27 ottobre 2008

Has America Lost Its Way?

Bishop Aquila on Returning to Nation's Foundations

FARGO, North Dakota, OCT. 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is an excerpt of the homily given Sunday by Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo at the Cathedral of St. Mary.
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Today, Catholic politicians and individual voters on both sides of the aisle have lost the sense of this fundamental principle that underlies every just and enduring society. Most especially, they have lost the sense of the inalienable right to life for the unborn child. Even without considering God in the equation, human life, for every human being, begins at the moment of conception. That is when human life begins. That is when your life began. And that is when Rep. Pelosi’s life began. That is when Sen. Biden’s life began. That is when Sen. Obama’s life began and Sen. McCain’s life began.

Sadly, the dignity of human life from the moment of conception is lost today. The truth nonetheless exists. Our forefathers recognized it but present day politicians and voters do not.

Furthermore, we have lost too this fundamental principle in what it means to pursue happiness. We see the attempted pursuit of happiness without God and the collapse of this pursuit in Wall Street and the economics of today. Greed has guided the hearts of men and women, in which a 40 million dollar bonus is not enough in one year. When you take God out of the equation and life is lived as if he did not exist, the only thing left to pursue is materialism, because there is no life after death, there is no judgement. And so greed guides the hearts of men and women when we lose that basic essential understanding of the presence of God.

We see that abandonment of God’s presence, too, in the area of human sexuality. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Women are treated as sexual toys and objects. People proclaim a “good” in same sex unions, living promiscuously, and moving from one intimate relationship to the next.

Once we lose God in the pursuit of happiness, and once we lose the sense of the dignity of the human person and the God in whose image and likeness we are truly created, then we lose all sense of any moral compass or any moral standard. Without God, can there be any morality at all? Or is it set by the thinking of the day that can change from generation to generation, rooted in no truths that are valid for every person in every generation?

We as a nation stand at a crossroads. There is a fork in the road between the culture of life and the culture of death. The culture of death made great inroads with activist judges in the 1973 court that created a so-called right to abortion. They, like the pharisees and the Herodians, hid behind lies, they hid behind deceit, they hid behind a lack of reason and the majority said, “It is okay to destroy human life in all nine months of pregnancy.”

Judges, politicians and voters who went so far as to state that human life may be destroyed at the beginning are now attacking human life at its end by support for assisted suicide. The next step will be to deny healthcare for the elderly and handicapped because they are no more of any use to society. Once the right to life is no longer understood as a gift from God, but attributed to people by the state, the road to further atrocities against human life is a spiral downward quite rapidly.

What many Catholic politicians and citizens have done by their actions and votes today is to sell their souls, because what they have done is to say, “We will be created in the image and likeness, not of God, but of a Democratic platform, of a Republican platform -- that’s whose image and likeness we will embrace.” There is neither reason nor logic in their statements, but anything to gain power and this compromise leads only to blindness and darkness.

My sisters and brothers, you and I are not created in the image and likeness of Obama or McCain or a political party. We are created in the image and likeness of God. We must, as our forefathers did, place the God-given inalienable rights first, beginning with the right to life from the moment of conception until natural death. As bad as the economy is, as bad as the war is, the destruction of innocent human life, especially in the womb, is a greater evil, and correction of this grave evil must take place. Each of us has a role in making this correction in our duties as citizens. To say that “the battle is lost” is to condone an intrinsic evil that will only lead to further evils.

A hundred years from now, this election will just be a moment in history. A hundred years from now all of us, or certainly most of us, will be dead. But I assure you, a hundred years from now, if we continue as a society on the course that we are on, embracing a culture of death, our society will no longer exist, because tyranny will have its way, as will atheism.

When there is no recognition of the primacy of God and human beings decide what is good and what is evil, anything can be justified. All we have to do is look at history and the atheism of China, the atheism of Russia, the atheism of Cambodia, and the atheism of Nazi Germany. Countries that embrace atheism reveal the truth -- that is, if we do not embrace, as our forefathers did, the laws of nature and nature’s God, we will eventually collapse as a society.

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24047?l=english

24 ottobre 2008

Nicaragua Pressured on Abortion

By Piero A. Tozzi

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) In Geneva last week Nicaragua came under fire for its laws protecting the unborn. Members of the Human Rights Committee (HRC) – the treaty body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – repeatedly grilled the Central American nation for outlawing abortion as Nicaragua presented its third periodic report detailing progress in implementing the treaty.

Nicaragua banned all abortion in 2006 and rejected a “therapeutic” abortion amendment last year. In advance of the hearing, the HRC sent Nicaragua questions concerning its abortion law and rates of maternal mortality, which Nicaragua addressed in its report. “Experts” on the Committee also had the opportunity to pose questions.

Among the queries was how, if Nicaragua were a “secular state,” a ban on abortion could be reconciled with secularity. The delegation responded by pointing out that though the state is secular, the “social reality” is that 90 per cent of the country’s 5.6 million people profess Christianity, implying that the laws reflected the value choices of a majority of Nicaraguans. The delegates added that if there came a time when a majority desired to change the country’s abortion laws, they could do so via the political process.

The ICCPR, like all major global human rights treaties, is silent on abortion. When signed in 1966, most nations had laws proscribing or otherwise restricting the practice. Critics of the United Nations (UN) treaty bodies like HRC note that by reading a right to abortion into the ICCPR, the HRC has overstepped its mandate.

When Nicaragua strengthened its legislation protecting the unborn, it came under unprecedented pressure. A letter signed by government officials from Canada, the five Scandinavian countries, and several UN agencies – including the Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – accused Nicaragua of violating rights set forth in various international documents such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW.

More than a letter-writing exercise, the Swedish government severed aid last year to Nicaragua and three other pro-life Latin American nations, and Finland earlier this year linked a continuation of aid to changes in Nicaragua’s abortion law.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was a proponent of abortion when the revolutionary Sandinistas first came to power in the late 1970s. Since winning the presidency via democratic election in 2006, however, he has consistently defended Nicaragua’s pro-life position against foreign critics. Some have attributed his change of heart to his re-embrace of his baptismal Catholic faith.

Even more outspoken has been the First Lady of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo. This past September, she made a fiery speech denouncing proponents of abortion from the Global North who engage in cultural imperialism by seeking to impose the values of a soulless society where adults “prefer to raise pets instead of children.”

The Geneva-based HRC meets three times a year to review countries’ progress in implementing the ICCPR, with every third session held in New York. Among the nations slated to appear before the treaty monitoring body in New York in March 2009 are Chad, Croatia and Sweden.

I am now a huge fan of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo!! Way to not back down, way to stick to your guns! Amazing how these abortion groups think that pro-life and secularism are incompatible. They do not respect the rights of the people in a democracy. Instead they bully with their "cultural imperialism." Good to know Nicaragua is standing up for what is right!

CEDAW Meets in Geneva and Zeroes in on Abortion

By Samantha Singson

(NEW YORK – C-FAM) The committee that monitors states compliance with Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) opened its latest session in Geneva this week to review the reports of 12 states. Even prior to the arrival of country delegations in Geneva, the committee had already begun questioning states on abortion, though the treaty itself is silent on the subject.

At this session, the CEDAW committee will review the reports of Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, Uruguay, Kyrgyzstan, Slovenia, Mongolia, Bahrain, El Salvador, Madagascar, Myanmar and Portugal on how those countries are implementing their obligations under CEDAW. A glance at the list of pre-sessional questions sent to the states reveals that all but four were questioned on abortion.

In the pre-sessional documents, the committee asked El Salvador for information on how the government was implementing a previous recommendation that urged the government to allow abortion. The committee asked Myanmar to explain whether “women have a right to terminate a pregnancy resulting from sexual violence.” The committee also criticized Uruguay’s law criminalizing abortion, which the committee says “has not helped reduce secret and unsafe abortions,” and asked for detailed information on how Portugal is implementing its new law which permits government-funded therapeutic abortions during the first 10 weeks.

States will be expected to answer these concerns when they come face-to-face with the committee during the session. At the end of the session, the CEDAW committee will issue its recommendations for each country. While these recommendations are non-binding, abortion activists have brought litigation throughout the world citing the ruling of United Nations human rights treaty bodies, like the CEDAW Committee, in challenging laws against abortion. Such arguments helped convince Colombia’s constitutional court to liberalize that country’s restrictions on the practice.

CEDAW critics have become increasingly concerned about the work and composition of the committee. In recent years CEDAW committee members have pressured more than 60 nations on their abortion legislation.

According to guidelines, the 23 members of the CEDAW committee should be “independent” and “of high moral standing and competence.” A recent survey of the committee revealed, however, that half of the CEDAW committee members are direct employees of such radical non-governmental organizations as the Latin America and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (known by its Spanish acronym CLADEM), the International Council of Women, and the Global Fund for Women.

At the current session, CLADEM submitted alternative country reviews for both El Salvador and Uruguay. CLADEM declared that Uruguay “must de-penalize the interruption of pregnancy…in accordance with CEDAW” and demanded that El Salvador “reform abortion legislation” and “consider exceptions to general abortion prohibitions in therapeutic abortion cases.” Silvia Pimental, a sitting CEDAW committee member, is a founding member of CLADEM and is still listed on CLADEM’s website as a member of its honorary consulting council.

The next CEDAW committee session is scheduled to take place next January in Geneva. Recently, the UN formally empowered the committee to meet three times annually starting it 2010, which it had already been doing as an “extraordinary” measure.

For more news, visit us at www.c-fam.org.

CEDAW infuriates me! They use intimidation tactics and substantiate themselves with blatantly false interpretations of non-binding UN documents and treaties. I can't wait until someone drops the airs of diplomacy and calls them on the carpet at one of these meetings.

21 ottobre 2008

Keeping Obama's pro-abortion stance in the light

Charlie Butts - OneNewsNow - 10/19/2008 5:10:00 AM

The pro-life movement could suffer heavy damage in the November election, depending on how informed voters are. The National Right to Life Committee is working to educate them.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), says Barack Obama is committed to a strategy of sweeping changes in abortion policies. "For example, he is dedicated to repealing the Hyde Amendment, which is the law that prohibits federal funding of abortions and which has saved the lives of more than one million Americans since it was first enacted," he explains.

Obama, Johnson notes, has also pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, "which is a proposed federal law that would invalidate and nullify hundreds of pro-life laws across the country, including parental notification laws and which would make partial-birth abortion legal again."

Johnson suggests the Democratic presidential candidate had a history of being extremely pro-abortion on state and federal levels -- until he won his party's presidential nod. Since then, says the pro-lifer, "he has adopted a cynical, what they call, 'messaging' strategy where he has teams of surrogates going out and trying to sell Obama to the various faith communities as some sort of centrist or moderate," he adds.

Johnson contends Obama is neither. The NRLC has endorsed GOP presidential candidate John McCain.

Study: Press, Obama love-fest continues

Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 10/20/2008 6:00:00 AM

A new report confirms that "Obamamania" is alive and well in the mainstream media.

A non-partisan research group says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has increased his lead over John McCain in the race for good press, while Sarah Palin's press has "turned sharply negative" on network news shows.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) has released the results of a scientific content analysis of nearly 600 election news stories that aired from August 23 through September 30 on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and Fox Special Report.

CMPA executive director Donald Rieck says since the party conventions began, comments about Senator Obama on the network evening news shows have been 65 percent positive, compared to only 36 percent positive comments about Senator John McCain. Rieck says Obama's press coverage has been "universally great."

"He had astronomically high positives in our study from the beginning all the way through when Hillary dropped out," he notes. "We're talking upwards of 88 percent positive evaluated statements on the evening news...of the three major networks and Brit Hume."

Rieck says Obama received tough coverage only for a two- or three-week period after Senator Hillary Clinton dropped out of the Democratic primary. According to the CMPA report, comments about Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin have been only 42 percent positive, while there have been too few evaluations of Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) for "meaningful analysis."

17 ottobre 2008

Heroes: Columbus and Pius XII

Remembering the Truth of Their Faith and Courage

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, OCT. 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Even the ancient Romans understood the importance of gratitude. Marcus Tullius Cicero, orator extraordinaire, extolled that "gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."

Yet in our modern age we seem to have lost this virtue as revisionist history, cinema and popular literature have vilified those whose achievements have shaped the world we live in today.

This came to mind Sunday, Oct. 12, on what was once known as Columbus Day in commemoration of the day Christopher Columbus first sighted the New World.

This event, which opened the age of discovery, has been since renamed "Indigenous People Day" by some U.S. towns, thus casting into obscurity the courageous and visionary undertaking of the explorer and his patrons who equipped the mission.

Columbus himself has been recast as a greedy, social-climbing tyrant, and while his defects have been blown out of all proportion, his admirable qualities have been simply forgotten.

Ironically, Columbus, the first European man to set foot in America, was the first example of what would later be called "the American dream."

Born of poor parents in Genoa, he immigrated to Spain with only his hard-earned knowledge of seamanship, his desire to get ahead and his profound Catholic faith to sustain him.

Like the countless immigrants who would follow him, he had a dream and the drive to work hard and take risks to realize it.

Divine Providence decreed that he would find a sympathetic ear in the king and queen of Spain, and so Columbus fulfilled his life's ambition, did well for himself and paved the way for future generations to be able to excel through hard work and ingenuity.

A deeply devout man, Columbus was always grateful to God and dedicated his mission to the New World to the conversion of pagan peoples; like the apostles, he hoped to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard of Christ. Upon sighting land on Oct. 13, 1492, the entire crew prayed the Salve Regina.

Today, his contributions are masked by words like "exploitation" and "gold-hunger," but all those Americans who descend from families who hoped to live out their ambitions while freely practicing their faith, should be grateful to Christopher Columbus who was not only great navigator on the seas, but in life.

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Myth and Lies

Last Oct. 9, the Church offered a magisterial example of the virtue of gratitude while remembering the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, one of the unsung heroes of the 20th century.

The life of Pius XII seems to have certain parallels with this summer's blockbuster film "The Dark Knight." The hero, Batman, out of love for his fellow citizens, must sacrifice recognition for his relentless battle against evil and ultimately endure persecution by the very people he is protecting.

Pius XII, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, spanning the years of the Second World War, was universally lauded for his wartime efforts after the defeat of the Nazis. But revisionists of many stripes in the late 20th century have competed with one another to besmirch his name, culminating in the scandalous label -- or libel -- of John Cornwall's "Hitler's Pope."

Obscured by the flood of false accusations, from criminal silence regarding the fate of the Jews in Germany to active participation in their persecution, the brilliantly innovative aspects of this pontificate have been completely neglected.

But the tables recently turned for Pius XII as, in the words of Vatican reporter John Allen, Benedict XVI initiated a "full court press" to redeem the name of this great Pope and push forward the cause for his beatification.

An international symposium was held in Rome last September under the auspices of the Pave the Way foundation in order to shed light on the activities of Pius XII in favor of the Jews during World War II.

This organization was founded by an American Jew, Gary Krupp, who believes that in order to create a fruitful dialogue among religions, the accusations regarding Pius XII, a source "of friction between people," must be laid to rest through the discovery of the truth.

Among the findings of the conference was that those who "lived through the brutality of the Nazis and were saved by the church's actions" had a high opinion of the Pope. The Israeli Philharmonic orchestra asked to play for Pope Pius in 1955, and at his death Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir mourned "a great servant of peace."

Krupp noted that it has been the "subsequent generations born into the safety of the defeat of the Nazi regime" who have bought into the myth of the Pius XII as a Nazi collaborator.

During the three-day conference, the meticulous research of Sister Margherita Marchione, Rabbi David Dalin, Andrea Tornielli, Ronald Rychlak and many others was presented, refuting the spurious accusations against the Pope and demonstrating his tremendous role in saving Jewish lives.

