Joe Biden: Catholic Can be Pro-Abortion, Misstates Effect of Roe v. Wade

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 2, 2011   |   1:42PM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Joe Biden: Catholic Can be Pro-Abortion, Misstates Effect of Roe v. Wade

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 21
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Barack Obama running mate Joe Biden is coming under scrutiny for a new interview in which he says he thinks Catholics can support abortion. Biden also comes under fire for misstating the effect of Roe v. Wade and denying that it allows virtually unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy.

In the interview with the Delaware News Journal, Biden talks about how he can reconcile his pro-abortion views with his Catholic faith.

"It’s very difficult," Biden says. "I was raised as a Catholic, I’m a practicing Catholic, and I’m totally at home with the Catholicism that I was raised in and this whole culture of social responsibility."

Biden goes on to misrepresent the position of the Catholic Church on abortion in a way that has gotten him in trouble recently.

"But throughout the church’s history, we’ve argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it’s almost a gradation," Biden claimed.

In September, a previous mischaracterization of Catholic teaching earned Biden a rebuke from Catholic bishops.

Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, took Biden to task.

"The senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a ‘personal and private’ matter of religious faith, one which cannot be ‘imposed’ on others, does not reflect Catholic teaching," they said.

Biden tells the Delaware newspaper that he believes in the trimester-based approach to regulating abortions that allows more limits on abortions as the baby grows.

"I am prepared as a senator to say that the framework of Roe v. Wade based upon this imperfect trimester notion captures the gravity of how you should approach this most serious of decisions relating to life and death," he said.

But Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, says Biden "badly mischaracterizes the Supreme Court’s doctrines on abortion."

"In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the ‘core holdings’ of Roe v. Wade on a vote of 5 to 4," Johnson explained. "At the same time, the Court explicitly repudiated any distinction whatever between the first and second trimester, writing, ‘We reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe.’"

That is important because Roe actually allows unlimited abortions at any point in pregnancy, Johnson said.

"In the Roe original decision, and in many subsequent decisions, the Court made it clear that abortion had to be allowed for any reason through the second trimester," he said.

"Even after ‘viability,’ the Court said that states could not restrict abortion sought for reasons of ‘health’ defined to include ‘all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient,’" Johnson explained. "In other words, ‘health’ means whatever an abortionist wants it to mean."

Johnson goes on to say that the bill Obama supports in Congress that would overturn every abortion limit in all 50 states "would nullify any state or federal policy that would ‘interfere with’ access to abortion for any reason before ‘viability.’"

"The bill would also prohibit any law or policy that would interfere with access to abortion after ‘viability’ if justified by a ‘health’ claim — and states would be powerless to narrow the meaning of that all-encompassing term," he said.

As a result, the bill would make partial-birth abortion legal again, nullify all state parental notification laws, and require tax-funded abortion on demand in both federal and state health programs.

On July 17, 2007, Barack Obama stood before the convention of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and said, "The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do."

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