Speaking to the UK Conference of Catholic Bishops last week, Francis Cardinal George sent the first salvo in what he and other conservatives hope will be an ongoing battle with the Obama administration over abortion. It is unclear that they intend to obstruct the progress of the new administration, but obstruction is the certain outcome of the planned campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade at any cost.
Anti-abortion activists have sought consistently to throw the baby out with the bath water. They should be pleased that abortion is relatively difficult to obtain because 87 per cent of all U.S. counties lack facilities for them. However, they continue the fight to outlaw abortion under any circumstances. Family planning clinics without protesters standing outside are rare. While they claim to be “protesting abortions,” their demonstration make no distinction between the dispensing of contraceptives and the abortion procedure. Anti-abortion activists have promoted legislation making contraceptives less available and standards for obtaining even medically necessary abortions onerous.
These same conservatives ridiculed Barack Obama’s statement that determining when human life begins was above his pay-grade. In fact, Obama was paraphrasing St. Augustine of Hippo in his remark (Wikipedia, History of Abortion).
Cardinal George focused some of his remarks on the Freedom of Choice Act of 2007 (FOCA; Thomas), which sits in the Committee on the Judiciary. George falsely claims that this law would force health-care workers to provide abortions against their own consciences and could force Catholic hospitals to perform the procedures. FOCA is clear, however, that government and government employees may not restrict a woman’s right to bear children or terminate her pregnancy before fetal viability. George attacked the legislation, saying it could prevent Catholics from practicing their religion freely. His remark betrays the fact that he has not read it. Since it is less than 10 pages of clear English, he should.
Interestingly, the FOCA cites the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States as authority for Congress to enact such a law. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, aimed to prevent the re-enslavement of Blacks freed by the Civil War. As FOCA intends to prevent the conservative enslavement of half of the population of the United States, the citation is fitting. Sadly, the act does not specifically mention contraception, which omission lawmakers may come to regret.
Societies have often outlawed abortion when they desired to ensure large numbers of warriors would be born. Often those same societies outlawed homosexuality. With world population currently more than 6.7 billion people, there is no danger that the human race will die out due to contraception. Some scientists, in fact, see the incidence of homosexuality as a result of population reaching a critical mass. China and India are examples of the results of unchecked population growth. Few people in the United States would consciously choose to recreate those conditions here. If the Catholic Bishops, led by Cardinal George have their way, the standard of living in the United States could take a turn for the worse.
George claims the church wants to help women and children; his desire to impose restrictions on women’s right not to bear children speaks otherwise. Rather than acknowledge the reality that not everyone agrees with his view of abortion, he insists that no solution except outlawing it will satisfy him. Regardless of laws to the contrary, women continue to terminate their pregnancies. Worldwide, 13 per cent of pregnancy-related deaths are a direct result of unsafe abortions. In real numbers, some 68,000 women died last year from unsafe abortions. Increasing this number, the certain result of making abortions illegal, can hardly be called a pro-woman or pro-life policy.