Andrew Cuomo and the sad inheritance of ‘personal opposition’ to abortion

CNS/Brendan McDermid, Reuters (left), Carlo Allegri, Reuters (right)

Reading Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Times op-ed in defense of New York State’s new and perversely titled Reproductive Health Act, I was reminded of his father Mario Cuomo’s own tendentious arguments explaining why he, as a Catholic, could support Roe v. Wade. Andrew Cuomo's arguments share the same weakness for pious dissembling.

Both Cuomo père et fils approach the issue as political animals, and their support for abortion on demand was and is driven by Democratic party politics. Recall: Mario Cuomo entered the abortion culture wars in 1977 to provide intellectual cover for his friend, New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro, who as Walter Mondale’s presidential running mate in 1984 was the first woman, the first Italian-American and first pro-choice Catholic to run for vice president of the United States. The ticket lost both the Catholic and the Italian-American vote.

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Both Cuomo père et fils approach the issue of abortion as political animals, and their support for abortion on demand was and is driven by Democratic party politics.

The younger Cuomo’s op-ed is a bumbling political effort to tie the pro-life movement to Trumpism and—astonishingly—to argue that the Catholic Church he claims to identify with is part of evangelicalism’s faded religious right. It is also an attempt to wave away the prominent critiques of his legislation by numerous Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Father John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame. Unlike his father, the governor is prone to public pratfalls.

Mario Cuomo’s central argument, in his famous speech at the University of Notre Dame, was that while he was personally opposed as a Catholic to abortion on moral grounds—indeed, he averred, he and his wife Matilda would never abort a pregnancy—he had no right to impose his personal religious views on a pluralistic society. His son Andrew’s underlying argument mimics his father’s: that “religious values” should not “drive political decisions.” This both distorts Catholic arguments against abortion, which are based in common human dignity rather than specifically Christian revelation, and draws an incoherent line between values and politics—one that Andrew Cuomo rightly stepped over when he recently stated that the death penalty was “a stain on our conscience” and that he stood “in solidarity with Pope Francis” in opposing it.

Mario’s “personally-opposed-but” argument proved serviceable for a time for other Catholics running as Democrats for public office. But it did not prevent Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the first Catholic since the Kennedys to capture the Democratic nomination for president, from becoming the first Catholic presidential nominee to lose the Catholic vote, in 2004. That is because by then Mario’s argument had become transparently untenable.

Even Mario Cuomo himself did not adhere to his doctrine of separation between personal and public morality. The elder Cuomo was personally and passionately opposed to the death penalty: In fact, his opposition cost him the New York City mayoral election in 1977. More to the point, he continued that opposition as governor despite statewide polls showing that most New Yorkers were in favor of capital punishment. When challenged on his willingness to take take a public stand on his personal view of capital punishment and his unwillingness to do so on abortion, Mario Cuomo reached for a faux distinction only the lawyerly would make: His personal stand on the death penalty was moral, he argued, while his stand on abortion was based on his Catholic faith.

Neither Andrew nor Mario Cuomo could acknowledge what people can and do by reasoning or human intuition come to recognize: that aborting children in the womb is morally repugnant. The Catholic Church does not rely on a faith-based argument to oppose abortion, after all, but on natural law, an insight echoed in the “inalienable right to life” acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence.

Neither Andrew nor Mario Cuomo could acknowledge what people can and do by reasoning or human intuition come to recognize: that aborting children in the womb is morally repugnant.

When Mario was mulling a run for president himself, he welcomed jousting about abortion with reporters like myself. During one of several extended interviews, he told me that the whole issue was about personal liberty and quoted from a speech of his to solidify his point: “Only when liberty intrudes on another’s right, only when it does damage to another human being, only when it takes or hurts or deprives or invades may it be limited.”

“But surely abortion damages another human being,” I responded. His reply was typically coy: “Not everyone agrees when human life begins.”

Some weekends later, the governor called me at home with a proposition: The two of us would gather a panel of theologians to discuss ensoulment. His notion was that if we do not know when soul joins body, we cannot say that abortion destroys a human life.

“Come on Mario,” I said. “All you have to do is wait 266 days and see what you get. A human embryo does not become a dog or a cat.”

Like all politicians, Mario Cuomo used to cite polls that showed no consensus on abortion to bolster his argument that no Democrat could win on a pro-life platform. In his op-ed, the younger Cuomo cites polls saying most Americans are pro-choice. In fact, the New York Times columnist David Leonhardt is much closer to the truth when he writes that public opinion on abortion is deeply divided and has not changed much either way since Roe.

Gov. Cuomo cites polls saying most Americans are pro-choice. In fact, public opinion on abortion is deeply divided and has not changed much either way since Roe v. Wade.

When Mario Cuomo was governor, polls showed that most Americans were pro-choice but wanted those choices limited to the “hard cases”—rape, incest and immediate physical harm to the mother. In other words, most Americans opposed abortion for the reasons most women have them. And I suspect that remains true today. But when I showed that data to Mario Cuomo, he said he did not trust polls—that from a governor who kept a full-time pollster on his staff.

Mario Cuomo played with liberal Catholic expectations in his carefully orchestrated “personally-opposed-but” arguments. To recognize this, one has only to listen to his full-throated endorsement of legal abortion in his keynote address at the 1992 Democratic Convention—the same convention at which the Democratic National Committee refused to allow pro-life Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr. to submit a minority report on the party’s abortion plank—or even to address the convention.

Andrew Cuomo is more straightforward. His Reproductive Health Act removed even the few protections Roe allowed unborn human beings. After gleefully celebrating this legislative achievement, his only response to legitimate criticism can be that on this issue, he suspended his Catholic values in order to pursue his political goals. He seems to think that is an act of courage, but it is a dodge as transparently self-serving as his father’s “personal opposition” to abortion.

