From the Hufffington Post
Life matters. From conception to natural death, it matters. This is
a principle Catholics must carry with them into the voting booth.
But it is not a simple binary equation. It is not an either/or
proposition. In the end, determining which candidate better serves the
interests of life is a prudential judgment. A simple promise to overturn
Roe v. Wade does not automatically make one the pro-life candidate.
In my estimation, Barack Obama is the more seriously pro-life
candidate in this year's presidential contest. Voters should not forget
his early connections to the Catholic Church. He attended St. Francis
of Assisi Catholic School in Jakarta for three years. His mother, Ann
Dunham, assisted Fr. A.M. Kaderman, S.J., in managing an
English-language training school during this time. When Barack Obama
worked as a community organizer in the middle 1980s, he did so out of
the rectory of Holy Rosary Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago,
where he helped to coordinate the efforts of eight Catholic parishes
and numerous other religious organizations to improve the lives of
unemployed steel workers and others whom the financialized economy was
leaving in the dust. He still considers the late Joseph Cardinal
Bernardin of Chicago an inspiration. (On this background, see the
wonderful new book by the Catholic legal scholars Douglas Kmiec and Ed
Gaffney, and the Harvard Medical School Professor of Pediatrics, Dr.
Patrick Whelan, "America Undecided: Catholic, Independent, and Social
Justice Perspectives on Election 2012.")
Kmiec, Gaffney and Whelan stress that there is no more powerful
abortifacient in this country than poverty. It may be difficult for the
comfortable, upper-middle class conservative Catholics who support Mitt
Romney for "pro-life" reasons to associate with this reality. But
imagine for a moment a young woman, 18 or 20, 25 or even 30 years old.
She comes from a broken, impoverished family and has little real
She's gone through a bad relationship or two, and
faces a soul-crushing existence being nickel-and-dimed through a series
of dead-end jobs in America's service economy. She is poor, desperate,
alone and maybe even threatened by her boyfriend. The jobs are so
haphazard, the poverty so shattering, that family formation is
impossible. A powerful description of the plight of women who lead
these lives of invisible suffering can be found in Barbara Ehrenreich's
"Nickel-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" (2001). Conditions
have only grown more acute in the decade since Ehrenreich wrote her
In fear, in humiliation, in aching isolation, she seeks an abortion.
This bleak portrait depicts the tragic dimensions of the abortion
crisis in America. It is a crisis born not of the selfish pursuit of
the glittering baubles of American materialism, but of the
panic-stricken sense of having nowhere to turn. And it is fed at the
top by politicians who prize Randian individualism and the unfettered
quest for riches above every human value.
The Netherlands and Germany have abortion rates less than one-third
of the United States. Why? Because those nations address the cause of
abortion at its root -- poverty. They provide pre-natal and post-natal
care, and a social system that genuinely assists the new mother who
President Obama's Affordable Care Act represents a small, measured
step in the direction of maternal assistance for women in crisis. It
does not go nearly far enough, in my judgment, but in our present
political environment it is probably the best that can be achieved. It
is grounded on the basic premise of Catholic social thought, reiterated
time and again by the popes, from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, that health
care is a fundamental right. It is the indispensable starting point of a
seamless ethic of life.
The Affordable Care Act legislatively recognizes this fundamental
moral right. Among its provisions, the ACA creates a Pregnancy
Assistance Fund. Specifically on the issue of crisis pregnancy, this
fund assists in several ways. It can cover the salary of counselors who
point young women in the direction of social services. It supports
parenting classes and aids with day-care costs at colleges and
universities. It teaches and supports and, in sum, helps equip
panicked, pregnant young women to become responsible, future-directed
The Affordable Care Act helps save unborn lives in other ways as
well. It increases tax credits for adoptions, making this loving
alternative more affordable and more readily available. It recognizes
that Medicaid currently pays for one-third of all live births in America
and promises to maintain adequate funding for this vital service.
Abortion is a serious wrong, but it is better, as the proverbial saying
goes, to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
And what do the Republicans, that ostensible pro-life party, offer in
return? They deny that health care is a basic right, describing it
instead as a matter of "personal responsibility," thereby repudiating a
foundational principle of Catholic social thought. They promise the
repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including presumably the Pregnancy
Assistance Fund and the adoption credits. They solemnly pledge to slash
budgetary allocations to Medicaid, thus fueling the ever-deepening
desperation of the pregnant poor. And in life's final years, the
Republicans will voucherize Medicare, putting at risk the health and
well-being of millions of senior citizens.
Well, one might retort, perhaps the Republicans will at last reverse Roe v. Wade. The reversal of Roe v. Wade
has been a part of every Republican platform since 1980. Hasn't
happened yet. Catholics who cling to this thin reed should prepare for
disappointment. The Supreme Court will perpetually be one vote short of
A recent poll shows that Catholics prefer candidates who give
attention to the poor than abortion (see Chicago Tribune, "Catholics
Want More Focus on Poverty Than Abortion, Survey Finds," October 24,
2012). In reality, it is not one or the other. Fight poverty, and you
fight abortion. So, I am voting for life -- Obama-Biden 2012.
Mr. Reid has it right. To end abortion you need to end poverty. And have access to birth control.
Suck that Lyin' Ryan, Frothy Mixture, and Newt!