By Bishop Arthur Serratelli
In 2014, the invitation of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at the Rutgers University commencement ceremony sparked controversy. When students and faculty disagreeing with her policies protested, she graciously withdrew from giving her address so as not to detract from the celebration of those graduating. In effect, the politically correct, instead of championing the freedom of speech, succeeded to squash any view contrary to theirs.
In 2015, students at Princeton University demanded that the name of Woodrow Wilson, the university’s 13th president, be removed from the School of Public and International Affairs. Outraged by his racial legacy, they wanted to erase his memory from the university. Commenting on this, Adriane Lentz-Smith, an associate professor at Duke University remarked, “Woodrow Wilson was a white supremacist. To say this of a southern-born Democrat from the early 20th century is no more remarkable than observing that Georgia clay is red or that hound dogs bay.”
In the case either of Condoleezza Rice or of Woodrow Wilson, it is the same ugly reality of one group demanding that all others conform to their views and judgments. Would that these two situations were the only cases of such intolerance! But, they are not. Recent reports of Catholic bashing by members of the political elite have fed into the narrative that the few can determine how the majority must think and act.
The elite have changed the political rhetoric in our country. We would be naïve not to notice. And, it is not just simply the lack of civil discourse in public debates and speeches that should alarm us. Much more damaging is the framing of social issues with a language that drips with gnostic intolerance.
In 2014, it was said that abortion should be rare. Today, it is demanded that abortion be available as a matter of “justice.” Justice for whom? Is justice applicable only to a mother? What about a child about to be born?
Pro-life politicians are now said to have “extreme views about women.” They are even compared to terrorists. How is it possible that those who defend the right of a child to be born and live are now labelled extremists by pro-abortion politicians and there is no outcry of injustice from the ordinary citizen?
Under the rubric of a woman’s health, avid pro-abortionists even defend the barbaric practice of partial birth abortions on babies late in pregnancy. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has strongly spoken out against this. He has said that “partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary to protect a mother’s health or her future fertility. On the contrary, this procedure can pose a significant threat to both.” And he is not alone in exposing the lie that supports partial-birth abortion.
The Physicians Ad Hoc Coalition for the Truth, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists have all said that partial-birth abortion is dangerous for both mother and child. In fact, if a woman late in her pregnancy becomes ill, it is possible for a doctor to save her life and the baby by inducing labor or by performing a Caesarian section. In reality, the only purpose of a partial-birth abortion is to terminate the life of the innocent child about to be born.
To be perfectly honest, abortion is not like any other social issue facing our country. It cannot be equated with capital punishment, poverty or even a woman’s rights. Abortion is the killing of innocent children in the womb; and, in the case of partial-birth abortion, the innocent children suffer great pain as their bodies are dismembered.
Pro-abortionists use the language of women’s rights and women’s health to disguise the intrinsic evil of abortion. How tragic is it that now supporting abortion is becoming the litmus test for an appointment to the Supreme Court of our land! The consequences of this will have far-reaching effects on the ethic of life and freedom of religion.
No Catholic can be faithful to the gospel of life and, at the same time, support or endorse, privately or publicly, policies that advance the killing of innocent children. Political rhetoric should not deceive us from working to remove from our midst the scandal of abortion.