>Western Tribune Column April 8, 2009

>This column has already angered some. But here it is:

To say that President Obama “favors the taking of life from the unborn” is a misinterpretation of policy if I have ever heard one. But that is part of the rhetoric being applied to the debate over the invitation by the University of Notre Dame for the president to speak at commencement.

For the Catholic Church to be so focused on abortion is not surprising. After all, anything to take the focus off of their own misgivings. Remember, this is the church that allowed Cardinal Bernard Law, the prelate who obstructed justice in the investigation of pedophilia in his own diocese, to remain a member in good standing, in fact, allowing him to run the third largest basilica in Rome.

Catholic universities have always been places where freedom of thought and differing opinions have been allowed. Thomas Reese, a distinguished fellow at Georgetown University, wrote that in denying the voices of people with different views, “We are admitting that our arguments are not convincing.” And Dick Meister, the former provost of DePaul University (the nation’s largest Catholic University), said that allowing Obama to speak “epitomizes Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.”

On the subject of abortion, if that’s what the Catholics in opposition to Obama want to talk about, a recent Gallup Poll released last week shows no difference between American Catholics and Non-Catholics on the issue. And the majority of Americans do not want to outlaw abortion, although they may want to limit the procedure to certain circumstances.

Our president, regardless of what one might want to believe, is more interested in preventing unintended pregnancies than in taking away a woman’s right to individual choice as a way to reduce abortion. If unintended pregnancies are significantly reduced, the number of abortions will decrease also. Is that so hard to understand?

On the other hand, if abortion were outlawed, abortions would continue, but would be less safe. I recently attended a presentation at UAB on what might happen if abortion were outlawed, by physicians who were practicing before it was legalized. Their predictions regarding the health of women were dire. I couldn’t help reflecting on Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s scoffing at the concern over the health of the woman when abortion was mentioned during a debate.

Many see the hypocrisy in the current debate and believe it’s just a way for Catholic Republicans to demean Obama.

Meanwhile, his approval ratings remain steady.

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