Did John Kerry Lie About Abortion?

While the Democratic primary has gotten more interesting with Senator John Edwards’ strong showing Tuesday in Wisconsin, it still looks like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts will be going head-to-head with President Bush in this fall’s election. This makes things interesting for voting Catholics — after all, Kerry likes to tout his Catholic faith to prospective voters.

Of course, this isn't always an easy thing to do, given the senator's strong support of abortion.

His strategy for getting away with this, though, is the same one used by so many “Catholic” politicians: He claims that while he's personally opposed to abortion, he can't let his religious belief get in the way of his policy-making.

In fact, he told a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that, “What I believe personally as a Catholic as an article of faith is an article of faith. And if it's not shared by a Jew or an Episcopalian or a Muslim or an agnostic or an atheist or someone else, it's not appropriate in the United States for a legislator to legislate your personal religious belief for the rest of the country.”

Furthermore, Kerry's Deputy Communications Director, Dag Vega, confirmed with us that the senator is “personally opposed” to abortion while still remaining pro-choice publicly and politically.

Now, the “personally opposed” nonsense is easy enough to answer, and many have done it before. Obviously, abortion isn't a matter of faith but a matter of the right to life that is promised every American in the Constitution. You certainly don't have to be Catholic — or even religious — to believe that.

But let's put all that aside for the moment…

What if I told you that John Kerry might not be telling the truth about being “personally opposed”?

No, I'm not presuming to read Kerry's mind. In this case, I don't have to…his statements on the matter speak for themselves. Not only are they not the words of someone who considers abortion a tragic necessity, but Kerry proves himself an ardent supporter of the growth of the abortion industry, both here and around the world.

But don't take my word for it. Have a look at what Kerry said at last year's NARAL Pro-Choice America Dinner:

“I think that tonight we have to make it clear that we are not going to turn back the clock. There is no overturning of Roe v. Wade…. There is no outlawing of a procedure necessary to save a woman's life or health and there are no more cutbacks on population control efforts around the world. We need to take on this president and all of the forces of intolerance on this issue. We need to honestly and confidently and candidly take this issue out to the country and we need to speak up and be proud of what we stand for.”

Did you catch that? Not only should abortion be available to all American women, all the time, but it should be used as a population control valve around the world. And this is something we should “be proud of.” Not what you'd expect from someone who's “personally opposed” to abortion.

And this isn't an isolated comment…

From the Boston Herald on January 23, 2001: “I will not back away from my conviction that international family planning programs are in America's best interests. We should resist pressures in this country for heavy-handed Washington mandates that ignore basic choices that should belong to free people around the globe.”

Kerry's support for “international family planning programs” — a standard euphemism for “abortion” — is an issue he's advocated for some time. If Kerry is telling the truth about being “personally opposed” to abortion, why is he trying to spread it worldwide? That would be like me saying, “I personally oppose watching television, and it's about time we get a television in every home.”

And then there's this gem from the 1994 Congressional record: “The right thing to do is to treat abortions as exactly what they are — a medical procedure that any doctor is free to provide and any pregnant woman free to obtain. Consequently, abortions should not have to be performed in tightly guarded clinics on the edge of town; they should be performed and obtained in the same locations as any other medical procedure…. [A]bortions need to be moved out of the fringes of medicine and into the mainstream of medical practice. And by the same token, if our children are to be safe from the danger of fanaticism, tolerance needs to spread out of the mainstream churches, mosques, and synagogues, and into the religious fringes.”

Abortion is simply “a medical procedure”? If that were true, then on what grounds could he possibly be personally opposed to it? He certainly doesn't seem to be struggling with the issue here. And how exactly does he propose to “spread tolerance” to the “religious fringes”? Presumably, he's referring to the people who, as an article of faith, believe abortion to be immoral. But doesn't he claim to be one of those very people?

It just doesn't look like John Kerry is telling the truth on this. When he talks to Catholic and Hispanic groups, he plays up his personal struggle with abortion and his respect for Church teaching. But when his audience is less religious, he suddenly turns into a pro-abortion crusader.

In the end, his “personally opposed” rhetoric doesn't fly… Kerry clearly isn't personally opposed to abortion. It's just a dodge he's using to pander to religious voters.

I wonder how many Catholics will fall for it.

Deal Hudson is editor and publisher of CRISIS Magazine. You can reach him via email at hudson@crisismagazine.com.

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