candid thoughts on the issues of the day.
Because We Must.
Published on November 2, 2004 By Robert Guinness In Politics
I care about abortion. I care so much that I called Cam Kerry a couple weeks ago. Cam Kerry is John Kerry’s younger brother, and he is the closest person to John Kerry I could contact. I called him to get the facts about John Kerry’s position on abortion. I needed to know, since we both John Kerry and I are fellow Catholics, whether abortion is an issue that is important to John Kerry personally. He assured me that the tragedy of abortion is an issue that is important to John personally, as a Catholic, and that he will work to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. through many means, such as building up a social safety net for pregnant women so that they don’t feel like their only option is abortion. This method has shown to be effective in many countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, which legally permit abortion yet have the two lowest abortion rates in the world. This is in contrast to many Latin American countries, predominantly Catholic countries where abortion is illegal, yet they have frighteningly high abortion rates. The reason for these abortions appears to point towards the destitute economic conditions in these countries and the lack of a strong government that can provide a social safety net for families.

By comparison, we see evidence of a similar trend occurring in the United States. When economic conditions have been good, particularly during the 1990s, abortion rates have tended to decrease. When economic conditions are poor, however, and the government fails to have a policy that creates social safety nets for women, abortion rates have tended to increase. This makes sense since a large portion of the women receiving abortions say that the primary reason for having the abortion is because they can’t afford a child.

Some studies show the abortion rates have risen under President Bush’s administration. In my view, such studies are debatable, and it is too early to determine the impact of the Bush Presidency on abortion rates in the U.S. It is not likely, however, that any comprehensive study will show that Bush significantly decreased the abortion rates in the U.S. during his years in power from January 2001- January 2005, and the most likely conclusion from a rough look at the statistics is that the abortion rates remained at roughly the status quo during Bush’s presidency.

This status quo is in contrast to the overall decrease in abortion rates seen during the President Clinton’s administration. Also, despite claiming “pro-Life” stances, the Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did not significantly decrease the abortion rates during their combined 12 years in office. So a rough analysis of Democratic versus Republican presidencies since 1980 shows that Republican presidents do not have much to brag about in terms of reducing the evil of abortion that occurs in the United States.

To be fair, I should point out that abortion rates alarmingly increased during the Democratic presidency of Jimmy Carter, but this case represents the beginning of the sad change in policy that many Democrats began making with regard to abortion around that time. Around the same time, President Gerald Ford, was a pro-abortion rights Republican, so this clearly was a different, transition political era, catalyzed by Roe v. Wade, with regards to abortion.

As Catholics, we are called to be informed voters and obligated to have an informed conscience. We have to think hard about our strategy for saving all the babies that are tragically killed by abortion. If you look at the facts, there simply is not strong evidence that criminalization is the best long-term strategy for ridding the world of abortion. Eventually, maybe criminalization will help, but changing a law alone does not change people’s behavior, just as prohibition did nothing to stop people drinking from drinking.

As Catholics, we have to have a comprehensive approach that is smart, evidence-based, and outreaching. Just as Jesus was cunning, in fact, brilliant in addressing the moral issues of his day, we must be equally ingenious.

In many ways, simply saying you want to make abortion illegal is the easy way out for Christians. It places the blame for this sin solely on those who receive abortions. But according to our faith, we all share in guilt when the least of us does not receive the care they need. And when a mother feels like our society has not offered them the opportunity to bear their children, and adequately feed, cloth, and educate them, then we are all share guilt in this sin. The examples of our inability to care for the poorest among us are blatant and widespread. While many Catholics, especially white Catholics, are now a part of the upper-middle class and are able to afford for our children excellent education, a plethora of clothing, toys, and luxuries, even their own car at the age of sixteen, the least among us fear daily that they will not able to provide basic nourishment for their children.

In our own country, one of the richest countries on Earth, almost 13 million children live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger. WORLDWIDE SIX MILLION CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE DIE EVERY YEAR as a result of hunger! An additional 10 million or more children die each year from preventable diseases.

No wonder the sin of abortion still exists on Earth. Shame on all of us.

