OK, OK – time to stop ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room. We all know that much of what has motivated the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops for some time, along with many other Catholics and religious figures, is the abortion issue. The ultimate goal, of course, is to overturn Roe v. Wade; the efforts have been relentless of late and have become more and more confrontational.
Well, regardless of one’s personal views on abortion, there is but one conclusion that can be drawn (perhaps sadly): there is no way to ban first trimester abortions without violating the Constitution. There are many admirable people who believe that the human soul is imparted at the moment of conception, but this is clearly a religious view and not a scientific view. No scientist would classify a fetus three months old or less as a viable human being and, whether we like it or not, ours is a nation that keeps religious views out of secular law.
Catholics should remember that the First Amendment not only keeps our church out of the law but, more importantly, keeps the law out of churches. Do we want to return to Colonial days of legal religious persecution? Do we want to return to the early 20th Century when Klan-dominated or -influenced legislatures sought to shut down Catholic schools? Or to the 19th Century when Mormons were lynched?
The one thing that seems clear to me is that any progress in the abortion problem must start with all sides starting with shared values; everyone that I know wishes that there never was a reason for people to seek abortions. Is it too much to ask that all Americans focus their energies on eliminating the social ills that lead to the pregnancies that cause women to seek abortion, such as poverty, antiquated adoption laws, rape, incest, etc.?