Abortion and the Politics of Intimidation: Barry Lynn vs. The Catholic Church

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 26, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion and the Politics of Intimidation: Barry Lynn vs. The Catholic Church

by Dave Andrusko
October 26, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. He frequently writes Today’s News and Views — an online editorial column on pro-life issues.

"Media coverage of John McCain has been heavily unfavorable since the political conventions, more than three times as negative as the portrayal of Barack Obama, a new study says." — From the Washington Post, referencing a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"The [Associated Press] poll, which found Obama at 44 percent and McCain at 43 percent, supports what some Republicans and Democrats privately have said in recent days: that the race narrowed after the third debate as GOP-leaning voters drifted home to their party and McCain’s ‘Joe the plumber’ analogy struck a chord." — From "AP presidential poll: Race tightens in final weeks," which ran yesterday.

I start this edition with this reminder: despite an avalanche of negative press coverage, pro-life Sen. John McCain is much closer to pro-abortion Sen. Barack Obama than most polls are suggesting. One of the reasons that the race has tightened, I believe, is because of Joe Wurzelbacher–"Joe the Plumber."

By that I am not talking about the substance of that now famous meeting between one average American and Sen. Obama. That is beyond our purview.

Rather I am talking about the assault launched against Mr. Wurzelbacher, the objective of which was to turn the conversation away from what Sen. Obama actually said and to excoriate Mr. Wurzelbacher for reasons that had nothing to do with their exchange. People are beginning to realize that this could have been them!

I thought of that example of the politics of intimidation when I read "Group asks IRS to investigate Catholic bishop against Obama," a story that was reprinted in USA Today this morning. Let me quote the first two sentences:

"WASHINGTON — A church-state watchdog group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Roman Catholic bishop of Paterson, N.J., violated tax laws by denouncing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama. In a letter sent to the IRS [today], Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli of illegal partisanship for lambasting Obama’s support of abortion rights."

I read Bishop Serratelli’s column, which was posted on the Diocese of Paterson’s web site and published in its weekly newspaper. Make no mistake, it was hard-hitting and uncompromising. Its primary focus was the "Freedom of Choice" (FOCA).

But it endorsed no one, it told no one how to vote. Neither Sen. John McCain nor Barack Obama was mentioned by name. What it did was to lay out in no uncertain terms what will happen if FOCA becomes the law of the land.

This cut no ice with the president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rev. Barry Lynn. (It is interesting that the organization ordinarily goes by "Americans United.") Lynn "said it is ‘impossible to interpret this passage as anything but a command to vote against ‘the present Democratic candidate’ because of his promise to sign a certain piece of legislation disfavored by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy.’"

Just so we’re clear. Rev. Lynn’s position appears to be that no Catholic prelate, or anyone else in the faith community, should be allowed to criticize a candidate for his position on an issue of critical importance to that faith community because that is tantamount to "command[ing]" parishioners to vote against that candidate. Wow!

The fundamental irony is that Bishop Serratelli not only explained how FOCA would result in the spilling of the blood of "the innocent and vulnerable," but also that "many of our freedoms as Americans [would] be taken from us." That is exactly what the Rev. Lynn is trying to do with this proposed IRS investigation: muzzle Catholic clergy.

But ask yourself this, which goes beyond the specifics of this particular situation. If the impact of what Sen. Obama has proposed in a given area goes almost without comment, let alone explanation, in the "mainstream media," how will the American people know what he stands for if others outside the media bubble don’t tell the truth?

For example, Sen. Obama has promised a constituency–Planned Parenthood–that the first thing he would do as President is sign FOCA. But how many people know what FOCA would do?

How many know, for example, that "FOCA goes far beyond guaranteeing the right to an abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It arrogantly prohibits any law or policy interfering with that right," as Bishop Serratelli wrote. Or that

"While advocates trumpet this law as the triumph of the freedom of choice, they hide the dark reality that the law would actually inhibit choice. Laws protecting the rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion would no longer stand. Health and safety regulations for abortion clinics would also vanish. Gone the freedom of health care professionals to be faithful to the Hippocratic Oath…Gone the freedom of conscience so essential for a civil society!’

Alas, there is more. FOCA "would force taxpayers to fund abortions," "nullify" a Woman’s right to know laws, and "abolish" parental notice and consent laws. And beyond all that, FOCA would make partial-birth abortions legal again.

As the election grows closer, keep a keen ear open. Sen. Obama’s campaign, and his pro-abortion Democratic allies in congressional leadership positions, are so confident they are beginning to let slip what they intend for those who disagree with them. If that doesn’t perk up your ears, I’m afraid nothing will.

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