate (beyond truth there is also the sin of scandalizing many others who would be likely confused into thinking you were advocating and thereby participating in premeditated murder and genocide…something nearly absent in our do your own thing state of mind these days).Catholics are not in every circumstance forced to vote pro-life, but according to reason the halt of abortion is the most immediate domestic concern of the Catholic.

    Again, “support” is the question. A Catholic can in no way support abortion, prudence and the virutes guide the rest: don’t lie about politicians, be honest with your friends and associates when recommending candidates for this or that reason, be sicere that you are voting justly and not fixing your will on comfort or convenience, or full rebelion from the will of God and the Church regarding support for abortion.

    Thus, there is no case to be made for the publicly known pro-choice Catholic, nor for the pro-choicer at heart. The only case to be made is the case for the unwanted unborn who die by the hundreds each day because of our overly nuanced approach to justice, mercy, and love.

    I hope this helps.

  37. 37
    LMA says:

    I find it instructive that Matt’s posting has stopped all other bloggers in their tracks. Why? Because Matt has framed the abortion discussion exactly as it should be framed, viz., as a matter of right and wrong.

    If society decides to pursue pro-abortion-rights policies, so be it. In a democracy, that may be the outcome we see. However, under no circumstances should Catholics (either office holders or voters) ever share complicity in these policies. Adherence to Church teaching and saving your soul are a lot more important than electoral success.

    Furthermore, even if abortion rights become established in perpetuity, Catholics should never stop voicing their moral opposition to abortion. Never.

  38. 38
    lucia says:

    LMA….
    It seems true no one has posted since Matt did. I would be cautious when assuming that anything posted just before Happy Hour on Friday afternoon has stopped anyone in their tracks.

    I suspect that, when some of the Pacific Time Zone bloggers on Saturday morning, a number will be willing to discuss the rights and wrongs associated with abortion in general. My impression is that the opinions vary.

    That said: Even those who think abortion is not wrong are likely to recognize that the Catholic Church does get to decide what it thinks is right or wrong, and that many individual Catholics are likely to be seeing the issue as right and wrong.

    Obviously, some Catholics, like Kerry, Cuomo and Pelosi appear to disagree, in some sense, with Matt.

    As to Catholic voters, Matt’s discussion grants them wide latitude in voting for Kerry or any cadidate they prefer.

    I have already given my opinion as a cultural-total-apostate-former Catholic school girl.

    If a bishop announces that a person is not to take communion in that bishops jurisdiction, that person should not do so.

    I would add that if one does not believe the fundamentals taught by the Catholic Church, they may need to leave the church. I for example have difficulties with the “begotten not made” idea, the transubstantiation idea and several other fundamental issues that do not particularly affect American politics. (Non-Catholics… this is a Catholic thing.)

  39. 39
    JRC says:

    Matt, would you say that the same is true in terms of the death penalty? I mean, do you hold it to be true that, “Catholics must BE anti-death penalty, and vocally so. Catholics can never BE pro-death penalty.”?

    —JRC

  40. 40
    lucia says:

    JRC
    I’m pretty sure that the Catholic church considers the death penalty and killing people during war as more complicated than abortion.

    And… I suspected the gap in posts was just the usual Friday blog-gap! :-0

  41. I am not in a position to say what a Catholic can or cannot do. I don’t think anyone here is. [And I guess I should point out that I do agree a bishop has every right to decide who may take communion in the churches in his diocese, and everyone has a right to vote for or against a candidate for whatever reason].

    I do think that what it means to “support” abortion is not always so clear. If I defend the right of the KKK to march, am I supporting the KKK or supporting racism? If I believe the constitution requires that a person be allowed to pray to a statue, am I supporting idolatry? If I think that if we are going to execute somebody it should be done by lethal injection, as opposed to electrocution, am I supporting capital punishment?

    One person might think that a particular vote or action is supporting abortion. But it’s possible that another person might view the same action differently.

  42. 42
    lucia says:

    One person might think that a particular vote or action is supporting abortion. But it’s possible that another person might view the same action differently.
    I think this is why it is possible for Kerry, Cuomo, Pelosi and others to remain Catholic.

    As an apostate, it is always difficult for me to follow that with “and as far as I understand the teachings of the Catholic church…” But, I do believe that the church does not take the point of view that individual Catholics must/may consider their own consciences when evaluating moral issues at least on many issues.

    Given that a plurality of bishops have not refused communion to Kerry, or numerous other politicians, it may be that the bishops are somewhat reluctant to go quite as far as Matt does. ( I have not spoken to any bishops on this issue. So, I’ll admit I’m guessing.)

    If I defend the right of the KKK to march, am I supporting the KKK or supporting racism?

    And march they did– right along the American Nazi Party in Chicago’s Marquette park, late in the 70′s.

    I’m not sure of the name of the Supreme Court case granting them the right to march in Skokie, but you can find some information by googling some combination of “Nazi Skokie Supreme Court”. (The rally was moved to Marquette Park, Chicago for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. However, it was a great relief to those in Skokie, Illinois)

    I don’t think anti-semitism is what motivated the Supreme Court to granted the NAZIs the right to march in Skokie

    You can also see a spoof of the whole Nazi “victory” by watching the Blues Brothers.

    You are right Gabriel, it can be sometimes be difficult to infer a persons inner beliefs based on the position in a political matter.

  43. Yes, when I mentioned the KKK marching I thought of Skokie, and then of the Blues Brothers. “I hate Illinois Nazis”.

    Personally, I do strongly support the right of the Nazis to march. Although, I also find their marching abhorrent. I think what they did was morally wrong in no uncertain terms. It wasn’t just the marching, but that they purposely chose a community filled with holocaust survivors in which to march. That was particularly cruel. (I was not aware that the march moved). And yet I still support their right to have done so. I do not believe that means that I support what they did.

  44. 44
    LMA says:

    As a practicing Catholic who has tried to remain orthodox in my beliefs, let me state my reaction to two recent posts.

    As to the statement “what it means to ‘support’ abortion is not always so clear” (post by Rosenberg), I disagree.

    Voting for a pro-choice candidate constitutes such support. If all candidates running for an office are pro-choice, the options are a write-in candidate, or abstention.

    Writing letters, marching in support of abortion-rights, donating money to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations, etc. constitutes such support. Anything that increases the likelihood of abortion constitutes such support.

    As a Catholic, I understand that I live in a secular society. It is a society that devalues life in many other respects. Two examples will suffice: support for doctor-assisted suicide by some, and the presence of a respected philosopher on the faculty of Princeton University who argues for the acceptability of infanticide.

    As an orthodox Catholic, I understand that I am part of a social and electoral minority, Those holding my views may be unable to do anything about abortion, euthansia, etc. But that is beside the point. What is important to me is that the Church unambiguously state that these acts are immoral. I am primarily concerned that the Church retain its moral clarity.

    Catholics do not have the freedom of conscience that members of other Christian denominations do. Catholicism is not a variant of Protestianism. It requires specific beliefs of its followers. Conscience cannot be formed by whatever influences one finds convenient. Conscience must be formed by both scripture and the Church’s teaching authority. I agree with Lucia that those who cannot espouse those beliefs “may need to leave the church”.

  45. Anything that increases the likelihood of abortion constitutes such support.

    Well that’s pretty broad. Many things could increase the likelihood of an abortion occurring. In particular, restricting the accessability of contraceptives or education about their use probably increases the likelihood of abortion and with regards to the voting booth.

    I believe that the Catholic Church has been quite clear that abortion is immoral. Is there Church teaching that says it is morally wrong to vote for someone who is labeled (or who labels oneself) as “pro-choice”?

    I have no problem with a relgion requiring certain beliefs and/or certain actions. I’m wondering what specific beliefs/actions the Church requires in regards to abortion.

  46. 46
    lucia says:

    LMA–Catholics do not have the freedom of conscience that members of other Christian denominations do. Catholicism is not a variant of Protestianism.
    My impression (as someone who mostly only reads this things out of left over apostate curiosity) is that LMA mostly correct on this. (I say “mostly” because there may be protesetant sects that may permit even less freedome of conscience than the Catholics.)

    Thos curious about the official Catholic teachings on conscious read DIGNITATIS HUMANAE . Bear in mind: some bits describe what sections tell us a just goverment must permit freedome of religion. Others describe how individuals are to behave. In interpretation of a href=”http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=908″>Dignitatis Humanae To read something by : some group I am unfamiliar go here. ( I just can’t tell who they are from the web site. LMA would be a better authority on whether these people are “acceptable” or “nutty”. I don’t see anything that I’d recognize as totally bizarre from a Catholic pt. view.)

    Grabriel:
    I share your view on the Nazi march.

    I was not aware that the march moved). And yet I still support their right to have done so. I do not believe that means that I support what they did.

    I don’t think anyone doubts the Nazi’s picked the town for because of it’s extremely large population of Holocaust survivors. I think Skokie may even be over 50% Jewish but I’m not certain. Not only that, but the march was planned to take place in an overwhelmingly Jewish neighborhood filled with elderly Jews, many of whom might not have an easy time just leaving home for the morning.

    That march was certainly one of the more extreme test for freedom of speech one could imagine. No one except the Nazi’s wanted that march to take place.

    Choosing the town of Skokie also meant that the smaller town assumed the costs of fighting this to the Supreme Court. (Based on various things I’ve read on the time line, Chicago woud also have almost certainly rejected the Nazi’s petition to rally– until after the court case. )

    Various negotiations over where the march might take place occurred while the outcome of the case was still in doubt. I think the Nazis agreed to a move “if they got permission” , then they won their case, then Chicago granted permission and then the Nazi’s moved the rally to Chicago– a much larger forum.

    The Nazis evidently thought the nice big park, would permit room for all their supporters to attend and cheer them on. At the time they thought that might make up for the disadvantage of not parading in front of a nearly captive audience of holocaust survivors.

  47. 47
    Joe M. says:

    Gabriel — given your earlier comments, what do you say about the (hypothetical) politician who urges that public funds be given to KKK marches on the grounds that this will make it easier for poor people to exercise their right of free speech? Is it remotely plausible to say anymore that this politician is simply pro-free-speech, as opposed to just plain pro-KKK?

  48. But public funds were used for the marches. The amount of police protection required was immense.

  49. I’m sorry Joe, I realized I didn’t directly answer your question. I would say that a politician who allows public funds to be used for KKK marches is simply pro-free-speech and not necessarily pro-KKK. I support public funds being used when the KKK marches, whereas I am vehemently opposed to the KKK.

  50. 50
    LMA says:

    Daniel’s lasting posting is not responsive to Joe’s question.

    Using public funds to secure the safety of the marchers is not the issue (just as using public funds to secure the safety of an abortion clinic is entirely proper).

    Rather, should public funds be used to publicize the KKK march? Or to purchase materials to make signs? Or to buy fabric to make white robes?

    This is the proper analogy to using public funds to pay for an abortion.

  51. 51
    JRC says:

    I’m pretty sure that the Catholic church considers the death penalty and killing people during war as more complicated than abortion.

    Killing people during war, perhaps, although the Catholic church wa sopposed to the war in Iraq, and PLENTY of conservative catholic politicians were in favor of it. The death penalty, however, I think you’re wrong on. AFAIK, the Catholic church has been 100% opposed to the death penalty in all cases, period. If anything, they view it as LESS complicated than abortion, as with abortion there’s some debate as to whether a “human life” is being ended, where with the death penalty, that’s not an issue.

    Furthermore, as Amp has made abundantly clear, it seems likely that the victory of Kerry, a pro-choice candidate, will, in the end, reduce the number of abortions performed, while a victory of Bush, a pro-life candidate, will very likely not. There is no such “counter-intuitive quandry” when it comes to the death penalty. Anti = less. Pro = more. It’s less complicated.

    See, honestly, I think it’s silly to have this litmus test for Catholic politicians . . . I think that church and state need to be solidly seperate, and it’s reasonable for politicians of all faiths to recognize that they must represent citizens of faiths that differ from theirs, and that they ought not to impose the doctrines of their religion on the populace at large, etc. HOWEVER, if we’re going to start using this rediculous standard, I would like to see it applied fairly.

    If, for being pro-choice, Kerry is a bad Catholic, then for signing off on the largest number of public executions in the history of Texas, President Bush is, according to Catholic doctrine, a mass-murderer. Silly? Yeah, but then, as I said, I think the whole debate is silly.

    —JRC

  52. 52
    LMA says:

    A response to JRC’s latest posting:

    Verbatim from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm. For this reason the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.”

  53. 53
    lucia says:

    Catholic Church & death penalty from Lux Veritas.

    Once again, I have no idea if “Catholic” this site, lux veritas is. JRC can say more. (I don’t mean this ironically, I honestly have no idea. However, for the most part, I don’t post things as “seeming Catholic” if they seem wayyyyyy out of the ball park. I clicked to the main page and links to Aquinas. Chris who runs the site seems to teach at a Catholic grade school. Looks fairly “Catholic” to me.)

    From the page on the death penalty:

    Pope John Paul II has been more vocal in recent months and years about the use of the death penalty. He has asked heads of state in many situations to spare the lives of criminals condemned to death.
    Historically, the Church has not opposed the death penalty. The teaching has not changed, although the pope has spoken out against the use of the death penalty. As can be seen in the quote from the Catechism at left, the Church acknowledges the right of the state to use the death penalty, but it stresses this should be done only when bloodless means are not available. Such is rarely the case in today’s world.

    visit the link for more.

    As to my evaluating Kerry for whether he is a good Catholic or not? As a lapsed Catholic, I mostly don’t care. However, I do try to gauge people’s sincerity. Obvious insincerity bugs me.

    For this reason, I like to read news paper reports.

    So far, I suspect Kerry is as likely as not, sincere. I don’t know how others view his behavior.

    I think though… even though I don’t adhere to the whole transubstantiation thing, and I don’t think the bread turns into the body of Christ., and I haven’t been following stories about him taking or not taking holy communion, he’d lose points with me if he took communion in the jurisdiction of a bishop who said he should not recieve communion.

    (Shoot, now I’m going to have to google and find out if he HAS taken communion in an inappropriate jurisdiction!)

    Sort of odd, huh?

  54. I think LMA was referring to my response to Joe’s question. I think my answer was responsive.

    You don’t need publicity, signs, or white robes to speak. Sometimes you need a permit, and I do support indigent waivers for permit fees. To obtain an abortion (at least safely) you need a doctor and the doctor needs medical supplies.

  55. 55
    LMA says:

    Response to Daniel:

    I think that you are attempting to evade the necessity of public funding for the KKK march even though your logic seems to say otherwise.

    We may argue endlessly whether signs, etc. are necessary for the KKK to exercise free speech. However, both the content of their speech and its method of expression (platform talks OK, signs not necessary) cannot be determined by you if that speech is to be free.

    By your claim that signs are not necessary (and therefore need not be subsidized), you are, in fact, circumscribing their freedom of expression.

    Your logic, if applied consistently, requires paying for abortion providers, and also paying for KKK signs.

