Biden’s Argument for Abortion is the Same Argument Democrats Used For Slavery

In the vice presidential debate last Thursday night, Joe Biden’s comments on how he justifies his enthusiastic support for “abortion rights” and still call himself a faithful Catholic were, as usual, morally and philosophically incoherent.  But he could care less:  Biden has answered the question a million times, in countless interviews, and now has his whole act down pat.  It’s part of the Catholic Democrat politician briefing book.

“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that, women, that they can’t control their body,” Biden told moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News, almost wiping a tear from his cheek. “It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court. I’m not going to interfere with that.”

In the mid-1960s, a gaggle of Democratic pols met at the Hyannisport compound of the Kennedy family to discuss how they were going to handle the politically inconvenient fact that they all wanted to pretend to be Catholics while still supporting legalized abortion.

The late Georgetown University law professor and former member of Congress, Fr. Robert Drinan, SJ, who became infamous for his public support even of partial birth abortion, met with the politicians and help to craft the “personally opposed but” dodge that Democrat pols have used for a generation.

“In some cases, church leaders actually started providing ‘cover’ for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights,” writes Anne Hendershott, author of The Politics of Abortion.  “At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a ‘clear conscience.’”

“The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book The Birth of Bioethics (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion.”

The arguments were refined throughout the 1970s until, in his famous speech at the University of Notre Dame in 1984, New York Governor Mario Cuomo said he was “personally opposed” to abortion but couldn’t “impose his morality” on the general public.  Without mentioning the role of their confreres in developing the arguments, the Jesuits at  America Magazine cheered (and continue to cheer!) Cuomo’s brave and prophetic statement.

Of course, the actual arguments Cuomo and Biden used are hardly new.  Democrats used the identical arguments to justify their enthusiastic support for slavery.  In the 1850s and ‘60s, Democrats then, just like Democrats now, said that abolitionists had no right to “impose their morality” on people who do not share their beliefs.   After all, some allegedly good Christians owned slaves.  If you don’t like slavery, the Democrats said, then don’t own slaves.  Today Democrats say that if you don’t like abortion, then don’t have one – just keep your “laws off my ovaries.”

It’s no coincidence, therefore, that in both cases – slavery and abortion – it took the U.S. Supreme Court to accomplish through force what the Democrats couldn’t achieve through democratic means.   In the Dred Scot decision, the Supreme Court ruled that blacks were not “persons” with rights as understood by the Constitution.  In the Roe v. Wade decision, the court did the same thing with regard to the unborn, declaring that unborn children in the womb have no constitutional rights until the moment of birth.

The irony of Joe Biden’s “personally opposed but” excuse is that, as a professional politician, imposing his morality on the general public is pretty much all Joe’s done his entire life. He has no problem forcing his moral views on the majority of the population opposed to Obamacare, for example.

The same thing was said about Mario Cuomo:  Even if you concede that abortion laws are “unenforceable” and cause more harm than good, as he claimed – a debatable proposition for the 30 million children killed over the past 40 years – surely the minimum required of someone who claims to accept Church teaching on the sanctity of life is that he or she deplores publicly the tragedy of abortion?

Yet observers point out that Cuomo, Biden and other “pro-choice” Catholics do no such thing:  Rather, they campaign aggressively for it… make speeches about how wonderful Roe v. Wade is… and demonize prolife activists who wish to pass parental consent laws and other reasonable restrictions found even in Europe.

Biden did that on Thursday night:  Vote for me, he said, because otherwise Roe V. Wade might be threatened… and wouldn’t that be horrible?

In short:  It’s all an act.  Biden is no more “personally opposed” to abortion than Caroline Kennedy or the head of NARAL-Prochoice America is.

If he was opposed, he wouldn’t act like Roe V. Wade is the greatest piece of jurisprudence to come down the pike since Brown v. Board of Education.

Robert Hutchinson


Robert Hutchinson studied philosophy as an undergraduate, moved to Israel to study Hebrew and earned an M.A. degree in Biblical studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible. He blogs at

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  • eyeclinic

    That photo of Biden reminds me of Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman…creepy!

  • Jane Sloan

    Robert, can you provide some resources that illustrate politicians’ use of “personally opposed but” language in regards to slavery?

  • Oct. 15th: Biden (like Pelosi), not only ‘supports’ the killing of the unborn baby, he aggressively promotes this anti-life agenda here and abroad. This agenda is absolutely evil and yet, good old Joe goes on smiling his toothy smile and laughing his soulless laugh…a time of reckoning is coming Joe…to to confession and stop playing the buffoon – that won’t win you a place in heaven but the devil is laughing right along with you – and at you because you are doing his bidding very well…

  • So true – the Demoncrats always had to blame a group of people for their failure. First it was the Blacks with their support of slavery, segregation and the KKK and its violent tactics. By the way the only time the Grand Wizard of the KKK spoke at a National political convention, it was to the Demoncrats. Now the unborn child is to blame for all the problems along with the fertility of women. Oh, I forgot the wealthy. ‘Always blame someone’ is the heart of their philosophy.

