Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Kerry and His Church (washingtonpost.com)
Here's yet another piece about Kerry and his Church, as you might have picked up from the title. I didn't quote anything specific because I want to take this in a different direction. So now I'll quote something specific: "There is, first, the frustration of many bishops who lean Democratic on most public issues over how hard it is for even mildly antiabortion Democrats to gain traction or much respect within their party."

I once had a professor (Stephen Skowroneck for those who care) who very accurately described the Democratic Party as a circus where they try to squeeze all of the sideshows under the big-top. Understandably, it gets a little crowded in there. This image stuck with me, and I spoke to him about it after class. What he and I decided was that the only common issue (for the most part) seemed to be a pro-choice stand. I then mentioned the Catholic portion of the party, and he predicted that sometime over the next ten years we would see the Church begin to associate more closely with the Republican Party. This was about 18 months ago, and his prediction, it seems to me, may be coming true.

I don't have much more to say about this, but since pro-choice really does seem to be the key definining issue of the Democratic Party, and with several Supreme Court nominations possibly in store for the next administration, this may become a very important issue. I'm interested to see exit polling of Catholics in November, as well as turn-out data. There might be a thesis in there somewhere.

UPDATE [5/4/2004 - 15:42]: Robert Novak adds some thoughts to the above. He is then rebuked by Andrew Sullivan at The New Republic. The money quote, from Sullivan: "But is abortion different? Is the contempt for human life that any abortion inherently embodies such a social evil that no politician can be permitted to call himself a Catholic and support the right to choose it? That is indeed a critical question, and conservative Catholics are not wrong to raise it. But there is a distinction between support for the morality of abortion and reluctant support for a woman's right to choose such a moral wrong. It should be possible, if difficult, for a Catholic politician to affirm the evil of abortion but to defer to the political freedoms inherent in a liberal polity--specifically control over one's own body--in most cases."

I think what Sullivan misses in this passage is that, if you oppose abortion for the reason Catholics do (you are circumventing God's will by preventing the life of another, or, by ending one), then saying that it is a woman's right to do this is a bit untenable. You do not believe that it is a choice for a woman concerning her own body, it is a choice concerning the life of another. The government does not protect the right of a person to retain control over another's body, so, if you truly follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, you cannot say "it's still a woman's right to choose." Support for the morality of abortion and support for a woman's right to choose such a moral wrong, however reluctant, are inextricably linked in the doctrine of the Church.

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