« Can't help myself | Main | Help save a parish! »

June 20, 2006

Comments

JMB

Amy:

I agree with you (and Patrick Brennan at MOJ) that the silence from our bishops is a bewildering phenomenon (given their habit of opining on all matters under the sun --reticence is a not a quality for which the USCCB is known) and indeed a shameful failure to exercise the teaching office. Although a blanket "policy" statement may not have been the right approach, wouldn't a statement along the lines of Ratzinger's letter to McCarrick have been appropriate?

JMB

CMick

I think Gov. Pataki has defected to the Episcopal Church.

Tony A

Amy,

You are right. Many politicians take advantage of a nuanaced and complex issue to get away with promoting abortion as something good and laudable. But you are wrong in assuming this works only in one direction. Many politicians who claim to be pro-life have no intention of striving for policies to actually reduce the abortion rate in this country (which still remains shockingly high by European standards). Instead, they use the abortion issue as a Trojan horse for a cavalcade of right-wing causes, many not at all in line with Catholic social teaching. This, again, is one reason why I think McCarrick is right to take the approach he did.

Caroline Gissler

My home parish never fails to meet its quota for the Archbishop's annual appeal and usually far exceeds it.

It is aso Nancy Pelosi's home parish. I have no idea if she ever appears here at Mass and receives Communion. I usually go elsewhere on Sundays and I wouldn't recognize her if I saw her.

But I am sure the pastor would recognize her face in the Communion line if she came. At least one assistant would recognize her too. Our visiting priest from Africa might not recognize her.

I have no idea what, if anything, she, a very rich woman, contributes to the Annual Appeal which is a huge headache for most pastors. The pastor knows.

When she became minority leader in Congress, there was a notice in the church bulletin congratulating our fellow parishioner.

Connect the dots. All around the country. Just a theory about why the bishops don't take the bull by the horns. And for the most part, the pastors and their assistants would have to do the actual dirty work.

Rich Leonardi

But you are wrong in assuming this works only in one direction. Many politicians who claim to be pro-life have no intention of striving for policies to actually reduce the abortion rate in this country (which still remains shockingly high by European standards). Instead, they use the abortion issue as a Trojan horse for a cavalcade of right-wing causes, many not at all in line with Catholic social teaching.

Tony, who, specifically, has "no intention of striving to actually reduce the abortion rate"? And bear in mind that merely showing opposition to the standard raft of Democrat welfare state policies does not prove the point. Nor are those policies synonymous (or in many cases even compatible) with Catholic social teaching.

Maclin Horton

Amy, thanks for nailing it so precisely so I don't have to.

Mike

Well put, Amy. That's it in a nutshell.

Tim F.

Tony A says,

"Many politicians who claim to be pro-life have no intention of striving for policies to actually reduce the abortion rate in this country (which still remains shockingly high by European standards). Instead, they use the abortion issue as a Trojan horse for a cavalcade of right-wing causes, many not at all in line with Catholic social teaching."

Cardinal McCarrick says,

"However, there should be no place in the body of Christ for the brutality of partisan politics, the impugning of motives"

Sounds like Tony A needs to listen to the Cardinal he thinks so highly of.

Tom Piatak

Thank you, Amy, for your eloquent summary of the problem.

Most American Catholic politicians are, at the practical level, full-throated supporters of what the Second Vatican Council termed an "abominable crime," and many bishops are afraid to confront this scandal.

Tony A

Tim,

Yes, you are right to point this out. We question the motives of political figures all the time, all all sides. What we should not do is let that enter the church. McCarrick is, of course, making this point to oppose the politicization of the eucharist.

Randy

I agree with McCarrick that we don't want bishops to use the Eucharist as a club to hit politicans they don't like. The problem is that in general the church does not demand the eucharist be respected. So many parishes don't even teach the idea of not recieving in a state of mortal sin. If we start pracitcing that doctrine then we can extend it to public scandals. Right now pro-abortion politicans are being singled out because Republican Catholics want to embarass them. The solution is a consistent approach that defnds life and respects the eucharist. Not just saying "I don't like John Kerry" and then starting to blame his bishop and priest for following a policy in his case that is problem everywhere.

