Southern Religion

What should Catholic politicians who support Roe v. Wade say?

Mark Silk led us to this from George Dennis O’Brien’s new book:

Stop trying to avoid the issue by saying that you are personally opposed to abortion or that you accept the Church’s views on abortion, but it is not your responsibility as a legislator to impose your moral will on the country. That is a cop-out. Any-slavery legislators in the nineteenth century did not retreat into personal opinion or religious cover–they thought that there was something wrong with the law of the land that needed radical change. The problem with abortion for a sensible legislator is not whether it is right or wrong, religious or impious; it is that it cannot be legislated away. When rounded on by one’s local bishop for “supporting abortion,” don’t duck for cover–ask the bishop just what law he would recommend that would accomplish the prohibition of abortion. You won’t likely get an answer.

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Church/State | , , | Comments Off on What should Catholic politicians who support Roe v. Wade say?

Catholic Health Association president says it is time for health reform

“The time is now for health reform,” Sr. Carol Keehan, DC wrote in Catholic Health World:

As I watched our president present his plan to pass the health reform legislation, it was clear this is an historic opportunity to make great improvements in the lives of so many Americans. Is it perfect? No. Does it cover everyone? No. But is it a major first step? Yes.

The insurance reforms will make the lives of millions more secure, and their coverage more affordable. The reforms will eventually make affordable health insurance available to 31 million of the 47 million Americans currently without coverage.

CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.

[H/T: CommonWeal]

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Obama, Religion | , | 1 Comment

How would criminalization of abortion help black women/children?

FindLaw’s Sherry F. Colb writes about the “Black Children Are An Endangered Species” billboards:

But what might one do to address the abortion disparity? The anti-abortion movement seeks to criminalize abortion and to persuade people to work toward criminalization. In the meantime, the movement also tries to discourage individual women from seeking abortions. If the billboard’s audiences wish to do something to help the “endangered” black child, however, and accordingly seek to criminalize abortion, this move will not obviously do anything to empower the African-American community.

Criminalizing the termination of pregnancy would not provide a magic solution to the disparities. In the wake of legislation banning abortion, black women seeking abortions would not suddenly want to take their pregnancies to term, nor would they find affordable the prospect of an expanding family. Families that are pessimistic about the lives their potential children would face would not magically become optimistic on this score. Rather, the only thing likely to change with criminalization is that an African-American woman who wanted an abortion would have a more difficult time getting one, and, as a result, might fall prey to the back-alley or might give birth to children she did not want and did not feel equipped to have.

Read the rest here.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Health, Law, Religion | , | Comments Off on How would criminalization of abortion help black women/children?

Archbishop Fisichella stands his ground

Archbishop Salvatore (Rino) Fisichella is standing his ground against an eruption of U.S. “hyper-partisanship” into Vatican affairs. He isn’t going to resign, apologize or lend further ink to his critics.

Five members of the 145-member Pontifical Academy for Life, which Fisichella heads, circulated a letter calling for his resignation.

Their campaign was supported by Judie Brown, president of the American Life League and in an essay by Monsignor Michel Schooyans, an academy member and emeritus professor at Belgium’s Louvain University. Schooyans argued that Fisischella had fallen into a trap of “bogus compassion.”

The letter was greeted with surprise by the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi. CNS reported:

“It’s a bit strange that persons who are members of an academy address a request of this kind without addressing it to the competent authorities,” Father Lombardi said. “It’s astounding and seems incorrect that such a document be given public circulation.”

At issue is the March, 2009, case of a nine-year-old Brazilian girl, about whom Allison Hantschell wrote:


I had an Easy-Bake Oven, when I was 9. It made tiny cupcakes and itty-bitty cookies, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read about the girl in Brazil.

I don’t know her name, but she’s 9 years old, living in Brazil. Brutally raped by her stepfather, multiple times over a period of years, and finally impregnated with twins.

Nine years old. And instead of playing baseball, or learning numbers, or baking tiny cupcakes and itty-bitty cookies, this little girl is at the center of a worldwide controversy over the Roman Catholic Church, its views on abortion, and, above all, the role of mercy and the incoherence of men.

In response to the abortion, the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho announced that he was excommunicating the doctors and the young girl’s mother. When that was not received well, the response was recast.

Anyone (with certain exemptions) who consciously worked to stop a birth excommunicated himself/herself, so:

Brazil’s Catholic bishops conference denied that the archbishop of Recife and Olinda, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother and doctors who practiced a legal abortion on a nine-year-old girl that was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. . . . The secretary general of the bishops conference, Dimas Lara Barbosa, said that the prelate “at no time excommunicated anyone.”

Archbishop Fisichella’s alleged sin was to write in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, that the public declaration of the already automatic excommunications was “hasty” and the nine-year-old girl, whose life was saved by the abortion of twins she was physically unequipped to have, “should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction.”

For this, he was accused of “pseudo-compassion” – no idle charge. And one he has rejected. For good reason. Indeed, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a clarification in July, reiterating the Catholic Church’s unwavering opposition to abortion and observing that Fisichella’s words had been “manipulated and exploited.”

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Politics, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Archbishop Fisichella stands his ground

Is the USCCB a staple from approving health reform?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says the Senate version of health reform does not go far enough in limiting abortion.

Howard M. Friedman, primary author of the blog Religion Clause, explains why.

He writes:

The Bishops’ concern seems to be that under [the current version as amended], abortion coverage will still be in some policies that receive government subsidies, so long as a separate check is written for the part of the premium applicable to that coverage. Instead, according to a Dec. 14 letter from the Bishops, they want language in the House bill that was proposed as an amendment by Sen. Ben Nelson, but was defeated by the Senate. That language provides that no federal funds could be used “to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes abortion coverage.” After that loss, Sen. Nelson negotiated the language in the Manager’s Amendment and according to AP argued that the differences were “about a staple.” By that he means that the disagreement is over whether abortion coverage — which would be paid for separately in either case — would be a part of the subsidized policy (not acceptable to the Bishops) or in a separate rider stapled to it (acceptable to the Bishops).

