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24 April 2004

Life, Choice and the piety of politicians

On the eve of tomorrow's huge pro-choice march in Washington, Jeanne of Body and Soul and Kevin of Lean Left both address the subject of Nigerian cardinal Arinze's ill-considered remark about denying communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians (e.g. Kerry). Jeanne has some good things to say about an idea I like (she is quoting Ono Ekeh in the National Catholic Reporter): the idea that Catholics (or other nominally pro-life believers) who are liberal politically take a "demand-side" position on reducing the number of abortions. As Jeanne says, this is far less cynical than the usual "I am politically pro-choice but find abortion morally repugnant" line that a lot of religious liberals take. "Supply-side" conservative abortion opponents seek to reduce abortions by making them illegal, of course, but the "demand-side" approach says to offer women more choices - it often comes down to money, which is the leading cause women cite for why they chose an abortion. And of course, this approach also addresses the horrendous hypocrisy of the official Republican position, that the right to life begins at conception and stops at birth.
In the comments to Jeanne's post there are more interesting points raised about collateral issues. One cites Sursum Coda, the blog of a Catholic political moderate:
"I’ve offered the following thought experiment before: imagine that there was a mysterious disease that caused more than one million women a year—most of them low-income and many of them women of color—to spontaneously miscarry halfway through their first trimester. Would we not see this as a national tragedy worthy of public attention? Would we not expect the Democratic Party, the historic defender of the health and welfare of working class people, to offer some solutions?"
My response to that is - what, you mean like the way they fell all over themselves to find a solution to AIDS in the 80s and 90s? I think this guy is just a little naive. However, the prize for naivete must go to Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, here cited in another comment in Body and Soul, in an opinion in Casey v. Planned Parenthood:
""Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education." Does it indeed? I have to say, as a mother who raised two children under the laws of the US of A, that was never my experience. And it is less true today in some states, as this horrifying article in the Guardian illustrates:
"In the name of foetal rights, women across the US have been dragged bleeding from hospitals into prison cells hours after giving birth, charged with homicide following stillbirths, pinned to hospital beds and forced to have Caesareans against their will, or had their babies removed at birth after a single positive test for alcohol or drugs. Since the mid-70s around 300 women have been arrested for these transgressions, and 30 states now have foetal homicide laws."
All of which is a good reason to go to Washington tomorrow. I salute you and thank you if you will be there.

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