Letters & Op-Eds 2001

Is There a Choice?

Phyllis Clark is off the mark when she says you cannot be a practicing Catholic and be for choice [“Abortion Is Not a Choice,” Letters, April 26]. A few examples of practicing Catholics who are for choice include former Gov. Mario Cuomo, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, and Sens. Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Mikulski. About one-third of Catholics in the US Congress are pro-choice.

Pro-choice is not pro-abortion. Pro-choice people have many different beliefs about the morality of abortion. For some it is almost never morally justified; for others it is often justified. What they agree on is that each woman must weigh her beliefs and circumstances without interference by the state and make her own decision. Four-hundred-thousand U.S. Catholic women weigh that choice each year and decide that abortion is morally correct for them. Hundreds of thousands of women of other faiths make the same decision.

Surely a good number of those Catholic women continue to practice their faith.

Only 20 percent of Catholics agree with the bishops that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Pro-choice Catholic legislators have been banned from speaking engagements in Catholic institutions, they have been castigated from the pulpit, but none of them-and no other Catholic advocate of choice-has ever been ex-communicated for their pro-choice views. Choice is the result of a well-formed and thoughtful exercise of conscience, which is one of the most traditional and sacred principles of Catholicism.

Frances Kissling

Editor’s Note: The writer is president of Catholics for a Free Choice.

This letter appeared in the 2 May 2001 edition of Newsday.

Catholics for Choice