Why is Cardinal George Silent about Abortion in the Current Health Care Bill?

Monday, January 4, AD 2010

When Cardinal George requested that pro-life Republicans vote for the Stupak amendment to the health care bill, he was shaming conservative American legislators that they need to stand up for what they claim in public.  Cardinal George discounted reasonable Republican objections  that this was just a ploy by Nancy Pelosi to get pro-life Democrats on board knowing full well that all pro-life language would be stripped in the joint chambers conference committee.

Was Cardinal George this naive to fall for this parliamentary trick?  Can we assume he isn’t this naive?

No, Cardinal George is not this naive because why would the Vatican choose him to lead a diocese?  The Vatican certainly takes its time to make wise and knowledgeable decisions don’t they?  The Holy Spirit guides them in their work, granted that this is done primarily through the teachings of the Church.  Though we can be reasonable enough knowing that the Vatican wouldn’t choose someone who is incompetent to be a shepherd to his flock.

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29 Responses to Why is Cardinal George Silent about Abortion in the Current Health Care Bill?

  • Well, this is no excuse for the Cardinal — but the Republicans who thought about not voting for Stupak were acting on a consequentialist impulse. For all they knew, Pelosi could have had the votes and by their miscalculation, a bill with Capps language could have left the chamber when it could have gone differently.

    You don’t vote “present” and leave the unborn undefended on the presumption that such a provision would be stripped from the final bill. That’s consequentialism. You vote for the provision because it is the morally right thing to do regardless of the circumstances. I agree with the Cardinal because the GOP was behaving according to a moral theory (one that they tend to follow a lot in my view) that is deeply flawed.

    The fact that the Cardinal has not used his position to make statements toward members of the opposite party is open and free for criticism.

    I just don’t think the Republican objections were reasonable — it was a strategy to fight the health care legislation by any means, to the point of compromising basic ethics.

  • Moreover the writer you cite — whose views obviously differ from my own — far from just being partisan in his presenation, which I have no qualms with per se, but it is obviously clear he has not done his homework.


    Last I checked, the USCCB has not endorsed the final passage of the health care reform legislation. Actually, the opposite is true.

  • But I do believe the GOP was right to vote against it. The Dems simply didn’t have the votes to begin with. They went against their better judgment, but got out-foxed by Cardinal George.

  • Eric,

    I know the opposite is true, but why the silence on behalf of Cardinal George?

    What will the USCCB do if the bill passes with abortion being funded by the federal government? Will they oppose that one particular premise yet hail the rest of the bill as “good” for America? Splitting the difference, but compromising their moral authority and hence cause a scandal to the whole Church?

  • Well, I will maintain my civil disagreement. I think such a position incorrectly applies natural law norms. In fact, the angered response of pro-life organizations at the news of the GOP helping a pro-life measure sink was quite appropriate.

    The Democrats did not appear to have the votes, sure. But what if for some reason they did? And we did not forsee it? Who forsaw even after the legislation passed in the House that it would survive the Senate hurdle?

    I agree entirely with Represenative Pitts who after the legislation passed, together with pro-life House Democrats and Republicans, reiterated you do not play politics with human life. The unborn should not be subjected to some consequentialist political gamble to stop legislation that one opposes. You vote for the unborn and do everything within the restraints of the moral law to stop bad legislation. I think to act otherwise amounts to moral compromise.

  • Thanks for being civil!


  • I have no idea. I’m not speaking in favor of Cardinal George. I am sometimes disheartened because I believe Republicans get a “pass” from pro-life Catholics often because of their opposition to abortion. So, I sometimes see such a thing as “finally.” On the other hand, when it stops for the other side that is problematic — we cannot have a double-standard, which is the very thing I oppose. So I am not defending the Cardinal in that regard — only in his initial criticism.

    The USCCB will surely speak out against the bill. I think they would actively in the Midterm elections advocate that Catholics be conscious of candidates’ position on that issue.

    If anything, the USCCB — if happy with the other provisions in the legislation — would only want the abortion language changed. In other words, roll back the abortion funding only.

  • wow, excellent post. Very revealing..and sad at the same time. If our Catholic leaders don’t stand up for the unborn, who will?

  • Eric,

    I’m with you on that.

    Though the USCCB has criticized the current bill in the Senate, so they deserve that recognition.

    I’m waiting to see the final outcome and see how they respond.

  • Chicago political blogger Tom Roeser has long asserted that the Archdiocese of Chicago is for all practical purposes a subsidiary of the Cook County Democratic Party (which he refers to as “The Squid”). Perhaps that would explain why Cardinal George saves his criticism for Republicans?

    Roeser is a very conservative Catholic (politically and liturgically) and I don’t always agree with everything he says, but he may be onto something here. Here is a recent post by him on this topic:


    I note that the two staunchly pro-life auxiliary bishops he names as having voted in the Republican primary are the two most often mentioned as prospective candidates for just about every episcopal vacancy that has come up in the last few years….

  • Eric,

    I agree that one can never vote for the creation or increase of abortion funding. Moral prohibitions bind, as the latin says, semper et pro semper. But must one always vote against such funding, if one can absent oneself from voting at all? Moral exhortations don’t bind the way prohibitions do. You can never steal, but you can refrain from making a contribution to the poor at times. You can never contracept, but you don’t have to be trying to get pregnant at every moment.

    You raise an important point, and I think it’s worth discussing.

  • Strategically, the Republicans should have voted against the amendmendment. However, the bill passing without the amendment would have placed them in an ethical dilemma and I can see whey they voted for it.

    My outrage is at Pelosi and the top Democrats for using the abortion issue as a bargaining tool to pass healthcare legislation. The bishops should be more outspoken about this point.

  • I don’t see the problem. The bishops opposed the House’s expansion of abortion, and the pro-life congressmen voted against it (actually, voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment which blocked it). The bishops again opposed it in the Senate, and were unsuccessful. When the final bill comes to Congress, if it increases abortion, the bishops (and, I hope, a sufficient number of congressmen) will oppose it.

    It’s not the bishops’ duty to anticipate political maneuvers. Indeed, if the bishops denounced the Stupak Amendment on the suspicion that it would be dropped in conference, that would only weaken their voices. They’ve been clear: nay on abortion coverage.

  • Where is it written that the bishops’ consciences must be represented by the USCCB? If every bishop wrote to the representatives and senators from his district and spoke to the people of his diocese, that would certainly have more effect than the words of the [arch]bishop of Chicago. As Abp. Chaput put it neatly “bishops should not be speaking to politicians. They should be speaking to their flock and the flock speaking to the politicians”.

    Cardinal George is not a sort of American pope.

    The problem, I suppose, is that our bishops have lost much of their credibility with the sheep because of the cover-ups in the sex scandals.

    As far as morality goes, it is the personal effort that counts with Our Lord, not indirect government roles. [“I gave at the office”]. Such problems are best solved locally and one by one.

  • Gabriel,

    I am pointing out he hypocrisy of Cardinal George’s actions, or non-actions.

    I don’t have any respect, nor do I recognize the legitimacy of the USCCB.

    I agree though that if the bishops would act more like ‘bishops’ rather than being someone’s friend or a Democratic Party groupie, they would gain the trust and respect of the laity and this country would be in a much better shape than it is now.

  • Lest anyone forget the USCCB sent out flyers to parishes across the country urging parishioners to oppose any healthcare plan that included abortion coverage.

    As Eric and other posters have also pointed out, the Bishops have been adamant about Stupak being included in the bill; this is as far as they have gone, and, frankly, is about as far as they can (and probably should) go, politically speaking. Questions about the intricacies of actual healthcare policy (will a public option work or not, etc.) are not “do or die” moral questions like abortion and euthanasia, but fall to the expertise of individual politicians to decide. It is best for the USCCB to remain nuetral on such matters while insisting that the allowance of any moral evil in the bill (abortions, etc.) impels a legislator to vote against it – which is exactly what they’ve been doing!

    Where is their any proof that Cardinal George is either for or against the House healthcare bill as passed? This article has nothing but speculation – where are the words of C. George himself that imply he supports the Pelosi bill? Did he ask parishioners to unconditionally support a bill that included the Stupak amendment? No. He merely asked that the lives of babies and their mothers take priority over political victories – hence the strong support for Stupak. Eric, Pinky, and Rep. Pitts are right. To vote “no” on Stupak as an amendment is to vote against the unborn – it’s placing a potential political victory ahead of the lives of the unborn.

    I have personally congratulated many people in the Chicago Archdiocese who worked with the Cardinal on this and I asked them to forward my accolades and gratitude to him. I find his actions to be heroic, not cowardly – partisan shill C. George is not, and this article is at best misinformed, at worst a calumny.

  • Andy K.,

    It’s interesting that you accuse me of speculation.

    I made a concerted effort to only report the facts, withholding my opinion.

    He was vociferous in demanding pro-life Republicans vote for the health care amendment, though he is dead silent when it gets revised in the Senate.

    And yes, you are correct, Cardinal George has been conspicuously silent about the bill.

    My speculations are reserved for the commbox. And I will only say he has continued to do nothing at all.

    And having the USCCB send out flyers is not the role of a bishop, ie, hide behind a bureaucratic organization.

    Where are our shepherds?

    Where is our Saint Ambrose?

  • Tito’s final question reminds me that we need to be *praying* for courageous bishops. Frankly, I think that’s the most effective avenue available to the vast majority of us.

  • Chris B.,

    I wish I could have said that.

    You’re right, lets pray for our bishops.

  • I’m with Eric and the Stupakites on this one. It’s hard to say what the result of trying to play it strategically would have been, but gutting the bill of a clearly-worded rejection of abortion would have been a recognized defeat for life.

  • These so-called health care bills are so horrible and anti-Christian and anti-American that abortion is not the only reason to oppose and destroy them. Since abortion is an intrinsically evil act it must be opposed no matter what political ploys are being used.

    To be in favor of these monstrosities is to discount the massive evil perpetrated by every government that has ever entered into this arena. It is foolish to think the National (oh, how I wish it were actually federal and respected subsidiarity) government we are burdened with will be any less evil.

    Cardinal George needs our prayers and it is prudential for us to ask our own bishop to condemn these bills with the politicians he shepherds. Cardinal George is one bishop he is not he bishop of the USA. The USCCB is useless organization.

  • I’m sorry, but this post is ridiculous.

    I don’t have any respect, nor do I recognize the legitimacy of the USCCB.

    OK? So? Good thing for Holy Church that Tito Edwards or Ryan Haber (me), despite all we know, aren’t heads over the Catholic Church.

    The simple fact is, as Eric pointed out, that to vote “present” on the Stupak Amendment would be a reprehensible parliamentarism worthy of our esteemed president. A rep can vote YES on Stupak and then NO on the final bill. That’s no problem, and no contradiction.

    Why hasn’t Cardinal George spoken out? I don’t know? I don’t have a bat phone to his office. Why does American Catholic seem to be so much more concerned with him than with some other bishop? What’s their deal? What has Cardinal George ever done to aid or abet abortionists? Where’s benefit of the doubt? Where’s Christian charity in interpreting others’ actions?

    Where’s a sense of deference to the men that GOD, not men, has ordained to lead his flock?

    Good grief. I’m gettin’ pretty tired of everybody knowing just how the Catholic Church should be shepherded. It’s really easy to do somebody else’s job. How armchair quarterbacks actually think they are actually helping anybody is entirely beyond me.

  • Ryan,

    Thanks for your charitable comment concerning my post.

    I have no deference to Cardinal George because he is not my shepherd, Cardinal DiNardo and Pope Benedict are my shepherds, but I do have deference to him as a leader of the flock. I hope he understands what his actions look like when he speaks out. He seems more as a vibrant supporter of health care as an ardent Democrat rather than a Catholic concerned for the well being of his flock.

    Plus Cardinal George spoke up, the only one of all the bishops that said anything to cajole the GOP to vote for the Stupak amendment.

