This is the article that appeared in the September 2023 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.
More than 30 congressional Democrats who call themselves Catholic recently issued a robust defense of abortion-on-demand claiming their position is entirely in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church. They know this is not true.
“The Statement of Principles,” led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, was issued in response to the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade. The statement contains at least four egregious falsehoods.
First, the Democrats claim that in the Dobbs decision “the Justices stripped women of their right to abortion and escalated an ongoing reproductive healthcare crisis in this country.” That is a lie. The Supreme Court declared there was no federal right to abortion. It did not outlaw abortion in the United States; it left that decision up to the states.
Second, the Democrats are playing the typical pro-abortion game of interpreting survey data that validates their position. They claim that 68 percent of Catholics support “the legal protections for abortion access enshrined in Roe” and 63 percent “think abortion should be legal in most cases.”
A survey of Catholic voters taken a year ago by RealClear Opinion Research found that 82 percent support some restrictions on abortion. Roe effectively permitted abortion through term, and thus did not reflect the thinking of most Catholics, or, for that matter, most non-Catholics.
Third, the Democrats falsely argue that their extreme pro-abortion stance is consistent with the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on conscience rights. It is not. The statement quotes the Catechism as saying, “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.”
That is a selective reading of paragraph 1790. The statement never mentions the next sentence: “Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.” Shortly thereafter (1792), it explains that among the expressions of ignorance is an “assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy” and a “rejection of the Church’s authority.”
Fourth, the Democrats invoke “separation of church and state” by claiming that Catholics cannot “impose our religious beliefs and customs on others who may not share them.” That’s true, but it has nothing to do with abortion. Opposition to abortion is grounded in science, as well as in the teachings of the Catholic Church.
It cannot go without saying that abortion is regarded by the Catholic Church as “intrinsically evil.”