Friday, May 29, 2009

A Challenge to Catholics in Alliance / Catholics United

A while back I took Michael Sean Winters to task for falsely reporting the president's support of the Pregnant Women Support Act - a legitimate common ground effort to reduce abortion and support pregnant women. It has become commonplace for the president's Catholic supporters to applaud his plan to "reduce abortions" (a phrase he doesn't use) often tying that to his supposed support of the Pregnant Women Support Act.

The myth of the president's support for PWSA is now commonplace in the media and even the generally meticulous John Allen at NCR misreported the president's support of the bill. Commenting on L'Osservatore Romano's "first 100 days" editorial, Allen wrote that the author
also argued that Obama's support for the "Pregnant Women Support Act" represents a "rebalancing" of his abortion policies "in support of maternity."

L'Osservatore did not say the president supported PWSA and I pointed that out to Allen. He went back to the Italian and confirmed I was correct. No correction was ever made to the article however. (I'm not including Allen among those lying for the president. He's simply an example of how widespread the myth has become.)

Nat Hentoff today confirms the president's non-support of PWSA and challenged him to support the bill (h-t The American Catholic):
To be fair to the president, he did say at Notre Dame, as he has often before: "So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term."

There is just such a bill that has been introduced by two Democrats, Mr. President, in Congress: Lincoln Davis of Tennessee in the House and Robert P. Casey Jr. in the Senate. As reported in the valuable Catholic Weekly "Our Sunday Visitor" (May 24, 2009):

"The Pregnant Women Support Act includes a number of provisions to help women faced with ... Establish a federally funded, toll-free hot line to direct women to services that can provide them with assistance during and after their pregnancy. Provide support, including education grants and child care, to parents who are teenagers or college students. ...

"Require institutions that offer abortions to provide accurate information to pregnant women about their options, including adoption, and the potential short-term and long-term complications associated with abortion."

My column next week will provide more information about this measure, which should have been a law long ago. As of this writing, the offices of both Casey and Davis tell me there has been no word from the White House about supporting The Pregnant Women Support Act.

Mr. President, did you mean what you said at Notre Dame about "working together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions"?

Hentoff is not a Catholic. It's too bad the president's Catholic supporters have not yet issued the same challenge.

Last October, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver issued both a rebuke and challenge to certain members of the president's Catholic support team:
I think his [Doug Kmiec] activism for Senator Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.

I've reported here before that Catholics in Alliance/Catholics United is the president's campaign.

They would deny that, but it is certain they now have much influence with the president and in the Democratic party. Their original founding board member Melanne Verveer is now Ambassador for Global Women's Issues. Their Board Chair Elizabeth Frawley Bagley has been given broad duties in Secretary Clinton's State Department. One of their speakers/theological advisers, Miguel Diaz, is now nominated as Ambassador to the Vatican. And their co-founder Thomas Perriello is now a freshman congressman from Virginia.

Were they Catholics first and not merely an extension of the president's campaign (or jonesing for jobs), they would be "fighting within their parties . . . to protect the unborn." And yet, while they issue any number of statements defending the president's actions and challenging others - they have never publicly challenged the president.

Issuing a public call for the president to support the Pregnant Women Support Act would seem like a good place to start. And while they're at it, they could challenge Rep. Thomas Perriello to support the bill. The abortion rights supporter has yet to be added as a co-sponsor.