  56. Why do you keep calling me Daniel?

    It’s still free speech even if you can’t afford signs. Not everybody can afford to buy television time, but I still think people have free speech, because there’s a comparable alternative. The right to speak from a sidewalk. It may not reach as large of an audience as television, but I don’t believe you have a right to reach as large an audience as possible, but you do have a right to speak your views in public. As I said some places require you to get a permit to speak and I do believe they should allow waivers for the indigent who cannot afford a permit.

    Suppose someone has a right to an abortion (which is the premise here). What’s the alternative to a doctor assisted abortion? Self-induced? I’m not saying the state has to pay for the best doctors, or the fanciest equipment, but I don’t see much in terms of alternative options available in this case.

  57. 57
    lucia says:

    Why do you keep calling me Daniel?
    Maybe it’s because Gabriel appeared to Daniel?

    Let’s hope he doesn’t switch to calling you Mary!

  58. I don’t know. I think I would prefer Mary to Zechariah.

  59. 59
    LMA says:

    To Gabriel:

    Sorry for the incorrect moniker…a type of dyslexia caused by too much blogging.

    To Everyone Else:

    Wasn’t this blog premised on the supposition that Catholics would thrash things out with other Catholics re which political/cultural positions can be reconciled with Catholic tradition, and which cannot?

    I think that we have veered off course somewhat in our discussion of public funding for KKK marches, etc. I would like to hear what others things think about issues like a married clergy, ordination of women, etc. I am particularly interested in a discussion that deals with Church customs (which might conceivably change over time) rather than Church dogma (which is immutable).

  60. 60
    lucia says:

    LMA
    Blogs do tend to veer, particularly if someone brings up an analogy, or a tangential subjectt.

    To “not veer”, we’d have to stay on “abortion-politics-Catholic-church”.

    But, I’ll tell you my opinion on married clergy and ordination of women:
    The church should allow both.

    However, I don’t think the newsmedia is very concerned about Catholic politicians position on these issues, because relatively few voters would care.

  61. 61
    JRC says:

    Yeah, my bad about Catholic opposition to the Death Penalty. I could have sworn they were solidly opposed to it in all cases, and that’s not the situation.

    I do take comfort, however, from the fact that the Catholic church has been vocal in opposition to the Death Penalty in the US, consistently calling for its abolition and the Pope both calling for its abolition and specifically using the “cruel and unusual” language in reference to it.

    Nevertheless, although the Catholic church favors total abolition of the death penalty in the USA today, it is true that it’s historical opposition has not been as strong as I’d thought, and that Catholic doctrine does allow for the Death Penalty in some cases (although which cases it’s favored in isn’t very clear, and I’ve been unable to find PJP2 saying anything about when it is and isn’t okay).

    —JRC

  62. 62
    JRC says:

    Ah, a link to the Catholic Catechism sections dealing with the Death Penalty. This includes the stuff LMA linked earlier, but is rather more complete.

    Suffice it to say that pro-death-penalty-in-the-USA Catholics are fooling themselves if they think the Pope or doctrine is on their side.

    —JRC

  63. 63
    LMA says:

    I don’t see that JRC’s latest posting undermines the ground for Catholic support of the death penalty. The language is couched by all kinds of subjunctives and modifying clauses, but the underlying idea is that the death penalty is acceptable under certain circumstances. It is left to the citizens of a country to decide what those circumstances are.

    By contrast, the Church’s prohibition of abortion is absolute. There are no provisions governing when it is acceptable and when it is not.

    Having said that, JRC does have a point. Leaving Church teaching aside, the only philosophically consistent positions are: those who are anti-war, anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, and those who are pro-war, pro-abortion, pro-death penalty (please excuse the shorthand language used in the foregoing). Anyone else is mixing and matching.

  64. 64
    JRC says:

    The language is couched by all kinds of subjunctives and modifying clauses, but the underlying idea is that the death penalty is acceptable under certain circumstances. It is left to the citizens of a country to decide what those circumstances are.

    I understand that this is what you would like it to mean, but it’s really not what it means. The Catechism reads: “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an abolute necessity,” and thus, under Catholic doctrine, acceptable, “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

    I don’t see that JRC’s latest posting undermines the ground for Catholic support of the death penalty.

    Wait, wait, wait . . . you don’t see how the Pope saying “look, Capital Punishment in the US is unacceptable and cruel and unusual, and y’all should cut it the hell out,” and the Catechism reading “sure, it’s maybe acceptable sometimes, but only when absolutely necessary, and that’s real close to never,” and the US Bishops saying “in modern American society, the death penalty is simply not justified” undermines the ground for Catholic support of the death penalty? Well, pardon my bluntness, but if this doesn’t, then what the hell would?

    The Catholic position on the death penalty is more lenient than their position on abortion, yes, but not by much. They allow a theoretical loophole, then spend quite a few words on why that loophole doesn’t apply to the US in any way, shape or form.

    It would be akin to saying “abortion is a sin, and murder, but it’s occasionally theoretically justifiable in cases where the mother would be 100% absolutely certain to die without it and there’s no other imaginable recourse possible . . . but the USA has such excellent health care that that’s not even really an excuse here, and it still ought to be outlawed as barbaric.”

    Sure, it’s a smidge more lenient, but to claim that it “doesn’t undermine Catholic support for the death penalty” is more than a little silly.