Correction, Feb, 13: A previous version of this article identified Bob Casey Sr. as a U.S. Senator in 1992; he was governor of Pennsylvania at the time.

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Stefan Svilich
5 months 1 week ago

Cuomo isn't personally opposed to abortion, he's just being a power-hungry coward.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

When are "America's" writers going to realize that just because a Catholic candidate does not win an election and he/she is pro-choice does not mean they lost because they are pro-choice?

Many Catholics, like myself, are genuinely against ever having an abortion and many would never encourage a women to get an abortion and would in fact try to help such a woman find whatever it is she needed in order to convince her she might want to consider not aborting instead, however are also genuinely Pro Choice.

Why do you ask? (No - of course you conservative sexist churchmen don't ever ask. Since asking why would mean you are listening to facts and caring about the actual unborn and mothers and your actions and ignorant blather don't really support that belief.)

Once again - the Evidence - All of the Evidence - Around the Whole World - Including the U.S. - Show us most clearly that - In Every Single Country where abortion has been made difficult to obtain or a crime there is significantly more abortion and far higher maternal death rates. This amount increases even more in countries that do not provide easy and free access to birth control.

Let us be clear: There is nothing more unhealthy for the unborn and born than death!

This means laws that always lead to more unborn and born people dying are always bad. We can call them the Bad Bad Bad Laws. Criminalizing abortions causes more abortion everywhere in the whole world. It is not complicated. The U.S. and Western and Northern Europe have the flooziest, flimsiest, loosey-goosiest laws in all the planet, and yet have the lowest abortion rates. South America and Africa have the highest abortion rates and maternal death rates and the strictest abortion laws. That is the evidence and there is no research or evidence indicating otherwise from any remotely valid sources. So maybe Cuomo and Kerry are just better at basic math or are better at comprehending statistics than this writer, Instead of, they must be BIG, EVIL, Monster Catholics! Maybe Cuomo and Kerry just want less deaths altogether and I agree with them.

By the Way: Jesus never, ever, in any gospel, told anyone, to make laws, in any country, for any reason, not even to jail people for torture and/or murder. He only asked that we, as individuals, choose to do what he has taught, and TEACH (NOT FORCE) others to do the same, while we judge and condemn no human being. No abortion law could be made just, as only women can conceive, so automatically the law is unbalanced. Do you really want to live in a society where a women who miscarries has to possibly prove she didn't abort. That is what is happening in South American Countries as we speak. Meanwhile, helping women with state funded health care, daycare, and mandatory, longer paid maternity and paternity leaves has already been proven to actually cause abortion rates to go down - especially in countries that have easy access to abortion and free birth control.

So Mr. Woodward be happy with keeping Roe v. Wade in tact,as we are on the right track to having the lowest rates of abortion in the world with it intact but not without it! Being the richest country in the world, if you should get your loving, Rich, Republican Buddies to vote for social programs, as listed above, we might actually become the lowest rate in the world. Where we are now, evidence indicates we are likely at a lower rate of abortion than before it was legalized already. So what result are you really looking for? - because your article makes no sense if you want less abortions to happen in the future. Reading and researching topics is good, I suggest you try it before you write articles and submit them for publication.

I will for the 12 or 13th time insert the evidence from Guttmacher whose evidence and research is virtually identical to the World Health Organizations Research on global abortion stats. :

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.

(Notes from my other research on this topic - bottom)

REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:

• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.
However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.
We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.
Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)
A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.
Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)
The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

Rhett Segall
5 months 1 week ago

Nora, Ross Douthat notes that States that have more liberal abortion laws have more abortions. At any rate, the issue of protecting the unborn must include ongoing efforts to awaken the conscience of every person of the inalienable dignity and right to life of the unborn. Certainly Christians have to persuade fellow Christians first. Here Biblical references are vital and must be added to biological facts:"you knit me in my mother's womb..." Psalm 139. But each of us as Christians must continue to work at it at our own level of competence, if only by prayer. Personally I find Woodward's article spot on.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

No one is denying babies are created in women's wombs. However getting emotional about that does not change the fact that dealing with the immorality of abortion by making it a crime causes more of that crime to happen.

The question is why do supposed pro lifers seem determined to answer a problem in way that exacerbates it rather than pick another better proven cure and one that does not include forcing women to use thier organs to gestate a child against their will?

Your comment expresses why we should not measure abortion rates by state instead of by the whole country because women from strict states will merely go next door where the restrictions are less. States do not demand that women be a resident of their state to obtain an abortion in that state. Fyi self aborting has also increased already in some states that have become more strict and with very ugly results.

In Ireland it was officially rated a low abortion country but records from England prove the Irish simply went to England and other countries for abortions and when these numbers are added to Ireland's amount, they are no longer a low rate. Also many Irish stated that they had been using abortion pills illegally for years so we have no idea what the rate actually is. This could start happening here too and if it does we could find that our rate jumps enormously but we are ignorant of the rate hike due to its being done under the radar. At least now we know our rate of abortion.

Sometimes I think that is all conservatives care about, the appearance of victory while caring nothing for actual lives of the unborn and women.

It is never Christian to support laws that will knowingly cause more deaths and Jesus didnt ask anyone to make any laws. If you and our hierarchy were out to stone a woman for getting an abortion. I have no doubt he would tell all of you, Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone.

None of you is seeking this law for the sake of Christ, women, or the unborn. If you support the greater rates of abortion and maternal deaths these laws will inevitably create don't expect God to find you innocent of them. You may find that just as you condemned so will you be condemned.

Rhett Segall
5 months 1 week ago

I'm wondering how you account for the fact that the number of abortions in the US has dramatically dropped between 1975 (about 1.5 million per annum) and 2015 (about 900,000)? I think it's because of the unstinting efforts of pro-life groups on multiple levels-legal, educational etc.) Of course 900,000 abortions is staggering and this is just the US. So, yes, legal efforts are nut sufficient and efforts towards awakening the conscience of Christians in this area must be continued.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

It always amazes me how pro lifers do research with obvious fact filters and expect people to take their arguments seriously.

