During his speech to this year’s March for Life, President Trump called on Congress to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The proposed law does exactly what the name suggests it does – it bans killing unborn babies at the point when science shows they can almost certainly feel the pain of the abortion procedure, around 20 weeks.
Abortions after this point are typically performed via dismemberment – i.e. the abortionist inserts his forceps into the uterus, and then grabs individual appendages and twists them off. After that he crushes the baby’s skull and torso and pulls out the pieces.
Sometimes the abortionist administers a lethal injection to the baby’s heart first, but not always, and the injections don’t always work anyway. As late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart has testified, the baby is often alive during the abortion procedure. Given what we now know about fetal development, there is every reason to believe that the baby being aborted feels the excruciating pain of being literally torn apart, limb from limb.
A Horrible Vote
In other words, abortions after 20 weeks are unbelievably gruesome and inhumane. All abortions are, of course. But there is something so self-evidently horrific about abortions in the second trimester and beyond, that even many otherwise “pro-choice” people recoil when presented with the facts. So, you might ask: Who could possibly be against banning such abortions?
A lot of U.S. Senators, apparently. Sadly, last week the U.S. Senate voted 51-46 to reject the proposed law. Tragically, among those who voted against the law were at least 14 U.S. Senators who call themselves Catholic.
In a statement after the vote, President Trump blasted the “disappointing” vote for ignoring scientific facts, and for placing the United States alongside countries like China and North Korea as one of the very few nations that permits elective abortions after 20 weeks. “We must defend those who cannot defend themselves,” Trump said, “I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life.”
There is something truly diabolic about the cognitive dissonance required by a politician – or anyone else! – to maintain such an extreme pro-abortion position while claiming the mantle of “compassion.”
This was put on stark display a few days ago, after a Planned Parenthood affiliate tweeted out a story from the New York Times about a successful surgery performed on an unborn baby at 24 weeks gestation. The Planned Parenthood affiliate obviously believed that the story was a “good news” story. But after numerous people pointed out Planned Parenthood’s abject hypocrisy, they deleted the tweet. How can you support the healing of a baby, when you would gladly rip that same baby apart, if only his or her mother “chooses” to do so?
When faced with choice between supporting life and supporting death, Planned Parenthood enthusiastically chooses death.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s Warning
Those Senators who voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act also chose death.
That any Senator could do so in light of the testimony and evidence presented to the Senate is appalling. But there is something especially appalling when a politician who postures him or herself in public as a “Catholic” does so. Politicians such as these cause enormous scandal, conveying to their fellow Catholics the notion that one can both be a good Catholic and support the killing of the unborn. Unfortunately, most pro-abortion Catholic politicians do so with impunity, putting their own souls, and the souls of so many others, at risk.
It need not be this way. The Church has medicine that She can choose to administer.
In 2004, then-Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), sent a letter to the U.S. bishops, making abundantly clear that any Catholic politicians who obstinately support legal abortion, even after having been warned by their pastor, “must” be denied Communion. Though treated by many as a “controversial” political statement, it wasn’t. It’s just common sense.
If any Catholic politician openly supported the deliberate, cold-blooded murder of a single innocent human being in any guise other than abortion, there would be a public outcry. People inside the Church and out would be clamoring for the Church to take action. In the case of abortion, we have Catholic politicians supporting the systematic, legalized and even government-funded murder of scores of human beings.
Alas, Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter was initially concealed from the U.S. bishops, and, once leaked, downplayed and largely ignored. It is time to resurrect that document and put it into effect. As blogging priest Fr. Longenecker wrote this week, “What kind of Catholic Church are we if their pastors and bishops do not stand up publicly and rebuke these fourteen politicians?”
For a bishop to lovingly rebuke a member of his flock who has gone astray is not judgmentalism, or playing politics. It is an act of spiritual and physical compassion – both for the politician, who has put his or her eternal soul at stake, and also for the millions of unborn babies being aborted thanks to the callousness of pro-abortion politicians.
Heroic Sacrifice vs. Self-Serving Cynicism
Compare the self-serving cynicism of those Catholic politicians who voted to support late-term abortion – whether because they actually believe it is good, or in order to keep their Senate seats or to please their liberal donors – to the actions of the Holets family, whose heroism was profiled by President Trump in last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address.
Last year Ryan Holets, a police officer, came upon a pregnant homeless woman shooting up heroine. After warning the woman that she was going to harm her baby, the woman broke into tears, and told him that she wanted a safe home for her baby. At that moment, Holets said he knew God was telling him to step up to the plate. He went home to his wife Rebecca, who instantly agreed that they would adopt the woman’s baby. Even though they already had four children, that’s exactly what they did.
Which country would you rather live in? One composed of politicians who cynically condemn fully formed babies to be torn apart in the womb to protect their political careers, or a country full of people like the Holets, unhesitatingly making personal sacrifices to bring life and hope into a dark world?
The answer is obvious. People like the Holets are the backbone of a healthy, functioning democracy; their every-day heroic sacrifice is what keeps democracy from degenerating into selfish mob rule. Let me reiterate the quote from St. John Paul II that I included in last week’s column: “There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person’s dignity and without respect for his or her rights. Nor can there be true peace unless life is defended and promoted.”
Those Catholic senators who voted against Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act didn’t just vote against life; they voted against democracy, and they voted against peace. The Church, in Her concern for their immortal souls, and for the common good, has every right to call them to task using the most potent medicine at her disposal.