    God bless you my brother in Christ,


  • withouthaving seen,

    I guess avoiding parlimentarianism is good if the Supak language stays in the final version. The way the bill is being dealt with now I wouldn’t be so sure. And who’s to say that legislation down the road won’t put it in.

    As far as shepharding is concerned, teaching moral principles is properly the role of the bishops, applying it to the world is the proper domain of the laity. I think some criticism of the USCCB and, possibly, Cardinal George is warranted.

  • Lol, Tito, it doesn’t matter if he were the bishop of Timbuktu, he’d still be successor to an apostle and worthy of the respect of the likes me and you!

    I know that Cardinal George, much like the Church in general, gets trashed by all sides. That, in my opinion, wins him the benefit of the doubt from me.

    To clarify, when I wrote “this post is ridiculous,” I did not mean your comment in particular, Tito, but rather the initial article and the whole thread of follow-ups.

    Stupak and a number of others are threatening to kill the bill altogether if they can, rather than let it pass with abortion funding. Remember, reconciliation and closed-door meetings aren’t the final step. The suits on the hill still have to vote again and both houses have to pass it, and I see no reason why it will be a perfunctory vote in the House of Reps, where the Democrat coalition is shaky, to put it mildly.


    The USSCB might very well need criticism, as might H.E. Francis Card. George. I know far less about their affairs than they do, and if I knew as much, I still would have a hard time seeing how Christ has ordained me to criticize his ordained ministers.

    Ryan Haber
    Kensington, Maryland

  • Ryan,

    Thanks for the clarification 🙂

    I was careful to point out what Cardinal George did in the post without offering an opinion.

    I placed my opinion only in the commbox because I still don’t know where Cardinal George’s heart is. Is it with the Democratic Party or is it in the Bride of Christ?

  • withouthavingseen,

    Criticize in a constructive way as the non-ordained Catherine of Sienna did the Avignon pope. Truth is truth. The laity has a better sense of the secular order. If there is a problem that the laity discerns in the prudential judgments of the clergy as relates to the secular order, they are within their licit Catholic rights to criticize those prudential judgments of clergy.

  • Thank you for this good commentary. I have been contemplating some of these questions, too. I have written to my Bishop and the USCCB, but there is only silence. Our Parish has sent out a FAX to all the Bishops with our concerns of the health care reform. To my knowledge, only one Bishop responded to the Fax. I have pondered why there is only a handful of bishops who have spoken on the the Church’s teachings of subsidiarity in regards to the health care bill and government take-over. The Stupak Amendment is not 100% pro-life and there is more than abortions which is very troubling in the House and the Senate health care bills. Should not the Bishops be concerned with all the life issues in the health care reform i.e. abortions, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, rationing, sterilization, teen clinics run by planned parenthood, contraceptions, cloning, or any injustice? Certainly, health care can be improved, but it does not require a government take over with individual mandates and loss of freedoms. Any health care reform should do no harm before doing any good. With all the haste, bribery and lack of transparency, I would certainly think this 2000 page plus health care reform is to be avoided. September 2009 I went to a town-hall meeting and my Congressman said this was not about health care but about government take-over and control. I believe he is right.

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Monday, December 21, AD 2009

It seems like one thing that nearly anyone on any side of the political spectrum should be able to agree on is that Senator Nelson extracting a provision for the federal government to foot the entire unfunded liability for Medicaid in the state of Nebraska (and for no other state) in perpetuity as the cost of his agreeing to support the current Senate health care bill compromise is reprehensible in the extreme.

One would like to think that such decisions would be made, in a Republic, based on a senator’s understanding of whether a bill was actually good for the country as a whole — not based on bribery. Senator Nelson should be ashamed of himself, and so should the Senate leadership which agreed to provide such a buy-off.

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17 Responses to Bought

  • Senator Nelson has no shame. He will sleep like a baby tonight. As has Fr. Jenkins since last spring.

    Have we finally learned that there is no such thing as a moderate Democrat?

  • While I have respect for almost all of the writers and most of the commenters on this site, DarwinCatholic tends to be the most measured and least hyperbolic.

    That is why this post is a damning indictment of the corrupted manifest in Congress, with a particular regard to the so-called health care reform bill.

  • A few clarifications regarding this “deal” :

    It pays for MedicAID, not MediCARE. It apparently provides 100 percent federal funding for all people CURRENTLY covered by Medicaid in Nebraska (those earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level for their household size) for the next 10 years or so. This includes not only low-income children and families, but also a large number of elderly people in nursing homes who go on Medicaid after they have exhausted their life savings to pay for their care. The 133 percent ceiling is a federal rule that has been in place for a long time so I don’t think this really qualifies as an “expansion” of Medicaid.

    Normally, the feds only provide 50 percent of the funding for Medicaid; the state ponies up the rest. Under the federal stimulus bill some states (Illinois is one of them) are getting up to 62 percent federal match through 2010. I don’t know if Nebraska is one of them; it depends on factors such as high unemployment, etc.

    All that being said, it’s still a blatant sellout and hopefully Nebraskans opposed to this will not forget when Sen. Nelson comes up for reelection.

  • Thanks for the correction, Elaine — my fault for writing a post in the evening based on a news story I’d read in the morning without pulling the newspaper out of the recycle pile in order to get the details right. I’ve corrected the post, so as not to spread mis-information.

  • One would like to think that such decisions would be made, in a Republic, based on a senator’s understanding of whether a bill was actually good for the country as a whole

    That’s not how our system is set up. As a geographically segregated republic, we elect our senators to look out for the interests of our individual states.

    Politics is bribery. Sen. Nelson is hardly the first, the last, nor the most notorious. This stuff goes on every day. Blame the system.

  • I’m shocked, shocked! to hear that there are earmarks in this bill. Oh, wait. “earmarks” was last year’s five minute hate. Didn’t Mary Landrieu get $300,000,000 for Louisiana as her bribe to vote yes?

  • Politics is bribery. Sen. Nelson is hardly the first, the last, nor the most notorious. This stuff goes on every day. Blame the system.

    Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.

  • I recognize this is a very common way to get support for a bill, but I don’t think its commonality makes it any more excusable. And in that regard, I fully support attempting to shame those who play the game as an attack on the game as a whole.

    Especially when such a major change (to the extent that this debacle even remains a major change at this point) is government policy is being contemplated, I’d like to see it handled on the merits.

  • One of the complaints characters like Eleanor Smeal had against sundry politicians was that they were unwilling to wheel and deal for her pet cause (the ‘Equal Rights Amendment’). I think it was the Governor of Illinois who replied that for the opposition it was a matter of conscience too, and ‘you don’t trade a constitutional amendment for a job or a bridge’. Maybe now you do.

  • It’s kinda like attacking designated hitters as an attack on the DH rule.

  • I figured it was more like attacking someone for holding the record in stealing base the most times…

  • I have to say, while I think RR has a point in general, Senator Nelson’s actions do seem to go above and beyond even what is typical for this sort of political bribery.

  • You might describe it as the difference between a guy who cheats on his wife and a guy who brings his mistress to Thanksgiving dinner.

  • But he only brought his mistress because his wife said he could.

    If anything, the conduct of the other 59 senators should be more objectionable. Nelson did his job. He was just looking out for his constituents. The others are supposed to keep him in check. They didn’t look out for their own constituents.

  • If anything, the conduct of the other 59 senators should be more objectionable. Nelson did his job. He was just looking out for his constituents. The others are supposed to keep him in check. They didn’t look out for their own constituents.

    I agree in part. Thing is, the whole reason Nelson mattered in this was that he had been an advocate for both the unborn and much of Obamacare. If he was convinced that the Senate abortion provision was genuine and effective, he would have no need to be bribed. It is said that every man has his price, but I don’t believe it’s true in the least. Unfortunately, it seems to hold true for anyone with political ambition.

    Worse yet, and I know this isn’t technically fair, now I find myself seriously doubting the efforts made by Stupak and company. How do we know that they’re just not holding out for largess from the public trough? Put less cynically, how do we know that they’re principled stand can’t succumb to the Democratic party’s carrots?

    Also, this highlights why many of us avoid voting for Democrats at any level above dog-catcher. There is such a thing as party politics and they play a big part on what individual members do. It seems there’s a better chance of getting a pro-abort Republican to vote for life than there is getting a pro-life Democrat to. Both have room to vote their convictions as long as their vote is of no consequence to the party. However, when it’s a tight vote and the whips start cracking, the Dems usually turn coat and vote their party’s inhuman line.

  • The difference between a famous golfer’s…um…friends and Senator Nelson is that the golfer’s friends would be insulted to be compared to Senator Nelson.

  • Art Deco — which “governor of Illinois” are you referring to?

    If this had to do with the ERA issue then the governor in question would probably have been James R. Thompson, a Republican, elected four times and in office from 1977 to 1991.

    Thompson was not above wheeling, dealing, and arm twisting to get what he wanted — one of his most famous stunts was literally stopping the clock in the General Assembly chambers at just before midnight on the day they were supposed to adjourn, to insure that a critical vote to fund a new Chicago White Sox stadium (and keep them from moving to Florida) passed “on time”.

    If Thompson really did say that, then it would indicate that even he recognized there were limits to political horse trading, which unfortunately some of his successors have failed to recognize. Or maybe it was somebody else who said that after all.

60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

Monday, December 21, AD 2009

By a vote of 60-40 early this morning in the Senate, the Democrats, with not a Republican vote, voted to cede power to the Republicans in 2010.  The Democrats thought they were voting to invoke cloture on the ObamaCare bill, but the consequences of the passage of this bill, assuming that it passes the House, will likely be to transform a bad year for the Democrats next year into an epoch shaping defeat.  As Jay Cost brilliantly notes here at RealClearPolitics:

“Make no mistake. This bill is so unpopular because it has all the characteristics that most Americans find so noxious about Washington.

It stinks of politics. Why is there such a rush to pass this bill now? It’s because the President of the United States recognizes that it is hurting his numbers, and he wants it off the agenda. It might not be ready to be passed. In fact, it’s obviously not ready! Yet that doesn’t matter. The President wants this out of the way by his State of the Union Address. This is nakedly self-interested political calculation by the President – nothing more and nothing less.

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26 Responses to 60-40: The Party of Jackson Creates A Jacksonian Moment

  • Possibly.

    The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done. Continuing the delay would do little more than look like defeat. And since the GOP never had any alternatives, keeping the status quo would, in fact, also be painted as defeat.

    So we move ahead, as it were, and as you say, corporate America is well-positioned to benefit in some way from all this. Surely they weren’t going to stand to be put out of business with government insurance.

    As for the 2010 elections, they are still a long way off. If we had a solid third or fourth party option, I’d join you to say the Dems should be tweaked. But voting for do-nothing, sit-on-their-hands Republicans? Please. They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. The GOP is standing pat with their hand as dealt. Let’s see how that plays out before handing the election to them eleven months ahead of the fact.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge.”

    Todd, the Stupak Amendment only passed because every Republican in the House but one voted for it. The Democrats in the House as well as in the Senate are overwhelmingly pro-abortion as the forthcoming battle over the Stupak Amendment in the House will reveal.

    As for Republican alternatives, they have had several including this one.


    What the Democrats are about to do is massively unpopular with the American people, as has been so much of what they have enacted this year. Rarely has a political party so quickly stepped off into a political abyss as the Democrats have been in the process of doing throughout this year.

  • And since the GOP never had any alternatives,

    I guess if you repeat a false assertion it eventually becomes truth.

  • “They’ve shelved themselves even in the pro-life side of this debate. It’s been Stupak and Nelson leading the charge. ”

    Uh What about Cao?