If you researched this stat, as you must have, then you know that the most recent research shows that it is due to increases to access to birth control over the last decade or so, and especially since Obama care's offering to all women free access to quality and effective birth control that we have seen a steady decline to abortion. This agrees with Guttmacher's global trends also which show the easier access to quality birth control the lower the abortion rate in every country of the world too. The research you would have read would have pointed out that new laws restricting abortions did not go into effect in any state recently enough to give any accurate or definitive credit to their effects good or bad on abortion rates. You would also have been informed that poor women before Obama care were still often rationing the pill due to its expense and this hindered the abortion rates dropping somewhat until our now all time low, after Obama Care went into effect and its effects are now measured. The highest percentage of abortion comes from unwanted pregnancy due to failed or misused birth control.

I do believe pro life has helped to raise the consciousness of society. I would give Pro Life that much credit and making women and men realize more powerfully there is indeed a life being lost due to abortion. I would be pro life too, if this group decided to stop seeking laws to make abortion illegal, a choice of reaction which has already been proven harmful, and instead chose to seek and pursue changes in our countries laws that have already been proven to work at lowering abortion rates such as: offering free birth control, government funded quality daycare and health care and mandating much longer paid maternity and paternity leaves. Unfortunately, pro life has made the harmful choice instead which rather proves to us all that this group really does not care about the unborn or women at all but likely has a much more misogynistic purpose behind its stand and choice of actions on the issue of abortion.

Pro life wants to throw a band-aid on a heart attack patient and say to God - see Lord - we made things all better.

HOwever, neither God nor Pro Choice advocates are being fooled by this claim.

Michael Burke
5 months 1 week ago

laws must uphold justice, period.
no catholic can say dont make a just law

there is no society without law,
unjust laws ( in this case evil law)
can not b condoned period

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

Michael, which law are you referring to? Laws trying to illegalize abortion? - Which would all be unjust because they can't be designed to hinder all citizen's liberty equally since only women can conceive, among other reasons. Or do you mean Roe v. Wade? or some other laws.

Our constitution does not consider all immorality should be made illegal or criminal simply because many would find the behavior immoral. For example: adultery, pornography, lying in most cases, fornication, divorce, dishonoring one's mother or father, not loving God with all ones heart or keeping holy the sabbath are all immoral but our country does not necessary equate immorality by the majorities standards with injustice. Civil and Criminal Laws are and should be made for different reasons than Church Laws in many areas. Otherwise we cannot claim to be a country where freedom of religion exists.

John Hess
5 months 1 week ago

Hello Michael. Humans are fallen beings and nothing we make, including law, can be perfect. Imperfect law cannot exactly mirror justice, but only can approximate justice. Relentless application of the law, a human and therefore flawed artifact, must inevitably result in injustice. The only thing that can fix imperfect justice is mercy. In this case, mercy for the women and girls contemplating abortion.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

You say you want to reduce the abortion rate but don't want to make it illegal. So your proposals are, of course, free birth control, daycare, and maternity and paternity leave. Fine. How about a national campaign to educate people on the humanity of the fetus? How about waiting periods for acquiring abortions? How about making women seeking abortions attend pro-life counseling? This is more or less what is done in Germany, and the abortion rate is low in Germany. It would be hard to claim this would be ineffective. But pro-choice advocates would bristle at these ideas, so I assume they are off the table. It's not that the proposals your suggesting are bad, but if you all you can bring yourself to support are programs that are supported by pro-choice liberals for reasons that have nothing to do with abortion then the argument comes across as a bit disingenuous. Or maybe not "disingenuous" (that may be unfair), but rather half-hearted, Is lowering the abortion rate really your main concern or are you trying to use the issue as leverage to gain support on other issues?

rose-ellen caminer
5 months 1 week ago

if the options are less killing of the unborn or more killing of the unborn then that is a utilitarian ethics; a numbers game.Humans are not numbers,and each life and each capable -of -suffering- fetus - matters equally. Each unborn life being taken away and each unborn's suffering that abortion causes in each unborn being matters. That is not mere "emotionalism" but mere humanity .Which is all we have.The right to life in an enlightened advanced society at peace, is not utilitarian based. The cure to the problem of the killing the unborn[ illegal abortion] cannot be the killing of the unborn[legal abortion].The cure to the problem of killing the unborn is to change hearts and minds about the subjective perceived need[means to an end]to kill the unborn. Opposition to abortion is not a conservative issue.If that is all some people care about, that is on them. That does not invalidate the morality of opposition to abortion.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

I agree. I am liberal for the most part and believe abortion to be fully immoral but that is not what this article is really about.

It is about should abortion be made a crime and is it moral for Catholics to attack those who believe criminalizing abortion is the wrong and perhaps immoral response. I would say that criminalizing abortion is a faithless response to a faithless act.

Also, I never said that legal abortion was the cure to the immorality that abortion exists. You also need to understand that just because abortion is legal does not mean anyone is forced to get one.

We must help women and men with pregnancies that are traumatic, not corner them with laws. Women who feel cornered will react like anyone who feels trapped and cornered and these reactions are rarely the best ones.

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

Nora Bolcon
You have been magnificent in explaining and defending various aspects about women and abortion. I am mystified how people believe that being “pro-life” makes them a good Catholic while so many ignore a significant number of other moral values. When was the last time the Church declared a war to be unjust and immoral to support? We support Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen, a war that lacks any justification or morality, It has killed thousands, inflicted a devastating famine, and slowly starves the people, particularly children, a very painful, slow death. The Church did not even condemn Hitler and the Nazis government during WW II, a colossal moral failure. But, hey, the Church condemned abortion so it was “pro-life.”