Paolo Mieli, director of Italy's leading newspaper, "Corriere della Sera," who happens to be a secular Jew, added another interesting point in an interview published in L'Osservatore Romano when he noted that the hostility toward Pius XII did not originate among the Jews.

It was an Eastern European playwright, Rolf Hochhuth, apparently backed by the KGB, who started the ripple that turned into an earthquake with his six-hour play "The Deputy," in which the playwright accused the Pius XII of culpable silence regarding the persecution of the Jews.

The theatrical piece was quickly picked up by leftist promoters in Paris and London and soon enough, Anglo-Saxon "scholars" hopped on the bandwagon with bestselling books like "Hitler's Pope," "Papal Sin" and "Under His Very Windows."

But when Pope Paul VI announced the opening of the beatification process of both John XXIII and Pius XII in 1965, there were no objections. The Pope's decision to jointly open the two processes was a message of continuity within the Church.

The lies regarding Pius XII were welcomed and even abetted, however, by those who wanted to create a division in the 20th-century Church by drawing a line between the "good" John XXIII and the "bad" Pius XII, and between the "old" Church and the "new" Church of the Second Vatican Council.

But in this wonderful week, as Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass in honor of his esteemed predecessor in a packed St. Peter's Basilica, a giant step was taken toward putting to rest the fictitious legend and honoring the great contributions of Pius XII.

Earlier in the day, the Pope's secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote in L'Osservatore Romano of Pius XII's material assistance to the Jews. He said that if Pius XII "had intervened publicly, he would have endangered the lives of thousands of Jews who, at his request, were hidden in the 155 convents and monasteries in the city of Rome alone."

During his homily, Benedict XVI offered a refreshing new view of Pius XII indicating "a great multitude of speeches, addresses and messages delivered to scientists, doctors, and representatives of the most varied categories of workers, some of which even today still possess an extraordinary relevance and continue to be a concrete point of reference."

The current Pontiff concluded with the thought: "As we pray the process of beatification of servant of God Pius XII proceeds happily, it is well to recall that holiness was his ideal, an ideal that he constantly urged for all."

At last, a hero's welcome for Pope Pius XII.

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Article by Elizabeth Lev, who teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University's Italian campus. She can be reached at lizlev@zenit.org.

16 ottobre 2008

Pro-choice" vs. "Pro-abortion"? Or, "Pro-choice" = "Pro-abortion"?

Posted by Carl Olson on Thursday, October 09, 2008 at 02:13 AM
A reader responds to my linking to Bill Donahue's parody with some consternation:

The problem with this parody, of course, is that Obama is pro-choice rather than pro-abortion. This is not to say that a pro-choice stance is morally defensible. It is not. But one would be unfairly slandering Obama to say simply that he is pro-abortion because of his pro-choice stance. Obama has spoken out and worked consistently to lower abortion rates. The moral problem with an Obama candidacy is its opposition to making abortion illegal. Legal abortion, however, is not the same as abortion accepted on a moral level.

For Obama to support the act of abortion would be for him to support an intrinsic evil. To say simply, however, that it is not the place of the state to restrict abortion is a morally wrong decision and an indefensible political stance. It is not, however, the same as an anti-racist supporting a racist. It might be the same as an anti-racist supporting someone who thinks racism is a terrible thing but does not think that the government should criminalize the racist practices of private businesses or people. This would be a troubling moral stance, to be sure, and not necessarily one that is defensible. It is not, however, fairly characterized in Donahue's parody.

I think that valid arguments could be made against pro-life Catholics who support Obama, but the overly-simplistic approach to the problem taken by this site and others only does a disservice to Catholic moral reasoning.

Well, goodness, I do dislike being perceived at being overly-simplistic, so let's see if I can be a little more complicated this time around. Let's start with the statement: "Obama is pro-choice rather than pro-abortion."

First, what does that mean? I ask the question seriously. In other words, what does it mean when someone says, "I am pro-choice"? What is being chosen? What choice is being supported, upheld, and favored? And why is that choice being supported, upheld, and favored? I think it is fair to say that most of those folks who use the description "pro-choice" claim they support a woman's right to choose to either bring a pregnancy to term or to terminate the pregnancy; they uphold a woman's right to make choices about her body, especially when it comes to issues that are sexual and reproductive in nature; and they favor the government abstaining from any infringement upon those rights and choices.

