John Kerry made a familiar statement about abortion last week. Bill Clinton said it before him. Many Democrats who wish to remain in the good graces as well as the political clutches of the abortion-rights lobby say it. Kerry said he wants to keep abortion "safe, legal and rare."
I understand "safe" (though it's never safe for the baby and often not the woman). I understand "legal" (though contemporary jurisprudence is shifting sand). I don't understand "rare." Unless the pre-born child is human and worthy of the law's protection, why care if abortion is rare or common? Is Kerry attempting to satisfy the tug of conscience deep within this professed Roman Catholic that the teachings of his church are true and that he needs a kind of moral cover - genuflecting in the direction of truth but making no effort to slow or stop abortions should he gain the power to do so?
...In his memoir, "Inside: A Public and Private Life," Joseph A. Califano Jr. - a Catholic Democrat who worked in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations - expounds on his struggle with the abortion issue. After being nominated as Johnson's secretary of health, education and welfare, Califano, who opposed federal funding for abortion unless the woman's life was jeopardized, consulted his pastor, a Jesuit priest named James English. Califano writes, "I first confronted the tension between my religious beliefs and public policy on the searing issue of whether Medicaid should fund abortions." He says his priest told him while most of our laws are founded on moral values, "my obligation to my personal conscience was satisfied if I expressed those views forcefully. If another view prevailed, however, I was free, indeed obliged, to enforce the law. 'In a democratic society, you are free to struggle to change the law even as you enforce the one on the books,' he said." (Califano was interviewed on my TV show, where he talked about this and other issues.)
The problem for Kerry is that he won't even go that far. He is pro-abortion, for any reason and at any time. He has not said how he would work to make abortion "rare," except that like others who hold this position he would probably advocate more birth control, which would also place him in opposition to the teachings of his church.
Like the pro-life hospital administrator and nurses, Kerry has a choice: either "resign" as a Catholic, or withdraw from the presidential race. To be president and not even attempt to make abortion "rare" by changing the law that has permitted so many, even for convenience, ignores the power of the presidency and trivializes his faith. In the one case, it leaves an individual open to a charge of hypocrisy. In the other, it puts him in jeopardy of being labeled a heretic.
Actually there is a third option. Remain a Catholic and repent of the positions contrary to the faith. Which would be as Ms. Hays says in a article below a "Holy Flip Flop."
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.