Boko Fittleworth

Our bishops are a generation or two older than me (most of them). I think there's a dynamic at work here that many of us don't realize. There are still memories of how the WASP establishment oppressed the blue collar ethnic Catholics. Organized labor and the Democratic Party's big-city political machines represented Catholics and gave them some muscle. After the revolution in the 60s, these groups, where previously a Pat Buchanan, for example, could be at home, were co-opted by radical leftists.

I know this is a simplification, but to many Catholics of our bishops' generation, the Democratic Party was looked upon as (and to some extent actually was) father figure, hero, and secular saviour. It's got to be very psychologically difficult for these guys to go against the Party. Couple this understandable relationship with the desire to be part of the elite, and I think it goes a long way towards explaining why our bishops don't anathematize the Democratic Party as the Party of Death.

(Sure, there are lots of bad Republicans and the Republican Party has its own problems, but that's not the issue here. Our bishops have a lot of flaws, but being tools of the Republican Party is not among them.)

Dave Hartline

Well put Amy. I can't remember if a poster on your site or mine (CatholicReport.org) stated that many bishops have no problem in wanting a clear policy on immigration, why not abortion. The Church has spoken out against abortion since the Apostolic Age. Why not set a clear coherent policy now? In my book "The Tide Is Turning Towards Catholicism" set for release this fall, one will be able to see some of the bold proclimations for life made, in the 1970's, by some of the most notorious current pro abortion politicians. Would they have changed their position had some of these bishops been a little more forceful in their beliefs?

Tony A

Rich,

Naming names opens me up to possibly calumny, and I want to avoid that. Sure, there are plenty of honest pro-life politicians who are deeply motivated by their faith in everything they do (I think Sam Brownback is one). But there are also plenty of others who jump on the Christian bandwagon to secure votes, and do nothing about it. I think there's a bit of awakening going on among our evangelical brothers and sisters on this very issue at the present time. They've supported Bush consistently, and what did they get? Abortion rates are in a holding pattern (after declining during the Clinton years). Marriage seems only important in election years. But at the same time, no rich corporate lobbyist gets left behind, and policy is basically written by lobbyists. We have a situation whereby tax cuts for the wealthiest are being financed by the poor today, and by tax hikes on future generations (that's what deficits are). We have no action on the 40-50 million uninsured. We have rising poverty rates. And we have gross incomptence across all policy dimensions. And, almost at the level of caricature, you have Delay and friends ripping off Indian tribes, and supporting the rights of sweatshop owners in Saipan to treat their workers like slaves (including a policy of forced abortions). [I know I said I wouldn't name names, but this one is too obvious!]

Now, I know you will argue that these are all topics about which honest Catholics can disagree, and you are right. But that is not a license to ignore catholic social teaching completely. And it's even worse to wrap oneself in a Christian mantle, and implement policies that bear no relation to the gospel. I shudder for these people, recalling that Jesus reserved the harshest words for the Pharisees who used religion for their own ends...

chris K

If there are no consequences for such grave public sins of Catholic politicians, it's very simple, they will continue to publicly scandalize the faithful and contribute, through their power, to the committing of grave sin in others. They don't want the public punishment? They shouldn't then place themselves publically promoting grave sin.

This would appear rather straight forward to most:

Canon 915 is a 'sacramental law' that talks about the Eucharist and how not to suffer scandal; it is not a penal law. There are four parts to canon 915 that must be satisfied: 1) The sin must be obstinate; 2) the person in question must persist in the sin; 3) the person in question must be a 'manifest' (that is 'public') sinner; and, 4) it must be a grave sin. When all requirements are met, the Bishop, bound by canon 915 to protect the integrity of the Eucharist, must give the public notification to his priests and deacons not to allow sacrilegious Communions, and to not cause scandal to the people. The Bishop here is not putting 'sanction' on the persons in question; they have, in fact, fallen under the canon 915 sacramental prohibition themselves."