Representatives in Congress and many “pro-life” people are often the same people who oppose and vote against government programs to feed, clothe, and shelter children. They usually respond that we should all give to charity to help these children.

Charities, including one of the biggest, Catholic Charities, have testified before Congress that they do not have enough resources to take care of all the basics and they need more government subsidies to care for children. If you look at the Congressional Record, you will see that most “pro-life” representatives vote against these programs, while the pro-choice representatives usually vote for the programs.

Ironically, “pro-life” people criticize women for getting an abortion for “mere economic” reasons. When it is pointed out that we must give much more governmental support for poor women, children, and pregnant women, the “pro-life” people lash back in anger and insist the government already has enough money for these programs. In other words, they do not support these programs because of economic reasons…they don’t want to pay more taxes.

Sister Joan Chittister, Order of St. Benedict, best describes my position and I have learned to say pro-birth instead of pro-life. She stated,

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality
is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."
http://gbom.org/quotes/232-sister-joan-chittister-on-abortion

Judith Jordan
5 months 1 week ago

Nora Bolcon

Like you, Nora, I would like for there to be no abortion. However, I opposed making abortion illegal for the same reasons you gave. Further, when it is illegal, many women will cause great physical, lasting damage to themselves. Or, they may die leaving other children at home who are now without a mother. Or, women will be sent to prison, creating a shattering experience for them and their children. I know that pro-birth people say that women will not be legally punished, but they have already started doing that is some states.

There is no way you can declare abortion to be legal murder and not punish the women…it would be legally absurd. Plus, women will be dragged into the public because how is the law going to punishing the person who performs the abortion without demanding that these women go to court as witnesses against the abortionists. During the presidential campaign, Trump said in an interview that the women should be punished. Typically, he knew nothing about the issue. Then the pro-birthers gave him the “message” and now he opposes punishing women. Of course, he changes his positions on issues faster than we hear them.

Robert Helfman
5 months 1 week ago

These comments are inspiring insofar as they show a compassionate and honest perspective from a Catholic point of view. My concern in commenting on the issue rests solely on the not unreasonable premise that a Catholic and Christian obsession with the issue helped elect our current Chief Executive. We attempt to contribute to a more enlightened religious and political discussion.

rose-ellen caminer
5 months 1 week ago

I agree with what Sister Joan Chittister says about what constitutes being authentically pro life. I too am appalled at the political beliefs and apparent indifference many pro lifers have on other moral issues. HOWEVER in defense of my political opponents, who take such right wing positions, I am reminded of what Jesus tells us; that "unless you become like a little child...".If you ask a child what they think about killing humans in the mothers womb, most would be horrified morally at the suggestion that this could be happening. The starkness of what abortion is, is for many people what make them fanatics on abortion but capable of rationalizing all matter manner of right wing policies that show indifference even callousness towards human beings who are born. That is how it is unfortunately. And for those people I get it.I am not one of them but I get it. They are like children for who issues of government entitlements or just and unjust far away wars and many other human caused sufferings, are are not starkly delinated[sp] moral issues. Add to that,the power of right wing political propaganda. We have to take people where they are,[Pope Francis?] [Advice to self [lol.]The so clearly obvious evil that killing the unborn is, becomes for such people the overriding moral issue;God's laws are written in our hearts and even a child can see clearly God's law when it comes to the unborn.For some adults it is the childlike moral clarity and moral repugnance of abortion [ some things are too terrible to be true , never mind legal] that cannot be accepted or put aside or rationalized. So it overrides all else.like i said before perhaps if we had more left wing people speaking out against legal abortion ;hearts and minds could change with these childlike right wing faux"pro lifers".

Robert Klein
5 months ago

Wow I have never read so much of someone trying to justify their lack of faith. Liberals trying to justify murder blaming everyone except the guilt

Peter Schwimer
5 months 1 week ago

Interesting that we sing a one note tune when it comes to reproductive rights. And we castigate elected officials who dare to disagree. But our silence is blatant when Catholic judges impose the death sentence. By and large America is silent. Nino Scalia of happy memory had absolutely no problem with the death penalty, although he allegedly personally opposed it. No one said a word. Pro life is not a one note tune, it is a whole symphony.

Laura Serna
5 months 1 week ago

Law makers are different than judges. There is a moral distinction of making and judging a law. In making a law you are clearly an actor. In judging a law you may or may not be an actor depending on the situation.

Dolores Pap
5 months 1 week ago

Cuomo wasn't elected to be the CATHOLIC governor of NY- he was elected to be governor of all its citizens, and, 73% support Roe vs Wade, as do 53% of Catholics..
You are basically advocating that voting for a Catholic politician, means accepting/condoning that they will vote their religion, and not the constitution that they were voted in to support.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

Thank you Dolores! Separation of Church and State is a great thing because it protects both parties. Let us please return to that policy. Jesus never told us to legislate our morality. Jesus was not political nor did he ask his followers to be so.

Despite what our church hierarchy may claim, they are pushing these laws for their own controlling sexist agenda, They aren't doing this lobbying for Jesus and Jesus would condemn their using their religious pull to seek political voice and power in worldly affairs.

A servant can only have one master and when he forsakes the Holy one, only the unholy master is left to worship and serve. This explains the McCarricks and the like - doesn't it.

Bev Ceccanti
5 months 1 week ago

Nora Bolcon: Your maniacal support for killing babies in the womb or birth canal for whatever reason is unholy on its face. I can't imagine you attending Mass or receiving Holy Communion or, in other words, practicing Catholicism. I would therefore suspect, since you claim to be Catholic, you are perpetrating a fraud against His Church and His teachings. Are you not concerned about slandering Jesus Christ Himself?