    That being said no one is going to pay attention to what GOP Prolifers say. We (as a party) are pretty much poiwerless right now. That is why the action is the Democrat party and it segments

  • Todd,

    Apparently you didn’t follow the House. There was a GOP Alternative that the CBO scored as cheaper and more efficient at reducing the deficit. The GOP Alternative included an actual exchange allowing for the purchase of health care policies across state lines (thus creating greater competition), enacted tough Medical Liability Reform (TORT) that would reduce inefficiencies in the practice of medicine caused by defensive medicine, and it would increase some of the privatization of Medicare seen in the popular Medicare Advantage Program (a program that now only will exist in 3 counties in Florida).

    The fact you declare there was no GOP alternative indicates in fact that you are just taking your talking points from the DNC.

  • The president did campaign heavily on insurance reform. I can see his impatience to get something done.

    Start that truck and drive it into the ditch. You’ll be getting something done!

  • Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles – also blame Bush for tens of thousands of small businesses that go bust because of this requirement and the excess taxes they will impose?

    “The Democrats’ government takeover of health care will increase premiums for families and small businesses, raise taxes during a recession, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, add to our skyrocketing debt, and put bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors. The bill also authorizes government-funded abortions, violating long-standing policies prohibiting federal funding of abortion. That’s not reform. My message to the American people is now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to fight harder. When the American people are engaged, Washington listens. Now is the time to speak out, more loudly and clearly than ever, against this monstrosity.”
    John Boehner (R-OH) 21 Dec 2009

  • In true Jacksonian fashion, the country fired the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they bungled the war in Iraq and allowed the economy to sink into recession. They might soon have another Jacksonian moment, and fire these equally useless Democrats for hampering the recovery, exploding the deficit, and playing politics with health care.

    The big difference is that Americans saw the death toll mounting in Iraq and the economy going down the toilet. Americans won’t see the effects of ObamaCare in 2010. In fact, a not-yet-implemented ObamaCare should be an electoral asset. “You get health care! You get health care! Everybody gets health care!” The GOP may see gains in 2010, but it won’t be because of ObamaCare.

  • With only 34% of the people saying that passing ObamaCare is better than doing nothing restrainedradical, I think this bill is an anchor which will take Democrat electoral prospects straight to the bottom next year.


  • “Will Todd and all – Obama-worshipping imbeciles …”

    With insightful analysis like this, I feel confirmed that conservative Catholics have as much of a sense of a pulse on the nation as they do when they feel a coconut. When you can’t distinguish between voting while holding nose or political worship (we sure had a lot of that with Bush II) we might as well turn to tea leaves than attend carefully to your analysis. Not everybody thinks like you guys do, comprende?

    The president invested a lot–and some might rightly say too much–in health insurance reform. One might even say he backed himself into a corner on this. By your account, Mr Obama was a loser any way he tried to put a face on this. Alternate proposals aside, he had no incentive whatsoever to caucus with the GOP on this. None.

    As for congressional elections next year, get serious. The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election. I can’t see the GOP taking back the Senate, especially if the economy recovers in any way, and the Afghan surge remains a non-disaster.

    2012 is another story, but the GOP has yet top surface a viable national candidate.

    Interesting that you picked Jackson as your theme. Wasn’t that when the Whigs ascended to major party status? They had to wait till 2016–I mean 1840, right?

  • “The House is ensconced in the land of incumbentia. And the Senate is reliving the 2004 election.”

    Wrong on both counts Todd.

    The Democrats are defending quite a few vulnerable seats in the House which McCain carried last year, and many more which Bush carried in 2000 and 2004. Traditionally Republican districts will be swinging back to the GOP next year. Incumbency after the fiasco this year I doubt can be regarded as a positive in competitive districts. The Democrats are also beginning to be plagued by retirements from Congress, a sure sign of a party in trouble in the next election cycle.

    In the Senate I see the Republicans taking Senate seats in Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Nevada, New York (Gillabrand’s seat), North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware and either Washington or Wisconsin. I see them holding all their seats and Lieberman caucusing with the GOP in 2011. If Linda Lingle, popular Republican governor of Hawaii, gets into the Senate race she might topple 85 year old Inouye who has served in the Senate since I was 5 years old in 1962. It is hard to imagine Evan Bayh losing in Indiana, but if the political winds are gale force against the Democrats I think there is a small chance he might.

    The Whigs Todd first gained control of Congress in the election of 1834, the year after it was formed. The Whigs were formed as a reaction to the policies of Old Hickory.

  • I don’t know about the Senate, but it would be surprising to see the GOP pick up less than 20 seats in the House. That doesn’t net them a majority, but that’s a worst case scenario. It’s folly to make a firm prediction, but at the current course I think many of the Blue Dogs better start looking for alternative employment. As for the “incumbentia,” that’s funny in light of the recent spate of Democrat retirements. Perhaps they lack Mr. Flowerday’s acute political acumen, but I suspect that might have a better sense of where the country is heading.

    I don’t see a ten-seat pickup for the Senate. There are a couple of very shaky GOP-held seats at the moment, and even considering the possible voter backlash against the Dems, I wouldn’t bet the house on the Republicans holding on to them.

  • I see three Republican seats as offering the Dems possibilities for a switch: the open seats in Missouri and Ohio and Burr in North Carolina. I think 2010 is going to be a strong GOP year in Ohio. Ohio went strongly for the Dems in the last two election cycles and buyer’s remorse has set in. I’ll be shocked if the GOP doesn’t hold the seat. Burr is a weak incumbent, but I think the GOP will have a great election night next year throughout the South. Missouri will be a battle, as open seat elections in that state tend to be. I think the GOP will hold on, but I think that is their shakiest current seat.

  • Don’t know about the comment on politiucal acumen–aside from local politics, I try to stay as apolitical as possible. I wouldn’t say that eleven months with a volatile economy, and who-knows-what on the international front makes for an easy prediction of what is to come.

    The Dems still have eleven months to make a case to stay in power. If some third party in Iowa wants to make a case for my congressional seats, I’m willing to listen. I’m not inclined, like some other progressives, to stay home to make my point next Election Day. I’ll continue to hold my nose and pull the blue lever, but not because I think they’re generating the best ideas.

  • Must correct Mr. McClarey.

    The Republican Party in New York has suffered a secular decline in the calibre of the people they run for about thirty years now. It has left Upstate, conventionally a Republican preserve, represented in Congress almost entirely by Democrats. One exception is a fellow from Buffalo who is a man of genuine accomplishment in private life. (By what accounts have appeared in print, the Republican State Chairman, Stephen Minarik, was partial to him as a candidate because he could ‘self-finance’. The late Mr. Minarik always had his priorities).

    I will offer better than even odds the Republican sachems will arrange for the nomination of some seedy lush who has been making cruddy little deals in Albany for 25 years, because that is who they know and that is their idea of a normal person. Kristin Gillibrand will then eat him for breakfast.

  • I always hesitate to disagree with you Art, but I think that next year it will be anything but politics as usual. As the uprising in New York 23 indicates, there are plenty of Republican voters fed up with precisely the type of machinations you describe.

  • Evidently former Governor Pataki seems poised to make a run at Gillebrand. Yeah, good luck with that. Had Rudy run, he probably would have won that seat, but evidently the Senate was too low a prize for the guy who still seems to have some delusion that he will be president one day. Pataki might be viable, but that would be a race where I would weep few tears if the Republican lost.

    I can see the GOP holding onto the aforementioned seats if it’s a real good year, but it will be tough. They have to hold serve, then win pretty much every toss-up state currently held by the Dems. That’s a tall order, though that’s basically what the Democrats did in 2008.

  • If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.

    Giuliani ought to retire from political life and attend to mending fences with his children. Putatively, he has told intimates that positions in legislative bodies look unattractive after you have sat in the mayor’s chair producing actual ‘output’. The thing is, as Mayor of New York, he has been among the most accomplished political figures of the post-war period. Most of the presidents we have had over the last sixty years are men of lesser significance. He is 65 years old now and should quit while he is ahead.

  • “If Pataki’s on the ballot, I’m writing-in the name of my insurance agent’s dog.”

    I am certain the dog would do less harm than either Pataki or the incumbent, and would probably have more charisma.

  • That is one cute canine!

  • Parker Griffith, Democrat Congressman from Alabama, is switching to the GOP. He is the first Blue Dog to do so this Congress; he will not be the last.


    Some Democrats can clearly see the electoral ice berg their party is careening towards.

    Merry Christmas Speaker Pelosi!

  • That’s fairly major news. These retirements/party switches are usually a good indicator of significant electoral upheaval – they certainly were in 1994, 2006, and 2008.

  • I don’t think Arlen Specter’s switch indicates an upheaval.

  • It indicated that Specter knew that Toomey would clobber him in the primary. Now Toomey will clobber him in the general.

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Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

Saturday, December 19, AD 2009

(Updates at the bottom of this article.)

Harry Reid was able to make huge concessions to the state of Nebraska and bought Senator Ben Nelson’s vote a la Mary Landrieu.  The vote seems headed to the floor with all 60 votes secured to impose on American’s draconian laws that would hike insurance rates and begin the downward slope towards European style socialism.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

What’s in the bill that I’m aware of?  I’ve broken down the Washington Post article almost verbatim below:

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29 Responses to Senator Nelson Sells Out Unborn, Health Care Bill Heads to Vote

  • Senator Nelson said this, this morning:

    “Let me be clear. This cloture vote is based on the full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and the House.

    If there are material changes in that conference report different from this bill that adversely affect the agreement, I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote.

    Let me repeat it: I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report. And I will vote against it if that is the case.”

    I am not thrilled with his decision. I am happy that his mailbox is full and so is Senator Casey’s. But this is not a done deal. The legislation has to be reconciled — the slightest appeasement of liberals in the House can kill this thing in the Senate. Better yet, the abortion language is not going to fly well in the House. The first go round there were 64 Democrats to vote for the Stupak amendment and at the end of the day with 39 Democrats voting “NO”. To see this thing fail, there needs to be merely 2 upset Democrats to vote the other way.

    This isn’t over.

    Moreover, I am not surprised. Recent stories in the press suggest that Senator Nelson was being threatened. Maybe they were true. Maybe they weren’t.

    Either way, hopefully this will not succeed.

  • Eric,

    I think you’re absolutely right on this. I think Stupak and the pro-life Dems in the House will hold the line on this.

  • Let’s see. The Democrats, if they can pass this stripped down bill through the Senate, still have to convince the House Dems to scrap their much more ambitious bill. Then there will be a huge fight over the Stupak amendment.

    If this bill passes it will then not be fully implemented until 2014, coincidentally, I am sure, two years after the Presidential election of 2012.

    I do have to hand it to the Dems if they pass this for doing what I considered impossible. They have crafted a bill which is opposed by a majority of the American people, liberal Democrats and virtually all Republicans. They have all the signals known to political man flashing red and saying that this is a one way ticket to a crushing defeat in 2010. Passage of this bill will depress liberal Democrats, the base of the Democrat party, unify and inflame Republicans, and cause Independents to desert the party of the donkey en masse. Never has a political party in my lifetime labored so strenuously to implement a policy that guarantees them an extended vacation in the political wilderness. Democrats have nothing on Lemmings at the moment when it comes to survival instict.

  • I am actually more surprised that Lieberman is voting “Yes.”

    Actually I am shocked they killed the public option.


    We have Republicans defending Medicare (since when?!) and Democrats supporting insurance companies offering national plans that do not have to adhere to state laws (what the…?)

    Our Congressmen need to have their heads examined.

  • Wait…how do they expect to get a bill without a public option through the House?

  • lol Eric, good question. You already have some Dems who pledged to vote it down if abortion funding was scrapped… imagine what they will do with no public option!?

    This whole thing is going to fall apart.

  • I’m trying to understand the bill. So states will able to prohibit subsidized plans from covering abortion. In those states that will allow abortion coverage, individuals will be able to purchase abortion coverage on top of their regular coverage.

