January 16, 2009


Our new president and abortion

Two important events will take place next week.

On Tuesday, history will be made when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. Two days later, pro-life advocates will again march in Washington, D.C., on the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in this country.

There is a connection, mainly because President-elect Obama has promised pro-abortion forces that he will liberalize restrictions on abortion. He has, in fact, said that he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) if it should pass Congress and reach his desk.

However, Obama has also said that he intends to unite this country, to bring us together and to overcome our differences.

Carrying through with his promises to the pro-abortion lobbies would do just the opposite. We must convince him that his determination to unite us is more important than making it easier to kill defenseless children in the womb.

Who can convince him of that?

Pro-life Democrats are the most likely. If there was ever a time when they should step up, it is now.

People who voted for him should let him know that they didn’t do it because of his stand on abortion, but rather for other reasons, including his pledge to unite us.

They could also remind him that he said that he would find ways to reduce abortions, although he wouldn’t outlaw them. He said during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

The Catholic Church is always ready to support help for pregnant women or low-income women who are most likely to abort their babies. The Catholic Church already does that through Catholic Charities, and many pro-life Catholic individuals and organizations across the country,

But Obama’s support for FOCA would not reduce abortions. It is the most extreme piece of legislation, lifting all restrictions on abortion.

That is why Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein (see his column, page 5, and related story, page 8) has asked Catholics in the archdiocese to participate in a nationwide letter, postcard and telephone campaign on the weekend of Jan. 24-25 to oppose the act.

FOCA has not passed either the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate in the past. In 1993, after Bill Clinton was elected president and it appeared possible that FOCA would be passed by a Democratic House and Senate and signed by President Clinton, a similar letter and postcard campaign was successful. FOCA was never brought up for a vote.

We must again encourage pro-life members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, to make sure it doesn’t pass this year, either. Then President-elect Obama won’t have a chance to keep his pledge to Planned Parenthood to sign the bill.

With the Democrats in control of the executive and legislative branches of government, pro-life Democratic congressmen and senators will have to buck the leaders of their party. This is true not only regarding FOCA, but also on other issues that are sure to arise, as, for example, attempts to repeal the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.

It will undoubtedly be true, too, regarding other pro-life issues, such as the use of federal funds for stem-cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos. This past December, the Vatican reemphasized the Catholic Church’s teachings on this subject when it issued a 32-page instruction titled “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of a Person”). The instruction also rejected in vitro fertilization, human cloning, surrogate motherhood and nontherapeutic experiments with human embryos.

Sadly, it appears that most people in American society have little regard for the sacredness of human embryos. Biology, not our Catholic faith, tells us that human life begins when a human sperm unites with a human egg at the time of fertilization, but there seems to be no political will to protect that human life.

As our new president takes his oath of office next Tuesday, we encourage all citizens to pray for him.

We hope that the next four years won’t be a contest of wills between the president and those who support the right to life of every person from conception to natural death.

There are many other issues which we can agree with and support his positions. But when it comes to the sanctity of life, we need to unequivocally continue to stand up for it.

—John F. Fink

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