January 16, 2009

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Pray and urge Congress to reject new pro-abortion legislation

This time of year, I experience a profound sadness as once more we observe the anniversary of the

Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legitimatized abortion on demand.

It marks a major and tragic defect in our culture. We are not as civilized as we claim to be.

Some people don’t want to hear anything about it. Inevitably, there will be a charge that is too easily leveled, namely, that the Church makes this a “single issue” and ignores other serious life issues.

When leveled against the teaching of the Church, this charge is unfair because it is grossly inaccurate.

Yes, there is a hierarchy in the morality of human life issues. All are important, but that does not mean that all are of equal weight.

The morality of terminating voiceless human life in the womb of a mother and the termination of the life of elderly or otherwise disabled people—euthanasia—take priority over the death penalty or war or the sad plight of poor people.

All of these are grave life issues that ultimately find themselves grounded in protecting and fostering the dignity of all of human life, of every human person.

The common argument of the pro-abortion movement has been framed in the language of free choice.

It is asserted that it is the right of a woman to choose whether to abort the human life conceived in her womb. Of course, the “right to choose” resonates easily in our democratic and egalitarian culture.

Yet if one delves more deeply into the issue of the rights that are at stake in the case of life in a mother’s womb versus the right of the mother to choose abortion, clearly the right of human life once conceived supersedes the right to choose to abort that human life.

Unfortunately, the language of “choice” and “rights” cloud the real issue and the authentic notion of freedom. We are not free to choose to do something that is an objectively grave moral evil. Individuals do not arbitrarily determine what is intrinsically evil and what is not. Nor do we arbitrarily pick and choose moral truth according to what suits us.

Unfortunately, our nation’s legislators and President-elect Barack Obama may be poised to pass into law what is called the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

During the political campaign for the presidency, it was widely reported that President-elect Obama told the board of Planned Parenthood that he would sign such legislation.

Incredibly, FOCA would foster not only the unfettered abortion of innocent human life without restriction but, as designed thus far, it would by law also force all health care providers without exception to perform abortions on demand.

In other words, Catholic institutions like our local St. Francis and St. Vincent hospital systems would be forced by law to provide abortion services.

In effect, that would spell the demise of Catholic health care institutions because we would never provide abortion services on demand. It is entirely unconscionable that our Catholic doctors, nurses and other health care professionals be placed in an untenable position in the face of grave moral activities.

I can’t stress enough the gravity of the effects that would result if FOCA were enacted.

Among other things, our tax dollars would be used to fund abortions. The effects of FOCA go beyond just Catholic moral teaching and practice. While some pundits and pro-abortion folks try to frame the abortion issue as a Catholic issue, it needs to be asserted that protection of innocent human life is not of its nature a Catholic agenda. It is an agenda of human nature.

I urge all of us to pray fervently that the intended FOCA legislation be set aside by the incoming Congress in Washington and that there not be an act for President-elect Obama to sign into law.

Nevertheless, so that we do not find ourselves in a position of reacting to FOCA or a similar act of Congress after the fact, I urge all of us to participate in the postcard campaign being staged by our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and managed by our respective diocesan and archdiocesan pro-life offices.

Our elected representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate need to hear from us. They need to hear and understand our concern for the moral gravity and the consequences of the situation from us, their constituents.

Sadly, beginning last October, the economic crisis dominated the political campaign and, in effect, removed the pro-life issues from public discourse.

We are all the more responsible for continuing the public dialogue in order to raise the conscience of the nation concerning the seriousness of the human life issues.

A civilized nation should not expect less. †

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