    If that’s right, I don’t see what’s so objectionable. Sure, it’s not as good as barring coverage altogether but this is not bad. Those who want abortion coverage will have to pay extra for it. In practice, few would buy the supplemental abortion insurance.

  • I am not sure if that’s how it works. I read something a moment ago suggesting people would have to send two checks — one for abortion coverage, the other for the whole policy. I think it is still account gymnastics.

    I am not sure.

  • So it depends on whether it’ll be the individual’s choice or the insurer’s choice. If the individual gets to choose whether to send that abortion check, this bill isn’t so bad. If everyone has to pay the same premium and the insurers segregate it, that’s unacceptable.

    Need more clarity.

  • Any reaction from the USCCB on this one???

  • Your blog managed to list on google search for reaction to the health care debate.

    As an Irish Catholic who use to be republican, its always distressing to encounter members of holy church who have been utterly beguiled by the evangelical right, I pray for such folks.

    While the issue of abortion is a serious moral lapse in our society, the lies and deception of the GOP and evangelicals pose a more serious danger to both the republic and freedom of faith.

    Pettifogging health care as an element of the debate over abortion is rank hypocrisy and not worthy of big or little C catholicism.

    One can only hope other Catholics who have followed the disciples of the lie into the modern GOP tent will like Paul have their eyes opened to the reality they adhere to a political theology crafted by the Father of lies and promoted by his agents in the GOP.

  • Republicans as agents of Satan? Mr. Keller, it is never a good idea to blog drunk.

  • Mr. Keller would appear to be Gerald L. Campbell’s doppelganger.

  • When I stop Chuckling, Mr. McClarey I assure both lucidity and habitual tea tootling, Nor did I offer implication all republicans serve as agents of the diabolical any more than all members of the German Army were responsible for the Holocaust,

    Art Deco’s reference to Campbell is pithy oh so pithy still I wish you both a merry Christmas

  • Well Mr. Keller, now we have Republicans compared to members of the Wehrmacht and the Holocaust. As I have said to some of my clients when they have committed some felony or misdemeanor sober, “I would prefer that you would at least have had the small excuse that you did this drunk”. And the merriest of Christmases to you.

  • Last one Donald, may I call you Donald? I’m in Phoenix and have to get ready as I prefer Saturday mass, Clients, felony? are you an attorney Don?

    Funny if you are as I find it difficult to distinguish between modern republican leaders and lawyers, both have the tendency when they lack points of authority or a cogent argument to pound the table and besmirch the character of the opposing advocate.

    Please trust me when I say unlike politicians, I will accuse directly when the occasion calls for it.

    Oh I hear the GOP has invited the John Birch society back into the fold, yea that will help.

    Really I try to treat all people as individuals worthy of respect but every time I hear Glen Beck or Sister Sarah Palin speak I think of Forest Gump, White trash is as White trash does, yea that’s going to cost a few hail Mary’s but it had to be said but at least the Merry Christmas was sincere

  • “both have the tendency when they lack points of authority or a cogent argument to pound the table and besmirch the character of the opposing advocate.”

    I am an attorney. The legal saw you are recalling is that when the facts are against you, you argue the law, when the law is against you, you argue the facts, and when both are against you, you pound the table and abuse your opponent. Mr. Keller, as you called Republicans agents of Satan and compared them to members of the Wehrmacht during the Holocaust I would suggest that it is you who have been pounding the table. Of course we also have your charming White Trash reference.

    As for the John Birch society, I can imagine few organizations with less significance for the Republican party. Back in the Fifties William F. Buckley wrote them out of the conservative movement after they accused Ike of being a Communist. Their influence on the conservative movement and the Republican party has been nil since then.

  • Yeah, it’s Campbell.

  • Oh, and Campbell’s referring to CPAC (not the GOP, but who needs facts when you have a hatchet?) having the Birchers as one of their many sponsors. They also have a gay lobbying group as a sponsor this year, so I wonder how he’d process that.

  • Well Mr. Keller or Gerald Campbell or whoever you are, I’ve deleted your last comment since it was an attempt to hijack this thread as part of your effort to convince people that Republicans are evil incarnate. Due to the content of your posts I am also banning you from this blog. Mere invective simply leads to futile combox feuds and we try to avoid that on this blog.

  • “Passage of this bill will depress liberal Democrats, the base of the Democrat party, unify and inflame Republicans, and cause Independents to desert the party of the donkey en masse.”

    I hope so, Don, but I wouldn’t count on it; never underestimate the ability of the GOP (particularly in Illinois, but this is true elsewhere also) to snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

  • In Illinois Elaine I grant you, although even here I think the Republicans will gain two house seats and make take the Senate seat. As for the rest of the country, I think the Democrats are in worse shape than they were in going into the 1994 elections when the Republicans took Congress

  • This will go-down in history as but a Pyhrric victory where political costs outweigh the benefits to the Democrats… if people weren’t pissed at the power-drunk Dems before, they likely are now…

    These tools like Nelson will soon regret the day they did this for Obama, he’ll pull all these fools right-over the abyss with him… and the coming GOP majority will rescind it anyway…

  • At this stage there will be a bill with features somewhere between the House and Senate bills. Illinois will see the Dems pick up Kirk’s seat, the GOP pick up one, and even odds for the pro-choice Republican senate candidate beating the Dem.

  • I see the GOP in Illinois picking up Halvorson’s seat, Bean’s seat and Foster’s seat. They will probably lose Kirk’s seat. I think they have a decent chance of picking up Hare’s seat also. Kirk is a pro-abort which is why I oppose him in the primary and will not vote for him in the general election.

  • Eric Brown writes Saturday, December 19, 2009:
    “Our Congressmen need to have their heads examined”.

    I am at a loss to understand that a college education has failed to make an impression. A simple review of the behavior of Congress throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries would demonstrate that these behaviors are par for the course.

    Senator Nelson was bribed. So also was Senator Landrieu. What’s new about the behavior of “our only professional criminal class”?

    I suggest that we make a point of asking our senators if they voted for this “compromise” [lege sell-out. Think Munich] what they got for it for their states.

  • It is curious to consider that this bill scheduled to be signed on the day of the Holy Innocents:
    “Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

  • Very well said Gabriel for something so tragic and sad.

Senator Nelson Shoots Down Latest Compromise on Health Care Bill

Thursday, December 17, AD 2009

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska said ‘no-go’ on the most recent health care bill that Harry Reid and the Democrats have compiled.  This most likely will derail President Obama’s efforts to have a Senate health care bill done by Christmas.

“As it is, without modifications, the language concerning abortion is not sufficient,”

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5 Responses to Senator Nelson Shoots Down Latest Compromise on Health Care Bill

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  • The rumor regarding Offutt Air Force Base being threatened with closure is almost certainly wrong. It was first reported by political gossip columnists who are not always reliable.

    The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission process required by federal law takes years to complete and requires Congressional approval of any proposed list of base closings in full on a straight up or down vote.

    No military base can be closed on the orders of the POTUS alone. Even if Obama tried to start a new BRAC Commission today and get Offutt AFB placed on the closure list he would probably be long out of office before any decision was made. If Sen. Nelson says this rumor is not true I would take his word for it.

  • Actually, I need to correct my previous post.

    The BRAC process is normally initiated by either the Department of Defense or (in the most recent BRAC round in 2005) by Congress itself. The actual process of appointing the commission, visiting bases proposed for closure, making recommendations, etc. usually takes 1 to 2 years. If the POTUS approves a final list of BRAC recommendations, then Congress must either accept or reject the list in its entirety. Then the actual process of carrying out any closures on the list can take up to 5 years longer.

    My point remains, though, that the POTUS cannot unilaterally decide to close ANY military facility. If a new BRAC process were started tomorrow, it would take until at least the end of 2011 or early 2012 to get a list of proposed closures. Even the small to medium size facility closures on past BRAC lists have been controversial; an attempt to close a facility as huge and strategically significant as Offutt AFB (home of the Strategic Air Command) would be a political disaster of Biblical proportions.

  • All that being said… the bottom line is that Sen. Nelson is under tremendous pressure from the White House and from fellow Dems to change his vote, and he does urgently need our prayers and support.

  • Elaine,

    Thanks for clarifying the situation concerning the base closure. I posted the updated link that showed Senator Nelson debunking this, but as you said, he is under a tremendous amount of pressure and the left-wing zealots will do every evil thing imaginable to get their baby killing legislation in the ‘health care’ bill.

Senate Kills Pro-Life Nelson Amendment

Tuesday, December 8, AD 2009

The Senate defeated the pro-life Nelson amendment that would have disallowed public money to be spent on killing babies.

Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com explains what the current bill contains without the pro-life Nelson amendment:

The legislation currently allows abortion funding under both the public option and the affordability credits to purchase health care insurance.

Pro-abortion Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine voted along with most Democrats when pro-abortion Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer of California moved to kill the bill.  Democratic Senators Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, David Pryor of Arkansas, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Edward Kaufman of Delaware, and Evan Bayh of Indiana voted along with the rest of the Republicans to not kill this amendment.

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66 Responses to Senate Kills Pro-Life Nelson Amendment

  • Reid is digging a bigger hole for himself and for Obamacare. Watch Pryor and maybe Casey join Nelson in refusing to vote for cloture. Smart Democrats are beginning to realize that as bad as 2010 will be for them, passing Obamacare would make things much worse, and the issue of abortion gives Red State and Blue States Trending Red Democrats a good excuse to vote against it.

  • I pray you’re right.

    As for Bob Casey, Jr., he’s holding the line of “abortion is one of the many other issues” argument. Basically if we can get other Catholic issues covered and not stop funding for abortion, I’m voting for passage with or without abortion funding.

    I think Snow (which Collins follows sheepishly) and Lieberman will be joining Nelson and the rest of the GOP and stop the bill in it’s tracks (without Casey).

    That’s the (hopeful) scenario I envision.

  • Man…I wish I shared your optimism.

    I don’t see any reason to believe this bill doesn’t pass before Christmas. I think Collins, Snowe, Nelson AND Lieberman vote for it. And we need three of the four not to, right?

    Nelson is already backing off his promise to filibuster. Casey has been a joke to start with.

    The Republican Party talked tough a few weeks ago, vowing to insist the bill be read in its entirety. What happened to that? They vowed to insert controversial amendments? Never happened. They can’t even get this off the fast track so it’s not passed by Christmas. Pathetic. It’s as though they want it to pass so they win big next year.

  • Coburn backed off reading the bill when calculations revealed that it would only take 34 hours to read it, and it would probably have been done over the Thanksgiving Recess and would not have slowed down the progress of the bill.

  • I can’t believe how non-academic this article is. NO ONE IS PRO-ABORTION! What is WRONG with you? Why don’t you understand that? No one, especially Barbara Boxer, WANTS people to have abortions! That is SO STUPID. They are all pro-CHOICE. CHOICE. CHOICE. They believe that it is not anyone else’s–especially a religious group’s right to tell an individual (who is not apart of that group) that they cannot have an abortion within the first trimester. The definition of what constitutes “life” is NOT AGREED UPON.

    Why do people fight for the “potential” for life when innocent children are NEGLECTED AND MALNOURISHED IN THIS COUNTRY. Why don’t you care about THEM?
    I think if someone REALLY cares that within-3rd-trimester abortion should be outlawed–because they believe that an innocent pre-fetus has the right to life, then they should be obligated to care for an unwanted child too. I think it’s more inhumane and un-Catholic to bear a child to poverty in a country where healthcare is not guaranteed to everyone–especially to the poorest of the poor, who would be MOST HURT and BURDENED by the outlawing of abortion.
    If abortion is out-lawed, then POVERTY should be outlawed too.

  • I’m sorry that I said, “what is wrong with you” in the previous post, but it just REALLY scared me that a distinguished author would actually write and believe that.
    And addressing other fellow Catholics, c’mon now! Where is your COMPLETE care for the poor? If Jesus taught us to care for the poor, then we should be caring about decisions that will negatively and devastatingly affect them.
    As for fellow Catholic who do not support a public option of health care…WHY????????