In common parlance—and political parlance as well—being pro-choice is primarily about a woman's right to either have a child or terminate her pregnancy. Which is why, for example, the NARAL site states, "In 1973, the Supreme Court guaranteed American women the right to choose abortion in its landmark decision Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court issued a compromise between the state's ability to restrict abortion and a woman's right to choose. ... Making abortion access more difficult and dangerous is a key tactic of the anti-choice movement. ... The anti-choice movement's ultimate goal is to outlaw abortion in all circumstances." Numerous other examples could be given, but it should be fairly evident that the word "choice" is primarily aligned with abortion, which is why "anti-choice" almost always means "anti-abortion."

What the reader above insinuates (and others argue more directly) is that it is unfair to describe Sen. Obama as "pro-abortion" when he 1) doesn't force women to have abortions, 2) denies that anyone is really "pro-abortion", and 3) supposedly works for a lessening of the number of abortions. But this is mere sophistry, built largely on the notion that only those who force women to have abortions are actually pro-abortion.

But this defies both commonsense and a logical use of language. In his parody Donahue used the the example of racism and supporting David Duke, but I think we are better served here if we use the example of slavery, for two reasons: 1) it provides a more specific example of behavior than does racism (which can be construed in very vague ways) and 2) it closely parallels abortion in how it involves ownership and control of another person and the denial of that person's rights.

Now, which of the following could reasonably be considered "pro-slavery"?:

Believing that slavery should be enforced on a certain group of people. (Yes, obviously.)
Supporting the right of others to be able to have slaves if they choose so. (I would say so.)
Insisting that the decision to have slaves is a matter for the potential slave owner to decide for himself and that such a decision should be protected by law. (Again, I would say so.)
Demanding that the government should not be involved in keeping people from having slaves if they so choose, and supporting legislation to that end. (Yes, without a doubt)

These actions and stances are all "pro-slavery"—that is, they each, in various ways, are in favor of the practice and reality of slavery even though not all of them are based on the belief that everyone in a certain group or class of society should have slaves. Put another way, the merely complacent position of believing that slavery is alright for some people can be fairly construed as being "pro-slavery," even if the person with that perspective never acts upon it. But if they do act upon it and work actively for the right to own slaves, etc., there can be no doubt that they support slavery and are thus "pro-slavery."

But what if such a person said, "When it comes to slavery, I am 'pro-choice,' not pro-slavery"? What would a reasonable person think? The reader states, "But one would be unfairly slandering Obama to say simply that he is pro-abortion because of his pro-choice stance." This misrepresents the character of Sen. Obama's position: he is not pro-abortion because he is pro-choice; rather, he is "pro-choice" because he is pro-abortion. In blunt terms, the descriptive "pro-choice" is a semantic sleight of hand which suggests that the coin is in the hand wishing to have a "right to choose" when it is actually in the hand choosing the right to kill an unborn child. For those who say they are "pro-choice," the real concern is the one doing the choosing, while for those who are pro-life, the concern is the one who has no choice at all.

So what is the difference between choosing to have a slave and choosing to have an abortion? Simply this: the unborn are not accorded the same rights as those who are born, that is, those who could be made slaves. Or, put differently, the issue is the moral status of the unborn compared to the born. "Most supporters of abortion choice," writes Dr. Francis Beckwith in Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge, 2007), "agree with pro-life advocates that the question of abortion's permissibility rests on the moral status of the unborn: abortion is prima facie unjustified homicide if and only if the unborn entity is a full-fledged member of the human community (i.e., a person or a subject of moral rights). Most abortion-choice advocates also agree with pro-life supporters that the unborn entity is a human being insofar as it belongs to the species Homo sapiens. Where they disagree is over the question of the moral status of the unborn. These abortion advocates argue that the unborn entity is not a person and hence not a subject of moral rights until some decisive moment in fetal or postnatal development" (p. 130).