It would seem by his actions, AB Burke agreed with what I had always assumed went along with the punishment of public scandal that I mentioned in the other thread on the question (that the person causing the public scandal had to himself publicly declare - as well as confess his sin privately - that he was wrong and that he has changed before being allowed again to receive):

The notification declares: "...Catholic legislators who are members of the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse and who continue to support procured abortion or euthanasia may not present themselves to receive Holy Communion. They are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should they present themselves, until such time as they PUBLICLY RENOUNCE (my emphasis) their support of these most unjust practices" (canon 915).

http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=691

For the canon lawyers...is there an automatic penalty against a bishop for NOT following what canon 915 specifies? We so often hear about the automatic excommunication of the lay person. Is there some matching penalty for him who fails to live his teaching position with action?

Tony A

One final thought: I think a far more pressing issue is the high percentage of Catholics who deny the Real Presence, and hence do not have the appropriate reverence or respect for the Eucharist. This must come first; all other considerations in this sphere are secondary. Cardinal McCarrick touched on this last Sunday, when be basically argued that if you don't believe in transubstantiation, you basically don't understand the faith. We need more catechesis.

Rich Leonardi

Tony A.,

You write, But that is not a license to ignore catholic social teaching completely.

The point of my question was that you are essentially making a straw man argument. You reinforce that point by introducing a second, related straw man in the excerpt above.

Naming names opens me up to possibly calumny, and I want to avoid that.

So general calumny is virtuous; specific calumny is vice.

If you are reluctant to "name names," don't make the charge.

chris K

Cardinal McCarrick touched on this last Sunday, when be basically argued that if you don't believe in transubstantiation, you basically don't understand the faith. We need more catechesis.


Tony A...but that doesn't stop the public scandal which acts in detriment to any teaching that IS happening. And the action of the bishop in compliance with canon law would be one way to teach the masses about what respect is due to the sacredness of the Eucharist. The reaction would be ... "hey, they really mean it about what is taught about sin and the Eucharist; they don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk". Today, even with charitable teaching about the Eucharist, in words only ... when a parish even has Eucharistic adoration ... people continue to wait and see how much the "teachers" hold to what is the Truth ... especially when they see important public figures "get away" with it and Jesus is mocked in His holy Presence right in front of their eyes. It's gotten so that the faithful laity have to actually teach the bishops about their duties.

paul zummo

Tony:

I think you would make a fine replacement for E.J. Dionne. Lots of flourishing rhetoric, but no substance beyond the vacuous generality that many pro-life politicians are not earnestly so. Hiding beyond the ridiculous claim that you do not seek to commit calumny, you are unable to be any more specific. Well, then, we can just take your argument for what it is.

Overall, good points about the Bishops. We're not looking for fire and brimstone here - just an honest acknowledgement of the problem.

Tony A

Paul,

I'll that that as a complement!!!

Ken

Tony A,
Stop distorting statistics to justify voting for Clinton. The fact is abortion rates began dropping before Clinton took office and continued to drop after he left office. You have made this false claim on several websites, but you're a friggin liar.

Tony A

Rich,

I don't see the straw man at all. I do take your point on calumny, though: this requires some "delicacy" (although the DeLay point is so blindingly obvious). Let me put it this way: the fact that the Supreme Court, and not the legislative arm, is behind the awful decision to establish abortion on demand as a "right" basically lets polictians of all shades off the hook. The left can pander to the pro-abortion base, knowing full well that they can avoid a full moral reckoning on the issue. The right can talk the talk, but they too are ultimately not called upon to walk the walk, and so can push ahead with the rest of their agenda while never losing credibility on abortion. Abortion thus becomes a political football. And this is exactly the reason why we must avoid bringing it into the debate on who should and should not receive the Eucharist.

Tony A

Ken,

Abortions per 100 live births:

1975: 27.2
1980: 35.9
1985: 35.4
1990: 34.4
1995: 31.1
2000: 24.5
2002: 24.6

How am I lying?

Rich Leonardi

I don't see the straw man at all.

No one is asserting a "right to ignore Catholic social teaching" and you do not identify people who have "no intention of striving to actually reduce the abortion rate."

Rich Leonardi

Tony,

Based on the stats you provided, which I'll accept at face value, a more accurate observation is that there is a general trend toward fewer abortions over the past quarter century or so. Either that or you'll have to parse the decline from 90 to 95 and award George H.W. Bush some of the credit.