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

Oh Bev,

Talk about slandering Jesus! Don't you know, Jesus says you should not condemn unless you wish to be condemned? Many a Pro Lifer would do well to actually sit down and read the Gospels that are proclaimed at Sunday mass. Many, like yourself, would find the Gospel Teachings of Christ repugnant, in many areas, based on their dialogues on this blog.
Bev, Jesus never told anyone, to make any laws, in any country, regarding any subject, including actual murder, or even infanticide. Jesus taught that his followers should do what he teaches and teach, not try to force, in any way, others to do the same. He said to Judge and Condemn No One!

People who do not demand sins be made into civil or criminal laws are not supporting the sin, necessarily, but are instead supporting a better choice of response than "Jail them all!" or "Hang em High!" which you clearly prefer. Your preference has not been proven to work regarding abortion, in any country.

You might want to question your own ethics Bev since I have already shown you previously the below evidence from Guttmacher, that all strict abortion laws lead to more abortion and maternal deaths in every country of the world. Yet you still pursue these deadly laws and chastise anyone who points out what an evil and destructive choice of laws these would be to enact.

Anyway, I go to mass every Sunday and with no guilt. America, for now, with Roe v. Wade, in tact, has one of the lowest rates of abortion compared to the rest of the world, except Western and Northern Europe who have similar easy access to abortion and birth control.

Facts - No amount of wild condemnation antics will change the fact that the evidence below is correct:

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.
(Notes from my other research on this topic - bottom)
REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:
• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.
However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.
We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.
Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)
A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.
Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)
The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

rose-ellen caminer
5 months 1 week ago

Societies have different abortion rates based on how they view abortion, how they view premarital pregnancies and whether large families are desirable or not.And other factors no doubt are relevant.So not surprising that Catholic Latin America would have high rates as conventional sexual morality is prevalent. Good girls get married before they have children.Good middle upper middle class ones anyway. And there is a lot of poverty. In eastern Europe and Russia, abortion was considered birth control practically. Lack of consideration for the unborn, choice to abort as women empowerment feminist narratives, are factors that allows for people in some not highly religious countries to have high rates of abortion, even when there are very good supports in place for women and children and families[ Northern Europe] These values are ingrained and can be changed.The Christian thing IS the human thing; they are one and the same.[ that's the message of the Incarnation]!

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

I agree with some of what you are saying, I think, in that if we kept abortion and birth control easily accessible and legal and keep the already installed government funded daycare and healthcare in unreligious countries in western and northern Europe but then added to these elements, strong evangelization with a supportive and loving promotion of life in the womb, we could possibly get even these western countries to have even lower rates of abortion than now while bringing more people to Christ and the church. I do believe this is possible but I am not sure it is possible to get pro lifers to change their choice of actions on the issue of abortion and that would be necessary for this to happen.

Bev Ceccanti
5 months 1 week ago

Nora Bolcan: Condemn you? I most certainly did not. I merely described what appears to be an obvious circumstance to an educated practicing Catholic for the benefit of non-Catholics who could be led to believe you espouse anything close to Catholic teaching. (The teachings of Jesus) . I guess your answer to my question is 'No'. I have not stated /put a value judgment on your apparent choice to misrepresent. Have you?

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

[It may not be clear, but this is a response to Nora's post, the one that begins "Oh Bev..."]

The problem with this argument is the same as the argument for Democratic Peace Theory. Basically Democratic Peace Theory is based on the observation that no two Democratic countries have ever gone to war. Skeptics of DPT proposed the Golden Arches Peace Theory theory based on the observation that no two countries with a McDonalds have ever gone to war. This held true until NATO's intervention in Kosovo in 1999, although Kosovo's McDonalds shut down during the war. There have since been other wars that hurt the McDonalds theory as well, so other theories have been floated based on number of golf courses or number of cars. The link between these observations (democracy, cars, golf courses) is wealth. Most democracies are wealthy, and wealthy nations don't fight each other. (The reason the Golden Arches theory broke down is that McDonalds are no longer unique to wealthy countries)

The thing is, proponents of DPT don't want to hear this. No one wants to believe its all about the money. That makes it hard to argue against DPT because while the counterargument is pretty strong there's a tendency to treat it as unseemly and refuse to consider it.

The extreme difference in wealth is going to be the largest and most salient difference between Western Europe and any other area you choose to analyze. But of course this argument is repeated so much that it can begin to sound trite. That is presumably why your long and detailed post doesn't mention wealth differences at all- not even to dismiss their importance. A fair analysis would have to concede that all manner of social evils are going to be more difficult to combat in Africa then in the extravagantly wealthy nations of Western Europe. That's why Africa, which has -on your numbers- about twice as many abortions as Europe, has more than 4 times as many homicides. My feeling is that if Europe were to experience a major economic collapse their abortion rate would far outpace that of Africa. Obviously I can't prove this, but neither can you prove your assertion that banning abortion in Sweden would increase the rate there.

While I have seen the argument that restrictions on abortion (not contraception) increase abortion rates I have to admit this is the first time I've seen a mechanism proposed for why this might be so. I don't find the argument about middle-age women seeking abortions preemptively out of concerns about Downs syndrome very convincing. Its out of step with the reasons most women give for having abortions, and also with the typical age of women seeking abortions. I can't see this impacting more than a small sliver of abortion cases.

And regardless the argument is morally repugnant. Not only does it demand that we allow 3rd trimester abortion but it demands that we see aborting babies with Downs syndrome as somehow more acceptable then aborting healthy babies, and indeed that we see it as a sort of useful sacrifice. You say you don't condone this as Christian behavior, and I believe you, but the neutral way you discuss it is still disturbing.

I have to agree with Rose-Ellen here. This kind of utilitarian thinking isn't appropriate when considering human life. Consider it in the form of a logical proof:

Premise A: A government should not for any reason condone or allow unjust violence against its own people.
Premise B: Abortion is such a form of violence.
Conclusion: The government should not condone or allow abortion.

