On Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Abortion

Last week, when I first heard about a Roman Catholic priest who told his congregation they shouldn’t partake of Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama, I was ready to dismiss the news as another example of extremism.

But later, when I read about the priest’s position, I realized something worthy of attention is going on here.

The priest says parishioners who supported Obama should abstain from communion in order to do penance for voting for a “pro-abortion politician.”

Pro-abortion? It’s a term that’s quietly been infiltrating the American lexicon.

Even so, this incident seems to have taken this disturbing term too far. And, as a writer and a woman, I feel compelled to set the record straight.

A person can be pro-choice without being pro-abortion. Let’s be perfectly clear: Supporting a woman’s right to choose is not the same as promoting abortion. In fact, many women and men who are pro-choice favor sex education, increased availability of contraception, and alternatives, like adoption, to terminating a pregnancy. Still, because a woman’s body is her own, the abortion decision remains highly personal. In other words, it’s a woman’s choice. It bears repeating: Pro-choice and pro-abortion aren’t the same.

This particular priest’s stance, and the position of the Roman Catholic Church, whose U.S. bishops last week vowed to confront the Obama administration and fight what they call “aggressively pro-abortion policies,” misleads Catholics and the rest of the thinking public with its word choice. Such terminology fuels anger and divisiveness, and does not advance the Catholic Church’s cause.

As a woman who was raised Catholic, years ago I took issue with what I perceive to be the Church’s general lack of gender equality and its position on women’s reproductive rights. Basically, a group of supposedly celibate men has decided that the Church doesn’t condone contraception or abortion, under any circumstances. There’s something wrong with this picture.

Be that as it may, organizations, even religions, elect officials, and those in charge make the rules. And those rules leave every follower to decide how and if her faith and femininity can coexist.

However, and this is a big however, members of any group deserve direct, honest communication from those in charge. Workers expect it from their employers. Citizens demand it from government leaders. And parishioners have a right to expect the same from their priests.

President-elect Obama is not pro-abortion.

Paula Santonocito
Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com