    —JRC

  65. 65
    LMA says:

    If what JRC is saying is correct, then a Catholic who has any formal involvement in imposing the death penalty (a judge, juror, prosecutor, etc.) would incur excommunication. That sanction has never been imposed or hinted at by any Pope or bishop.

    However, by contrast, formal cooperation in an abortion results in excommunication latae sententiae (“by the very commission of the offense”). It does not depend on any pronouncement by Church authority, since the act in question may not even be known to a bishop.

    There is a difference.

  66. 66
    JRC says:

    If what JRC is saying is correct, then a Catholic who has any formal involvement in imposing the death penalty (a judge, juror, prosecutor, etc.) would incur excommunication. That sanction has never been imposed or hinted at by any Pope or bishop.

    There are three responses to this.

    First, I don’t see how your statement is true. You’ve offered no evidence that the “if A then B” statement you made is a natural or logical progression, while I’ve offered quite a bit of evidence, quotations, and references for my statements. If the Catholic Church is acting hypocritically in this case, that may well be, but it doesn’t change the essential nature of their teachings.

    Second, being a pro-choice politician or voting against banning abortion is not grounds for excommunication latae sententiae, nor is it even universally grounds for denying communion, so I’m not sure how far your analogy holds.

    Third, I would suggest that the discrepency you point out has occurred because the Catholic church is more interested in currying political favor with conservatives than it is in doctrinal consistency. They’re letting people get away with murder because those people are powerful.

    Regardless, in order to address the “If what JRC is saying is correct” section of the discussion, feel free to read any of the sources I linked earlier quoting the Catholic Catechism, the Pope, and US Bishops on the topic of the death penalty. I’m not making stuff up, I’m not quoting selectively, and I’m not even really interpreting it much . . . I’m linking to the original source material so that people can read it on their own, rather than providing an out of context partial quote from the Catechism and pretending that that ends the discussion.

    For God’s sake, use Google. This information is not hard to find.

    —JRC

  67. 67
    lucia says:

    The apostate speaks:
    As I said.. the Catholic teaching on the death penalty is a little more complicated! :)

    those who are pro-war, pro-abortion, pro-death penalty
    I will pardon the shorthand. Obviously almost no one is “pro” these things. (Although, I think the Crusades and the French Revolution suggest some people have been wildly enthusiastic about at least two of them.)

    That said, there are distinctions bewteen all three, and it is possible to be absolutely anti-death penalty while thinking it is ok to go to war in some circumstance.

    One distinction is this: In the case of the death penalty, the alternative to killing someone is locking them away forever. This costs money and requires resources, but one may recognize that societies generally have some resources.

    In contrast, if troops actually invade, and the invading country begins to commit terrible attrocities, on the order of say, the Rape of Nanking, possibly one could recognize that the alternative are:
    1) Kill the invaders
    2) Let the invaders kill, rape, torture and mutilate other people and possibly be killed oneself.

    I guess you could try to negotiate while the slaughter continued.

    Of course, if you set up not killing as an absolute you can’t make a distinction between the two cases. However, if you don’t consider it absolute, then you can make distinctions based on the alternatives.

    I leave it to LMA and JRC to decide if the Roman Catholic Church is weighing distinctions in their teachings.

  68. My understanding (for what it’s worth) of the the links to which you posted was that the difference between abortion and capital punishment was not so much about some loophole in the latter which the Pope has said does not exist in our current society. Rather it was that not all sins are created equal. Capital punishment involves the unneccessary taking of life and thus is morally wrong, but at least it is theoretically taking the life of the guilty. Abortion is taking an innocent life that cannot speak for itself and thus on a number of levels is more sinful and damaging to our society than the death penalty. It’s not any less certainty that capital punishment is wrong, rather it is a conviction that it is less wrong than abortion.

    One thing I wonder about is the stance on contraception. If stopping and/or reducing the number of abortions is the top priority, then it raises an interesting question about contraception. My understanding is that the Church teaches that using contraception is also morally wrong. In Judaism it is sometimes acceptable to do something that would otherwise be wrong, if it were done in order to prevent (and sometimes even merely reduce the chance) of another graver wrong. In fact it is this consideration that dictates much of the traditional Jewish thought on abortion. My question is does Catholicism teach anything similar, or is there a problem of intentionally committing a lesser wrong even for the sake of preventing a greater wrong?

  69. 69
    LMA says:

    Response to JRC:

    I don’t understand your first point.

    I never said that public officials who uphold abortion rights have been excommunicated or denied communion (although stay tuned). What I wrote about was formal cooperation in an abortion (the woman choosing the abortion, the abortion provider, etc.). Such people are excommunicated latae sententiae.

    As to the Church’s hypocrisy, of course that may be so; the Church is a human institution with many flaws. But an alternative view is that the current Church leadership has departed from traditional Church teaching on the death penalty (see http://www.cathinsight.com/apologetics/capital.htm).

    Since the Pope has not spoken on this issue ex cathedra, his views are not binding on Catholics. When he does so, then Catholics are obliged to fall into line.

  70. 70
    lucia says:

    My understanding is that the Church teaches that using contraception is also morally wrong.