Aimee Milburn

I'm with Amy on this.

Cardinal McCarrick says,

"However, there should be no place in the body of Christ for the brutality of partisan politics, the impugning of motives."

Personally, I think there should be no place in the body of Christ for abortion. But in practice that's what our bishops have allowed, in spades, by their failure to take concrete action in excommunicating those who refuse to be corrected.

We've been focusing on the grave public scandal caused by Catholic politicians who publicly support, endorse, vote for etc. abortion, and what to do about it.

But here's a question: when a bishop fails year after year to hold said politician accountable, fails to take action, and by his non-action allows the public scandal to continue, does that also amount to grave public scandal and sin?

In other words, are bishops who fail to take action guilty of grave public scandal and sin themselves?

Sin is not just the bad that we do. It's also the good that we fail to do.

rudi

Most bishops don't want to upset influential politicians - this is a modern form of Donatism, a variant of simony.

SiliconValleySteve

the fact that the Supreme Court, and not the legislative arm, is behind the awful decision to establish abortion on demand as a "right" basically lets polictians of all shades off the hook.

This is I think the flaw in your argument Tony. When Bush threatened to nominate a squish to the Supreme Court, conservatives were able to kill the nomination and demand a better, more reliable pick. We got Alito who at least seems more likely to cut away at Roe.

What was the response from leading "Catholic" democrats like Kennedy and Kerry? They demanded a candidate who would uphold unlimited abortion as a constitutional right. Was there a single prominent "Catholic" democrat that was critical of this approach? Not that I saw.

J. Christian

Tony A,

"Ignore Catholic social teaching?" In what way? You think that cutting the estate tax "bears no relation to the gospel?" Possibly, but possibly not. One could construct a very strong argument on horizontal equity alone that cutting the estate tax is "socially just." I'm not saying it definitely is, I'm just saying that you can't make the claim that such policies "bear no relation to the gospel" when in fact they might.

Kathleen

But here's a question: when a bishop fails year after year to hold said politician accountable, fails to take action, and by his non-action allows the public scandal to continue, does that also amount to grave public scandal and sin?

Well said Aimee, well said.

M.Z. Forrest

First, let me say I agree with Amy.

Now for those having difficulty finding examples of Republican politicians ignoring Catholic teaching, I'll give you three examples: war, immigration, and union busting. While there is a certain degree of lattitude in these areas, the bishops have clearly and consistently stated their position in general and on specific legislation. There is teaching in these areas, but so many conservatives consider these teachings "unconscionable." The bishops might be willing to listen to conservatives more if the conservatives weren't always saying "shut up" on the rest of their teachings.

Rich Leonardi

Now for those having difficulty finding examples of Republican politicians ignoring Catholic teaching, I'll give you three examples: war, immigration, and union busting. While there is a certain degree of lattitude in these areas, the bishops have clearly and consistently stated their position in general and on specific legislation.

Here we go again. Name one -- just one -- position taken by the Magesterium on war, immigration, or "union busting" that binds the conscience and dictates the vote of a Catholic politician.

Chris

Just a few observations:

1) The increasingly easy availability of very early-term chemical abortions is making abortion statistics meaningless. Nobody really knows how many abortions are performed anymore.

2) That said, "abortions per live births (LBs)" is misleading. Are more and more couples practicing contraception? That would reduce the live births and increase the ratio of abortions to LBs. I'm not saying that's the case, but the ration stat is not the best one to use. What is the total number of abortions? THAT is the relevant statistic.

3) "the abortion rate in this country (which still remains shockingly high by European standards)."

This could also be a function of the fact that American abortion laws are shockingly liberal by European standards.

M.Z. Forrest

...that binds the conscience and dictates the vote of a Catholic politician.

I thought we owed felial obedience to our bishops. I don't think you are having this much difficulty Rich. I don't necessarily think you are one of them, but just admit that there are certain folks who appeal to the bishops when they agree with them and say the bishops can be disregarded when don't agree with them.

John Murray

On that dang abortion rate trend see the following from the Annenberg Center at Penn (not likely to be run by right wing nuts).

http://www.factcheck.org/article330m.html

The alleged Clinton era decline is an urban legend.