If you accept Premise B, which you say you do, then you have to reject Premise A, and say that under certain circumstances the government can allow unjust violence to meet certain ends. And maybe you do, but that's a tough pill to swallow for some people. And if you accept both premises then you simply have to believe that abortion should be illegal, no matter what the numbers say. Maybe that seems like fanatical, counterproductive intransigence. Maybe it is. But your approach could be seen as a sort of deal with the Devil: we'll allow something horrible, knowing it's horrible, in the hopes of seeing some good come out of it.

Laura Serna
5 months 1 week ago

The numbers you provide for support of Roe v Wade don’t exactly apply to this bill. The number of Americans who support pregnancy under any circumstance is less than 30%.
https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

The problem with the Gallup poll you are siting is it seems to be seeking a pro life response. You will notice that the poll does not ask do you believe abortion should be legal in most circumstances. This matters because many people would be against a women aborting after her sixth or seventh month for no reason at all, or if a woman wanted to abort very late term because they don't want a certain gender or race baby.

If you add the category do you believe abortion should legal under most circumstances the results go up much higher on the yes it should be legal, usually up to sixty percent, or more on some polls. Also, Gallup was found in 2012 to be most inaccurate poll compared to competing polls so that should be considered too.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

Nothing about that poll seemed to be deliberately gunning for a pro-life response to me. By the same token the opening question didn't include an option for "Only legal to save the mother's life" which would be considered a strong pro-life position but would put someone on the middle of this poll. But they do break down the numbers by asking about different potential causes later in the poll. Gallup isn't infallible but they are a highly reputable polling institution. I don't think they're deliberately putting their thumb on the scale.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

If Cuomo's Catholicism and his politics are in conflict then Cuomo should either admit that it is impossible for him to be a faithful Catholic and refuse to take the host (I'm not sure he takes it anyway) or resign.

Robert Klein
5 months ago

What if Jesus went along with the percentages

Tim Donovan
5 months 1 week ago

I'm 56 years old, and for more than 30 years I was a registered Democrat. For the past 6 years I have been a registered moderate Republican, who often still agrees with positions typically espoused by the Democratic party. When I was in my late teens throughout my mid twenties, I considered myself to be an agnostic. I tried my best to be a good person, but seriously doubted God's existence. In my late twenties, I again began to regularly attend Mass. Being a Catholic who's gay, I had sex with men years ago. However, I regretted my acts, and received forgiveness and consolation through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As an imperfect Catholic (I regularly go to confession each month) I certainly understand the difficulties faced by many pregnant women. At age 18 my best friend Jerry in 1982 was in college, and in early 1982 he was told by his 17 year old high school senior girlfriend Rose that she was pregnant. At that time Rose's older sister Kathy told her that she,had aborted her developing baby sometime in the past. Kathy was a nurse, so surely she was knowledgeable about the facts regarding prenatal development. Like most women who have abortions, she had an unintended pregnancy. Although I didn't agree with her decision to abort her fetus (which in latin means "young one"-- reason strongly suggests that the "young one" of a pregnant female human being is also a human being) I didn't harbor feelings of hatred against her. Jerry and Rose married nine months after the birth of their son, Michael. Both Kathy and me greatly enjoyed helping to raise Michael as he grew up (by babysitting, buying clothes, etc). Some years later, Kathy became a single parent of a daughter. Undoubtedly, the fact that I'm gay in the minds of many people disqualifies me from having the right to a valid opinion regarding abortion. However, I believe my experience helping to care for children (my friend's son and three other children, my three nieces and nephew, and six years instructing children with brain damage as a Special Education teacher) gives me sufficient experience to view the right to life of the unborn as a human rights issue. The late village Voice journalist Nat Hentoff was a self-described Jewish atheist and former board member of tye American Civil Liberties Union. Surely, he was a very small minority among the pro-life community. However, Hentoff (who like me also opposed capital punishment) in my view demonstrates that one need not be a member of any faith to recognize the biological fact that abortion kills an innocent unborn human being. I would also recommend the book written by Landrum Shettles, M. D., "Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth." Shettles states that he isn't a Catholic, and presents in extensive detail the biological evidence that confirms that from fertilization, the unborn are human beings. He was friends with the late Alan Guttmacher, M.D. Guttmacher was a former President of Planned Parenthood, and early in his medical career clearly stated that biology confirmed that the unborn were human beings. As Dr. Shettles observed, the movement to legalize abortion was based on "sociology, not biology." Like me, Dr. Shettles favors legal methods of contraception that aren't abortive, as well as sterilization ( for aduots, not minors). I must honestly affirm that I do support St. Paul VI's teaching in Humanae Vitae, which among other points (such as favoring natural family planning) stated men could favor and use contraception and lose respect for women, and "may come to the point of considering her a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion." Another advocate of legal abortion for any reason who was, raised by a mother who was a Protestant minister is the former President of Planned Parenthood from 1978-1992, the nurse, Faye Wattleton. In an interview in Ms. Magazine (May/June 1997), Wattleton was honest. She stated, I believe we have deluded ourselves,into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing...we cannot say yes, it kills a,fetus. " Here's more honesty from the medical community. In 1970, in an editorial in California Medicine by authors who favored legal abortion, it was stated: "...the result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous, whether intra or extra-uterine until death."

Michael Bindner
5 months 1 week ago

Cuomo's position is the natural follow-on to Digniatis Humanae, which declared that we are not obligated as Catholics to force our nations to become Catholic. He should have cited this Vatican II document. As for the younger Cuomo, he was correct. The bishops who condemned him and those in sympathy sold their souls to the GOP, hook, line and Trump long ago.

I am still wondering if the GRU hacked the HRC campaign and had the USCCB ready to pounce on her regarding partial birth abortion, which is illegal regardless of the New York law.