    The alternative of not having sex is rather well regarded in the Catholic Church.

    I should google to find a web page to confirm something. Instead I will risk saying something totally wrong and give JRC and LMA a chance to tell me I’m wrong. ( The chance is pretty high that I am wrong, or a misunderstand. But, I got these ideas from my mom’s circa 1950′s “Catholic Marriage” book on the shelves when I was a teen or even later.)

    Anyway, my *impression* is that when my mother was a girl, the church taught that *all* sex was sinful unless that specific sex act was motivated by the intention to conceive. (Yes… even if you were married… even sez with your spouse.) Later, they taught that sex with yoru spouse was sinful only if you were actively trying to *avoid* conceiving.

    Even now, not having sex is an option. So, claiming you are like “Melanie” in Gone With the Wind may or may not be an excuse for birthcontrol. (Some would say yes; some no. ).

    My question is does Catholicism teach anything similar, or is there a problem of intentionally committing a lesser wrong even for the sake of preventing a greater wrong?

    Hmmmm… I’m not sure! On the one hand, I’d say sort of no… but… Here are two things I think I know:

    1) The Catholic church pretty much teaches it’s impossible to *avoid* sin. You can see how sin might be difficult to avoid,given that sex with your spouse was sinful. (There were other features of the whole “sex” thing in my Mom’s 1950′s Catholic booklet on marriage that really suggest it’s practically impossible to be married and not commit sexual sins.)

    2) Some sins can be forgiven, some can’t. So, even if one didn’t quite come out and *say* it’s not so bad to commit a forgivable sin to avoid an unforgivable one… many Catholics would conclude that it would be the better choice. (Although, one should search far and wide for the non-sin alternative.)

  71. 71
    Matt says:

    Lucia:

    You wrote:
    Hmmmm… I’m not sure! On the one hand, I’d say sort of no… but… Here are two things I think I know:

    1) The Catholic church pretty much teaches it’s impossible to *avoid* sin. You can see how sin might be difficult to avoid,given that sex with your spouse was sinful. (There were other features of the whole “sex” thing in my Mom’s 1950′s Catholic booklet on marriage that really suggest it’s practically impossible to be married and not commit sexual sins.)

    2) Some sins can be forgiven, some can’t. So, even if one didn’t quite come out and *say* it’s not so bad to commit a forgivable sin to avoid an unforgivable one… many Catholics would conclude that it would be the better choice. (Although, one should search far and wide for the non-sin alternative.)
    __________________________________________________

    Now I write:

    Lucia?? Are you being facetious? The Church teaches no such thing. You can be married and not commit the “sexual sins”. The church has always taught that sex is both unitive and pro-creative. Granted, in more delicate/prudish times the unitive aspects were rarely elaborated on or expounded beyond the barest statements by popes and bishops, but it has always been there. Sex is not an obstacle to your relationship with God. It is a vehicle.

  72. 72
    lucia says:

    Lucia?? Are you being facetious? The Church teaches no such thing. You can be married and not commit the “sexual sins”.
    Matt,

    You know what, I may be totally wrong (which is why I admitted going out on a limb– knowing others can correct me) or misunderstanding, I’m honestly not being facetious.

    There was some really odd stuff in my mom’s Catholic marraige book. VERY odd. It was a Catholic marriage book purporting to give young brides guidance. But, I’m not making it all up– I just don’t have any sources.

    I’m googling to try to find some pre-vatican II stuff because I know, at least the way things were described changed during my lifetime. (The way t hings are described can make a big difference in what you believe was “always” taught.)

    The only stuff I’m finding are really vitriolic anti-Catholic rants, which I tend to prefer not to cite because they are likely to distort teaching. (But part of the reason i can’t find any “history” at pro-catholic sites is for the most part, they just discuss the current teaching and don’t talk about any pre-humanae vitae teachings.)

    I’d go to the the library… and I’ll admit, the RC policy on married sex not a topic I want to really research in detail. So..for what it’s worth.. from a not so vitriolic site:

    Occasionally, the Church even shows indications of its old opposition to so-called “bad thoughts” about sex (i.e., thoughts associating sex with pleasure) and to marital acts of sexual intercourse engaged in for pleasure rather than procreation. One example is when the current pope, John Paul II, urged husbands “not to commit adultery with their wives by desiring sex for its mere pleasure and the satisfaction of instinct.”

    So… I’m not making it up….. But, I could be wrong.

  73. 73
    Matt says:

    Lucia,

    That very quote uses terms in a way different from what you mean. You can indeed only take pphysical pleasure from sex with your spouse and that is wrong. Sex should always be put had with a sincere desire to give oneself to your spouse fully for her/his good, while being open to giving your mutual life together to God in the service of child bearing/rearing.

    It does not say what you said. I am sure that various people have made the argument you say they did just as some Catholics say all kinds of random wrong things about sex today. The Church, however, never changed its teaching on this.

  74. 74
    lucia says:

    Ok.. I’m going to avoid saying anything about Catholicisms without specific citations.

    On this:
    My understanding is that the Church teaches that using contraception is also morally wrong. In Judaism it is sometimes acceptable to do something that would otherwise be wrong, if it were done in order to prevent (and sometimes even merely reduce the chance) of another graver wrong.

