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We should always consider, protect the unborn

Anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic

Anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis on June 4, 2019. Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

For several months, the American Civil Liberties Union has sent me mailers on a litany of issues, including inhuman policies by the Justice Department and President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. But they’re all really about abortion rights.

The ACLU seeks contributions that in part go to pay for its legal battles to keep abortion legal. So, instead, I sent the folks at the ACLU a one-sentence letter: “I don’t kill babies.”

White House hopeful Joe Biden long supported the so-called Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funding to pay for abortions. He has now backed off that position, saying he changed his stance because a health care proposal he’s working on for his presidential bid relies on expanding access to federally funding health insurance. If the Hyde Amendment is in place, people wouldn’t have access to abortion coverage through his proposal, which has yet to be released.

Biden’s position disturbs me. Presidents need courage, and America needs a president with courage.

And I’m afraid the Catholic Church is so deeply distracted by the sexual-abuse crisis that it is failing to protect the unborn.

It would help if the church put aside its opposition to contraceptives. Most theologians would agree that anyone engaging in sexual relationships should use contraceptives.

That brings me to the June 13 New York Times opinion piece by Rep. Pramila Jayapal. A Democrat from Washington, she explained why she decided to have an abortion and what it taught her about reproductive choice.

Her first child, whom she called “a miracle,” was born unexpectedly in India at 26.5 weeks, shortly before she and her husband were to return to the United States. The baby weighed only 1 pound, 14 ounces at birth. However, despite the baby’s weaknesses and illnesses, the child survived and recently graduated from college. But Jayapal developed postpartum depression, which lasted for years, and later divorced her husband.

Years later, she remarried. She wanted to have more children, but she writes that doctors advised her “that any future pregnancy would be extremely high-risk and could result” in a birth similar to her first child. She and her husband took precautions against getting pregnant, but she, in fact, got pregnant.

What to do? She considered her options, before deciding that she “could not responsibly have the baby.” She had an abortion.

Her main point, of course, is that every woman should be allowed to choose.

But after reading Jayapal’s op-ed, I went through the morning angry at her for killing a child and also at the Times for giving her all that op-ed space. I thought there was little consideration for human values or religious beliefs.

Then I went to community mass, and simply prayed that she be forgiven.

Raymond A. Schroth, a former Fordham University professor, is editor emeritus at America magazine.

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