I believe we can defeat these evils—abortion and hunger and other issues facing our innocent babies—but we need to work together to do so, and we need to be smart. PLEASE don’t just vote obvious today, November 2, 2004. I hope you have studied the issues, as I feel I have, and I hope you vote smart.

When you are done voting, I look forward to further discussing your ideas on how we can solve these evils, starting November 3.

In Christ’s Love,

Rob Guinness

Comments (Page 1)
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on Nov 02, 2004
I really liked your article, since you're talking about improving the circumstances which lead to abortions - reducing the 'demand', if you like. I'm pro choice, and I can't help but agree with you.
on Nov 02, 2004
Rob, you make some insightful observations. However, I might add that although some people subscribe in certain religious doctrines that say birth control is wrong, many do not. If you really want to put a dent in the number of abortions, we can't ignore the fact that "just saying no" isn't realistically going to cut it. I think more needs to be done in terms of providing contraceptives and sex education. I am not talking about promulgating a view that promotes sex. I am talking about providing education about the risks of unprotected sex as a factual matter. I know all the arguments about this being the role of the parent(s) but that doesn't change the fact that many parents do not have accurate information themselves regarding sex nor does this argument consider that many parents either don't want to talk about it or that they simply won't talk about it. The moral issues involved should be left to the parents and or religious institutions. I am simply talking about equiping people with the power of knowledge regarding sex, disease, and pregnancy. Do you know how much mis-information is out there regarding sex and pregnancy? Much of this mis-information comes from the parents themselves who are passing along mis-information they recieved for their parents. It's an endless cycle of sexual myths and inaccurate information. Even if you take the position that we should educate the parents and not their children does not address the fact that many of these parents either won't participate in the education or that they simply won't pass the information along to their kids.

Providing contraceptives to those who are already detemined to have sex is not rewarding the behavior or condoning it. It is really about giving those, who are already having sex or those who have already decided to have sex, a means of preventing unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and death. While some may think that pre-marital sex is a sin, many do not. And while many people think pre-marital sex should be punished. I don't think that many Christians would agree that this punishment should be a death sentence. Aids is not a punishment from God. Aids is a disease that knows no religion, sex, race, culture, or sexual orientation. Aides is a death sentence and not warning young people about the dangers of unprotected sex and not providing them with the necessary tools (contraceptives, education) they need to avoid it, is wrong. The upside to this education/prevention is that it could greatly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, disease, and death.
on Nov 02, 2004

last i heard, the church didnt approve of contraception either. 

rob youve expressed your concerns very articulately and your passion for justice and the greater good is very evident.  while im not an abortion advocate, both contraception and abortion were, at one time, relatively minor evils as far as the church was concerned (and not for the reasons youd imagine).  the current position is, i believe, based on flawed interpretation of even more flawed medieval science.  i dont mean to interpose my beliefs on you, but merely wonder how thoroughly you've looked  into the historical basis for the church's doctrine on these two subjects.

on Nov 02, 2004
The article is good. But the central tenet of Kerry's philosphy goes something like this. I am Catholic, I beleive life begins at conception, but I will defend a woman's right to murder her unborn for the sake of expediency.

Notice I did not say in the case of harm to her self. For that is Kerry's position.

We will never get the issue of abortion resolved due to the fact that conscientous people who believe that life begins at conseption, cannot tolerate it, and those consceintous people who do not believe that, and believe that a woman has a right to chose what happens with their body, will never concede the point. So it is up to those who beleive that life begins at conception to do everything they can to make abortion a less palatable option for the woman. That is all we can do.

The efforts are hampered tho by demigogs on both sides, and those who advocate murder. For the have no soul on which to base their morals, and their philosophy is "if it feels good, do it".

