Kerry, attempting to downplay his pro-abortion record by cozying up to religious folks in the Heartland, according to the Washington Post:
But even as he tried to avoid making news Sunday, Kerry broke new ground in an interview that ran in the Dubuque, Iowa, daily, the Telegraph Herald. A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat recently from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."
Spokesman Stephanie Cutter said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins.
"I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America." The comments came on the final day of a three-state Midwest swing, during which Kerry has repeatedly sought to dispel stereotypes that could play negatively among voters in the Heartland.
Kerry here is simply re-hashing the "same-old, same-old" line of defense employed by Mario Cuomo back in 1984, in a famous speech on abortion at the University of Notre Dame. In , Robert P. George described this speech as having provided:
. . . a virtual playbook for pro-abortion Catholic politicians who wished to claim that their public support for "the right to choose" abortion was not inconsistent with their personal moral opposition to deliberate feticide. It taught liberal politicians of every religious persuasion how to explain to Catholic constituents that their differences with the bishops over the particular issue of abortion are overshadowed by their broad agreement with the bishops across the wide range of "quality of life" issues. It relieved much of the internal and external tension experienced by public men and women, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who wanted to be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time. ("The Failure of Catholic Political Leadership"Crisis April 2000)
But on the contrary, it is the clear position of the Catholic Church that:
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."
"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."
With respect to legislation, the Church grounds its teaching on abortion not in divine revelation but rather in natural law, with an appeal to human reason. As George Weigel states: "The Church's pro-life teaching is something that can be engaged seriously by anyone. . . . you don't even have to believe in God to engage this [pro-Life] position because it's a position rooted in basic embryology and in basic logic, and anybody can engage that."
Anybody, that is to say, except Kerry. Let's pray that our priests and bishops have the courage to challenge "the Cuomo Defense," and follow the specific instructions of Cardinal Ratzinger.