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Famous quotes on abortion issue provide perspective for election

We are three months from the election and in this and my next two columns, I’d like to tackle a few specific public policy issues about which the U.S. bishops speak in "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." The first of these is the issue of abortion.

While it is certainly true there are many issues that touch on the common good, the church has been remarkably clear that abortion cannot be treated as just one issue among many. Abortion is the single most decisive social justice issue of our time. Whether one measures the destructive force of legalized abortion in the number of people harmed or by types of damage, no other issue involves so many deaths, so much violence or so much damage to family and society.

In light of this, I want to share with you some quotations about abortion from people we are not always used to hearing on the subject.

"Well, we’re living in an era of genocide … We do believe that there is not only the genocide of war … but, the whole program … of birth control and abortion, is another form of genocide."

That quotation comes from a 1971 interview with Servant of God Dorothy Day, who had an abortion when she was a young woman. Additionally, Dorothy signed her name to the 1974 Catholic Peace Fellowship Statement on Abortion, which read in part that "No one has the right to choose life or death for another; to assume such power has always been recognized as the ultimate form of oppression."

Then there is this statement: "I don’t see how you can subscribe to the consistent ethic and then vote for someone who feels that abortion is a ‘basic right’ of the individual. I know that some people on the left, if I may use that label, have used the consistent ethic to give the impression that the abortion issue is not all that important anymore, that you should be against abortion in a general way but that there are more important issues, so don’t hold anybody’s feet to the fire just on abortion. That’s a misuse of the consistent ethic, and I deplore it."

Those wise words were spoken by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, the man who came up with the "consistent ethic of life" language the U.S. bishops still use in order to help form and inform Catholics about how we should approach public policy.

Finally, "Here I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the ‘property’ of another human being." Pope Francis wrote these words in his most recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, "Amoris Laetitia."

According to these three Catholic luminaries, abortion is a genocide; it is oppression; it can never be a "basic right"; it is a horrendous contradiction to what family is. I beg all Catholics to work as hard as they can to end the genocidal oppression of legalized abortion in our country and the efforts to force taxpayers to pay for them.

Next month, I’ll write about capital punishment.


Omar Gutierrez is manager of the archdiocesan Office of Missions and Justice. Contact him at

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