Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
For the first time in history, the vice presidential debate involved two Catholic candidates, by the end of the night, the differences between them could not have been more clear.
During last night’s debate, held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucy, the candidates sparred on a variety of issues such as terrorism, the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya, the economy and the debt, but their starkly different position on abortion provided a mirror image of the division among Catholics on this issue.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has a long pro-abortion voting history, professed to be a life-long Catholic who believes life begins at conception. However, he said, “I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people, women that they cannot control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor in my view, and the Supreme Court,” he said.
Neither Biden nor moderator Martha Raddatz challenged him on this typical but intellectually dishonest reasoning. In reality, by refusing to impose his pro-life view on others, he allows the pro-abortion view to be imposed instead. This is particularly offensive when a majority of the population now considers themselves to be pro-life. Raddatz should have asked him why he should allow the imposition of the pro-abortion view but the other side does not have an equal right to do so.
And Biden’s argument that abortion is a “decision between them and their doctor” sounds as tired as it is when you’re a man who supports legislation such as ObamaCare and the HHS mandate that would force taxpayers – even those who oppose abortion because of their religious beliefs – to foot the bill for this “private” decision. Funny how abortion and access to “women’s reproductive health” is always a private decision until it comes time to pay the bill – then it’s the public’s problem.
On the other hand, Congressman Ryan, who has a 100 percent pro-life voting record, was unequivocal in his pro-life position and made no apology for it. He told the story of seeing his first-born child, Liza, on an ultrasound screen ten years ago and how this shaped his belief that life begins at conception.
He also admitted that it’s more than just his Catholic faith which informs this belief – it’s also “reason and science,” he said.
While saying that he respects people with different positions, he unabashedly announced that “the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother.”
He also confronted Biden on the controversial birth control mandate which would require all employers, including religious employers, to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs.
“Our churches should not have to sue the federal government to maintain their religious liberties,” said Ryan.
Not surprisingly, after the debate, pro-abortion leaders were quick to raise the “war on women” battle cry anew.
“Let me be clear,” said Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The Romney-Ryan ticket is extremely dangerous to women’s health and Americans should be very concerned about the future of women’s health and rights if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win on November 6.”
Pro-life leaders also weighed in.
“Vice President Biden grossly misled the viewers and brushed over legitimate objections by people of all faiths to this administration’s unprecedented assault on religious organizations and individuals,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement issued immediately following the debate. “The HHS preventative services mandate forces Americans of faith and conscience to violate their beliefs and be directly responsible for paying for insurance programs which cover abortion-inducing drugs. Coverage for such drugs is not preventative women’s healthcare and the vice president’s response tonight demonstrated a shocking disregard for our first freedom.”
With the election less than 30 days away, and the latest polling shows Catholics to be leaning toward Governor Romney, most analysts say the race is still too close to call
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