    From Humanae Vitae

    To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good,[17] it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may followtherefrom;[18] that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life.

    So.. my understanding is the “lesser evil” argument was not acceptable to Pope Paul VI, particularly with regard to birth control.

  75. 75
    Artaud says:

    How often abortion is characterized from the Catholic and or Christian Perspective, let us not forget Judaism and their views on abortion, though, unlike the endless ruminations of Anti-Semitism by the Jews, their voice on the issue of abortion is conspicuously missing.

    “The Silent Holocaust in Israel
    Abortionists kill more children than terrorists”
    http://www.jewsformorality.org/israel_abortion.htm

    “Abortion
    Jewish law not only permits, but in some circumstances requires abortion. Where the mother’s life is in jeopardy because of the unborn child, abortion is mandatory.

    An unborn child has the status of “potential human life” until the majority of the body has emerged from the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and may not be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value as a life in existence. The Talmud makes no bones about this: it says quite bluntly that if the fetus threatens the life of the mother, you cut it up within her body and remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is not as valuable as hers. But once the greater part of the body has emerged, you cannot take its life to save the mother’s, because you cannot choose between one human life and another. ”

    Odd how this just about exactly describes the lame attempt to justify “late term abortions” that American doctors routinely perform?
    http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm

    Rather pathetically, American law defaults entirely to the woman. If you would punch a woman, on her way to an abortion clinic, in the stomach (the punch, not the clinic ;-), and the punch results in the death of the “so called” fetus, you would be charged with murder. Had the woman successfully entered the clinic, and the doctor performs a late term abortion, this becomes a medical procedure.

    If a man decides that he wants to raise the child that the woman is carrying, but she wants an abortion, she gets the abortion without regard to his needs. Conversely, if she wants the baby, and he wants her to have an abortion, he is saddled with the responsibility of child support regardless of his stated desire for her “not” to have the child.

    More pathetically, a man married, his wife had a child, they divorced a few years later. The man’s girlfriend, after the marriage, was a nurse. She noticed that the man’s eye color, and the eye color of his wife, were impossible to produce the eye color of his son. A DNA test proved that he was not the father. Even with the incontrovertible evidence, the court ordered him to continue to pay child support for a child that was not his. He had the ignominy of knowing that his wife cheated on him during their marriage, had a child to another man, and he needs to pay support for the next 12 years for a child that is not his. Surely, the wife knows that man that she cohabitated with, why is the other man not ordered to pay the child support?

    “Partial Birth Abortion or legal infanticide is the grisly procedure in which a baby is delivered in the breech position, and then brutally murdered in the name of “choice.” To gain public support for partial birth abortion, deception is a prerequisite. Most of what is publicized in the mainstream media presents the commission of a horrible crime against children into a decision “between a woman, her doctor and her God.”
    http://www.jewsforlife.org/Partial-Birth-Abortion.cfm
    http://www.jewsforlife.org/Judaism-pro-life-message.cfm

    Abortion, from any perspective, is a destructive force in society. (literally and figuratively). The Catholic view is Pro-Life, and the official position of the Vatican is opposed to the Death Penalty and Opposed to abortion. Birth control is viewed as abortion, ergo the Vatican’s opposition to it. The IUD certainly is abortive, as is the “Morning after” and other pills, but I do not, as a Catholic myself, see what is wrong with prophylactics, though by modern standards this option, for married couples, is not viable. The much touted prophylactic is marginal for disease prevention, especially between people with uncertain histories, but not something likely to encourage intimacy.

    What is most troubling to Americans is the inability to strong arm the Catholic Church into adopting the views popular with Americans, such as married Priests, abortion, and homosexuality. Religions should not evolve to fit the trend, they should be consistent in their doctrines, otherwise the doctrines themselves are questionable. I believe that the Jewish religion has a fine appreciation for Doctrine, at least among the Orthodox, as the more liberal components are nominal Jews, distorting the traditional beliefs to conform them with so called modern life.

    Catholics should not distance themselves from their church because of their beliefs, though they should not flaunt them in front of the church. (figuratively). There certainly are gay Catholics, divorced and remarried Catholics, Catholics that have had abortions, etc. As with any religion, there are going to be variances with official teachings.

    Late Term abortions should be anathema to ANY religion. (if you don’t believe so, take the time to research the procedure, view the pictures closely). Stupid is as Stupid does and Evil is as Evil does. Some evils are flagrant, some subtle. At the VERY LEAST, avoid the flagrant evil and hope for the best otherwise.

    Regards

  76. 76
    sailaway says:

    I really really hope that reasonable people don’t actually think that we should rely on pictures of medical procedures to determine whether or not they should be legal. I’d hate to see people advocating for less safe medicine just because it happens to look gross.

    Forcing women to carry highly complicated pregnancies to term, against their will and against medical advice is, I’m sorry, bad medicine.

  77. 77
    Jake Squid says:

    Oh no, sailaway. We should rely ONLY on still and video pictures of medical procedures to determine whether or not they should be legal. Open heart surgery, liposuction, abortion, spinal surgeries, prostate surgeries, colonoscopies should all be up for a public vote based upon pictures. At least health costs will go down once we ban all invasive procedures. So will life expectancy, but that’s a minor point.

