Stupak-Pitts: Trampling on Faith and Conscience


The Stupak Amendment isn’t only about trampling on women’s rights and lives, as devastating as that is.  It’s also about trampling on their faith and conscience.  RCRC’s chief concern about this amendment is that it is encroaching on religious freedom.

To be clear, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops inserted their religious views into the House bill.  The members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice – Christian and Jewish denominations – and millions of Americans of all faiths do not share the Catholic bishops’ doctrine on reproductive issues and do not want the bishops’ views to determine how they live their lives.

Virtually all religious denominations that have taken a position on health care reform have agreed it should be abortion neutral – that is, it should not change existing policy on abortion coverage. Clearly, the Catholic bishops’ group is not willing to honor that position. So let’s call this "compromise" what it is: an encroachment on the separation of religion and state and an affront to a basic constitutional principle. The fact that the Catholic hierarchy can dictate what Congress can legislate should be disturbing to all Americans, regardless of their position on abortion or contraception.

President Obama said on Monday that he wanted to adjust the abortion language in the health care bill so that "neither side feels that it’s being betrayed." But this push for “common ground” on abortion is partly responsible for the House of Representatives’ retreat on women’s health care – along with the Democratic Party’s recruitment of pro-life candidates. Common ground is a misleading term. The Catholic bishops and their allies never ceded any ground. The Democratic Party has a lot to answer for in terms of pushing back women’s rights.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California stated the issue clearly in floor debate on the House health care bill: "We’re a democracy, not a theocracy."  If the Stupak Amendment is the beginning of a trend, the Catholic bishops may be dictating policy on a number of social issues.  

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  • tonys

    "And he said unto his disciples, It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come; but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

     

    "It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish"  Mother Teresa

    TonyS

  • grayduck

    "…the separation of religion and state [is] a basic constitutional principle."

     

    Glad to see that the RCRC has reversed its support for a critical part of the reasoning in Roe v. Wade. It is particularly remarkable given that "RCRC was founded in 1973 to safeguard the newly won constitutional right to abortion."

     

    http://www.rcrc.org/about/index.cfm

     

    Contrary to popular delusion, the reasoning underlying Roe v. Wade assumed that there is no Constitutional separation of religion and state. In fact, Roe specifically based its holding on the notion that Jewish, liberal Protestant, and secular ideology should be imposed on all fifty states. Here is the critical passage.

    Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer. [410 U.S. 113, 160]

    It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth. This was the belief of the Stoics. 56 It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. 57 It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family. 58 As we have noted, the common law found greater significance in quickening. Physicians and their scientific colleagues have regarded that event with less interest and have tended to focus either upon conception, upon live birth, or upon the interim point at which the fetus becomes "viable," that is, potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid. 59 Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks. 60 The Aristotelian theory of "mediate animation," that held sway throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, continued to be official Roman Catholic dogma until the 19th century, despite opposition to this "ensoulment" theory from those in the Church who would recognize the existence of life from [410 U.S. 113, 161] the moment of conception. 61 The latter is now, of course, the official belief of the Catholic Church. As one brief amicus discloses, this is a view strongly held by many non-Catholics as well, and by many physicians. Substantial problems for precise definition of this view are posed, however, by new embryological data that purport to indicate that conception is a "process" over time, rather than an event, and by new medical techniques such as menstrual extraction, the "morning-after" pill, implantation of embryos, artificial insemination, and even artificial wombs. 62

    In areas other than criminal abortion, the law has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life, as we recognize it, begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth. For example, the traditional rule of tort law denied recovery for prenatal injuries even though the child was born alive. 63 That rule has been changed in almost every jurisdiction. In most States, recovery is said to be permitted only if the fetus was viable, or at least quick, when the injuries were sustained, though few [410 U.S. 113, 162] courts have squarely so held. 64 In a recent development, generally opposed by the commentators, some States permit the parents of a stillborn child to maintain an action for wrongful death because of prenatal injuries. 65 Such an action, however, would appear to be one to vindicate the parents’ interest and is thus consistent with the view that the fetus, at most, represents only the potentiality of life. Similarly, unborn children have been recognized as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, and have been represented by guardians ad litem. 66 Perfection of the interests involved, again, has generally been contingent upon live birth. In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.

     

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=410&invol=113

     

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0410_0113_ZS.html

     

    The agument, then, reduces to the following. "Texas cannot restrict abortion before viability because the Stoics, many Jews, some Protestants, and some physicians and scientists think life does not begin until then and because states have not recognized the unborn as persons in the whole sense." Now that many states have passed feticide laws and few of the vanishing mainline Protestant churches have expressed the belief that life begins at birth, it becomes clear that Roe v. Wade is mainly about imposing liberal Jewish ideology on the country.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • prochoiceferret

    Contrary to popular delusion, the reasoning underlying Roe v. Wade assumed that there is no Constitutional separation of religion and state. In fact, Roe specifically based its holding on the notion that Jewish, liberal Protestant, and secular ideology should be imposed on all fifty states. Here is the critical passage.

    I did not see any portion of that passage indicating that "Jewish, liberal Protestant, and secular ideology should be imposed on all fifty states." Please quote the specific portion of the ruling that backs up your assertion.

    it becomes clear that Roe v. Wade is mainly about imposing liberal Jewish ideology on the country.

    Next up on the liberal Jewish agenda: Get everyone to wear those funny hats that kind of look like a bald spot!