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Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog and Commentary

Catholic Bishops responds to Nancy Pelosi on the beginning of life

  • Dr. Warren Throckmorton
    Dr. Warren Throckmorton
    Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at Grove City College (PA). He co-founded the Golden Rule Pledge which advocates bullying prevention in evangelical churches. His academic articles have been published by journals of the American Psychological Association and he is past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. He is the author with fellow Grove City College professor, Michael Coulter, of the book, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President. Over 200 newspapers have published his columns. He can be reached at ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu.
  • 2008 Aug 26
  • Comments

Nancy Pelosi tried to help Barack Obama on when life begins in a recent interview with Tom Brokaw. According to the American Catholic Bishops, she got it wrong. Here is the Pelosi interview and the Bishop's statement.

MR. BROKAW:  Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker.  When does life begin?" what would you tell him?


REP. PELOSI:  I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time.  And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition.  And Senator-St. Augustine said at three months.  We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose.  Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child-first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester.  There's very clear distinctions.  This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and-to-that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god.  And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins.  As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided...


MR. BROKAW:  The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it...


REP. PELOSI:  I understand that.


MR. BROKAW:  ...begins at the point of conception.


REP. PELOSI:  I understand.  And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that.  So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.  But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions.  And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions.  That's why we have this fight in Congress over contraception.  My Republican colleagues do not support contraception.  If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must-it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think.  But that is not the case.  So we have to take-you know, we have to handle this as respectfully-this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been-and I'm not saying Rick Warren did, because I don't think he did, but others will try to.


MSNBC

 

The Catholic Bishops respond.

Bishops respond to House Speaker Pelosi's misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion

 

WASHINGTON--Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.