A dear friend of mine has a daughter who went to Catholic schools, including a Catholic college, as he did. His daughter married and became pregnant. In the course of the pregnancy, his daughter’s doctor said that there might be a serious problem with the baby.
The prospect of her facing an agonizing decision as whether to take the pregnancy to term filled him with dread. He knew where he stood on abortion, but he did not know what his daughter might decide. Tests proved that there was no problem and a healthy baby was born.
My friend is a solid Democrat and a “cradle Catholic.” Like him, there are Democrats who do not support abortion, despite the claims of many in Front Royal and Warren County. They hope that the thought process of a pregnant daughter would be as like his own, but he respects the right of his daughter to make her own moral decisions as she was trained to do.
Many if not most women no longer believe in male dominance, be it in society, economic life, or in the church. They do not need a male-dominated institution to make their moral choices for them.
As in many matters, there are many who fall somewhere in between. I am not simply pro-choice, but pro-good choice. It is my hope that a woman faced with a decision as whether to give birth, or not, will see the decision as a moral choice worthy of the most intensive discernment. Ultimately, I come down on the side of those who want abortion to be safe, legal and rare.
There were abortions performed before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade and there will be abortions performed when and if Roe is overturned. Those abortions that might be performed if Roe is overturned will not be safe or legal and, I fear, also not rare.
How can we make abortion rarer? If you consider abortion wrong, is less of a wrong good? We need to pay attention to the position of those who come down in the middle.
I do not quibble with the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and I don’t expect it to change. What I do hope will change is the politics of abortion as practiced by the church.
The decision to have an abortion is a moral choice and so are decisions to follow the teachings in the 25th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. There we are enjoined to feed the hungry so that the poor might have adequate nutrition. There are many pro-life Republicans who would repeal the Food Stamp program and repeal the Affordable Care Act while replacing it with nothing. We are enjoined by a pro-life president to vilify the stranger instead of welcome him or her. And where in the Gospel does it say to separate children from their parents when they come to us seeking safety and a better life?
Yet, many a politician who claims to be pro-life can win the approval of the church while ignoring all the admonitions of Matthew’s Gospel.
Support for a pro-life position that does not protect those on the margins of society is at best short sighted and misguided, and at worst fraudulent.
An elected leader must support all his or her constituents not just the Catholics, and surely not just those Catholics or members of other faiths who take the so-called pro-life position. Imposing one person’s view faith on another is anti-American.
It is my belief, however, that if we live in a society that denies food to the hungry, telling them that all they want is “free stuff;” fail to house the poor and homeless; maintain the death penalty and vilify the stranger at our gate, we will continue to live in a society in which many abortions are performed. The value of human life must be maintained broadly, not narrowly. Likewise, if we lived in a society where the decision to have an abortion was counter cultural because our culture values life for all people in all cases and all babies are wanted and assured care, then there would be fewer abortions.
We will never eliminate all abortions, but we can uphold the value of human life on the array of issues highlighted by Catholic social teaching. If you consider abortion to be a bad thing, then working to ameliorate a bad thing is a good thing.
We can find middle ground, if we want to.