Thou Shall Not Foist

Nancy Pelosi, a self-declared Catholic, has been formally excommunicated by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone because of her strong and persistent affirmation of abortion.  On May 3, 2022, she stated that the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, would be an “abomination.”  In so saying, she could not have made her rejection of Church teaching more transparent.  According to Vatican II, “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception:  abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”

Mrs. Pelosi, however, is not without a strong moral sense.  Although she does not object either to abortion or, in some instance, to infanticide, she is critical of pro-lifers who immorally “foist” their views on others.  Her word, “foist” is well-chosen.  It means to insert or introduce surreptitiously something that is inferior or unwarranted.  The following are two examples of how it can be used in a sentence: “The government has decided to foist another tax increase on the public,” or “The Company has decided to foist imperfect goods on unsuspecting consumers.”

One can heartily agree that “foisting” is a bad thing and cannot be justified.  Therefore, Nancy is correct to oppose it.  But she is not correct in accusing pro-life advocates of this wrongdoing.  In the nearly fifty years since Roe v. Wade, pro-life advocates have been engaged in a thoughtful discussion of abortion.  One finds in periodicals such as The Human Life Review, First Things, Linacre Quarterly, Ethics & Medics, and other outlets, a fair-minded and intelligent presentation on the subject.  They feature sensitive and realistic contributions from outstanding writers from science, law, sociology, philosophy, theology, and literature.  These writers are not “foisting” but enlightening.  We should not foist.  That should go without saying. But neither should we misrepresent.  Sharing knowledge is not “foisting”; it is educating.  Mrs. Pelosi seems solidly against education, at least on the subject of abortion.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, pro-abortion advocates have been stuck in a quagmire for the past fifty years in shallow and irresponsible rhetoric: “my choice,” “my body,” “my future,” etc.  If there is any “foisting” going on, it is from the pro-abortion side.  If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will not be because the Court is foisting an erroneous opinion on the public, but simply because it recognizes that there is no provision in the United States Constitution that justifies abortion.  The Court would not be guilty of foisting anything on anyone.  It would simply be acting in accordance with the Constitution.

In a similar way of dodging the issue of abortion, President Biden has stated repeatedly that he would never “impose” his Catholic views on the public.  In so saying, he appears to be an open-minded champion of the separation of church and state.  In stating his position, however, he makes two egregious mistakes.  The first is that opposition to abortion is not peculiarly Catholic.  Abortion is fundamentally a humanitarian issue.  “Thou shall not kill” was directed not only to Catholics (there were not any around at the time of the Old Testament writers) but to all human beings.  If Biden were consistent, he would have said: “I am a human being, but I will never impose my humanitarian views on the public.” And where would that leave him?

The second error is in equating service with “imposing.”  To “impose,” in Biden’s use of the term, means to force upon someone that which is not welcomed (“The decision was theirs and not imposed by others”).  One does not impose, however, when he assists in securing what people need.  In this sense, he is not imposing, but serving or ministering.  Not to know the difference between “imposing” and “serving” should disqualify anyone from public service.  It is most unfortunate that this distinction is lost on the president of a country.

I recall debating Eleanor Pelrine, a staunch pro-abortionist who had written a book on Canada’s most prominent (and notorious) abortionist, Henry Morgentaler.  During the debate, I cited the Wynne Report, an extensive report on the medical knowledge available at the time culled from leading medical journals.  The report, issued in Britain by highly respected researchers, was neither pro- nor anti-abortion.  But the researchers recommended that, given its many adverse consequences, abortion should not be obtained unless the woman has completed her family.  According to Mrs. Pelrine, the Wynne report had been refuted by the Shadd (?) Report.  I thought it was exceedingly odd that one report could negate all the scientific findings of a myriad of highly respected medical journals representing several countries.  I told her that I was unfamiliar with such a report and asked her if she would be kind enough to send me a copy.  She promised to do so, but I was not hopeful.  The years have passed and Mrs. Pelrine has left the stage.  My chances of ever receiving a copy of that mysterious Report are not looking very good.  Had I thought of it during the debate, I could have said, “Oh, the Binge Report has refuted the Shadd Report.”  I think I was “foisted upon” by a reference to something that never existed.

In order to maintain a pro-abortion position one must resort to chicanery and projection.  First, attack the opponent with hollow rhetoric; secondly, project you own inadequacies onto them.  In this way deceit triumphs over enlightenment.  Pelosi and Biden have pulled the wool over the eyes of many Americans.  In Pelosi’s case, her excommunication is because her position on abortion is hostile to Catholic teaching and a scandal to Catholics. But underlying that, she is excommunicated from the citizenry of rational beings insofar as she is guilty of rejecting reason.  And here is one of the tragic consequences of abortion, that the attempt to defend it ultimately causes one to lose his mind.

Avatar photo


Dr. Donald DeMarco is Professor Emeritus, St. Jerome’s University and Adjunct Professor at Holy Apostles College.  He is is the author of forty-two books and a former corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy of Life.  Some of his latest books, The 12 Supporting Pillars of the Culture of Life and Why They Are Crumbling, and Glimmers of Hope in a Darkening World, Restoring Philosophy and Returning to Common Sense and Let Us not Despair are posted on  He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.  

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage