This is a difficult post. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have been admirable in taking states like Wisconsin to task for being “unChristian” in their treatment of workers’ rights and their desire to cut assistance to the poor. Bravo!
Unfortunately, they have taken some of the luster away from their stand by condemning the Sisters in the United States for spending too much energy on fighting poverty and not enough on fighting for Pro-Life causes. Regardless of your personal position on pro-life issues, the USCCB are guilty of one of the most common logical fallacies: creating a false dilemma. Creating a false dilemma is when you are told that you have only two choices, and that they are at odds with one another. False dilemmas are the meat-and-potatoes of negative political campaigns; i.e., “A vote against candidate A is a vote for American values.”
So, why is this a false dilemma? Simply put, there is a 100% correlation between the number of abortions sought and the poverty rate. I can understand why the USCCB, given their drive to eliminate abortions, want to take anyone to task who doesn’t confront the abortion issue head-on but, with all due respect, the Council has let its emotions cloud its judgment. If American Nuns are allowed to pour all of their energies into fighting poverty, it will also reduce abortions. On the other hand, directly confronting abortion laws will not do anything to reduce poverty.