The False Dichotomy of Pro-Choice Politicians
Fr. Frank Pavone
Priests for Life
"It has been a particular sadness to the bishops of the United States and to
Catholics active in the pro-life movement that so many Catholic politicians have
succumbed to the pressures exerted by pro abortion advocates. Many of these
politicians resort to the explanation that they are personally opposed to
abortion, but they do not feel that they can impose their own moral judgment
upon others. Again and again the Bishops of the United States have attempted,
both collectively and individually, to disabuse politicians of this false
Thus spoke Bernard Cardinal Law on October 23 of this year, at a meeting of
European politicians and legislators convened by the Pontifical Council for the
Family, Vatican City.
Having preached to, listened to, and worked with such pro-life people in
every state in the nation, I for one can certainly attest to the existence of
this sadness among Catholics active in the pro-life movement.
One man on the street put it simply and effectively when he asked me,
"Father, if that politician can t respect the life of a little baby, how can I
expect him to respect mine?"
I have posed it, in other words, to officials at the highest levels of our
government. What issue, I have repeatedly asked, is more fundamental to those
who govern the political community than that of who belongs to the
political community? How can a public servant claim to serve the public and
ignore the systematic destruction of a whole segment of the public he claims to
"We have to govern everybody," some say in their defense.
That is our point precisely. That is why we oppose a Supreme Court decision
that says, "The word person, as used in the Fourteenth Amendment to the
Constitution, does not include the unborn." (Roe vs. Wade).
"The government shouldn’t be involved in abortion," others claim.
In fact, the government became too involved in abortion when, in 1973, it
overstepped its authority and asserted that it could decide who has the right to
live and who doesn t. It you want the government out of abortion, then tell the
government to back off and stop pretending that it is the source of the right to
life. Let it start acting as the guardian of that right instead.
"The law shouldn’t impose religious beliefs."
We don t want it to. The law that says you can t take my life does not
require you to believe anything about my life. It just says you can t
take it. All the pro-life movement is saying is to extend that protection
equally to all members of the human species.
"There are many issues."
Of course there are, and the reason is that human life and dignity is
threatened in many ways. Deny the equal right to life of all, however, and you
undermine every legitimate cause at the same time.
"Personally opposed but…" A false dichotomy, indeed.
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