I just finished reading the USCCB statement on Obama, politics and abortion. Once again our bishops come across as people who are entirely convinced there is no other political issue in America than abortion. They raise the spectre of Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act into law, and they do it very forcefully. The reality is, FOCA has never made it out of committee and probably never will. Obama will never sign a law that can't get out of committee because he can't. It's that simple.
I'm not sure I get what the bishops are trying to do with this focus on FOCA. It's not like this bogeyman wasn't brought up endlessly in election campaigning. It didn't have the desired effect then, so why keep bringing it up? Instead of rehashing ineffective arguments, maybe they should take a good look at the Catholic electorate and their opinions on family planning. Here are some they could check out:
In a poll commissioned by Planned Parenthood last year, Catholic voters were asked to name their largest concerns around the issues of abortion and family planning.
The number-one response was that there are "too many unwanted children in America whose parents can't take care of them."
Second, they said government was too quick to interfere with people's personal lives and private decisions.
And third, government was not doing enough to provide education and resources to help people make responsible decisions about sexual behavior and pregnancy..
In fact, Catholic voters are more likely to support comprehensive sex education in schools (78 percent) than the general public (76 percent). And 86 percent of Catholics favor launching a major effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by both increasing the availability of contraception for low-income women and by providing teens with comprehensive sex education.
Put simply, Catholic voters, just like the rest of America, want government to focus on solving problems for American families, such as increasing access to affordable health care and helping children stay healthy and safe and not become parents before they are ready.
First off I understand the poll was issued by Planned Parenthood and I have some questions about how the questions were worded and what options were given. On the other hand, Catholic voting in this election fell in line with these sentiments.
Obama promises to deliver on all of them. The 86 percent is fully in line with the numbers of Catholics who admit to using birth control. Using birth control lowers the rate of abortion, unless, like our Catholic bishops, you insist on seeing some forms of oral contraceptives as abortifacients. For that matter the whole process of pregnancy is an abortifacient in that 25-30% of pregnancies spontaneously abort. Perhaps the solution should be to ban pregnancy.
Then I look at the anti gay marriage initiatives which our bishops put a lot of time, effort, and money into, and I wonder if they really read them. The initiative in Arkansas is a direct attack on all families, not just gay families. In a real sense this initiative mandates marriage in order to adopt or provide foster care for children. In my own circle of acquaintances there are at least four straight grandparents who could not adopt their grandchildren because they are not living in an appropriate marriage situation. They are not at all pleased with this initiative.
If I were to engage in the 'what if'' worse case scenario fear mongering Cardinal George has done with FOCA, I could go on and mention the very real possibility that this Arkansas initiative could be interpreted to mean adopted children can be taken away from their parents unless they marry like good Christians. Take that grandma. Take that grandpa. Who cares about your kids, it's the principle of keeping those gays in their places which is at stake here.
Sometimes I wonder if the bishops actually care about real kids, not the hypothetical unborn kids, but real kids. The kind of kids who come from single homes, the gay kids born to good Catholic families, the kids who wind up on the street, the kids born to teen age mothers, the kids born from gay parents who got into straight marriages and couldn't make it work. Real kids.
Maybe they're just too busy. I mean they have all those real excommunications to work on now and probably new guidelines for determining which Catholic politicians will be denied communion, and new guidelines about self excommunication for all those Catholics who voted for the 'party of death', and new guidelines about excommunicating women priests and their supporters. With all that on their plate, maybe they can be forgiven for dragging on with old losing strategies. They can't have much time to think up any new ones.