For this reason, as a consceintous Catholic, I cannot support a man who promotes murder of the most innocent of us. JOhn Kerry is immoral, and bad for the country.
on Nov 02, 2004
Very good essay. I am sending it to several friends for whom the abortion issue is a major factor in their vote. You clearly are grounded in our faith but are not accepting the simple answers. I was not aware of the Belgium & Netherlands contrast with Latin America. I find that very telling. A more knowledgeable approach to the social issues by the Church would be refreshing. This political season has left me upset about the simplistic views of some bishops.
on Nov 02, 2004
Good essay, but I disagree with the whole premise. Abortion isn't evil, therefore, there is no need to "solve" it. I will never consider giving people the right to control reproduction evil.
on Nov 02, 2004
Reply #6 By: Myrrander - 11/2/2004 10:20:18 AM
Good essay, but I disagree with the whole premise. Abortion isn't evil, therefore, there is no need to "solve" it. I will never consider giving people the right to control reproduction evil.

Sorry myrrander but the premise of using abortion as a method of birth control (control reproduction) is in itself inherently evil.
on Nov 03, 2004
Using words like evil, soulless, and murder completely bastardizes the point of this article. This article points out a problem which requires a solution. I personally am pro-choice, but you will not convince me that abortion is not a problem. Anything that involves so much harm, both physical and psychological, for those involved has to be a problem.

Now, if I may suggest my own personal solution, which I would like to add to TBone's suggestions of education and contraception. It's called the Morning After Pill, and if the government would decide to do something good and make it an OTC medication, unwanted pregnancies could be prevented from happening even if the individuals involved did not use contraception.

Just a thought
on Nov 03, 2004
In our own country, one of the richest countries on Earth, almost 13 million children live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger. WORLDWIDE SIX MILLION CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE DIE EVERY YEAR as a result of hunger! An additional 10 million or more children die each year from preventable diseases.

No wonder the sin of abortion still exists on Earth. Shame on all of us.

And you want to FORCE people to bring more babies into this HORROR? And christians still don't support conceptive, which would stem the flow of unwanted babies.
on Nov 04, 2004
Thank you all for your comments. I am still trying to digest all the results from the election. I'm also trying to deal with some illegal activity that I saw happening at the polling place where I worked at for 14 hours as an election judge.

I'm now trying to get to everyone's replies, both here, and in emails I've received.

Let me start just by saying this, since it was brought up in many of the replies:

I break with the Church party line (so to speak) that contraception should not be given out in wholesale. I agree that the ultimate ideal is that sex is only used for the supreme act of love, the making of a child, but i'm skeptical that we'll ever get close to where even 50 percent of the population practices the ideal. Most Catholics do not even practice that idea. I'm sure that the majority of married Catholics now use some form of contraceptive. One case in point would be that in my grandparent's generation, it was not uncommon for a Catholic couple to have 6, 7, or 8 children (My grandparents had eleven). In my parent's generation, the norm is more like 2 or 3 (My parents had three). And in my generation, 1 or 2 seems to be the norm. The MAIN reason for this is the acceptance of using contraception.

Natural Family Planning, which I think is GREAT, is also growing among Catholics, but it is still the vast minority. And even Natural Family Planning is really doing the same thing as contraception. It is still an attempt to "beat the system," that is, the reproductive system.

Anyways, I think Catholics have to accept contraception as a reality, and really as an opportunity to reduce the far greater evil of abortion.

Now some people said in the replies that it is not helpful to use words like "evil" and "sin". I disagree with this. I will envoke a great quote from the famous filmmaker Rossellini, "to perceive evil where it exists is, in my opinion, a form of optimism."

Abortion is, in my belief, evil. Now that being said, I understand that others belief there is nothing wrong with it. Jews are a great example (at least according to a Rabbi I spoke with, who said that jews don't believe life begins at conception.) They think it's just a mass of cells and they see no wrong in, for example, using it for potentially life-saving research, like embryonic stem cell research. But what the Jews, and others HAVE to deal with is, WE (namely Christians) DO SEE SOMETHING WRONG WITH IT. And by having abortions you are KILLING OUR BABIES. The arguement of woman's rights is, in my view, completely invalid. I think, yes, woman should have certain fundamental rights over their reproductive system. But every right and every freedom has its limits. And the killing of a living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being, which happens to be living in your womb because you made a choice to allow sperm into your body and give it life, IS PATENTLY WRONG and IMMORRAL, and EVIL, and should be ILLEGAL.