Rich Leonardi

M.Z.,

You implied that there are teachings in those areas -- war, immigration, and union-busting -- that dictate the "correct" vote on a given piece of legislation. There are not. Moreover, ignoring, say, Archbishop Pilarczyk's latest musings on the benefits of raising the minimum wage is on an entirely different moral plane from thumbing one's nose at magisterial teachings on abortion.

Kathleen Lundquist

I live in Portland, OR, one of the bluest cities in one of the bluest states in the union - possibly second only to the People's Republic of Massachusetts (tip of the hat).

The running joke around here is that there are two political parties: 1) Democrat and 2) Socialist. As you might gather, I am neither - but I don't identify myself as a conservative, either. (If pressed, I'd probably stand with Chesterbelloc and call myself Distributist - a pox on both your houses.)

I sympathize most with Amy, Kathleen, and Aimee's posts, for this reason: I am a Catholic convert who studied myself into the Faith long before I ever got to an RCIA class. And a lucky thing, too, since I didn't receive an ounce of catechesis in RCIA. The only conversation we had on abortion amounted to, "follow your [inadequately formed on purpose] conscience". Having been an evangelical and pro-lifer for many years before that, I knew Catholic teaching on abortion - which was one of the reasons I converted. So, I personally wasn't confused and left to my own devices, but most of my previously nonreligious classmates were.

And this is why I agree that the bishops themselves are now giving scandal to the faithful by offering Holy Communion to public personalities who support the commission of grave sin.

Tony A might be quick to point out that perhaps Communion should be denied to those who support the pre-emptive war in Iraq (a violation of Just War principles, some argue, and Pope JPII condemned it as a "tragedy" - but the anti-war folks have not made it clear from a moral point of view that it was an avoidable tragedy - i.e. a premeditated sinful act rather than a huge mistake) or union busting (Tony can quote the catechism at me, no doubt, but what constitutes union busting? Regulation - of any kind?).

The point is that we're dealing with different levels of moral principles and Church teachings, and we should try to discern what the priorities are, what the real crux of the matter is. One must take the Church's own moral theology structure as the measure, not progressive or conservative ideology.

My reading of this leads me to agree with Amy's conclusion - that the real scandal is the heinous, casual murder of children in the womb brought on by the sick, perverted, subhuman view of sexuality left to us in the wake of the "sexual revolution". This is what Catholic pro-abortion politicians actively support; this is what the bishops refuse to confront.

The right to life is the basis of all other human rights. Until Tony A acknowledges this, I find myself unconvinced by his arguments or statistics.

Tony A

Rich,

You are right but only partially so. First, yes, honest Catholics can disagree on the correct application of Catholic social teaching in modern society. That's what prudential judgement is all about. And, at the same time, we can under no circumstances treat an intrinsically evil act as good (and that includes not only abortion, but the use of torture, or even the use of nuclear weapons-- we never seem to hear these non-negotiables discussed).

But this is not a license to ignore the whole gamut of social teachings that are not part of the non-negotiable list. M.Z. is quite correct that the Church has well thought out positions on "war,immigration, and union busting" (to name but a few) that are ignored by many of those on the right. Some of these teachings are presented in council decrees (Gaudium Et Spes), others in encyclicals, others simply in speeches and allocutions.

I think there is a convenient mis-use of prundential judgement when it comes from these issues. Appealing to prudential judgement is not a get out of jail free card. It is a framework for applying Catholic social teaching to modern society. All too often, this is used as a cover for secular ideological positions. Take one example: welfare reform. The provision of welfare to the unemployed and destitute is (obviously) fully consistent with Catholic social teaching. But one may come to the honest viewpoint that poverty alleviation programs should be tied to work effort to prevent the emergence of a dependency culture. Again, a valid proposition, and in line with Catholic social teaching. This wrestling with the effects of policy is what prudential judgement is all about. But what we can not do is simply throw up our hands and ignore the poverty question totally; or enact, enable, or support policies that are skewed toward the very rich at the expense of the poor. That is what many Republicans are doing, and I find this a violation of Catholic social teaching. This is but one of many examples.

