Cal  Thomas

John Kerry made a familiar statement about abortion last week. Bill Clinton said it before him. Many Democrats who wish to remain in the good graces as well as the political clutches of the abortion-rights lobby say it. Kerry said he wants to keep abortion "safe, legal and rare."

I understand "safe" (though it's never safe for the baby and often not the woman). I understand "legal" (though contemporary jurisprudence is shifting sand). I don't understand "rare." Unless the pre-born child is human and worthy of the law's protection, why care if abortion is rare or common? Is Kerry attempting to satisfy the tug of conscience deep within this professed Roman Catholic that the teachings of his church are true and that he needs a kind of moral cover - genuflecting in the direction of truth but making no effort to slow or stop abortions should he gain the power to do so?

The Vatican said last week that priests must deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. The Kerry campaign would not respond directly, but a spokesman, appropriately named David Wade (remember Roe vs. Wade?), reiterated Kerry's position on church-state separation that, he said "had helped make religious affiliation a non-issue in American politics."

Is the state the issue, or the church? If a Catholic politician, or one of any other faith, sees an injustice and acquires the power to right it, should he then be excused for behaving like Judas and selling his soul for political coinage? Doesn't such a "faith" lead one to conclude that person might be agnostic, and religion, for him, is merely a tool for hoodwinking the unsophisticated?

Put it another way: Suppose a hospital board decides the hospital should perform abortions. The pro-life administrator and several nurses protest to no avail. Doesn't their belief in the sanctity of life take precedence over their jobs? Would not God, or conscience, require them to resign instead of denying God or conscience and participating in an act they regard as immoral for the sake of a paycheck?

When Kerry and other Catholic politicians say they accept church teaching but selectively deny it when it comes to abortion, they place the state above the church and man above God. They mortgage their consciences to convenience and principle to pragmatism. Should such a person lead this nation?

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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