    Time to put them aside.

  • Poppiexno

    The real scandal (and I use that word as defined in the Catechism, #2284) is the behavior of the Bishops regarding these so-called “Catholics” in their flocks. If I am wrong on this, I beg to be corrected; but my perception is that the Bishops, with some exceptions, have been, by and large, rather passive in their response. I’ve written several times on this site that I remember that Archbishop Joseph Rummel, Archdiocese of New Orleans, excommunicated two persons for publicly opposing his plan to racially integrate the Catholic grammer schools. Is public opposition to racial integration worse than promotion of abortion?

  • John

    Not only that, but Catholics who support abortion through their acceptance of this lame political excuse, have to face up to the fact that they probably would have supported slavery 150 years ago, too. An opportunity for reflection.

  • Wayne G. Fischer

    [ that should be “…couldn’t care less…” ]

    From the USCCB web site document on “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” (p 8, paragraph 22):

    22. There
    are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because

    they are always incompatible with
    love of God and neighbor. Such actions are

    so deeply flawed that they are
    always opposed to the authentic good of persons.

    These are called “intrinsically evil”
    actions. They must always be rejected and

    opposed and must never be supported
    or condoned. A prime example is the

    intentional taking of innocent human
    life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our

    nation, “abortion and euthanasia
    have become preeminent threats to human

    dignity because they directly attack
    life itself, the most fundamental human good

    and the condition for all others” (Living
    the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake

    with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of
    innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on
    the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

    class clown Joe Biden may utter all the platitudes he wants about not imposing
    his morals on another, but he treats abortion as a matter of individual choice
    and supports the legal system’s enforcement of that choice – and is thus
    participating in an intrinsically evil action.

  • Robert Hutchinson



    Here is what Stephen Douglas (representing the Democrats) said in his
    first debate with Abraham Lincoln on August 21, 1858. He argues that northern abolitionist have no right to impose their (religious!) morality on the slave-holding southern states who do not share their views about basic human rights. Biden’s “personally opposed but” position sidesteps the fundamental human rights issue in the case of the unborn as Stephen Douglas’s argument did in the case of slavery.

    “I do not question Mr. Lincoln’s conscientious belief that the negro was
    made his equal, and hence is his brother; but for my own part, I do not regard
    the negro as my equal, and positively deny that he is my brother or any kin to
    me whatever. Lincoln has evidently learned by heart Parson Lovejoy’s catechism.
    He can repeat it as well as Farnsworth, and he is worthy of a medal from Father
    Giddings and Fred Douglass for his Abolitionism. He holds that the negro was
    born his equal and yours, and that he was endowed with equality by the
    Almighty, and that no human law can deprive him of these rights which were
    guaranteed to him by the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Now, I do not believe
    that the Almighty ever intended the negro to be the equal of the white man. If
    he did, he has been a long time demonstrating the fact… That policy of Illinois is satisfactory to
    the Democratic party and to me, and if it were to the Republicans, there would
    then be no question upon the subject; but the Republicans say that he ought to
    be made a citizen, and when he becomes a citizen he becomes your equal, with
    all your rights and privileges. They assert the Dred Scott decision to be
    monstrous because it denies that the negro is or can be a citizen under the
    Constitution. Now, I hold that Illinois
    had a right to abolish and prohibit slavery as she did, and I hold that
    Kentucky has the same right to continue and protect slavery that Illinois had
    to abolish it. I hold that New York had as much right to abolish slavery as
    Virginia has to continue it, and that each and every State of this Union is a
    sovereign power, with the right to do as it pleases upon this question of
    slavery, and upon all its domestic institutions. “

  • “Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.” It’s amazing to me how people have somehow grown holier that Jesus Himself, at least on the internet….

    My friend went to her prenatal checkup at 7mths pregnant, excited to be a new mother, though a little scared and nervous to, she could not wait to meet her little blessing. Unfortunately, that day would never come for her and that baby because his little heart stopped beating. The Catholic hospital she went to in Camden NJ could have performed a procedure that would have helped alleviate some of her distress and help to keep her safe from what would eventually poison her and kill her, her own baby. Instead, they refused to perform the procedure and risked her life, because the reality is they had no idea when the baby’s heart stopped beating. Her last checkup was two weeks prior so she could very well of only had minutes left as they sent her on her way. Why would somebody, a health care professional, of a Catholic institution, be so careless with a woman’s life?? Because that procedure was called an abortion, even though that baby died, it is still called an abortion.

    How many women will you condemn to death before you realize you are not pro life? I am 100% against abortion as a form of birth control, it is sick and disgusting to be so careless towards an amazing little life growing inside of you. BUT the fact is, when abortion is illegal, women die for no reason (when a fetus’ heart stops beating, the mother has about 7 days before it poisons her, tubal pregnancies burst and kill both mother and child, as well as many other scenarios ending in both mother and fetus death) other than to allow “pro-lifers” to feel holier than others.