One of the most interesting parts of the second debate was when both candidates spoke on the issue of abortion (Catholics for Bush has the transcript). Sarah Degenhart asked what most people might think was a fairly straightforward and understandable question: "Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?"
Senator Kerry gave a long and convoluted answer, which I wanted to unpack:
Kerry: First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today.
Isn't it interesting that immediately upon being challenged on abortion Kerry feels compelled to defend his credibility as a Catholic? -- I suspect that Ms. Degenhart probably wasn't the slightest bit interested in the fact that Kerry was an alter boy.
Kerry: But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that.
We've already been over this so many times already (Weigel Weighs In", April 2004). The Church's moral teaching on abortion is not a religious article of faith -- it appeals to the basic scientific, biological fact that an unborn life is a human life, and to the natural law which it proposes is available by reason to all citizens, independent of divine revelation, that human beings simply have no right to murder the most weak and innocent among us, for any reason.
Kerry: But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. I can talk to people, as my wife Teresa does, about making other choices, and about abstinence, and about all these other things that we ought to do as a responsible society.
This statement not only flies in the face of Senator Kerry's vocal support of abortion rights at every possible opportunity, it is blatantly contradicted by his vehement opposition to President Bush's funding of abstinence programs and crisis pregnancy centers, which in fact make a point to counsel pregnant mothers that there are other choices and options available besides abortion.
Kerry: But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment. Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro- abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you don't deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they can't afford it otherwise.
That is to say, Kerry defends a mother's "constitutional right" to kill her offspring, even at the cost of funding such with taxpayer dollars of those who find the practice morally abhorrent.
Kerry: That's why I think it's important. That's why I think it's important for the United States, for instance, not to have this rigid ideological restriction on helping families around the world to be able to make a smart decision about family planning. . . .
Isn't it great when you expess your religious opposition to abortion during a Q&A session and the self-proclaimed "Catholic alter boy" candidate refers to your moral stance as a "rigid ideological restriction"?
Kerry: . . . You'll help prevent unwanted children, unwanted pregnancies. You'll actually do a better job, I think, of passing on the moral responsibility that is expressed in your question. And I truly respect it.
To summarize: Sarah Degenhart voices her moral opposition to having her taxpayer dollars fund abortion, and Senator Kerry expresses his "respect" for her position by convincing her that it would be "morally responsible" of her to take the opposite position by supporting the murder of "unwanted children."
It's no wonder that President Bush responded to Kerry's remark: "I'm still trying to decipher that."
Here is President Bush's response to Ms. Degenhart:
President Bush: My answer is, we're not going to spend taxpayers' money on abortion.
Was that so difficult?
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.