October 24, 2008

Letters to the Editor

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(Editor’s note: This week’s Opinion pages in The Criterion include several letters to the editor concerning the 2008 presidential election. Nearly all of the letters we have received have focused on life issues. The following is a sampling of the numerous letters sent to us in the last several weeks. Due to space constraints, we cannot print all the letters we have received. As a condition of our tax-exempt, non-profit status, we are prohibited by law from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. We do, however, urge all our readers to revisit the U.S. bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility.” The document, which was drafted by the bishops to help people of faith form consciences for political life, is a summary of Catholic teaching. It can be found online at www.faithfulcitizenship.org.)

One party has a plan to protect unborn children

Sen. Barack Obama has never been introduced to a pro-life law that he could tolerate. His voting record for life issues is a big zero.

And during his brief career as a state senator in Illinois, he managed to make a name for himself by voting against the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act … four times! He actually gave one of his famous speeches in defense of his vote.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act? Apparently, at Christ Hospital in Chicago, abortions were being performed on mid- to late-term pregnant women. Some of the babies actually survived the abortion, which, of course, means that the procedure “failed.”

Nurse Jill Stanek described how she and other nurses desperately tried to find the time to hold these infants until they died but, more often than not, they were simply thrown in a garbage pail and left to die.

Stanek’s testimony led to the law that would protect these innocents if they manage to survive. Obama voted against it.

He later claimed that his vote was procedural, and meant to protect

Roe v. Wade. Several versions of this bill passed statewide and federally, and Obama voted against life every time.

In April 2007, Obama was a co-sponsor of the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), which would wipe out all state regulations and laws concerning abortion. If he is elected, and the Democrats retain control in Congress, FOCA is a very real possibility!

Make no mistake about it: States that have chosen life and voted for pro-life politicians have saved lives.

Mississippi reduced its abortion rate by 50 percent when it enacted three

pro-life laws in the 1990s. They actually had to vote for pro-life politicians to get this done.

President George W. Bush has appointed two pro-life Supreme Court justices. Obama has promised to appoint only Supreme Court judges who would support Roe v. Wade.

Many would-be pro-lifers like to defend their votes for pro-abortion candidates by dictating other problems they are concerned about. Somehow, the mass slaughter of 4,000 innocent unborn children every single day does not trump problems such as the Iraqi war or the environment.

I have even been accused by a relative of pandering to the Sen. John McCain campaign by spreading falsehoods about Obama. I don’t need to spread falsehoods about him. His record on abortion could not be clearer, and it is a matter of public record. Why do you think every pro-abortion group known to man so wholeheartedly endorses him?

The Republicans and Democrats both have a plan for the economy, the environment, gas prices and the Iraqi war.

However, only one of these parties and its candidates has a plan to protect unborn children.

Choose life because it is right this November!

- Joyce Deitz, Richmond

Abortion is one of many issues for voters to consider

Thanks to your recent letter writer for her “Be Our Guest” column in the Sept. 19 issue of The Criterion.

The letter writer took issue with the newspaper running a Catholic News Service story featuring the headline “Obama invokes American spirit, echoes ‘Faithful Citizenship’ themes.”

It motivated me to try and explain why I am a Catholic who has decided to reject the team of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, and to support Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden.

Fortunately, the U.S. bishops have published a 42-page document to help American Catholics make ethical decisions as faithful citizens in the coming election.

We need that help because we live in a complex, globalized, pluralistic, often secular world, and our country is currently in crisis on every front.

I don’t agree with the letter writer that the abortion issue should be considered in pure isolation from all the others that we have to consider as we compare candidates’ positions.

It is complicated. The issues are all interrelated, and the length of the bishops’ statement attests to that.

Were it simple, a few sentences would have sufficed. With God’s help, we all have to form our own consciences as best we can.

In spite of the fact that I find abortion an abomination and morally wrong, ultimately, I made my decision based upon a realistic and careful consideration of the candidates’ abilities and approaches, and of whose plans best support life now and in the future.

The economy, education, health care, infrastructure, fair wages, job creation, trade policies, the war, national security, energy, the death penalty, torture, immigration, tax reform, the environment—all are important to a culture of life.

I think Obama’s plans are better, and I also like the way he has asked each of us to take responsibility and to deliberately serve each other. He is a uniter, and he remembers the poor and marginalized.

I am following the letter writer’s advice. I continue to examine the integrity and the consistency of the four candidates, and look forward to the rest of The Criterion’s series on “Faithful Citizenship” to help us all make our choices.

I hope we can respect each other’s decisions and withhold judgment.

- Sara Debono, Indianapolis

Without conception, there is no life

When does life begin? That seems to be the question often asked of those who are wanting to lead our country.

We are asked to put people into high positions who may or may not honor precious, innocent life.

When does life begin? At conception, of course.

Without conception, there is no life. Each of us was created at that miraculous moment.

To think otherwise is to deny God. To not cherish that tiny life and to end it before it can have a chance to reach its potential as a beautiful human being is out and out murder. There is simply no excuse for a planned abortion.

Some politicians try to straddle the fence by declaring to be “personally opposed” to abortion. If they are really personally opposed, why not proudly proclaim so?

Is being elected more important? I see these pro-choice banners held by outraged women and I think, “You are proud of being potential killers?” You are saying, “Leave us alone! If we want to rip that baby from the womb, it is our right to do so!”

I have never and will never cast my precious vote for any person who is not pro-life—no matter what his or her other qualifications may be.

If he or she can be so deadly wrong in that, then he or she could very possibly be deadly wrong in other important decisions.

- Rosalynn DeFelice, Indianapolis

Right-to-life issues include more than abortion

I just finished reading the “Be Our Guest” column in the Sept. 19 issue of The Criterion.

The letter writer expressed disdain regarding Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service who is executive director of Network, a Washington-based Catholic social justice lobby, and an earlier article printed in the Sept. 5 issue of The Criterion in which Sister Simone expresses support for Sen. Barack Obama.

The letter writer says that “Sister Simone’s opinion is not in alignment with the spirit of the teaching of the Church,” and appears to base her own opinion on Sen. Obama’s failure to support legislative action to illegalize abortion.

I feel that this is a short-sighted and narrow interpretation of right-to-life issues. Obama’s position on access to health care, support of social programs for the poor, implementation of gun control with regard to assault weapons, war and capital punishment are all pro-life.

The letter writer hopes to end abortion by making it illegal while ignoring the infant mortality rate due to lack of funding for health care, medication and nutrition among the poor.

Right to life is about much more than abortion, and the way to end abortion is about much more than legalities.

- Pat Browne, Fairland

The critical issue when casting your ballot

The old adage that “Actions speak louder than words” certainly applies to Sen. Barack Obama. Let us examine the facts instead of listening to his rhetoric.

Fact: Sen. Obama has a 100 percent

pro-abortion voting record and has the complete support of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). He has never voted for a piece of pro-life legislation in his career.

Fact: Sen. Obama voted against the ban on the gruesome act of partial-birth abortion.

Fact: Sen. Obama is so pro-abortion that he even voted against the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act,” which would save babies who survive late-term abortions.

Fact: Sen. Obama is a co-sponsor of the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act,” which, if passed, would make partial-birth abortion legal again, provide taxpayer funding of abortion and strike down all limitations on abortions, including parental notification laws.

Fact: Sen. Obama has repeatedly stated that he will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will uphold legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy.

On the other hand, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have a very strong pro-life voting record, and have committed to protecting the unborn in legislation and court appointments. Sen. McCain’s voting record is irrefutable proof of his pro-life convictions.

The points listed above are not my opinion, simply the facts. The following is my opinion.

Americans are a life-embracing and optimistic people. While the European, Japanese and Russian populations are shrinking due to their pessimistic and oftentimes pro-abortion national policies, America stands almost alone in the world in embracing new life and believing in a future for our children.

We are still a country where the majority of our citizens believe that we are made in the “image and likeness” of a loving God, and that we are endowed by that same God with the inalienable right to life.

America is truly a great country. We simply cannot continue to accept the ugly and brutal crime of abortion. There can be no greater concern, when voting for the leader of our country, than where the candidate stands on the issue of the protection and sanctity of innocent human life. How a candidate stands on the protection of the unborn is like a window into the soul of the individual and a powerful indication of his true character.

Please, my fellow citizens, vote pro-life in the upcoming election.

Some day, in the not so distant future, you will be asked how you cared for the “least of these.” I hope you will be comfortable with your answer.

- Jerry Mersch, Brookville

Pray for the wisdom to change what we can change

Again this year, certain bishops and certain Catholics have publicly denounced certain politicians. These bishops and others would have us believe that voting for their preferred candidates will result in the criminalization of abortion and increased justice for the unborn.

In past years, we were told we had to vote for them. We were told that one issue was of paramount importance.

Yet, we have received no significant change in the law to date. No abortionist or mother is in jail. There is no martial law.

Voting for Sen. John McCain would not end abortion. His position is to send the issue to the individual states. Seven states already have “trigger laws” in place to preserve Roe v. Wade if overturned, and any other state could follow.

It is naïve to think the abortion problem can be resolved by an election, or a politician, or even a political party.

The issue can only really be decided once and for all in the hearts and minds of the people, and I do hope and pray that they choose life, unlike our Catholic chief justice who has already supported the death penalty twice.

As with abortion, we should be concerned about social justice and be concerned for the least among us. A war has caused well over a million deaths. A tax plan more favorable to anyone earning under $112,000 a year would be more just for the poor, the workers and families. A possibility exists for many millions to have health insurance or four more years of do-nothingness.

Spending recklessly creates a huge debt burden on our children so that we can avoid our responsibilities now. Social Security privatization would give the security and dignity of our seniors to failed brokerage houses.

We are taught that God is love, that we are here on Earth to know, love and serve him.

We are taught to change the things we can, and we pray for the wisdom to do it right.

I intend with a clear conscience to vote accordingly.

- Donald V. Traub, Indianapolis

Voting our conscience in this election

In the Oct. 10 issue of The Criterion, there is an editorial by John F. Fink on page 4 with the headline “Abortion and Politics.”

In the editorial, it was stated that “support for the right to abortion, by a politician or anyone else, is objectively a grave sin.”

Simply stated, a grave sin (or mortal sin) takes all grace away from the soul, and if that person dies without grace, they cannot enter into heaven.

In an article I read recently, it brought to light that if every Catholic in the U.S. voted for pro-life politicians, we could overturn Roe v. Wade and stop this war on the innocents.

Sen. Barack Obama, if elected president, will legalize abortion on demand. This means there will be no restrictions on abortion. Anyone at any time can get an abortion, even without parental consent for young girls, and from conception to birth.

There are already between 3,000 and 4,000 partial-birth abortions that occur every year (and this is with a partial-birth abortion ban signed by President George W. Bush).

In addition, a study at the University of Minnesota showed that teenage girls are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide within six months of having an abortion. Imagine if your teenage daughter had an abortion without your consent, and she was experiencing thoughts of suicide.

As Catholics, we have a moral obligation to vote for pro-life candidates. If we put God first, everything else will work out (the economy, the war, health care, etc.).

We must trust in God and have confidence that he is on our side, if only we will be on his side. Please pray that every U.S. Catholic will follow their conscience during this election.

- Rhonda Branham, Bloomington

Sister’s statement in line with ‘Faithful Citizenship’

Like the letter writer who penned the “Be Our Guest” column in the Sept. 19 issue, I was surprised that The Criterion published an article in which Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell supported Sen. Barack Obama, pointing out that better health care would probably reduce abortions.

But unlike the letter writer, I was pleasantly surprised to see another point of view in The Criterion.

The “Faithful Citizenship” summary recently published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states, “A candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

“May lead,” not “must lead.”

And the document goes on to point to many other considerations to be taken into account in a voter’s decision: the rights to food, shelter, health care, education and meaningful work, and the candidates’ stand on the death penalty, hunger, war and “unjust immigration policies.”

I think Sister Simone’s statement was quite consistent with the bishops’ publication.

- John C. Moore, Bloomington

Don’t lose sight of strengths in U.S. health care

Any discussion of reforming health care is naturally going to focus on the problems, and the recent article in the Sept. 19 issue of The Criterion was no exception.

But we should not lose sight of the strengths of the U.S. health care system or we may end up with something worse. And we need to have all the facts.

For example, the article focused on the statistic that 47 million Americans have no health insurance.

But it is important to note that perhaps one-third of the uninsured—many of them young and healthy—could afford coverage but choose not to pay for it. Another third of the uninsured are already eligible for existing government programs, such as Medicaid.

Yes, there is a problem, but there are many things we can and should do to expand coverage without requiring a government-run system for all.

Other countries may have universal coverage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean better access to care. Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have notoriously long waits for treatment. They also have less access to new medicines. The U.S. spends more per capita on health care for the uninsured than most other developed countries spend on care for those with insurance.

Many of the health problems in our country reflect our lifestyle more than our health care. The health care system is not to blame for deaths from violence, drunk driving or unhealthy habits that are more prevalent in the U.S.

Where the health care system can make a difference—on cancer survival rates, for example—the U.S. outperforms other developed countries.

The way that government systems ration health care should cause Catholics to stop and think.

Just a few weeks ago, a prominent “ethics expert” and government adviser in the United Kingdom said that elderly people with dementia should consider euthanasia because they unduly burden the National Health Service and their caregivers. With the NHS budget pressures of an aging population, how long before voluntary consideration becomes mandatory?

Too often, it is assumed that anyone who truly cares about better health care for Americans must support greater government control of the system. The U.S. health care system surely has room for improvement, but it is the best foundation for providing broad access to truly life-affirming health care through a combination of public and private, including Catholic, efforts.

- Bob Collins, Indianapolis

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