The Newsweek/Washington Post blog called “On Faith” is quickly becoming one of my favorite sources of comedy on the internet. The latest from Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo who runs the “Catholic America” part of the blog says that Nancy Pelosi is more pro-life than the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue.
Written with a Kmiec-ian logic, Arroyo makes his case:
Nancy Pelosi, the first Catholic woman to be Speaker of the House and Dr. William Donohue spokesman for the Catholic League constitute a Catholic odd couple. It’s not my place to delve into how each relates to God, so I consider both to be Catholics. But ohhhh so different in style!
Ms. Pelosi is soft-spoken, articulate, polite and gentle in her approach to other opinions; Dr. Donohue is not. As head of the Catholic League, Dr. Donohue links his words and political positions by reference to Catholic teaching; Pelosi does not. Pelosi represents a very liberal Democratic district in San Francisco and is second in line for presidential succession. Dr. Donohue, who on more than one occasion has mordantly attacked Democratic Party Liberals, serves a well-financed organization whose logo features a sword. Despite their different perspectives and consistent with their differing jobs, both exemplify diversity in Catholic America.
Oh my gosh, he’s got a symbolic sword and he’s not afraid to use it. Somebody stop him!
Recently, their differences were brought into the public eye with the family planning provision in the Congressional stimulus bill and the Presidential executive order about the Mexico City policy. Pelosi, the Catholic woman, supported family planning funding in the stimulus bill, while Dr. Donohue, the Catholic male, railed against it. (President Obama dropped the measure — proving once again that he is not a mindless pro-abortion ogre.) Gone from the current bill is the provision to provide sex education, counseling on the use of condoms and birth control information. However, the logic here is clear, even if the political strategies are complicated. The principal cause of abortion is unwanted pregnancies. Programs that reduce unwanted pregnancies, therefore, also reduce the likelihood of abortions. Ironically, Ms. Pelosi’s stance was consistent with a desire to reduce abortions, while Dr. Donohue’s opposition was not. Both are thoughtful lay persons using different paths to implement Church teaching against abortion, but come to far different conclusions.
What kind of sick twisted mind could possibly glean from Pelosi’s statements about birth control being good for the economy that she’s at all concerned with bringing down the number of abortions. Wouldn’t an increase in the number of abortions also be good for the economy?
And as far as thinking Obama was a “mindless pro-abortion ogre” – just for the record I’ve never accused him of being mindless.
The Mexico City policy has been a part of political ping-pong for decades now. Republicans impose a ban on U.S. funding of agencies that include abortion information in their programs, while Democrats permit such funds for overseas programs. Looked at superficially, the Democrats oppose Church teaching, while Republicans support it. However, science provides objectivity, making relevant the report from the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund. They estimate that family planning services to some 201 million women overseas would prevent 52 million unintended pregnancies and, therefore, 22 million abortions annually. Spacing of children by Third World women, it is projected, would reduce mortality rates for children under 5 years of age by 17%. AIDS is so wide-spread in Africa that half of 15 year old youth in Zambia will likely die of that disease. This reality led George W. Bush to remove the Mexico City policy restrictions when it came to U.S. HIV/AIDS assistance.
Naïveté is not useful here. While it is official Catholic teaching that use of artificial means of birth control with condoms is sinful, there are people of faiths other than Catholicism in the world. Not everyone follows Catholic teaching, and if polls are correct, neither do most Catholics. Moreover, since the 1973 Helms Amendment prevents a single U.S. dollar to be used to fund abortions, no U.N. agency can use our taxpayers’ funds to perform abortions. In sum, Pelosi is entitled to a judgement that abortions can be limited by supporting family planning and reversing the Mexico City policy.
These facts are not reflected in Dr. Donohue’s public condemnation of our new President: “Here we have a black president taking money from the taxpayers in a time of economic crisis and giving it to organizations–many of which are anti-Catholic–so they can spend it on killing non-white babies in Third World nations.” I do not deny Dr. Donohue’s passion as part of Catholic America, but neither would I deny Speaker Pelosi the right to follow her conscience in trying to reduce abortions.
So let me get this straight. Pelosi is pro-life because she wants to fund organizations that provide abortion overseas? And Donohue is bad because he’s against this? Somehow we’re supposed to believe that funding abortion providers saves lives. I’m not getting it.
I think sensible Catholics not in the public eye should avoid odd couple extremes. We should never say: “Whatever Obama wants is great!” but neither should we thoughtlessly respond: “Whatever Obama wants is terrible!”
Finally, for those keeping Pro-Life score, the round goes to Pelosi this week.
I wonder if there’s any way we could have Arroyo declared brain dead using this column as evidence. The only problem with that is once his liberal friends found out he was declared brain dead, bad things would follow. Remember, liberals love to declare people brain dead because then they get to do their favorite thing – kill someone for their own good. Hey, it’ll help the economy.