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health | , , | Comments Off on Is the USCCB a staple from approving health reform?

No ‘honest citizens’ represented by pro-choice candidates?

Brazil’s Archbishop Emeritus Jose Cardoso Sobrinho — best known for his efforts to prevent a raped nine-year-old pregnant with her stepfather’s twins from receiving an abortion and his immediate public declaration of the excommunication of her mother and others involved in the abortion — proclaimed last week that pro-abortion candidates “cannot represent honest citizens.”

That’s a long public step beyond the private denial of communion to pro-choice Catholic political figures in this country — a practice Randall Terry would like to see in widespread use.

Agree or disagree, it is nonetheless an honest expression of the doctrine which underlay the conflict over the nine-year-old Brazilian girl’s abortion.

Catholic figures have since protested that there was no medical necessity involved. But it is not clear that for Catholic clergy the debate was fundamentally over medical necessity, as senior Vatican official was quoted as saying at the time:

“We have laws, we have a discipline, we have a doctrine of the faith,” the official says. “This is not just theory. And you can’t start backpedaling just because the real-life situation carries a certain human weight.”

Remember that the Vatican’s top bioethics official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who argued in the Vatican newspaper that human and theological “mercy” should have been applied to those involved in the abortion, saw his view rejected in a “clarification.”

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Stupak health-reform amendment threatens religious freedom

Catholic-driven debate about the role of abortion in health reform legislation conceals “the fact that the foundational theologies among Jews, Muslims, and even many otherwise “conservative” Christians are more nuanced and complicated than the simplistic and absolutist stands taken by the “C Street” Democrats and their supporters,” writes Gordon D. Newby,professor of Jewish, Islamic, and Comparative Studies at Emory University.

The House bill tramples the complex variety of American faith in favor of a particular view whose narrowness paves “the way to enact religious discrimination into law; on the important and fundamental issues of life and health, many religious Americans will be unable to live and act according to their own religious consciences and beliefs.”

Read the entire piece here.


Will the USCCB craft and push for a revision?

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Health, Religion | , , , , | 3 Comments

Right-wing politics, not theology, drives anti-abortion opposition to health reform

Sara Posner explores the inescapable:

… Democrats, who claim to be pro-life, are playing politics with health care reform, aligning themselves more closely with the anti-choice hard right and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) than their own party. They insist that efforts to ensure that no public funds will be used to cover abortion services are insufficient. This game-playing is not about public funding of abortion, already outlawed in the Hyde Amendment (which bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortions for low-income women under Medicaid and other programs). Indeed, the House bill already incorporates Hyde through its own amendment authored by pro-choice California Democrat, Rep. Lois Capps.

Instead, these Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, are pushing for an amendment to restrict womens’ access to abortion. And that’s not theology, it’s politics.

Read the entire piece here.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Medical Care, Politics | , , | Comments Off on Right-wing politics, not theology, drives anti-abortion opposition to health reform

EBay begins removing Roeder-defense items [Updated]

An image captured by TPM before the item was removed by eBay.

EBay has begun taking down anti-abortion memorabilia posted in and attempt to raise funds the Scott Roeder defense, reports the Kansas City Star today:

One is a worn Bible once owned by Shelley Shannon, the Oregon woman who shot and wounded Dr. George Tiller in 1993 and was later convicted in a series of abortion clinic arsons and bombings. The other is a signed Catechism written by Ohio anti-abortion activist Michael Bray after a court judgment against him.

Activists say at least 10 items were removed. According to thePitch, bids were received for both the Bible and the Catechism before they were taken down by eBay.
Activist Regina Dinwiddie, who organized the auction, told Talking Points Memo today that the items did not glorify violence:

Regina Dinwiddie, the Kansas anti-abortion activist who set up an eBay auction to benefit the suspect in the George Tiller murder, tells TPMmuckraker in a phone interview that she’s angry that eBay pulled her items — and that she believes they did not glorify violence, but rather “glorify the end of a very violent man.”

Ebay says:

Today, eBay removed several listings on our site that violated several of our policies including our offensive materials’ policy. This policy prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance, or promote organizations with such views.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Health, Law, WWW | , , | Comments Off on EBay begins removing Roeder-defense items [Updated]

eBay says ‘no’ to the Roeder auction

Attempting to raise money for the defense of Scott Roeder, who is charged with first-degree murder in George Tiller’s death, supporters planned an eBay auction. Planned, and written about by the Kansas City Star. And eBay says “no:”

“Based on the details we know about the anticipated listings, we believe these would violate our policy regarding offensive material,” the company said in a statement issued to The Kansas City Star. “eBay will not permit the items in question to be posted to the eBay site, and they will be removed if they are posted.”

How offensive?

Mark Silk explains:

Among the items they planned to auction is a prison drawing by Roeder of David and Goliath depicting David holding the head of Goliath with the name “Tiller” inscribed on Goliath’s forehead. On the corpse are the words “child-murdering industry.”

Perhaps it was not a flatly stated point of the overall effort to both rationalize and glorify violence. But that drawing. And calls for Roeder to use a “necessity defense,” saying that Tiller’s killing on May 31 was an act of justifiable homicide.

Accusing eBay of violating someone’s First Amendment rights, and auction proponents are doing that, is a red herring.

H/T: Mark Silk

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Religion, WWW | , | Comments Off on eBay says ‘no’ to the Roeder auction