Jesuit Father Thomas Reese has published a disgraceful essay urging Americans to vote for pro-choice Democrats while claiming that defunding Planned Parenthood is “irresponsible.”
Writing for Religion News Service (RNS)— Father Reese, the former editor-in-chief of America Magazine—says that “pro-lifers must consider voting for candidates, even pro-choice Democrats, who will reduce the number of abortions by supporting programs that help mothers and their children.”
In his political propaganda piece aimed at discrediting President Trump’s recent moves to partially defund Planned Parenthood, Father Reese abandons his role as a Catholic cleric to stump for the Democratic Party.
Closing Planned Parenthood clinics “that provide health care and birth control to women before replacements are up and running is irresponsible and counterproductive,” he writes.
Employing convoluted logic meant to assuage the consciences of Christians who support pro-abortion legislators, Reese makes the claim that Democrats like Hillary Clinton who support Planned Parenthood and abortion-on-demand are actually better for the pro-life cause than Republicans who attempt to install pro-life justices or draft legislation aimed at restricting abortions.
“Pro-life voters must choose between Republican rhetoric and Democratic results,” he writes, in bold advocacy for the party that applies a pro-abortion litmus test to all its potential political candidates.
Reese’s “argument” goes something like this: Abortion will never be illegal, and pro-lifers must accept this fact. They must, therefore, abandon efforts to rescind or limit laws permitting abortion and devote themselves, instead, to enacting more expansive government programs that support women so they will not choose to have abortions.
“Trying to preserve anti-abortion laws or trying to reverse the legalization of abortion is simply not working,” Reese writes, citing the recent Irish abortion referendum as a case in point.
Thinking that abortion could ever be illegal is “simply ignoring reality,” he contends. “Time is on the side of the pro-choice movement.”
Pro-life advocates should, instead, “strongly support programs that give women a real choice — increasing the minimum wage, free or affordable day care for working and student moms, free or affordable health care for mothers and their children, parental leave programs, education and job-training programs, income and food supplements, etc.” he writes.
Had he lived a century-and-a-half ago, Father Reese would have found himself among the shameful Christian clerics who argued that since abolition was impossible and black slavery would never be illegal, efforts should be made to help slaveowners treat their human property as nicely as possible. Such political “realism” has ever been the ally of moral cowardice.
In direct opposition to the U.S. Bishops, Reese further asserts that “the contraceptive mandate of the Obama administration will do more to reduce the number of abortions than all of the legislative gimmicks of Republican legislators.”
“If European Catholic institutions can pay money into national health programs that perform abortions, then American Catholic employers can pay for insurance programs that pay for birth control,” he insists.
The pro-life movement “has to support birth control as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies,” he insists, and those, like the Catholic church, “who consider artificial contraception to be wrong must also recognize that abortion is a greater evil. When forced to choose, one must choose the lesser of two evils.”
What Father Reese may forget from his seminary lessons in moral theology, the concept of choosing a “lesser evil” never justifies choosing any moral evil so that good may come from it. It refers, rather, to opting for an imperfect—but not immoral—solution to a problem when a perfect solution is unavailable.
Father Reese’s love affair with the Democratic Party and his willingness to sacrifice moral truth for political gain is reminiscent of the conduct of his confrère, Jesuit Father Robert Drinan (D-MA), who served in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1981.
A vocal advocate of abortion rights, Father Drinan notably supported President Bill Clinton’s veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 1996.
Soon after, the redoubtable archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, rebuked Drinan in his weekly column in Catholic New York. “You could have raised your voice for life; you raised it for death. Hardly the role of a lawyer. Surely not the role of a priest.”
One can only hope that, similarly, moral clarity will prevail in the present case. If Father Reese wishes to speak for the Catholic church, he had best get his story straight.
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