  • As for fellow Catholic who do not support a public option of health care…WHY????????

    Because it won’t work. Here is lefty Ezra Klein explaining why it won’t work.

  • Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Senator Nelson declared flatly that if his amendment fails,” I won’t vote to move [the bill] off the floor.”

    “If Stupak-type language is not in the bill at the end of the day, I can’t support getting it off the floor. That’s not negotiable. No wiggle room.”

    Tell me — how has Senator Nelson backed down?

  • If abortion is out-lawed, then POVERTY should be outlawed too.

    How would one go about outlawing poverty? It’s not like you could get rid of poverty by making it a crime to be poor.


    Caps do not make nonsense any more persuasive. Many people are pro-abortion including those in Congress who fight tooth and nail against any restrict on the sacred right to choose to slay the unborn.

    “Why do people fight for the “potential” for life when innocent children are NEGLECTED AND MALNOURISHED IN THIS COUNTRY. Why don’t you care about THEM?”

    An unborn child is not “potentially” alive, but is simply alive. We do care for neglected and malnourished children as the many Catholic and Protestant charities serving children attest. Why do you believe that an unborn child can be disposed of like an unwanted tumor?

  • “I think it’s more inhumane and un-Catholic to bear a child to poverty in a country where healthcare is not guaranteed to everyone”

    My mother was born in abysmal poverty. I am eternally thankful that my maternal grandmother, abandoned by the father of my mother, did not share your views. My father was one of seven kids born in the Great Depression to a shoemaker and his wife who struggled just to keep them fed. Oh, and my dad was born crippled with his feet turned the opposite direction from what they should have been. I am eternally thankful that my paternal grandparents had a very high respect for the sanctity of life.

  • Sadly, Ms. Miller erred opinion is too common in many dioceses within the American / Europe Catholic Church. The secular culture has done it’s job well.

    That said, prayer is the solution – daily prayer to stop pro-abortion support in our country. Prayer for the fathers who don’t care and just want to write a check to clear their conscious; prayer for the mothers who go through with it without really wanting to; prayer for those mothers who still suffer from their consent to abort their babies; prayer for the local, state and federal leaders who participate and support the pro-abortion business with their votes in legislation; and prayer for those opinion makers in the media who don’t see abortion for the murder it is.

    Imagine how easy health care for all would pass Congress if abortion funding was completely excluded! With daily prayer to the Sacred Heart of our Holy Mother abortion will go the way of slavery in America!

  • There is nobody more poor than the unborn child.

  • Mr. Brown:

    ” A few reporters waiting outside the door asked [Nelson] how it would effect his decision on whether to support the final effort.

    “I want to continue to work on this,” he said, not ruling out his support, at least “not at this point in time. I want to continue to work on the project we’re working on… This makes it harder right now [to support the bill]. We’ll have to see if they can make it easier.””

  • Kelley,

    I really really get where you’re coming from. I used to be pro-“choice”. But I just have to address some of the logical flaws with your argument.

    First, pro-choice IS pro-abortion. No, you don’t necessarily want people to choose abortion, but you don’t mind if they do. To be pro-choice means you think abortion is an acceptable choice – one that should always be available (and even beyond that, one that people have a right to have the taxpayers fund if they can’t afford to pay for their “choice”). That’s pretty strong approval for something you’re saying pro-choice people don’t really support.

    Second, there are many criminal actions that stem from poverty, but they remain illegal. Should we legalize theft until we as a society make it unnecessary for any person to steal? Should anyone who wants theft to remain illegal be legally required to house poor people in their homes or pay for things they would otherwise steal? (This is not to say we don’t have a moral obligation to care for the poor, I’m addressing the legal arguments you made.)

    Third, complete care for the poor and absolute intolerance of the evil of abortion are not inconsistent. But it is inconsistent to support ANY “health care” that will pay for the slaughter of millions of children with taxpayer dollars. At the very LEAST, the status quo on federal abortion funding should be maintained (and yes, since the health care plan will expand the areas of health care in which the government is involved, that means extending the funding ban to cover these new areas.)

    As you rightly point out, not everyone agrees that abortion is the taking of a human life. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t. And the fact that religious people believe abortion is wrong doesn’t mean this is a matter of faith. Science and reason confirm that a unique human being is created at the moment of conception. Those who see this evil for what it is (whatever religious or political persuasion) have every right as citizens to lobby their government and attempt to have the law recognize that lives are at stake. There was a time when not everyone agreed that black people were fully human. That didn’t make it so. It just meant that those who saw the truth had to fight HARD to convince the other side (and use all legal means available to them in the meantime to protect the human rights of our fellow man).

    Sorry this is so long. I used the very same arguments for YEARS, and was as shocked as anyone when one day I couldn’t stand the mental gymnastics anymore. I hope that day comes for you too, and in the meantime I wish you all the best.

  • It may sound petty, but I think Casey is feeling the footsteps of Santorium.

  • Kelley,

    Choices end when you decide to have sex. Don’t want a baby? Then don’t have sex. What are you? A wild animal given to the passions of the moment? And then once you do, you don’t like the consequences, so you murder the unborn baby that results from your fornication or adultery?

    NO sex outside of the bounds of Holy Matrimony! Act like a human being. Use the brains God gave you. You don’t need to rut in the wild like a baboon, and then claim it’s your “human right” to have a “choice”. Reproductive freedom ends when you chose to engage in the act of reproduction – sexual intercourse.

    P.S., As far as I know, baboons are more “moral” than we in that they don’t murder their young. So perhaps I insult baboons everywhere by comparing liberal pro-choice Democrats (and RINOs like Olympia Snowe) to them. If so, then I apologize to baboons everywhere.

  • Even if we grant that pro-choice is not pro-abortion, encouraging abortions is definitely pro-abortio. It’s one thing to say “It you’re choice.” It’s quite another to say “Here, I’ll help you pay for it.”

  • “There is nobody more poor than the unborn child”.

    I think I disagree. The father of that unborn child who has NO SAY in her/his abortion is poorer. He must watch his child, at the very least in his mind, die.
    If the mother who chooses the abortion is his wife, he must watch, at least in his mind, the person he is “one in being” with murder the fruit of their love.

  • Technically, one can indeed be pro-choice without being pro-abortion. No doubt in 1860 there were some Americans who believed slavery to be gravely immoral but who nonetheless thought it should be a legal option. With proper cognitive dissonance such a position is quite possible.

  • I think there is a difference between the pro-choice and pro-abortion position; I say this as someone who supported legal abortion but found it to be a tragedy in many ways. I don’t have a recollection of consciously wanting women to choose only abortion or advocating for abortion like I would have supported, say, gay rights. I believe I was pro-choice, not pro-abortion. There is a difference that is subtle. Both are, however, unacceptable.

  • Karl,
    Your post grieves me. Surely that unborn child senses a father’s heavenly love, just as surely as if that child had died cradled in the comfort of its father’s arms.

  • There ARE people who are pro-abortion – population control freaks like Ted Turner and other billionaires that fund abortion on a global scale, or our “science czar” John P. Holdren.

    Yes, they actually WANT more women to have abortions because they believe the Earth is over-populated, crawling with “breeders” and “eaters” and “breathers” who harm Mother Earth and make life less pleasant for the enlightened few.

    This is what international “family planning” is all about. Not only does abortion reduce the population, it destroys a society’s birth rate. Look at Russia. Look at Russia! Millions of women have been made sterile by multiple abortions. There are more abortions than live births, it is a society in complete demographic decline. And this is what the future holds for Europe, the US, and Japan.

    Abortion is a social scourge, a plague, it is almost as if civilization itself is committing suicide.

  • Eric,
    It seems to me that one must ask what does it mean to be pro-abortion in order to distinguish the term from pro-choice. The only sensible critereon that I have discerned is the belief that abortion is a morally neutral option. In contrast, a pro-choice person would typically acknowledge that while abortion is morally problematic, it is imprudent for government to police it. Such a position can make sense if one believes that the seriousness of the imprudence associated with outlawing abortion outweighs the gravity of the moral problems associated with abortion. This exposes the dissonance I mentioned earlier. It takes some pretty strange mental gymnastics to believe that while abortion is a moral wrong it is not so serious a wrong as to demand legal prohibition. When scrubbed, such mental gymnastics usually involve the absurdly unscientific claim that the humanity of the fetus is a religious question (it is wrong for me because my religion teaches that the fetus to be a human life but I acknowledge others are bound by other religious traditions), or more subtly and dangerously, the claim that the social protection of humans from violance should turn on utilitarian principles related to the the costs and benefits of a fetus to the community (i.e., the wrong associated with killing a fetus is outweighed by the wrong associated with requiring a woman to take a baby she does not want to term, because the socially acknowledged importance of adult women simply trumps that of unborn children). The latter calculus often involves the notion that fetuses are not fully congitive in the way an adult is. Peter Singer accepts the logical implications of such reasoning, but few others are willing to be so rational.

  • Mike,

    When I was pro-choice, I did not think abortion was immoral. Otherwise, I would not have supported it. It was tragic only as it related to the mother and whatever emotional and psychological struggle she faced. It was more ideal, in my view at the time, for a woman to announce pregnancy with joy and happiness — I felt the natural desire, the childhood dreaming of such a moment was to be one of joy — not of fear, shame, uncertainty, etc.

    In other words, I didn’t view abortion as a tragedy because of the destruction of unborn human life. I held a very John Kerry-esque smokescreen question of what constituted “personhood.”

    I didn’t see the direct contradiction of supporting legal abortion and wanting to change the circumstances surrounding it to prevent it from occuring. I was focused wholly on the woman; it was inevitably for this reason that arguments put forth b pro-life feminists and disability groups as well changed my views on abortion and physician-assisted suicide because they approach the issue from a different perspective — a way that resonates with people who are otherwise not predisposed to the pro-life position, but rather to the contrary.

    Objectively speaking, a pro-choice person is pro-abortion in the sense that they would tolerate legal abortion, they materially support it. I feel there is some distinction however in views, not in result of those views. I don’t recall being rabidly pro-abortion. I was, and still am in a more constructive sense, a critic of the pro-life movement.

  • Perhaps a distinction of view and intent would better explain it. It amounts to nothing and doesn’t legitimzie the “pro-choice” position over the “pro-abortion” position if there is even a difference.

    I’m just critical of it because it intellectually follows, perhaps, but it doesn’t resonate at all with my experience of being pro-choice.

  • Fair enough, Eric. I’m pretty much coming around to the view that the two terms are hopeless. Basically, no one is willing to call himself pro-abortion. Pro-aborts all consider themselves as simply pro-choice. Basically, they all consider the perceived positive moral value of giving a woman the option as outweighing any perceived negative moral value of killing an unborn child. Even the goofballs mentioned by Joe are really indifferent to abortion as such — they just want population reduction.

  • Pingback: Bishops Disappointed by Senate Vote to Kill Pro-Life Amendment « The American Catholic
  • I’m so glad that you guys wrote back to me! Thank you for your responses. I have been yearning for thoughtful discussion like this because the truth is that NO one knows everything, certainly I don’t! I have SO MUCH to learn from all of you. Please expose me to your viewpoints.
    I consider myself Catholic, went to Catholic school for 12 years, and still make it to church every Sunday-despite being a senior neuroscience student at a VERY LIBERAL college. I love my faith and what it stands for- mainly to help those that have less than us. Help the needy. To not be selfish and think of the well-being of others.
    With that said, I often lay awake at night puzzled and scared about the way I have seen other Catholics behave.
    What American Catholic would not want every person in this country to have the right to full health-care coverage? What Catholic wouldn’t be excited to give more of what they have for the benefit of those who are disadvantaged in this country? Also, someone in an earlier post mentioned that a public option wouldn’t work. Oh, ok–yeah–so let’s just not try! Or do you argue–that we should leave it up to the private sector/private aid funds to help out the needy…
    When it’s been clearly shown that this does not even come close to helping enough people; many US causes/aid programs within this country and in other parts of the world (e.g. Kenya)are insufficient, and partake in mostly self-serving endeavors as opposed to completely serving the communities they are funded to support (except for Amnesty Intl.)