Rich Leonardi

But this is not a license to ignore the whole gamut of social teachings that are not part of the non-negotiable list.

Again, no one asserts they have this license much less attempts to use it, which is why this is a straw man argument. Torture has been discussed ad nauseum and been condemned by Catholics of all stripes. (The dispute lies in when interrogation lapses into torture.) As to nuclear weapons, when was the last time the legitimacy of their use had a bearing on a political decision?

Tony A

I agree that the nuclear debate belongs to another era. I bring it up because it was when reading Elizabeth Anscombe's denunciation of Truman years ago that I realized the parallels between the two issues: the over-arching principal of life, and the consequentialist reasoning of those who defend either abortion or nuclear weapons.

Torture is another matter. I agree with you that all serious Catholics have denounced it, but we don't see the bishops taking a strong leadership stance on this issue, at a time when the US government has basically legitimized torture. Nor do we see calls for politicians who support these policies to be denied the Eucharist (not that I think they should be).

M.Z. Forrest

A specific example: a prominant national talk show hosts says a rape victim should be able to abort her child, calling it a child of the devil. Should he be denied communion?

ken

You're lying because your own statistic (what source?) indicates the decline began before Clinton got into office. Oh wait, women were so hopeful that at some point in the future a Democrat would be elected president, causing them to decide against abortion in the late eighties and early ninties. Now I get it.

Get up from your computer, look in a mirror and repeat, "No one is buying that lie anymore." This could be a good first step in fabricating new distortions to spew and make you less of a one trick pony.

DarwinCatholic

A specific example: a prominant national talk show hosts says a rape victim should be able to abort her child, calling it a child of the devil. Should he be denied communion?

If the guy is Catholic (I say this because I stopped listening to talk radio years ago, so I have no idea who you're talking about) he should start off by receiving a corrective letter from his bishop telling him how incredibly wrong he is. If in response to that he defies the bishop or repeats the statement, then I think it would be valid to deny him communion.

JP

"Torture is another matter. I agree with you that all serious Catholics have denounced it, but we don't see the bishops taking a strong leadership stance on this issue, at a time when the US government has basically legitimized torture. Nor do we see calls for politicians who support these policies to be denied the Eucharist (not that I think they should be)."

Tony,
Please reference any law or military regulation that legally allows torture. Currently there are 11 different servicemen sitting in jail awaiting trail for murder (3 soldiers, 1 corpsmen and 7 Marines). All 11 of these servicemen commited these alleged crimes in Iraq.I know of at least a dozen marine and army officers who were cashiered for over agressive tactics while in combat. These are not the actions of a goverment that commits torture as standard policy. Gossip, unsubstantiated allegations, and hyperbole do not count as prima facie evidence.

In light of what has come out today concerning the bodies of the 2 missing soldiers (tortured then executed), your accusations are in bad taste. Prehaps the USCCB hasn't moved on the "torture issue" as much as you wish because there is nothing to move on.

Tony A

JP,

Sorry, but the torture is well documented. This administration has basically abandoned the Geneva conventions. Tne notorious Bybee memo stated that for torture to occur, the pain must be "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." And inflicting that severe pain, according to the memo, must have been the "specific intent" of the instigator. And don't forget that the executive branch basically said they would ignore the McCain amendment prohibing cruel, unusual, or degrading treatment of prisoners-- regardless of nationality or physical location.

There's an upcoming book called "Oath Betrayed" by Steven Miles which relates the following "procedures" now used by the US

"Beating; punching with fists; use of truncheons; kicking; slamming against walls; stretching or suspension (to tear ligaments or muscles to cause asphyxia); external electric shocks; forcing prisoners to abase and to urinate on themselves; forced masturbation; forced renunciation of religion; false confessions or accusations; applying urine and feces to prisoners; making verbal threats to a prisoner and his family; denigration of a prisoner's religion; force-feeding; induced hypothermia and exposure to extreme heat; dietary manipulation; use of sedatives; extreme sleep deprivation; mock executions; water immersion; "water-boarding"; obstruction of the prisoner's airway; chest compression; thermal burning; rape; dog bites; sexual abuse; forcing a prisoner to watch the abuse or torture of a loved one."

