THIS CATHOLIC’S VIEW
By Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
With all the episcopal criticism of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to give the commencement address, you would think that the American Catholic bishops have written off the administration and anyone who is pro-choice as unredeemable.
This is certainly the position of some in the pro-life movement who are so critical of pro-choice politicians that they consider any cooperation with “the enemy” would be wrong. They will not even cooperate on programs to reduce abortion because that would infer that you find legalized abortion acceptable, they say.
This is not the position of the U.S. Catholic bishops.
On Friday, April 24, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chair of the bishop’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote each member of Congress asking them to co-sponsor and support the Pregnant Women Support Act (H.R. 2035), a bill initiated by Democrats for Life.
Cardinal Rigali agrees that this bill can provide “authentic common ground” for people who disagree on other issues. This puts the bishops firmly on the side of working with anyone to support programs that will reduce the number of abortions.
Cardinal Rigali notes that the bill includes:
Eliminating pregnancy as a “preexisting condition” that can be used to deny health coverage for women; grants to support centers providing alternatives to abortion; assistance encouraging colleges and universities to provide support for pregnant and parenting students; increased support for the WIC program, and for adoption programs; allowing states to cover unborn children and their mothers under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing prenatal care for especially needy pregnant women who may not otherwise be eligible; and improving services for pregnant women who are at risk from domestic violence.
These programs will help women to choose life and not be forced to have an abortion because of economic constraints. This has become even more important because the current economic crisis appears to be increasing the numbers of abortions.
“No woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice, or because alternatives were unavailable or not made known to her,” writes Cardinal Rigali. “An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one’s standard for ‘freedom of choice.'”
The Pregnant Women Support Act should be supported by both pro-choice and pro-life people. Such support will show that pro-choice advocates really want to give women a real choice, and it will show that pro-life advocates truly want to protect life.
What is disconcerting is that so far the cardinal’s letter has received little coverage outside the Catholic press. The only non-Catholic news site covering the story that I could find in a Google search was usnews.com. This story deserves more coverage.
Thomas J. Reese, S.J., is Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
By Thomas J. Reese |
April 28, 2009; 3:41 PM ET
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