    Those are only some of the questions I have. I have a laundry list of them–I just feel bad to write such a long post. I’ll get my questions together and write another one. But let’s start with that question

  • Kelley,

    As far as I know, the US bishops support universal health care, provided abortion is not a part of the deal.

    That is how it should be. We cannot achieve social justice through a culture of death. We believe that unborn human beings have rights, that abortion is murder, the destruction of the weak and innocent by the strong and the guilty.

    The teaching of the Church on abortion is clear and consistent. I hope you’ll come to realize that the fight for social justice begins with the fight to protect innocent life at all stages of existence.

  • Kelley,

    No serious person is arguing that the system is not in need of a change. No one is arguing that we don’t need to do something to make sure that everyone has access to medical care. That is a human right that no Catholic should stand against. Whether there is a right to or a need for government run health care is less clear and indeed could be a WORSE option than the staus quo (i.e. depending on how it’s structured in the final bill, it could easily make health care significantly worse and more expensive for everyone). There is evidence for this when you look at past US government forays into healthcare. At the state level and in the federal arena (medicare, Walter Reed medical center), government systems have been riddled with waste, fraud, and sub-par care. I haven’t seen any evidence of a system in practice to make me doubt that this will be the case on a much larger scale with more extensive government health care.

    That said, I think there are many options being put forth to reform the system to make sure people have better access without such broad government involvement. One that comes readily to mind is changing regulations to make sure consumers have the options in choosing insurance that will make it a truly competitive market. I urge to to look back over Darwin Catholic’s posts on this subject on the blog (others too, but him especially) I find him to be one of the most reasonable contributors on this matter – not given to hysterics, offers workable possible alternatives, etc. I don’t have time to dig up links now, or I would do that for you. It’s really worth it, if you have the time!

  • -Ok, let’s say that abortion became against the law again. People who want abortions are STILL going to work very hard to get them, will use hangers or get back-alley procedures done–which is a huge health risk for everyone involved…and a tragic, harmful one for the innocent fetus. Do we want that? Isn’t that worse?
    I know that there are moral reasons why we should do away with abortion. But what about what will realistically happen? Isn’t it morally wrong to ignore what has happened in the past? (meaning-when abortion was illegal).

    Also, I believe that it is wrong to have an abortion. But is it the government’s right to make within 3rd trimester abortions to be an illegal issue?

    On a separate point-What about for rape victims, mothers who cannot afford to care for their children or to care for themselves while pregnant, etc? Malnourishment during pregnancy is one direct cause of schizophrenia. If we care for the life of an unborn child–then let’s REALLY care for the life of an unborn child. Shouldn’t there be complete financial assistance for pregnant mothers who would otherwise feel pressured to have an abortion due to lack of resources?

  • Also, since everyone here cares about human life, I recommend these amazing books–I think you will all appreciate them. I’ve not yet finished, but I have learned a LOT:

    -“Social Determinants of Health” by Michael Marmot and Richard Wilkinson

    – “Uninsured in America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity” by Susan Starr Sered & Rushika Fernandopulle

    – “Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor” by Paul Farmer

    – “The Social Transformation of American Medicine: the Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry” by Paul Starr

    Joe, your comment was very comforting about the stance of the Catholic Church. I just wish that some Catholics that I personally know felt the same way. (I have a Catholic relative who calls the poor “lazy” and is terrified of anyone getting all of her money…but she thinks she’s the best Catholic because she makes curtains for the nuns at her parish…)

    And CT, your comment was very enlightening as well. Unfortunately, I have procrastinated long enough on finishing a research paper on the lack of adequate funding for mental health services in this country, but I promise that I will ponder over what you’ve said and get back to you!

    In the meantime, those books that I wrote down have seriously opened my eyes to issues that I had never contemplated. They offer facts and viewpoints that I still am shocked to know and am struggling to wrap my head around. Please check them out!

  • Kelley,

    “People who want abortions are STILL going to work very hard to get them”

    People who want to steal work hard at it too. We don’t make a terrible crime against a human being easier.

    Please understand, Kelley, that pro-abortion activists LIED before Roe v. Wade passed – they said hundreds of thousands of women died from illegal abortions.

    You need to look up Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was once an abortionist and one of the founders of NARAL, the abortion political lobby. He is now pro-life, and revealed that NARAL made up ridiculously large numbers to get the public to sympathize with legalized abortion. Radical abortionists have done the same in every country where abortion is illegal – for instance, in Nicaragua, where they said thousands of women die each year from illegal abortions. Again, this is simply false.

    You see, Kelley, these people believe they are waging a war, a revolution, for sexual liberation, for liberation from the Church and morality. And they believe that a lie is a weapon of war – the ends justify the means. What matters isn’t the truth, but the freedom to have sex without consequences. They have been caught lying red-handed, and well meaning people such as yourself are the victims of the lie.

    I’m telling you if you do the research, you will see that not that many people died from illegal abortions because when it was illegal, women simply did not seek them out. Since it has become legal, it is often MEN – the fathers of the children – who force their mates to abort, or threaten to leave them if they don’t. Legalized abortion has made women into disposable sex objects for perverted male predators.

    “But is it the government’s right to make within 3rd trimester abortions to be an illegal issue?”

    It is every child’s natural, God-given right to live. Government exists to protect our rights. So yes.

    “On a separate point-What about for rape victims,”

    Abortion does not heal the wounds of rape, and a child’s right to live is absolute – how it comes to exist isn’t relevant.

    We are talking about a human being, Kelley. No matter how bad it sounds to you, even the child of a rape is a human being, even it has rights, even it is loved by God, as much as you or I or anyone else. You can’t forget that.

    “mothers who cannot afford to care for their children or to care for themselves while pregnant, etc?”

    Adoption is always an option. There are also many charitable organizations, churches, etc. that exist to help struggling mothers and fathers. In the worst case, it would be better to leave the child in a basket at a church or police station than to murder it in cold blood.

    “If we care for the life of an unborn child–then let’s REALLY care for the life of an unborn child.”

    You’re the one defending abortion rights. If you really care for the life of an unborn child, you have to start by accepting that it has a right to live. If you can’t do that, I don’t see why we should believe you care about unborn children.

    “Shouldn’t there be complete financial assistance for pregnant mothers who would otherwise feel pressured to have an abortion due to lack of resources?”

    There should be some assistance, yes – but we should not be in the business of paying women not to kill their children.

    As I have argued, a big part of the problem would be solved if society changed its attitude toward the father’s role in pregnancy and abortion, because many abortions are triggered by the actions of the father.

    So I believe in holding fathers responsible for their children, if their actions directly contribute to the abortion. This is not a woman’s issue, Kelley – it is a parental issue. It is about a parent’s duty to their children, a duty established by God, written into nature, for the survival and benefit of civilization. We cannot discard it so boys and girls can have fun without consequences. That is the way to chaos and destruction.

  • Here’s an interesting response I just got from a fellow college student:

    “remind them that the freedoms which prevent them from banning abortions are the same freedoms which prevent the government from banning Catholicism”


    Here’s another one:
    “I’m pro-choice. I would not get an abortion myself. If someone can’t comprehend the concept of wanting women to have options but not necessarily wanting to take them yourself, then they’re either remarkably stupid or so set in their ingrained beliefs that they can’t comprehend anything written by people disagreeing with them.”


  • Kelley,

    Come on. You’re going to post other people’s insults here? I know you’re trying to get to the bottom of this issue, but we don’t want to debate others through you.

    Your first friend is wrong: we have a first amendment right to free expression of religion. There is no Constitutional right to an abortion, no matter what the Blackmum court decreed. The “right to privacy” does not exist.

    Your second friend doesn’t understand the issue. I understand the argument and I reject it. We are opposed to abortion for one reason only – we believe it is murder.

    Listen very carefully to this. Repeat it 100 times if you must, because it is the core of our message.

    If abortion is not murder, then no justification is needed for it. If abortion IS murder, then no justification for it is adequate.

    Think about that.

  • People who want abortions are STILL going to work very hard to get them, will use hangers or get back-alley procedures done–which is a huge health risk for everyone involved…and a tragic, harmful one for the innocent fetus. Do we want that? Isn’t that worse?

    I must admit, this is a line of argument I don’t really understand. There are a great number of things which are considered immoral and/or socially destructive which we outlaw, despite the fact that people who are determined to do them anyway will take great risks to break said laws. For instance, we outlaw rape, despite the fact that some men are so determined to rape a woman that they resort to back alley rapes, which at times result in injury of not only the woman but the rapist as well.

    Would any sane person argue that this meant we should make rape legal, in order to assure that rapes were “safe, legal, and rare”? Of course not.

    By the same token, why should the claim that people might be injured in disobeying a law against abortion be an argument against having such a law if one actually accepts that having an abortion is a moral evil which harms another person? And if one does not accept that, why would one claim not to be for abortion?

    This whole position, however well meant, is simply incoherent.

  • Joe, I think you could be turning me over to pro-life. I’m not fully convinced yet, but I’m getting much closer! I need to check out the link you provided for me and look up Dr. Nathanson. I suppose I need some time to think.

    But in the meantime, if I decide to become “pro-life”, I still think it’s wrong to make that my top agenda to fight for over other more critical issues–especially issues surrounding the social determinants of health that essentially allow for the murders of individuals within low-socio-economic groups. Things that we currently allow in this country- are forms of structural violence–that are allowing people who are actually alive to feel immense pain that could be avoided.
    “the world that is satisfying to us is the same world that is utterly devastating to them.” – Pathologies of Power

    We know what is moral and what is important- to preserve human life and decrease human suffering. Often times, I feel that political agendas often force us to choose one pathway vs the other. Do you think that we should pick and choose our battles in order to help the common good? Even if we do not get what we want (which is for abortion to be addressed in the new health-care public option in a way that is in agreement with the Catholic Church), if a health bill were passed that allowed the un or under-insured to finally be insured–isn’t that better than halting the process and allowing them to suffer because of it?

  • Kelley,

    I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I am thrilled to hear you say you are considering the pro-life position.

    I do encourage you to think these matters through. If you want some reading to help you along, I think you will greatly enjoy reading JP II’s Evangelium Vitae.


    There’s no reason you can’t be pro-life and fight hard on other issues as well. It is what many of us here do. But it is foundational.

    If we here can be of further help to you, don’t hesitate to ask questions. You can friend me on facebook too, if you like 🙂

  • why should the claim that people might be injured in disobeying a law against abortion be an argument against having such a law if one actually accepts that having an abortion is a moral evil which harms another person? And if one does not accept that, why would one claim not to be for abortion?

    I should clarify: when I say “why would one claim not to be for abortion” I don’t mean that people would think that having an abortion is just a fun and peachy way to spend an afternoon. Rather, I’m not sure why one would argue, “I think it’s wrong, I wouldn’t get one, I’m not in favor of them, but I think we should allow people the choice.”

    I’m not in favor of gall bladder surgery, in the sense that I certainly hope I never need it. However, if my gall bladder ever turns against me, I would sign right up and have it out. I wouldn’t consider it an agonizing decision or refuse to get one while allowing others to have the surgery, etc.

    I guess the question would be: If one is going to take the position that abortion is wrong, and one thus wouldn’t get one oneself, yet simultaneously hold that abortion should not be restricted because it’s a legitimate choice, one has to answer the question, “What is abortion and why is it wrong?”