    (The above contains dripping sarcasm – which I imagine would also be banned based on video evidence.)

    And prophylactics are not a viable option for married couples by modern standards? Can anybody explain this to me? I can’t even begin to understand that.

  78. 78
    lucia says:

    Jake:
    I am against liposuction; it is an abomination against nature!

    And prophylactics are not a viable option for married couples by modern standards? I think Artaud means modern Roman Catholic standards. The issue of contraception is discussed in Humane Vitae. Artificial birth control is illicit. Limiting intercourse to infertile periods is licit. (See paragraph 16 and on. )

    Reading Humane Vitae, I think Artaud is incorrect when he says: Birth control is viewed as abortion, ergo the Vatican’s opposition to it. The vatican views both as wrong. However, I don’t think birth control is thought to be abortion.

  79. 79
    Jake Squid says:

    Ah, I see. I definitely was not reading that connection. That makes a lot more sense. Thanks.

  80. 80
    Artaud says:

    Ah, but therein lies the rub. Society’s need to censor such images is proof of their ghastly nature. We see images of cattle slaughter, designed to elicit support for the vegans and animal rights activists, we see images of domestic abuse, designed to garner support for Women’s Shelters, we see images of abused animals, designed to gain support for the animal rights activists, and even the execution of prisoners, designed to rail against the death penalty, but we see no publicly permitted (save for the internet and the occasional placards at Pro-Life gatherings) images of the products of abortion. In your attempt to sidetrack my postings, you have inadvertently provided support for it. I have seen autopsies, open heart surgeries, liposuction, et al. on TV, but I have NEVER seen a late term abortion. They wouldn’t dare, people would rise up against the ghastly procedure. Oh, and by the by, images of body organs are not tantamount to images of complete living human beings that have been torn to pieces under the guise of a “medical procedure”

    http://www.priestsforlife.org/resources/photosassorted/

    http://abortionno.org/Resources/pictures_2.html

    http://www.lovematters.com/methods.htm

    Apparently you have never heard of the term abortifacient? “The term “morning-after pill” indicates a series of preparations which are given to a woman after – but not more than 72 hours after (hence the name “morning-after”) – sexual intercourse that is presumed fertile. The effective action of “emergency contraception”, and hence of the “morning-after pill”, is abortifacient: in 80 per cent to 100 per cent of the cases the embryo is prevented from being implanted.
    Those who say that the “morning-after pill” is not abortifacient, but prevents implantation, do not realize that they are affirming its abortifacient nature when they say that it prevents implantation: since this action can only take place after fertilization and works by preventing the continued development of the embryo, it can only be abortifacient.”
    http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/1999/oct1999p3_291.html

    “The IUD is unequivocally abortifacient because it prevents the implantation of the fertilized ovum and because life begins at fertilization, not at the point of implantation in the uterus. Yet, some physicians now minimize this reality by claiming that the IUD works primarily by preventing fertilization in the first place.”

    Really folks, simple searches on Google confirm everything that I have said. That is the point, people are not willing to accept the truth, they want life to be customized to suit their beliefs.

    Regards.

  81. 81
    lucia says:

    Artaud,
    Let me clarify my statement that the Roman Catholic church does not consider birthcontrol to be abortion by way of example. The Roman Catholic church opposes the use of condoms to prevent procreation during marital sex. I do not think the Catholic Church considers using condoms to be a form of abortion.

    The Humanae Vitae discusses the church’s possion on birth control. The reasons they have for banning birth control are different from the reasons for banning abortion.

  82. 82
    Jake Squid says:

    Oh. No, no, no. It’s much better that both mother and child should perish than to perform a late-term abortion. That sort of death is much less brutal in appearance and therefore much more palatable and societally acceptable.

    Not that I’ve noticed the beef industry slump due to the showing of slaughterhouse procedures. Maybe that’s because 99% of the population has never seen those images. Hell, I’m pretty conscious of the animal products industries’ practices & I’ve seen more images of aborted fetuses (feti ?) than I have of slaughtered cattle. For that matter I’ve seen more images of murders & human corpses than I have of slaughtered cattle. But I guess that I’m in the minority there, huh?

    But I’ll tell you what. If you get pregnant I won’t force you to get an abortion of any sort. In fact, I’ll congratulate you on the addition to your family. In return all I ask is that you let the rest of us make that choice for ourselves.

  83. 83
    J. D. Catholic says:

    Bottom line:

    You try and make the rules and you are not in charge, the Church is and the Church in the teacher, we are the students and you are FAILING and causing others to fail. IT IS up to the church to help with guilty consciences, by helping people identify sin and change. You are as wrong as it is to put a knife to a pre-born and cut their legs and arms off.

    May God touch you, because right now…you are separated from GOD and getting your beliefs from somewhere other than the teacher and from GOD.

    Do yourself and me a favor, change or go join one of the other 45,000 demonications / churches that have split since the reformation, when other men acting outside the H.S., saw fit to question the teacher, that Jesus gave us.

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