WASHINGTON (BP)–Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s support for abortion rights is at odds with his own church, his own statements of three decades ago and the American public, recent reports indicate.
Kerry, who has a long record of pro-choice advocacy since his first election to the Senate in 1984, reaffirmed that commitment April 23 in Washington, telling a rally of abortion-rights supporters the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision “has never been more at risk than it is today. We are going to have a change in leadership in this country to protect the right of choice,” according to a report on LifeNews.com.
At the rally, held two days before the massive March for Women’s Lives, Kerry gained the endorsement of one of the country’s leading abortion-rights organizations. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, announced the first presidential endorsement by her organization’s political action fund. She called the Massachusetts senator “a consistent and passionate advocate for women’s rights.”
On the same day, however, the disparity between Kerry and the Roman Catholic Church gained in intensity. Cardinal Francis Arinze, a leading official at the Vatican, said priests should refuse communion to pro-abortion politicians.
In presenting a new document on the Mass, Arinze was asked at the news conference about “unambiguously pro-abortion” Catholic politicians such as Kerry. Those politicians, Arinze said, are “not fit” to receive communion, LifeNews reported. “If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given,” Arinze said.
When asked earlier whether Kerry should be served communion, Arinze said according to LifeNews, “The norm of the church is clear. The Catholic Church exists in the United States, and there are bishops there. Let them interpret it.”
The new document on worship says a person “conscious of a grave sin” should go to confession before receiving communion.
From the Vatican’s perspective, Arinze’s comments would appear to disqualify Kerry from being eligible for communion. That has not prevented him from continuing to receive communion at the Paulist Center in Boston. He partook of communion there on Easter Sunday, and LifeSite News reported he also received communion there the day after Arinze made his comments. The Paulist Center has a reputation for controversy, having welcomed practicing homosexuals, according to the report.
A controversy over Kerry’s support of abortion rights despite being a Roman Catholic has been mounting. He is not alone in disagreeing with the church’s pro-life stance. Many Catholic members of Congress vote in support of abortion rights.
A team of Catholic bishops is pondering how to handle politicians who violate church teaching but is not expected to issue a report until after the November elections, The Washington Times has reported.
Some pro-life Catholics have been urging their leaders to discipline pro-choice office holders who are members of the church.
“Imagine, just a few short days after meeting with Cardinal McCarrick [of Washington] and trumpeting the fact that he’s a Catholic ‘in good standing’ who received the Eucharist at Easter, he’s now a major speaker” at a gathering of abortion activists, Crisis magazine editor Deal Hudson said of Kerry, according to LifeNews. “Bill Clinton, certainly no friend to the pro-life cause, never once addressed an abortion rally in all his years as president. If Clinton wouldn’t even attend these events, what does it say that Kerry will?”
When Kerry unsuccessfully ran for the House of Representatives in 1972, however, he opposed abortion. LifeNews reported. In October, three months before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v. Wade ruling, Kerry told the Lowell (Mass.) Sun, “It’s a tragic day in the lives of everybody when abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child. I think that’s wrong. It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything, and I say that not just because I’m opposed to abortion but because I think that’s common sense.”
Kerry also said he thought the issue “should be left for the states to decide.”
Kerry’s wife, Teresa, apparently has moved on the abortion issue as well. Newsweek reported in its May 3 issue she said five years ago she was “not 100 percent pro-choice.” Teresa Kerry told Newsweek she no longer is able to use such qualifiers. “Ultimately you’re either for choice or you’re not, so I am,” she said, according to the magazine.
She also told Newsweek, “I don’t view abortion as just a nothing. It is stopping the process of life.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee’s position on abortion sharply contrasts with the majority of Americans, according to a new poll.
According to a Zogby International survey conducted April 15-17, 56 percent of Americans believe abortion should never be legal or legal only when the mother’s life is endangered or in cases of pregnancy from rape or incest. Of the 42 percent of those surveyed who disagree with the majority, 25 percent say abortion should be legal for any reason the first three months, 4 percent for any reason the first six months and 13 percent for any reason at any time during a pregnancy.
Based on Kerry’s voting record, which includes opposition to a ban on the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure, it appears only 13 percent of Americans hold his position on the issue.
Opposition to abortion is even stronger among young people and ethnic groups. Among 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed, 60 percent oppose abortion except to protect the mother’s life and in cases of rape or incest. Among African Americans, 62 percent oppose abortion with those limited exceptions. Among Hispanics, 78 percent oppose abortion with such limited exceptions.