Matt C. Abbott
Abortion: a matter of religious freedom?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+
By Matt C. Abbott
October 18, 2012

The Catholic bishops, who rightly oppose the Obama administration's grossly unjust HHS mandate, are united in promoting freedom of religion. And on Oct. 20, pro-lifers of various denominations will be rallying once again in support of religious freedom. (Click here to find a rally near you.)

But what about those who claim that abortion itself is a matter of religious freedom? Consider: In 1998, more than 700 pro-abortion rabbis signed a letter using the 'freedom of religion' argument to support President Clinton's veto of the partial-birth abortion ban. (Click here to read the text of the letter.)

I asked Eric J. Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and co-director of the Oct. 20 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally, to respond to the following question:

"What is the best response to abortion advocates who have asserted, and may assert even more boldly in the near future, that abortion is a 'religious right'; that outlawing or even restricting abortion in any way is a violation of religious freedom?"

Eric's response (slightly edited):
    While the United States was founded on strong principles of religious liberty and pluralism, religious freedom is not an absolute freedom. In particular, that freedom cannot impinge on more fundamental freedoms like the right to life.

    For example, one could not legitimately claim a right to engage in human sacrifice — a practice common to many religions in the ancient world — as a matter of religious liberty. Similarly, one could not claim a 'religious exemption' from any future law banning or restricting abortion.

    Moreover, there is a logical flaw in such reasoning. One's religious doctrines may say that abortion is morally permissible, but it does not thereby become compulsory to get an abortion. It is not a violation of your conscience to be required to forgo an activity that your conscience says you may do, but not that you must. In fact, it's quite strange to contemplate bearing a child as somehow being an immoral act, or one that violates one's religious beliefs.

    The Obama administration's HHS mandate stands in stark contrast. It does, in fact, compel people to violate their consciences by directly participating in something they consider immoral, namely, helping others to procure contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

    HHS mandate apologists might point to other cases in which citizens are compelled to fund activities they disagree with, like pacifists forced to fund wars through their tax dollars. However, in such cases there is a clear national interest at stake. You can't say the same for the HHS mandate, which compels employers to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, despite the fact that these things are widely and cheaply available.

    There is no crisis of contraceptive access in the United States. It's pure fiction to say otherwise. Making contraceptives slightly less expensive for the women who choose to use them — almost never purely for reasons of health — is not urgent enough a national interest to justify dismantling decades of bipartisan consensus on freedom of conscience.


Related links:

Casti Connubii

Humanae Vitae


© Matt C. Abbott

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by Matt C. Abbott: Click here

More by this author

 

Stephen Stone
'The fervent prayer of the righteous'

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Busted: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Rev. Austin Miles
Trump did NOT incite D.C.riots!

Curtis Dahlgren
Good news: We made progress in race relations, until (?)

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Abortion: 'Once to every man and nation'

Cherie Zaslawsky
The checkmating of America

Louie Verrecchio
MISSING: The seasonal flu

Judie Brown
Anniversaries, deaths, and terror

Cliff Kincaid
Trump will dance on the grave of the GOP

Matt C. Abbott
Joe Scheidler and Mike Busse, R.I.P.

Jim Wagner
True lies and alibis

Victor Sharpe
Weep for America

Rev. Mark H. Creech
A prayer for the president and vice president of the United States and their administration, for justice, peace, and fre

Judie Brown
An open letter to Joseph Biden: Redefining Catholicism
  More columns

Cartoons


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons

RSS feeds

News:
Columns:

Columnists

Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites