Matt C. Abbott
Ted Kennedy's sad legacy
By Matt C. Abbott
August 27, 2009

It's quite sad to think that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Catholic, was once pro-life but became an ardent supporter of abortion "rights" and the death culture, ostensibly because his politics trumped whatever principles he may have had.

Obviously I don't know what happened in the senator's final moments — the moments between him and God. None of us do. But we do know the following about Sen. Kennedy's voting record with regard to right-to-life issues (hat tip: Jill Stanek):

    He voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP (March 14, 2008)

    He noted NO to increase funding to enforce the Child Custody Protection Act, previously passed in the Senate to stop interstate trafficking of minors for abortion without parental involvement (March 13, 2008)

    He voted YES to expand taxpayer funding of human embryonic experimentation, thwarting President Bush's moratorium (April 11, 2007)

    He sponsored legislation to force all hospitals, regardless of religious beliefs, to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault victims (September 26, 2006)

    He voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions (July 25, 2006)

    He voted YES on $100M to expand comprehensive sex education and availability of contraceptives to teens (March 17, 2005)

    He voted NO on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which made it a crime to harm a preborn baby during the commission of a violent crime (March 25, 2004)

    He voted NO on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (March 12, 2003)

    He voted NO on maintaining a ban against abortion on military bases (June 20, 2000)

    He voted NO on the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (October 21, 1999)

    He voted NO on banning human cloning (February 11, 1998)

The record speaks for itself, I'd say.

Catholic author and apologist Patrick Madrid writes on his blog (in response to leftist Catholic Sr. Maureen Fiedler):

    'Maureen, with all due respect, I can appreciate your nostalgia for the Kennedys, but I cannot understand why you would insist that Senator Edward Kennedy was a 'champion of the welfare of 'the least of these'' among us. He was not.

    'At best, Mr. Kennedy was highly selective as to which of 'the least among us' he would deign to defend. Case in point: Abortion. The senator established his record squarely on the extremist position of defending the legality of abortion. Many are not aware that he was originally publicly pro-life (I comment on the details of his transformation from pro-life to pro-abortion here).

    'As a result of Ted Kennedy's indefatigable championing of the pro-abortion movement, tens of millions of the 'least among us' — unborn girls and boys — were killed through abortion under his senatorial auspices.

    'Whatever his positive qualities may have been, and no doubt he had some, the tragic reality is that Senator Kennedy's long political career was squandered by his vociferous, relentless promotion of abortion. And that, sadly, will be his enduring legacy.

    'I agree with you that tears are appropriate upon hearing the news of this man's death, but not for the reasons you are crying them.'

Judie Brown, president of American Life League, released the following statement on the senator's passing:

    'For 50 years, the Kennedy brothers struggled to reconcile their Catholic faith with the public square. Sen. Edward Kennedy's legacy will, sadly, remain compromised in the eyes of faithful Catholics.

    'Kennedy claimed to be a Catholic while using his worldly power to condone and facilitate the deaths of innocent preborn babies. Kennedy emphatically defended their right to life in 1971, but tragically abandoned his Catholic principles as his presidential aspirations rose toward the end of that decade.

    'By breaking faith, Kennedy set a catastrophic precedent for 'Catholic' public officials to publicly dissent from fundamental Church teachings while continuing to identify themselves as Catholics.

    'As Sen. Kennedy's death provides a platform for others to applaud him as a historic figure, we mourn the loss of only God knows how many preborn children — lives snuffed out by this man's advocacy of abortion. God have mercy on his soul.

    'We extend our prayers to his family during this time of loss. As his death brings an era to a close, we pray that it will also mark a new era in which American Catholics will set a far more faithful standard for Catholic conduct in public life.'

© Matt C. Abbott


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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 HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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