    It seems pretty clear that if the unborn child is a unique human person with a right to be born and have a chance to life his/her life, then this would make abortion wrong. And if this is why it’s wrong, it seems to me that it’s wrong enough that legally tolerating it is not a good option, just as we refuse to legally tolerate a host of other ways in which one person can hurt another.

    If, however, the unborn child is not a unique and living person, I’m less clear why it would be wrong at all to have an abortion. If the unborn child is merely something which might someday turn into a human, than it’s no more shocking to dispose of one than to have a period (in which an egg which failed to be fertilized is disposed of) and no one talks about that as being a somewhat wrong or morally ambiguous activity.

    I suppose one could claim the unborn child is alive, but not a human person — putting it on the same level as having a cat or dog put down. But that would seem like the oddest belief of all: that at some point you and I were both living animals, but not human, and then later we morphed into humans?

  • I suppose one could claim the unborn child is alive, but not a human person

    It all hangs on this, doesn’t it? I think the reason that so many people can exist in the moral limbo of “more than a gall bladder operation, less than murder” is that they don’t really know what they mean by “person” and “human.” Biology doesn’t really help them much, because although they (should) know that a unique organism (of species Homo sapiens) is clearly present at conception, they’re not quite ready to call it a person. It doesn’t have consciousness or brain waves! they say.

    No one is quite sure what to make of this “unique human life” that possesses so few attributes of what we normally call a “person”. We need philosophy, not science, to say something definitive about personhood. We need an anthropology, a view of mankind, to know how we should treat this biological curiosity. That’s why so many modern people struggle in this moral limbo, because they sense that something more than tissue removal is going on, but they grope around in science for answers that aren’t there.

  • “We need philosophy, not science, to say something definitive about personhood. We need an anthropology, a view of mankind, to know how we should treat this biological curiosity.”

    Why? Why can’t developmental neurobiology be incorporated at all?

  • Personally, I just think that we should put the saving of human lives first instead of using this time and energy on worrying about whether a zygote is a human life. I mean, it’s not a human life, but whether a zygote has the same right to continue to develop into forms that will hopefully lead to a human typical form.

    There are SO many “agree to disagree” debates centered around what constitutes “personhood”–[some believe having a brain (like a late fetus), some believe any genetic material that could be incorporated into making a human, etc]

    And then there’s another step of “agree to disagree” about whether “personhood” is a legitimate stance to fight for.

    – Just another question: Are we the most important and the best species on this Earth? Is that a moral thing to assume? Look at what we do to other animals…
    why do we place ourselves on such a high pedestal?

  • I lastly just wanted to point out that there are many people (like most of my peers) who genuinely love and respect human life–that is why they fight for the oppressed (through Amnesty Intl, etc.)
    And some of these same individuals firmly believe that a zygote does not hold the same stance as a late fetus (with its developed human faculties). Debate after debate after debate–it tends to just come down to that.

    If we can’t convince those who truly believe that–of otherwise, do we have the right to change legislation about it-which will force them to abide by our laws? Who gave us that “moral” right? Did our God grant it to us? But these individuals don’t believe in God at all. (and are actually wonderful, loving, caring, human suffering-defending people).

    I think it is morally wrong to allow the halt of helping/saving human lives by holding this abortion debate (which could last forever at this time in 2009) at the very highest. That is precisely what we are doing by fighting for it at THIS point in time.

    I think that until we can resolve those differences, we should at least put survival of the living at our utmost importance. –and making that choice does count.

  • (just imagine if all of those people holding pictures of mutilated fetuses in front of Planned Parenthood–instead were using that time and energy to fight for single moms on welfare who can’t afford to feed their children because of the system, for those who are tortured in jail or exposed to TB as extra punishment, for the schizophrenic homeless who are essentially forced on the street or in jail because there are not enough people fighting for them–and they are defenseless- dependent on the rest of us to notice the everyday injustices they face.

    When we halt plans that will let them live, we are choosing the zygote over them.

    When we walk passed a homeless man who is talking to himself (clearly has schizophrenia) and we ignore him when he asks for a dollar…but then we donate to support pro-life initiatives–we are choosing the zygote over them.

    When we advocate for political agendas that will spend the time to advocate for anti-abortion laws instead of advocating for tax dollars to be steered toward mental health services, we are choosing the zygote over them.

    Every issue is important, but they are still often competing with each other. Don’t you think we should collectively help the living first and then help the pre-living?

  • Kelley,

    Please continue asking us questions. Many of the writers here on The American Catholic and many more readers of our website have extensive knowledge on a variety of issues that affect us as Catholics.

    We appreciate your sincerity and do continue asking us questions.

    We hope to arm you with the Truth.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Kelley,

    Aren’t there a lot of “agree to disagree” deals that we’ve absolutely (and rightly) refused to make, however?

    There were a lot of people who thought it was perfectly acceptable to force black people to use different water fountains and lunch counters. They thought that skin color indicated a difference in kind and human worth. Lots of people held that view, and many others didn’t want to see the social upheaval of forcing those people to change their ways. But would that have made a good argument for argeeing to disagree?

    Should we agree to disagree on whether women should be turned down for higher paying jobs because “it’s not their place”?

    Should we agree to disagree on slavery?

    Sould we agree to disagree on anti-Semitism?

    All of these issues relate to moral judgements which were not shared by everyone in sodiety. And yet few, I think, would say that it would be a moral choice to simply shelve the issue because people disagree on it.

    Why is it so much more reasonable to shelve the question of whether unborn people should not be killed?

    It’s true, some people make arguments that human dignity stems from mental function, and thus that early stage embryos are not human. But by that same argument, isn’t the schizophrenic homeless person you pass on the street less human than you are? Do we want, even for a moment, to immitate the great eugenic and genocidal regimes of the last century in holding that human beings have less worth if they look different or are “disfunctional” compared to others?

    (BTW, it’s a minor scientific quibble, but the issue of “zygotes” doesn’t even come into abortion. A zygote is a human during the first five days of development, even prior to implantation. While the idea that calling an early stage human a “zygote” makes it particularly silly to oppose destroying it certainly ties into the overall failure of philosophical anthropology which lies at the root of the abortion question as well as other questions such as eugenics and euthenasia, zygotes are simply not candidates for abortion because the mother does not even know that she’s pregnant at 1-5 days after conception. She wouldn’t have even missed her period yet. While it’s common for abortion advocates to talk as if abortions take place when the child is “only a clump of cells” or “just a fertilized egg”, this is not accurate from a scientific point of view.)

  • Kelley,

    “Why? Why can’t developmental neurobiology be incorporated at all?”

    As Catholics we believe we are created with a soul. Developmental neurobiology may be useful in a number of ways, but it cannot tell us the VALUE of a human life, a human soul. No science can.

    “Personally, I just think that we should put the saving of human lives first instead of using this time and energy on worrying about whether a zygote is a human life. I mean, it’s not a human life”

    A zygote is alive, and it has human DNA. It isn’t any other kind of life but human.

    My right to exist began when I began to exist. I can’t remember being a zygote but I was one. I was the same being then with the same soul as I am now. All of my cells have died and regenerated 100s of times, yet my essence is still here.

    Importantly, I had parents who incurred a responsibility to care for my life as soon as they learned I existed.

    “If we can’t convince those who truly believe that–of otherwise, do we have the right to change legislation about it-which will force them to abide by our laws?”

    Did they have the right, Kelley? Abortion was illegal before Roe v. Wade and they forced it on the country. The founders of this country were pro-life, and abortion after the first movement in the womb (which is when people assumed life began in the 18th century, not having ultrasound technology) was illegal. It was our collective belief that life was sacred and that every person had a right to life, regardless of where they were.

    As Christians we have an obligation to defend the weak and defenseless. We have an obligation to create a society in which all human life is valued and respected. Unborn human beings are slaughtered by the millions for one reason only – they can’t speak for themselves.

    And if certain ethics professors have their way, live born infants will be added to the list, as well as the mentally handicapped, people in a coma, the elderly, and the list goes on. So we must be the voice for the truly voiceless. All life, through its very being, demonstrates a will to live, a will to keep on existing, even if it can’t speak.

    “Who gave us that “moral” right? Did our God grant it to us? But these individuals don’t believe in God at all.”

    We live in a democratic society. But legalized abortion was never democratically decided upon – it was imposed by the Supreme Court. We have a right as citizens, however, to try and persuade the majority to our views, and the majority has a right to vote for representatives that will enact their will as law.

    But this does miss the point. Suppose a group of people wanted to make child abuse and child rape legal. We wouldn’t hear a single argument from you or anyone else as to why that ought to be ok, and why we ought not “impose our morality” on anyone. We wouldn’t listen to the argument, “who are you to decide whether or not I can rape a child?” We recognize it as an inherently repulsive act.

    Well, the abortion industry and political lobby is committed to lying and scaring people into accepting another inherently repulsive act, abortion, and convincing people it isn’t so bad.

    Kelley, I think you ought to try and find a video of an abortion and watch it.

    “I think it is morally wrong to allow the halt of helping/saving human lives by holding this abortion debate ”

    No one is halting that debate. You’re setting up a false dichotomy.

    How we view human life is foundational to how we will approach all other matters.

    That said, a lot of the people who do try to prevent abortion at clinics are ALSO involved in the sort of the things you suggest. There are crisis pregnancy centers, there are food pantries, there is help for anyone who asks for it.

    Finally, EVEN IF what you said was true, murdering innocent unborn children wouldn’t suddenly become right because preventing it might require us putting aside some other causes. But let me stress again – it isn’t true.

    “When we halt plans that will let them live, we are choosing the zygote over them.”

    No one is doing that. Same for all your other scenarios. It is a completely false dichotomy, and many pro-life Christians are just as committed to helping the poor and others in need.

    Without any offense intended, Kelley, I don’t think you know very much about the pro-life movement, the people in it, what motivates them and interests them.

    You ought to take some time to get to know it. There are some rotten apples in every batch of course, people who hurl abuse at women, and it isn’t good. Compared to the crimes of the abortion industry, it’s practically meaningless.

  • Well said Joe!

  • Ditto!

    And I would add that Roe was lawless. Blackmun’s reasoning was specious and the decision the model example of a judiciary bent on making policy rather than deciding cases. Even liberal Con Law profs admit as much now and rely completely on stare decisis in their ongoing and embarrassing effort to prevent Roe from being overturned.

  • The things that you wrote were very comforting to me, Joe. I think I have grown up with a negative example of Catholics around me, that is why I came to this website– to see the views of other Catholics- to see if there are ones that are more open-minded and care about human life in the most practical way.
    I just know some Catholics that vote with the abortion ticket on their minds as opposed to universal health care. I know that you say it is a false dichotomy, and I agree that it is an indirect one, but I have seen this pretty blatantly in my life. I really hope that changes.
    I just don’t see or hear a voice from Catholics about the poor, the mentally ill, our terrible jail system, etc–as loudly as the pro-life movement. But, perhaps this is due to what the news reports on..and those other movements have more diverse crowds.
    I personally know individuals that care more about abortion of zygotes than advocating for those who are alive and suffering.

  • Kelley,
    The Catholic Church operates the largest system of charities in the world (SVdP. Catholic Charities, and Catholic Relief Services just to name three of hundreds), and that is hardly an accident. But you must understand that (i) no one is more helpless and innocent that that zygote and (ii) there is a difference between tolerating intentional killing versus grappling with poverty and disease.
    You seem to have an inaccurate and cartoonish understanding of religious conservatives. I recommend you read Arthur Brooks recent book “Who Really Cares?”. You need your eyes opened.