In this past, this behavior would have warranted immediate court martial. Today, it is official policy. Shame. The torture killings of the US soldiers was absolutely horrendous. In the past, though, the US could always hold its head high, commanding the moral high ground, secure in the knowledge that it would never lower itself to such a barbaric level. Again, not today.

Lily

My advice to Roman Catholic politicians:

Seek the advice of a reputable priest tucked away in a little church, desiring no publicity, in a town without a "name."

mayangrl

Get up from your computer, look in a mirror and repeat, "No one is buying that lie anymore." This could be a good first step in fabricating new distortions to spew and make you less of a one trick pony.

Hmmm....pot, kettle, black.

1975: 27.2 Not Nixon's fault. Not Ford's fault.

1980: 35.9 Despair because of Carter era.

1985: 35.4 Continued despair from Carter era. NOT St. Ronnie's fault.

1990: 34.4 Again, not St. Ronnie's fault. He was against abortion, after all.

1995: 31.1 Thank you George Sr., numbers dip.

2000: 24.5 Again, residual from George Sr.

2002: 24.6 Thank you George Jr.!

See, I have PROVED that no Democrat whatsoever was responsible for lowering abortion numbers. ONLY REPUBLICANS.

Oh, brother. So much of what I read here is soooo asinine.

mark j

ummm, has anyone here said that declines in abortion rates since 1980 are SOLELY due to the Republican party? Because I'm really having a hard time finding a single comment that makes such a claim.

What I do see are a number of comments saying that there has been a general decline in abortion over the last 25 years, and disputing Tony's repeated claims that Clinton's policies are solely responsible for the decline.

The only asinine post seems to be the one by mayangirl.

J. Christian

So much of what I read here is soooo asinine.

Like your post?

brendon

What I do see are a number of comments saying that there has been a general decline in abortion over the last 25 years, and disputing Tony's repeated claims that Clinton's policies are solely responsible for the decline.

Actually, as Chris pointed out, the statistics do not show us that there has been a decrease in abortion at all. Sure, 31.1 in 1995 vs. 24.5 in 2000 looks like a decline, but it does not have to be. The data is abortions per 100 live births. If, for example, there were 100 live births in 1995 and 100 live births in 2000, then the number of abortions decreased from 31.1 in 1995 to 24.5 in 2000. But if there were 100 live births in 1995 and 200 live births in 2000, then the number of abortions increased from 31.1 in 1995 to 49.0 in 2000.

Similarly, the increase in abortions per 100 live births between 2000 and 2002 tells us nothing about the actual number of abortions in those years. If there were 100 live births in 2000 and in 2002, then the number of abortions increased from 24.5 in 2000 to 24.6 in 2002. But there were 100 live births in 2000, but only 90 in 2002, then the number of abortions decreased from 24.5 in 2000 to 22.1 in 2002.

(Obviously, the numbers I used for live births are not realistic numbers, but using small numbers makes the math easier for demonstration purposes.)

Statistics only say what they say, and those statistics do not necessarily say what everybody seems to think they say.

sj

The total number of abortions statistic would be skewed by the changes in the total number of women in childbearing years due to the various baby booms, busts, and boomlets. The better stat might be the number of abortions per 100k women between 15 and 50, at least to indicate the extent to which living in a particular time influences a woman's moral choices. The Guttmacher statistics that were used to debunk the claim that abortions rose under George W. Bush were in fact based on the number of abortions compared to the number of women between 19-44.

sj

Actually, I relooked at the Guttmacher statistics and they cover the rate in women 15-44.

However, they also provide stats showing the decline in total abortions parallels the decline in abortion rates. The interesting thing is that the steepest decline seems to be in the period between 1989 and 1995.

ken

Mark J.

Thank you.

Mayangrl,

Show me where I made such a claim. My position is that there is minimal, if any, correlation. I do believe the most effective means to reducing abortions is criminalization, not voting Democratic.

Jason

Rich, it seems you would agree with William F. Buckley's rebuke of the Church: Mater si, Magistra no!

But I'm wondering, have you read much of the Church's social teaching or the works of some of the great Catholic thinkers on economics and social justice? The encyclicals of Leo XIII, Chesterbelloc, JPII, etc.? If not, then maybe you should have a look before being so dismissive.

