I am an independent voter, family man, and practicing Catholic. For the last few weeks our parish bulletin in Lee has carried helpful hints about what sort of candidates should be elected. Our bishops tread a fine line between information (permissible) and advocacy (impermissible). These hints take the long way round. Yet, once the insert is read, and the recommended web sites found, the dots are easily connected. The road signs may be nonpartisan, but there is no mistaking that the preferred destination this year is the Grand Old Party.
During the first debate of the Senate candidates, incumbent Scott Brown stressed his support for the aptly-named Blunt amendment, the attempt by Republicans to limit reproductive choices for women. We know that this issue is dear to Brown because he co-sponsored the amendment. He continues to support the purported rights of the bishops, and secular employers, to dictate to their employees which health options they may choose, based solely on the employers’ moral viewpoint.
This alone would be cause for alarm. But, there is a larger worry. Even though Brown asserts that he is pro-choice, his votes on key issues have so consistently sided with Republican creed that it’s entirely possible a last-minute conversion on the issue of abortion could take place, with disastrous results. The GOP’s desire to overturn Roe v. Wade has grown so strong that they’ve written it into the party platform. Nor are they alone in working toward a change.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made the overturning of Roe v. Wade a priority in their position paper: "A Call To Political Responsibility." In paragraph 42, we find that ". . . a candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion. . . " IS sufficient to guarantee a voter’s condemnation.
Thus, there are powerful forces at work to criminalize abortion. This background must be considered in the Senate race. We know that Mr. Brown stands for denying reproductive rights for women, and that it’s possible he may stand for overturning Roe v. Wade. The contrast with the positions of his challenger is striking. Elizabeth Warren, besides being passionate, articulate, and intelligent, is a staunch supporter of women’s rights.
This is no time to mince words. Abortion is sad. It is revolting. And, it is wrong. Yet, in a pluralistic society, religious views, however well-intentioned, are held to a standard. They must fit within the framework of the greater public good. All are bound to respect the rights and welfare of all. A workable democracy is not easy. It requires a moral commitment to reasonable discourse as well as tolerance, and Catholics, no less than others, must not shy from the challenge. As bad as legal abortions may appear, the alternative of botched and back-alley illegal abortions would be far worse.
I support whole-heartedly the rights of my wife and daughter and all women of the commonwealth to make their own choices about reproduction services. The candidate who will safeguard these rights is Elizabeth Warren.