Wednesday, June 13, 2007

From Sonoma

I am in Sonoma now working, as I said in the earlier post, on the Emmaus Road Initiative program for the fall. While here, of course, I am visiting with family and old friends, having lived in Sonoma for 35 years before moving East to be near St. Joseph's Abbey.

Last night I had dinner with some of my oldest and dearest friends, among them George Wesolek, who wears many hats, among them the director of public policy for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Apropos an earlier post in which I exhibited more frustration than irenic charity about the Church's approach to the most vociferous proponents of abortion and even partial-birth abortion, George shared with me an open letter to Speaker Pelosi in response to her reaction to the Supreme Court's upholding of the ban on partial birth abortion.

I want to share it with you:
I am writing this letter to ask you to reconsider your position on partial birth abortion.

What brought me to this was reading your quote in Sunday’s Chronicle about the Supreme Court’s decision on Partial Birth Abortion. You said, “This isn’t really an abortion issue.” You went on to say that this is “about a procedure that any parent would want her daughter to have access to if she needed it.”(Chronicle, April 22)

Frankly, I am horrified by that statement and the callousness that it represents. I do not know any parents that would want their grandchild to be killed in such a brutal manner. We are, after all, talking about a viable, almost full term human being, a child of God. I quote the same Chronicle article for a description of the process. “Rather than the more common practice of dismembering the fetus in the womb, the doctor partly removes the intact fetus from the uterus before aborting it, usually by puncturing its skull.”

Even these somewhat antiseptic words cannot hide the reality of what is happening. First of all, I do not know anyone who calls their unborn child or grandchild a “fetus.” It is a baby. This is just common sense. Other terminology: disarticulating a fetus (ripping the baby’s limbs off so it can more easily be suctioned out), separating the calvarium (sever the head with scissors) is meant to hide what every fourth grade elementary student knows about human biology – that this is a unique, wholly contained human being with its own genetic code and DNA, never to be replicated. Where this reality becomes very clear is in the case of late-term infants. That is why so many Americans, even those who call themselves pro-choice, are against this particular procedure.

So how can you attempt to further obfuscate the issue by saying that it isn’t about abortion but, rather, it is about the Supreme Court meddling in medical decisions because an exception was not made for the health of the mother? I quote Kathleen Parker from the Washington Post (April 23) commenting on the ruling: “The main argument from the pro-choice side, and the constitutional issue at stake, has been that the partial-birth abortion is sometimes needed to protect the health of the mother. But in no single court case were doctors able to demonstrate that it was ever a medical necessity.” (my italics) Unfortunately, this gruesome procedure is chosen for a myriad of other reasons, from the baby being an inconvenience to the indication of abnormalities. In any case, medical testimony given throughout the history of the case said that other safe methods are available.

I believe that you are out of the mainstream by supporting this particular form of abortion. By doing this you make people of good will, especially people of faith who believe in the sanctity of all life, skeptical. All of the good work that you do on the many things that are also part of our obligation to uphold life…your advocacy for the poor, the immigrant, the health and safety of born children, your work for peace, become mere footnotes to the most foundational issue of all that you continue to avoid or to speak abstractly about as if it were a mere medical procedure.

As the leader of your party, you have responsibilities far beyond this not let it define you as out of step with a civilized society.

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