Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Current US Election and Spectacularly Failed "Pro-Life" Politics of US Catholic Bishops

Catholic bishop Tobin of Rhode Island tweeted during last night's debate, "Joe Biden promises that if he’s elected president he will end division and bring the country together. It won’t happen. With his politically expedient embrace of a very extreme position on abortion, he’s already alienated half of the nation."

This is not true.  

And I find it hard to believe this bishop does not know he's speaking an untruth when he says half the nation wants abortion made illegal.  

60% of Americans support legalized abortion, and 56% of American Catholics do so.

One can want to diminish abortions without making abortion illegal and dangerous as it was in the past. 

One can choose to support leaders who see that people have jobs, access to healthcare, education, and food as a way to diminish abortions.  

Bishop Tobin surely knows this.

He is shamefully carrying water for a political party under whose leadership abortions INCREASE, which professes to be pro-life, but whose positions are, over and over, pro-death (see: pandemic).  

This is the opposite of credible moral and pastoral leadership.

Footnote: yesterday, New England Journal of Medicine made an overtly political statement and endorsement for the first time in its 208 years of distinguished service to the academic medical community. Its editorial is entitled "Dying in a Leadership Vacuum."

The editorial opens by stating flatly that American leaders have failed the test of leadership during the current pandemic, and have "taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy." The editorial then states,

The magnitude of this failure is astonishing. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China. The death rate in this country is more than double that of Canada, exceeds that of Japan, a country with a vulnerable and elderly population, by a factor of almost 50, and even dwarfs the rates in lower-middle-income countries, such as Vietnam, by a factor of almost 2000. Covid-19 is an overwhelming challenge, and many factors contribute to its severity. But the one we can control is how we behave. And in the United States we have consistently behaved poorly. 

The editorial concludes,

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs. 

How, precisely, do the "pro-life," pro-Republican, pro-Trump policies of far too many US Catholic leaders like Thomas Tobin respond to this sober, solid medico-political statement of one of the nation's most distinguished medical journals?

They can't respond. Not honestly. Because to do so would be to admit that the policies and "leaders" they have hotly defended have been for some time the opposite of anything meaningfully pro-life. 

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