  • I used to think that poverty and disease were an “unlucky, unfortunate, by-chance” phenomenon, but actually it’s totally systematic and structured–meaning it will keep down the same types of groups over and over again. Look at those books I recommended earlier–really, I want to hear what others think with all of that information (that I never knew–but only just learned through a service-learning class called “The Health of Communities” in which we read all of those books, in addition to others).
    I will definitely get “Who Really Cares?” This forum here has already opened my eyes to the way other Catholics think–it is very comforting and interesting. I’ve learned so much.
    I disagree that no one is more helpless and innocent than the zygote–what about individuals with mental retardation or severe schizophrenia? They are completely dependent on the presence of a care-giver and advocacy from others (which is VERY LOW). People with mental retardation are the most forgotten, under-funded, and stigmatized of all disabilities. Furthermore, zygotes do not have that extra negative stigmatization that those with schizophrenia and mental retardation have, which only further contributes to their helplessness.
    Furthermore, I believe that zygotes are very important (obviously–hence I am not pro-abortion). But, I think that saving the potential lives of zygotes is less imminent and less important than saving the lives of the living. I think it’s more important to save the lives AND better the quality of life for those who are suffering, who can feel pain, who are left behind and know it (or even don’t know it due to mental impairments).
    One could argue that a zygotes right to life is just as important as the living’s right to life. But the living are suffering..suffering terribly…and I think that is what should place them before the zygote. I think that the leaving behind of the mentally ill, punishing prisoners with TB, exclusion of groups from certain systems/programs/privileges, allowing the needs of the poorest of the poor to never be adequately addressed–are all very intentional by policy makers and people in power. I never knew that until I did the research this year—and if I never knew that, I’m positive most Americans don’t either.
    I agree that I need my eyes opened–that’s why I came here to discuss these issues. But don’t you think everyone needs their eyes opened…including you?

    “Without any offense intended, Kelley, I don’t think you know very much about the pro-life movement, the people in it, what motivates them and interests them.”
    This is very true! That’s why I wanted to come on here. I’ve been very troubled by the things I’ve heard from some fellow Catholics. This has made me feel much better about the American Catholic population.

    “But this does miss the point. Suppose a group of people wanted to make child abuse and child rape legal. We wouldn’t hear a single argument from you or anyone else as to why that ought to be ok, and why we ought not “impose our morality” on anyone. We wouldn’t listen to the argument, “who are you to decide whether or not I can rape a child?” We recognize it as an inherently repulsive act.”
    I have to point out that many would make a huge distinction between raping a child and killing a zygote. Everyone agrees that raping a child is repulsive, but not everyone agrees the same about zygotes.

    ” ‘If we can’t convince those who truly believe that–of otherwise, do we have the right to change legislation about it-which will force them to abide by our laws?’
    Did they have the right, Kelley? Abortion was illegal before Roe v. Wade and they forced it on the country. The founders of this country were pro-life, and abortion after the first movement in the womb (which is when people assumed life began in the 18th century, not having ultrasound technology) was illegal. It was our collective belief that life was sacred and that every person had a right to life, regardless of where they were.”
    But I think the distinction here is that individuals felt specifically oppressed by this ruling. As Catholics, we are not oppressed by having abortion be legal. We can choose to not do it and to teach others to not do it either, and why. We can enlighten others about why it is immoral and offer help to those who need it.
    But conversely, for someone who feels they need an abortion–maybe even because they have severe diabetic problems and their life & potential child’s would be at severe risk in pregnancy and birth—they would not have the option to consider saving their body in this situation. They would have NO right to even make a moral decision about it in favor of bearing the child anyway–they would have to be FORCED to.
    This is something NO Catholic has to face.
    What’s even worse is if the diabetic woman truly believed that a zygote was not a human life. What if she truly believed that? (And it is backed by MANY other respectable, loving, and caring people.) None of them would be allowed to believe in what they believe. Or to even consider taking action.
    But Catholics do not have this problem. We are not prohibited from making decisions about what we want to happen to our bodies.

  • Also, Mike:
    My university has 3 copies of that book, so I’ll get it today! 🙂

  • Dear Kelley:

    You have an important insight here:

    I just don’t see or hear a voice from Catholics about the poor, the mentally ill, our terrible jail system, etc–as loudly as the pro-life movement. But, perhaps this is due to what the news reports on and those other movements have more diverse crowds.

    Sadly, the media is far less interested in covering this aspect of the Church’s work, as Archbishop Chaput pointed out a few years ago:


  • Kelley,

    I have to take issue with your continued use of the word “zygote.”

    When a woman goes to Planned Parenthood – or is dragged there by force, something that happens all too often – she cannot have an abortion performed on a “zygote”, which is extremely tiny.

    Surgical abortions are not undertaken until the “fetus” has acquired a distinctly human form. It has to develop to a certain degree before it can be effectively butchered and the bloody mess suctioned out of the uterus.

    Now, this is not to say that a zygote isn’t a human being – it is, as you and I were once zygotes, as we were once infants and adolescents. But I think you have a misconception of what is taking place. That is why I encourage you to somehow view an actual surgical abortion.

    “Everyone agrees that raping a child is repulsive, but not everyone agrees the same about zygotes.”

    First of all, not everyone agrees.

    Secondly, what about killing born infants? Whole societies used to think that that was just fine – and there are many prominent “ethicists” today who also believe that it is just fine. They believe it because an infant really isn’t that different from a fetus in terms of development, and in terms of it’s dependency on it’s parents.

    The point here is that just because a whole bunch of people come to think that something is OK, doesn’t make it OK. Child rapists probably feel oppressed that our laws don’t allow them to rape children – but how is that our problem?

    But the REAL point here is this: if you want to argue that an unborn child should not have a right to life, that is one thing. You may make that argument. But it is a SEPARATE argument. It has nothing to do with whether or not we should outlaw something or permit it. That is a distraction from the main argument. That’s why I brought up child rape – we know it is intrinsically wrong, and so we don’t debate the feelings of child rapists. If we thought the same way about abortion, we wouldn’t debate whether or not it was “oppression” to prevent it.

    “As Catholics, we are not oppressed by having abortion be legal.”

    And good Germans were not oppressed by Hitler. But if they spoke out against the Nazi’s treatment of Jews and other groups, they were treated as enemies as well. Hence millions of German Christians died in the camps alongside Jews, some of them because they refused to be quiet while the Nazis exterminated other human beings. They did so because it was a moral obligation.

    No one here is oppressed because of the way society treats mentally handicapped people either. You aren’t. But you have compassion for them, as we all ought to have. It’s something you don’t have to worry about or care about, but you do because it moves you. You should realize that the mentally ill, Kelley, are seen in the same way by a lot of prominent scientists, ethicists, philosophers and politicians here and in Europe as the unborn child is. They are seen as either a financial burden, or living out lives so bad that they would be better off dead – whatever they have to say to get these people out of the way.

    “They would have NO right to even make a moral decision about it in favor of bearing the child anyway–they would have to be FORCED to.
    This is something NO Catholic has to face.”

    I don’t see why you would think no Catholic has to face it. They do every day.

    And they can still make whatever decision they want – the point is that there will be consequences if they choose to murder their child. Now the Church’s teaching on “saving the life of the mother” is clear – the doctors must do everything in their power to save BOTH lives. If the child dies because it just isn’t possible to do both, that is not murder/abortion.

    Also, you have to realize that abortion is NEVER the answer to a life-threatening pregnancy; there are always other options, even if the child ends up dying as a result.

  • Joe, thank you so much for your thorough feedback. You definitely helped me to sort through my thoughts and confusions.
    I understand, now, what you mean–it is a separate argument. That makes a lot of sense to me.
    Then, yes- what if someone truly does not believe that an unborn fetus has the right to life? What if they truly believe that a within trimester fetus does not have the same rights as a human–to life?

  • Well first of all, a fetus is a human being, just like an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager or an adult is a human being. These are different stages of human development.

    As for people who truly do not believe that a fetus has a right to life, what about them? We should try and persuade them, but in the end, we must do all within our power and the limits of the law to defend human life.

    There will always be people who want to legalize child murder for different reasons. In a perfect world everyone would agree on every issue. In the world we live in, there will always be disagreement. We have to realize that the men and women who spend time, energy, and money to keep abortion legal are NOT people who can’t afford to have children. They are middle class professionals who see children (at least at certain stages in their lives) as a hindrance to their life plans. They exploit the poor woman who really doesn’t want to abort by offering her no other options, no love, no compassion, just a trip to a sterile operating room where a paid medical flunky destroys their child. They say absolutely nothing about the tens of thousands of cases where women are forced by their husbands and boyfriends and even their parents to undergo an abortion they don’t really want to have.

  • Why do so many people who are very intelligent, open-minded, caring, compassionate, fighters for social justice, etc–still fundamentally disagree?

  • Kelley,

    Speaking from my own, past experience of being pro-choice, I think that most of those people haven’t given it the same thought. There’s asymmetrical interest in the abortion topic, I think: The people who care most passionately about it are mainly on the pro-life side. That’s not to say that there aren’t passionate feelings on the opposite side, but it’s rarely an issue central to their ideas of justice. And in the case of those who *have* given it thought and *still* deny the unborn’s right to life, I don’t know what to say except that hearts can be hardened.

    There’s also the case of someone like Camille Paglia, who openly admits that abortion is the taking of innocent human life, but supports it anyway.

  • People with intelligence and who have great intentions can make a logical miscalculation. I’m sure the most die hard advocate for health care reform (like myself) would not concede that I am right on an issue because my opponent is intelligent, compassionate, etc.

    I wouldn’t doubt that such an indivudual has the common good in mind. But I would hold that the person is fundamentally mistaken.

    Moreover with abortion — there is a lot of misinformation — some people are just not informed on the issue. They may have intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to hold to their position, as even pro-life Americans undoubtedly do.

    But we are not all right about this issue. Either an unborn child is not a human being and there is nothing morally wrong with abortion, or it is really a human being at the moment of its conception — where so many genetic factors are already predetermined and known — and it has a right to life because of its basic humanity not because of what it can do (demonstrate consciousness, reason, think and act independently because if this was the standard we should kill born infants because they do not meet such arbirtrary personhood criteria).

    It really boils down to where rights come from and for what reason do we have those rights. Does the government give us rights? Or is a right something intrinsic — something due to us because of what we are, not what we can do? A person legally retarded might not exhibit the qualities of a non-disabled human in terms of rational expression. But that makes him no less human.

    Some very compassionate people will observe the natural suffering in such a situation and might think such a person, or such people, are better off not being born. But such a calculation could not be more wrong. We learn more from such individuals than they ever could from us — and the most foremost lesson is humility.

    Abortion similarly is the symptom of a problem; it is not in itself the problem. Society has not met the needs of women. When a woman has an abortion whatever reasons drove her to have it will be awaiting her when she returns to her home — economic insecurity, an abusive boyfriend or spouse, lack of support, a broken home, or maybe even a life of self-indulgence and promiscuity that she is not willing to give up for whatever reasons. There is never a reason to sit in judgment, but it is clear that abortion does nothing but add to the pain and abortion just leads to more abortion.

    It means not taking responsibility, it reaffirms our committment to a fatherless society, pits men against women, and women against their children.

    Sure, the most concerned and conscientious pro-choice advocate may very well have the best interest of these women at heart — but for those on the other side of the issue, we have every right, as well as an obligation, to protest and articulate how and why their method of support is both against the dignity of women and the scandalous support of genocide of an entire group of humans — the smallest among us.

  • I would recommend Pro Woman Arguments to Pro Choice Questions from Feminists for Life:


  • As usual… What Eric said. 🙂

  • This Nelson/hatch/Casey is not Pro-life. Good Grief!It doesn’t prevent tax payers funding for abortions. It has exceptions! What is happening to our Catholic teaching??? read the amendment! Here it is!

    the Nelson Amendment states (Source: http://bennelson.senate.gov/press/press_releases/120709-01.cfm):
    (3) NO DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF PROVISION OF ABORTION.—No Exchange participating health benefits plan may discriminate against any individual health care provider or health care facility because of its unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

    (b) Limitation on Abortion Funding.—



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