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Ending The Policy of Only ‘Personally Opposed to Abortion’

Imagine that you’re watching an infomercial. For almost a half hour, you hear the hosts promote a product, saying that it should be widely available because it offers so many benefits.

But at the end of the program, after explaining how everyone could use this item, the hosts look into the camera and say, “We want you to know that, personally, we wouldn’t touch this product with a ten-foot pole. We have major problems with it, although we won’t tell you what those problems are. In fact, we won’t even describe to you how the product works. And forget about ever seeing it on TV. But if you still want it, we say go for it!”

Sound fishy? Raise a red flag or two for you?

Of course, but that, in essence, is the pitch that politicians who are “personally opposed” to abortion expect you to buy.

They insist that there’s a “right” to take an unborn child’s life for any reason at any stage of pregnancy and that taxpayers should finance the procedure. They say abortion is beneficial to society. But in the same breath they add that they want nothing to do with it in their own lives.

What’s more, these officials won’t say why they wouldn’t abort their own children.

And as for explaining what’s involved in the abortion procedure itself, mum’s the word. They would never quote a line from the medical textbooks describing abortion.

And forget about ever seeing it on TV.

The hypocritical stance of “pro-choice/personally opposed” politicians boils down to this – they encourage abortion by making it as easily accessible as possible, but then turn around and refuse to defend what they encourage, or even describe what they defend.

For decades, we’ve heard the mantra from candidates and office holders that they would never impose their personal beliefs on others by making even one abortion illegal. Most recently, we heard Senator Tim Kaine in the vice-presidential debate assert that “it is not the role of the public servant to mandate” the commands of his or her faith.

But in the case of abortion, why not?

Just because a policy coincides with your religious beliefs is no reason to claim that that policy cannot be enacted into law. Witness entire state criminal code sections that are in harmony with Biblical prohibitions on murder, stealing, and lying. The freedom to disbelieve the Bible isn’t the same as freedom to murder, steal, or lie.

My own Catholic faith – a faith that many “pro-choice/personally opposed” politicians such as Senator Kaine say they embrace – has taught for two millennia that abortion is always gravely wrong because it is the taking of a human life. This profound teaching raises the question, if Catholic politicians know that abortion takes a human life, how can they say that killing another person is merely a matter of personal conscience?

The unavoidable truth for “pro-choice/personally opposed” politicians, Catholic or otherwise, is that the baby in the womb is not a religious belief. He or she is a physical reality. The unborn child’s humanity is not established by the Church, it’s respected and upheld by the Church.

Science teaches that a human life begins at its beginning – when egg and sperm unite to form the first cell of an entirely new person – not at some arbitrary point in an unborn baby’s development. In fact, science informs the entire pro-life position – just ask a pro-life atheist.

So, if you personally oppose abortion because it destroys an innocent human life – which is the fundamental reason to object to abortion – and you’re a liberal politician who supports terminating other people’s unborn children, you must frame abortion as only a religious question. It’s easier to categorize the unborn child’s humanity as a belief than it is to recognize it as an objective, verifiable scientific fact. Plus, that way you don’t have to talk about the blood-and-guts inhumanity of abortion.

But I say to Senator Kaine and other “pro-choice/personally opposed” politicians of both parties, if you know the truth of what abortion is, then be honest and tell us. Describe what it is that you privately oppose, but publicly support.

For instance, in federal court testimony, abortionist Carolyn Westhoff noted, “In the dismemberment D&E…it is necessary to insert our forceps…and then crush the head.” The “pro-choice/personally opposed” politician should tell us why crushing the head of an unborn child is acceptable as long as it isn’t that of his own son or daughter.

Abortionist Warren Hern wrote in his textbook Abortion Practice that in second-trimester abortions, “A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus….” Perhaps a candidate could inform voters that he personally opposes decapitation.

And abortionist Martin Haskell testified in federal court, “When you’re doing a dismemberment D&E, usually the last part to be removed is the skull itself and it’s floating free inside the uterine cavity…So it’s rather like a ping-pong ball floating around….” We must ask the “pro-choice/personally opposed” lawmaker, is this what you mean when you say “reproductive health”?

The days of the personally-opposed-to-abortion subterfuge are over. If a politician wants abortion on demand to be legal, he should defend his position. And if he wants to run away from abortion while he promotes it, he should at least tell us why.

Fr. Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life

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