RP Burke

A comment from a person who creates and analyzes statistics for a living.

Please put the numbers away. You don't know what you're doing.

You'd have a more fruitful time addressing this question:

Why does prudential judgment enter the discussion of appropriate public policy in all issues except abortion?

Or this one:

Is it moral for the state to tolerate some abortions, with the goal of a large reduction -- perhaps of 95 percent -- of the total number of abortions?

And, finally:

How do you construct new limits on abortion that do not look and smell like importing a religious dogma into the civil code, to apply to all citizens, in apparent violation of the nonestablishment clause of the First Amendment?

anonny

Pointless though this may be:

Why does prudential judgment enter the discussion of appropriate public policy in all issues except abortion?

It doesn't. There is no room for prudential judgment on slavery or torture, for instance. Or for scalping illegal aliens. Or for redefining marriage. It enters the discussion exactly where it belongs, on issues that do, in fact, involve significant prudential judgment and legitimate divergences of opinion in applying the same principles - e.g. does this particular minimum wage law help or harm the poor?

As opposed to, you know, stabbing babies in the back of the head with scissors for fun and profit.

Is it moral for the state to tolerate some abortions, with the goal of a large reduction -- perhaps of 95 percent -- of the total number of abortions?

For the state? No. No law permitting abortion is licit or legitimate. For an individual, per Evangelium Vitae, it may be under certain prescribed circumstances to support a less restrictive law while maintaining pursuit if such is the best possible.

How do you construct new limits on abortion that do not look and smell like importing a religious dogma into the civil code, to apply to all citizens, in apparent violation of the nonestablishment clause of the First Amendment?

Short answer, there probably is no new limit possible on the murder of unborn children that will not be falsely portrayed by liars as importing a religious dogma into the civil code. What matter is not the lies - the "smell," the "appearance". What matters is what's true. It is not a religious issue.

Longer answer: Read Nat Hentoff or Doris Gordon. See, for instance, this.

anonny

Another answer to Question Three: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Somebody wrote that once, on some important occasion ....

RP Burke

"anonny," the problem with citing the Declaration of Independence is that it isn't a foundational LEGAL document in the way that the Bill of Rights is.

RP Burke

"anonny," the problem with citing the Declaration of Independence is that it isn't a foundational LEGAL document in the way that the Bill of Rights is.

anonny

Yes, I know that, RP. It's also completely irrelevant to my point, which is simply that the argument a government may not usurp the God-given right to life is not un-American but as profoundly and thoroughly American as anything can be. The Declaration is not a binding legal document, but neither is its recognition of natural law an "establishment of religion" in any sense the founders would have understood it.

For a guy smart enough to condescend to other people about statistics ....

RP Burke

The Declaration is not a binding legal document, but neither is its recognition of natural law an "establishment of religion" in any sense the founders would have understood it.

This is a circular argument. The very fact that the D of I is not a binding legal document means it cannot be "establishment of religion" in any way.

Mike Petrik

RP,
Our statutes contain prohibitions on murder, rape, animal cruelty, incest and the like. They used to prohibit abortion, too. These prohibitions are grounded in the people's sense of right and wrong, however derived. They are not dependent on any particular religious dogma or religious dogma generally.

And yes, the Declaration is not a binding legal document. It is more in the nature of a brief. But it is a foundational document in the truest sense and it is certainly fair to interpret the binding Constitutional mindful of the non-binding Declaration. But one does not need to refer to the Declaration to know that prohiting abortion is not even germane to establishing a religion.

RP Burke

Mike, while I agree with your first point, when you say that those laws "are not dependent on any particular religious dogma or religious dogma generally," in the political realm that is seen by many people -- especially those who respond to the question "Religion" as "None" -- as a self-serving, unsupported assertion. How dare the leaders of one or two churches tell us what is religious and what is not, they ask.

Mike Petrik

RP,
I agree that many people may see it that way, but I have never failed to convince them they are wrong. That is a silly irrational view, pure and simple; and they will back off from it once challenged. In the policial realm that view is often espoused by people for self-serving insincere reasons.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.