I would have preferred Cuomo to publicly school the hierarchy on why Roe was rightly decided, regardless of whether this had alienated Catholic voters. They were alienated anyway.

Tim Donovan
5 months 1 week ago

I'm an imperfect Catholic who favors as an ideal the consistent ethic of life . This is a position taken by among others the late Rev. Daniel Berrigan. Sister Helen Prejean, the anti- death penalty advocate. Also included is Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director who had two abortions and is the director of a,group, And Then There Were None (ATTWN). ATTWN has provided financial assistance to over 300 former abortion clinic staff, including 7 abortion doctors to help them find new, respectable jobs), I believe as a,former registered Democrat of more than 30 years (I'm now 56) who's now a pro-life moderate Republican who still frequently agrees with "typical" positions espoused by the Democratic party, I believe that Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion for any reason up until the time when the unborn infant/fetus is viable is the paramount human rights issue facing our nation. I might add that Doe v. Bolton held that even after viability, that abortion was permitted for very broad "health" reasons. The court, according to the Wikipedia website, defined health as "all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age--relevant to tye well being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health." I respectfully suggest that you read ( as I did several times years ago) "Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse" by former Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon. She notes in her compelling book which addresses several issues other than legal abortion that prominent proponent of legal abortion Professor Lawrence Tribe criticized in scathing language Roe as being contrary to the Constitution. I might add that other legal scholars who favor legal abortion (including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) have criticized the reasoning of Roe.

Bev Ceccanti
5 months 1 week ago

Constitutional scholars say Roe v Wade is bad law, The reasoning it tried to extract from the 14th amendment was contorted at best. It was a political decision that imposed the Court's will on the people and defied the constitutional rights of others. It denied the right to life of one class of people in favor of another class. It denied the constitutional rights of most of the population who wanted limits on abortion. It effectively gave a woman the right to abort for any reason by virtue of the 'woman's health' clause, which could mean anything. It wiped off laws in 50 states that had been created by duly elected legislatures, the appropriate bodies. Also, scientists agree, and it's easily observed by DNA that the zygote is a young human being, not to mention one can see the obvious exposition of a child in amniocentesis etc. In addition, the pro-abortion maniacs are constantly pushing to force others who are repulsed with taking a human life into participating in this horrific action by way of employment, taxes etc. The only reason this amendment is justified at this point is the fact its been an amendment for so long. We had better not vote for the Planned Parenthood Party this time around because we need Justices who will balance the constitutional rights of everyone,

Mary Lund
5 months 1 week ago

Roe v Wade is not a law; it is a decision by the Supreme Court. In his confirmation hearings, Justice Gorsuch pointed out that Congress was free to pass a law about abortion rights.
Personally, I would like to see this issue addressed by the medical community, and its ethics boards. Whether we are pro-choice or not, contraception, in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research, end of life treatment, organ donation, etc. remain difficult personal choices in a free society. Things are only going to get more complicated. The Church can advise on those choices.

Bev Ceccanti
5 months 1 week ago

In the public square, the pro-life position can be argued successfully on Constitutional grounds alone, Dred Scott was completely overturned because it was bad law.

Vincent Gaglione
5 months 1 week ago

Mr. Woodward’s underlying premise is that Catholics must support anti-abortion legislation. My reply is, why?

If we agree, and as he states, that most citizens oppose abortion except in the case of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother, how do we as Catholics accept such legislation? I suggest that there is a degree of duplicity in the public face of the Catholic positions on anti-abortion legislation. Are we or aren’t we opposed to all abortions from the moment of conception or not, no matter the reason? And are we or aren’t we opposed to any and all forms of contraception? These facts we leave out of the public debate because we full well know that, in a pluralistic society, our rigid Catholic positions on both topics would never fly in the political sphere. In fact, our positions would be seen as an attempt to impose Catholic morality on a pluralistic nation.

I have asked this question at least once before in a comment posted on this site: are we as Catholics required by the Church to support legislative attempts to prohibit abortion? If so, who says so and where does it say so? The success of the persuasiveness on this to me by the Bishops is no different than the success of their persuasiveness to our Catholic community about ending resort to abortions, which Catholics sadly do in equal proportion to non-Catholic citizens.

In the latest round of debate and discussions about late term abortions, I have been appalled by the harsh language and rhetoric used by some of our clergy and anti-abortion activists to describe what is, as I have learned through various media, some of the most wrenching, trying and difficult circumstances which people face. To categorize husbands and wives in these circumstances as “baby-killers” does nothing to advance our efforts to evangelize people to our position on abortions. Indeed, I have never thought nor will I ever believe that our evangelization requires legislation to accomplish what we cannot do through human interactions, preaching and teaching.

Christopher Minch
5 months 1 week ago

I agree fully with your statement Mr. Gaglione and the other pro-choice stances here. I have taken a college level beginning Constitutional Law course, very difficult reading but also very informative. The one thing I learned is that constitutional law is evolving. One law may be settled for some time and get overturned or nullified decades later by other cases and constitutional scholars, jurists and citizens on both sides will debate endlessly if this was done rightly or wrongly.

I also fully agree that the Catholic Church position is non-debatable. Pope Paul VI's encyclical painted the Catholic Church into a theological corner regarding contraception that most of the cultures and world we live in now would never accept if forthrightly proclaimed and admitted too. The Catholic Church has a right to its position but it should not expect that they should be able to force the rest of the world by law with its fines, imprisonment and in some US states even the death penalty to agree with it.

Evangelization, the spread of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is the prime mission of the Catholic Church and all Christian churches. How we live this out personally in our lives and witness to this to others can take many forms but I agree with you and other pro-choice writers this is not to done by the brute force of law, Jesus' words and examples do not support this. But rather as you said through one-to-one human interactions, teaching/catechesis, preaching and I would add aid, information, direction and support for those who are unsure of what to do.

