Time for Catholics to Act

Author: Bishop John J. Myers


Bishop John J. Myers

Recently, President Bill Clinton strengthened his claim to be regarded as the "abortion president." His veto of a bill which would have banned partial birth abortion has underscored the profound error which is contained in the "pro-choice position."

The procedure involves the killing of a child which is in the process of being born. The cardinals of the United States and the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in a strongly worded statement have spoken of the veto as "shameful" and asserted that the procedure is "more akin to infanticide than abortion."

Who can understand the twisted logic which could affirm that such monstrous acts are in the interest of the mother or of anyone else? Certainly partial birth abortion is not in the best interest of the common good in our country.

The vast majority of Americans, even pro-choice Americans, are opposed to it. Both house of Congress passed the bill banning the procedure. Senator Robert Dole, running for president, has vigorously opposed the procedure and worked to pass the bill in the United States Senate.

The human person, created in the image of God, has a whole spectrum of rights. All of these rights must be respected. But none is more fundamental than the right to life. Certainly, when one engages in political activity or votes for candidates for office, it makes a great deal of sense to have this one over-riding right be a fundamental factor

in making one's judgment. Not only is it permissible, it may be a solemn responsibility to be a "single issue voter." We simply cannot allow our country to continue down the road to becoming a "culture of death."

It defies right reason for anyone to promote abortion, euthanasia, suicide or assisted to suicide. Certainly, it is important to recall that Catholics who endorse such legislation or who back politicians who do so are being radically inconsistent with their faith. Not only are they harming our society., but also they are harming their own faith. It is imperative that they change. We must invite them to choose life and to defend life.

I urge members of the Diocese of Peoria to write to their congressmen and senators and urge them to override the president's veto. I further urge that in the upcoming elections the primacy of respect for life be kept in the forefront as we make our decisions about how to exercise our precious vote. We must do so because it is the right thing to do. We must do so for the children.

Recently an ecumenical group of prominent thinkers and commentators published a statement in the journal First Things. They entitled it "The America We Seek: A Statement of Pro-life Principle and Concern." Among the important points in this statement we find the following:

"Abortion is not simply a matter of private 'choice.' Rather, the abortion license cuts to the heart of America's claim to being a law-governed democracy, in which equality before the law is a fundamental principle of justice. The abortion license also threatens the cultural foundations of our democratic political community. For if it becomes a settled matter in American law and in American public morality that there is, in fact, a

private 'right' to use lethal violence to 'solve' problems, then the claim of American democracy to be an expression of the people's commitment to 'established justice' will be undermined, just as it was when the law claimed the 'right' to exclude certain Americans from its full protection on the basis of race. Thus, the abortion issue is the crucial civil rights issue of our time."

Once again, it is time for Catholics to stand up and be counted. It is a time for us more vigorously to defend life and more earnestly seek to convince our fellow Americans of the urgency of this cause.

Taken from the April 28, 1996 issue of "The Catholic Post."