The reader states, "The moral problem with an Obama candidacy is its opposition to making abortion illegal." Again, let's use the analogy: "The moral problem with Mr. Smith is his opposition to making slavery illegal." If Mr. Smith is opposed to slavery being illegal, it follows that he is in favor of it being legal. And if he is in favor of slavery being legal, he is pro-slavery. Likewise, Sen. Obama is pro-abortion; there is simply no way a person can look at his record (see this NARAL PDF) and conclude that his protection, promotion, and providing for "choice"—that is, abortion—is anything but "pro."

The reader—who is a Catholic making a case for Catholic support of Sen. Obama—states, "Obama has spoken out and worked consistently to lower abortion rates." Likewise, the NARAL fact sheet mentioned above states, "In addition to his pro‐choice record, Sen. Obama has cosponsored legislation that would prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion." It then lists these three pieces of legislation:

• Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act, H.B.320, introduced on 1/13/99 (Illinois State Senate).
• Prevention First Act, S.20, introduced on 1/24/05 (U.S. Senate).
• Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act, S.2916, introduced on 5/19/06 (U.S. Senate).

Each of these prominently features the use of contraceptives as an essential means of reducing abortions. The "Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act" states, for example, "Within 120 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 92nd General Assembly, every hospital providing services to sexual assault survivors in accordance with a plan approved under Section 2 must develop a protocol that ensures that each survivor of sexual assault will receive medically and factually accurate and written and oral information about emergency contraception..."

The 2005 "Prevention First Act" has some 95 references to "contraceptives" and "contraception"; it is also known by these titles: "Emergency Contraception Education Act," "Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act," "Family Planning State Empowerment Act," and "Truth in Contraception Act."

In similar fashion, the 2006 "Unintended Pregnancy Reduction Act" is described in this way: "To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to expand access to contraceptive services for women and men under the Medicaid program, help low income women and couples prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce abortion, and for other purposes." It also states, "A woman should have equal access to contraceptive services to help prevent an unintended pregnancy and to pregnancy-related care if she does become pregnant."

In 2007 Sen. Obama stated, in support of The Prevention Through Affordable Access Act, that:

We must do more to help low-income women and college students access affordable contraceptive drugs. No woman should be turned away from university clinics and health centers because the cost of prescription drugs is out of reach. Access to contraceptives is essential to lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies in this country, and we need to make sure these drugs are affordable and accessible. I thank Planned Parenthood and this bill’s co-sponsors for supporting this common-sense and necessary legislation. [emphasis added]

In other words, the central component of Sen. Obama's work in reducing abortion rates is increasing the use of contraceptives and access to contraceptives. And what does the Catholic Church teach about contraceptives? The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:

Also to be rejected is recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms [524]: this rejection is based on a correct and integral understanding of the person and human sexuality [525] and represents a moral call to defend the true development of peoples [526]. On the other hand, the same reasons of an anthropological order justify recourse to periodic abstinence during times of the woman's fertility [527]. Rejecting contraception and using natural methods for regulating births means choosing to base interpersonal relations between the spouses on mutual respect and total acceptance, with positive consequences also for bringing about a more human order in society. ...

All programmes of economic assistance aimed at financing campaigns of sterilization and contraception, as well as the subordination of economic assistance to such campaigns, are to be morally condemned as affronts to the dignity of the person and the family. (pars. 233, 234)

Are Catholics to believe, then, that two evils—abortion and contraception—together somehow make a right? Or that the use of one evil (contraceptives) to reduce another evil (abortion) is somehow morally agreeable and acceptable? Does the end justify the means? Of course not. The sad ironies are that 1) many contraceptives actually act as abortifacients, and 2) the evidence strongly suggests that the number of abortions increase as use of contraceptives becomes more common.

As Pope John Paul II noted in Evangelium vitae, "But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. ... The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being" (par 13).

A couple of further quick points: the argument has also been made by some that Sen. Obama will reduce abortion through education. As someone who was subjected to "sex ed" in the 1980s, forgive me for being a bit cynical about such an approach, especially if such education insists on being "neutral" when it comes to objective moral judgments. Authentic education comes from a specific system of belief about the value of human life and the purpose and meaning of human sexuality, not from a utlitarian, value-free series of classes that will most likely ignore or scoff at abstinence, never mind traditional virtues and beliefs about sexuality.