We live in a pluralistic society, I didn't agree with the 2nd Iraqi war but I had to pay my taxes just like everyone else did here. I don't agree that billionaires and huge corporations should have been given the huge lion share of the tax breaks that they recently got by a Republican controlled congress but I agree with the principle that elections have consequences. I don't agree with the Supreme Court decision that a well-regulated militia equates to every type of conceivably imagined personal firearm is the right of all US citizens without limits or regulations as long as you are law abiding but I have to live with it and I support gun control groups in their efforts to make common sense gun law regulations. This is what living in a pluralistic society means. It doesn't mean we force our religious beliefs and laws on others and this is the meaning of separation of Church and State. It's protections keeps us from having to observe all other religions' laws and beliefs.

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

Amen to that Christopher.

rose-ellen caminer
5 months 1 week ago

In a pluralistic society we don't enforce our religious beliefs on others.But abortion is not just a religious belief. It the killing of unborn - including at some point capable- of -feeling pain humans.Which makes it a human rights issue. It rightfully can be contested in a pluralistic secular society. The Constitutionality of it today does not render the issue irrelevant. The Constitution can be interpreted to mean whatever people in power want it to mean.And we have allowed barbarities to be lawful with our Constitution. So that is not the issue either. The issue is when if ever is it ethical to kill the unborn,including those capable of suffering humans.And those already born as the New York law allows.

Bev Ceccanti
5 months 1 week ago

Rose Ellen: There was once a Constitutional amendment said Black men were 3/5ths of a person.

Warren Patton
5 months 1 week ago

I'm not sure what your point is, Christopher. Yes we live in a pluralistic society, and within that society the Church has just as much right to make their case in public as anyone else, which is just what they are attempting to do. That the argument comes from a religious group does not make the argument inherently Theocratic. And just because a law is in agreement with a religious teaching does not make it a violation of the Establishment Clause.

E.Patrick Mosman
5 months 1 week ago

While Andrew Cuomo may think that “Not everyone agrees when human life begins.”
these experts do.
"In 1981 (April 23-24) a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings
on the very question before us here: When does human life begin?
Appearing to speak on behalf of the scientific community was a group of
internationally known geneticists and biologists who had the same story
to tell, namely, that human life begins at conception - and they told their
story with a profound absence of opposing testimony.
--Dr. Micheline M. Mathews-Roth, Harvard medical School, gave
confirming testimony, supported by references from over 20 embryology
and other medical textbooks -- that human life began at conception.
--"Father of Modern Genetics" Dr. Jerome Lejeune told the lawmakers: "To
accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human
has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion ... it is
plain experimental evidence."
--Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic,
added: "By all the criteria of modern
molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
--Dr. McCarthy de Mere, medical doctor and law professor, University of
Tennessee, testified: "The exact moment of the beginning of personhood
and of the human body is at the moment of conception."
--Dr. Alfred Bongiovanni, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, concluded,
"I am no more prepared to say that these early stages represent an
incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to
the dramatic effects of puberty ... is not a human being."
--Dr. Richard V. Jaynes: "To say that the beginning of human life cannot be
determined scientifically is utterly ridiculous."
--Dr. Landrum Shettles, sometimes called the "Father of In Vitro Fertilization" notes,
"Conception confers life and makes that life one of a kind." And on the
Supreme Court ruling _Roe v. Wade_, "To deny a truth [about when life
begins] should not be made a basis for legalizing abortion."
--Professor Eugene Diamond: "...either the Justices were fed a backwoods
biology or they were pretending ignorance about a scientific
certainty."

Nora Bolcon
5 months 1 week ago

And many other experts would disagree. Like it or not when a person becomes a human being depends on one's faith and opinion.

E.Patrick Mosman
5 months 1 week ago

"ike it or not when a person becomes a human being depends on one's faith and opinion."
Surely you jest! Undoubtedly the most unscientific statement that could be uttered or written by supposedly an intelligent human being, but I could be wrong.

John Hess
5 months 1 week ago

The idea that we are human beings from the moment of conception must be a modern innovation. This is why we don't have ancient funeral rites for miscarriages.

Crystal Watson
5 months 1 week ago

Cuomo is right. Politicians should not impose their personal religious beliefs, minority religious beliefs at that, on all their constituents. Would you want a Muslim politician imposing Sharia law on everyone? Maybe a splinter Mormon politician imposing polygamy? A Jehovah's Witness imposing an end to blood transfusions? The NY law is not "abortion on demand" - there are restrictions.

rose-ellen caminer
5 months 1 week ago

Does a zygote have soul? That's a theological issue.That it is [a human zygote]and alive is a biological fact. That [human] embryos are alive is biology.That fetuses and newborns can feel pain is too. The belief in the inherent right to life is not a mere religious belief , like polygamy and sharia. [sharia can have different practices , like an obligation to be charitable.Some "sharia laws" should and already are being imposed; like disability and welfare benefits to the needy for example. If there were enough polygamous relationships in the US, and there were a grass roots movement to legitimize it, then one day polygamy could become a civil right regardless of it going against our christian beliefs.No medical facility should honor a persons religious belief to not transfuse; religious dogma stops when you demand someone else kill you rather then save you when they easily can.No one is obligated to consent to this.[IMO].]The belief in ones right to ones own life, in ones autonomy as a human being/body is the foundation of all ethics and social contracts. Violations result in conflicts.It is not exclusively religious which is why the frustration when people especially politicians say they are personally opposed but believe others can have abortions.I don't know if a zygote has a soul. I do know that a fetus can feel pain .I do know that an embryo is alive with a heart beat and rudimentary brain waves; that it is not just a part of a woman's body. It's alive, and it's human. because it is already alive and already human it has a right to its life therefore. that's basic ethics,that is not religion.

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