But my article is not about debating whether or not abortion is wrong or evil. It was intended to be read by other Catholics (non-Catholics are also welcome to read it, but my indended audience is Catholics). I assumed that everyone reading already believed abortion was evil, and that's why I used the title I used. MY article is about what we should do to start solving this article.

So yes, start by decreasing the "demand" for abortion. Secondly, educate people about all their reproductive choices, but also educate them about the deep psychological damage that abortion has been shown to cause in woman who receive them. Educate them about how many women regret it further down the line. Thirdly, convince the rest of the U.S. electorate that abortion is UTTERLY DISGUSTING and BRUTAL, especially after the 2nd trimester. If we can just get them to agree that third trimester abortion, except in cases of rape or medical conditions that endager the mother, is OBVIOUSLY COLD-BLOODED MURDER, then we have done a great service to a great number of babies.

Any Catholic would agree with that. And women will still have plenty of choice. In fact, they will have six months of it, which is more than enough. If they ask for more, well, I'm sorry, choice has a limit. There's some of my fellow citizens, even neighbors, who at times I'd like to kill. But murder is inherently evil, and we can not give anyone the right and freedom to choose it.
on Nov 14, 2004
Generally, I am concerned about the use of the word/idea 'EVIL'. This implies there are inherently evil actions and evil people in the world, the idea that is the main support for Bush's assault on other countries and cultures, as exemplified in the war in Iraq. We must seek and destroy the EVIL!!! people/terrorists/insurgents of our world so that we -- the GOOD people -- can live in "peace", continually diminishing the great diversity of people, ideas, cultures and faiths in the world by infusing our inherently GOOD Christian-American values.

When we can step away from this GOOD vs. EVIL, US vs. THEM thinking, we can finally see compassionate, creative and peaceful solutions to inequalities in the world. And so, calling abortion an evil creates separation and alienation between people who disagree as to what abortion really is. The more we demand that OUR way is better than THEIR way, the more we push others away and create conflict.
on Nov 14, 2004
The efforts are hampered tho by demigogs on both sides, and those who advocate murder. For the have no soul on which to base their morals, and their philosophy is "if it feels good, do it".

You're putting demogoguery in your argument. Those who are pro-choice do not consider it murder or they would not be pro-choice. Currently the law agrees with them. I am appalled about how readily that abortion is used as birth control, which is not the way it should be. However in totally banning abortion we would return to an era of back alley abortions. The irretractible position of some on the pro-life side are not helping. Saying that birth control is immoral and that the only way to avoid pregnency is thru abstinance leaves no room for people to be humans. Its moralizing and telling people what they need to do. I certainly agree that alternatives to abortion should be made aware to those seeking them. Another irretractible position that some on the right have gone thru is even allowing abortions to save the life of the mother, or in the case of rape or incest. Its also to talk about the sactity of life and then murder people by blowing up abortion clinics.

The pro-life side also hurts their position with their views on embryonic stem cells. The stem cells in question will never become life because they will either be discarded or frozen (in which case they eventually will be destroyed anyway). And for those same pro-life proponents to be against those who are are trying to have children but cannot on their own is hypocritical.
on Nov 14, 2004
I think that those of us who are repulsed by abortion have to realize that making it illegal may not be the practical or effective way of saving lives.

I wish that our country would pass a constitutional amendment:
1) guaranteeing any woman the right to seek an abortion
2) forbidding the use of tax money to fund abortions
3) guaranteeing free, quality medical care throughout pregnancy and delivery, assuming that she does not abort the pregnancy

It seems to me that the compromise could satisfy the middle of the country, I believe that it would diminish the number of abortions, and it would be in the best interests of the country to improve on prenatal care -- the health care and educational monetary savings would be enormous.
on Nov 14, 2004
ChristianDog: I think what you have proposed is brilliant -- and for the reasons you've proposed. That earns an Insightful from me.
on Nov 16, 2004
XX, most protestant churches have no problem with contraception.
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