The argument has also been made that Sen. Obama will reduce abortion by somehow reducing poverty. This assumes that poverty is a primary motivation for women to have abortion and utilizes a pragmatic approach that largely ignores the moral dimensions of life issues. It also assumes that Sen. Obama would be able, if elected president, to reduce poverty. But, without going into the specifics of his economic policies or arguing about their strengths and weaknesses, why can't it also be argued that he might actually increase poverty and thus increase the number of abortions? After all, the actual result of his economic policies won't be known unless he is elected and they are implemented. It is, in other words, a crap shoot. Is that a responsible way to approach such matters?

Finally, returning to the analogy of slavery: imagine that someone who described themselves as "pro-choice" when it came to slavery supported legislation with the following language:

A man's decision to buy, trade for, own, and control a slave is a personal choice. As such, decisions regarding slavery are best made by certain men, in consultation with other slave owners or trusted associates, without governmental interference. A government may not--

(1) deny or interfere with a man's right to choose--
(A) to buy and own a slave;
(B) to sell a slave for financial gain or
(C) to terminate a slave where termination is necessary to protect the physical life or financial health of the slave owner and his family

He may call himself "pro-choice" when it comes to slavery. I may call him "pro-slavery." Regardless, this much would be clear: the white man/slave owner would enjoy rights, protection, and moral status, while the slave would not. The slave, in fact, would be legally considered either non-human or sub-human, and that legal status would mean a life of subjection, denied the basic rights due every person.

Perhaps this is a good place to remark that those who would say that fair wages, good working conditions, affordable housing, decent healthcare, global warming, and such are equal to abortion in terms of moral weight seem to forget that when an unborn child is killed, they will never have an opportunity to have a job, own a home, get medical check-ups, or breath air (whether clean or polluted). Social justice means nothing if it doesn't protect the unborn.

Those who call themselves "pro-choice" do so because they support the right to choose death for unborn children. They are "pro-abortion." Sen. Obama is pro-abortion. The most recent example of this fact is his strong public support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which he has co-sponsored. On June 17, 2007, he told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that, "Well, the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do."

The USCCB has strongly condemned FOCA and has linked to this National Committee for a Human Life Amendment page, which states:

FOCA is a radical bill. It creates a “fundamental right” to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. No governmental body at any level would be able to “deny or interfere with” this right, or to “discriminate” against the exercise of this right “in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.” For the first time, abortion would become an entitlement the government must condone and promote.

FOCA would go well beyond the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in imposing an extreme abortion regimen on our country. No other piece of legislation would have such a destructive impact on society’s ability to limit or regulate abortion. It would eliminate a broad range of laws—informed consent laws; parental involvement laws; laws promoting maternal health; abortion clinic regulations; government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth and other health care without subsidizing abortion; conscience protection laws; laws prohibiting a particular abortion procedure (e.g., partial birth abortion); laws requiring that abortions only be performed by a licensed physician; and so on.

Does this sound like the sort of legislation that would be co-sponsored by someone serious about reducing the number of abortions in the U.S.? Does it sound like the sort of Act that would be supported and championed by someone who is really against abortion?

Honestly, I'm not here to say, "Vote for this person" or "Don't vote for that person." My point is simply this: as a Catholic, be honest about the facts and don't let the misuse of language mislead you about the reality of things.

The great German philosopher Josef Pieper, who stood up the Nazis and suffered for it, wrote:

The reality of the word in eminent ways makes existential interaction happen. And so, if the word becomes corrupted, human existence itself will not remain unaffected and untainted. ...the abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the sophistic abuse of the word, indeed, finds in it the fertile soil in which to hide and grow and get ready, so much so that the latent potential of the totalitarian poison can be ascertained, as it were, by observing the symptom of the public abuse of language. (Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, pp. 14, 32-33).

And that, folks, is my not-so-simplistic response.