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Congressman Tim Ryan Comes Clean on Abortion Stance, but do His Reasons Hold Water?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Susan E. Wills - published on 01/30/15 - updated on 06/08/17

Here's how his rationales are easily refuted

And then there were two. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), a lifelong Catholic from the Diocese of Youngstown, and self-described pro-lifer, confirmed in an op-ed this week what has been pretty obvious for years: he’s going to openly side with supporters of abortion and broader access to contraception — although it’s difficult to see how access to contraceptives could be broader than being free everywhere for everyone, including minors without their parents’ knowledge. (A little known provision in Obamacare ensures that.) His retreat from pro-life principles means that all pro-life Democrat legislators on Capitol Hill can now caucus in a broom closet. Only Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Collin Peterson (D-MI) remain.

Ryan’s reasons for changing his “thinking” about abortion are, he writes, grounded in “one of the essential and highest teachings of [Catholicism] “judge not, lest ye be judged. I’ve heard firsthand from women … about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.”

This is hard to credit for several reasons. First, in opposing abortion and defending the right to life of unborn girls and boys, no one is passing judgment on the women who undergo abortions. They, too, are victims of the abortion industry and the abortion license that allows men to walk away from their moral obligations to their offspring and to the women they impregnated. With marriage, love and support off the table, girls and women are left alone to cope with “their” crisis, facing direct pressure from their partner to abort or the indirect pressure of abandonment. Some choice.

Second, “judge not, lest ye be judged” is hardly one of the “highest teachings” of Catholicism. It’s used, rather, as the refuge of scoundrels to silence debate on controversial issues. Humans are moral creatures; we naturally judge acts (and laws and Supreme Court opinions) as good or bad for individuals, families and society. Every law reflects a judgment call that these activities should be encouraged or those discouraged, depending on how they contribute to or undermine the good of individuals, families and society. I think most Catholics would agree that the new commandment given in Jesus’ Last Supper Discourse is the highest teaching of Catholicism:

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another 
(John 13:34-35).

Or, perhaps, one could point to the “Golden Rule”:

Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets(Matthew 7:12).

Or Jesus’ reply to the rich young man who asked what he must do to attain eternal life:

"If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."
He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (
Matthew 19:17-19).

The common refrain in all of these passages is to love, and refrain from killing others, including others who are not yet born.

Congressman Ryan explains that it was listening to the experiences of women who chose to abort in very difficult circumstances that convinced him he must advocate in favor of abortion, relying on the principle of nonjudgmentalism rather than the passages above and the constant teaching of the Church since the late first century Didache ("Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the Twelve Apostles") proscribed abortion: “

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Tags:
AbortionJesus ChristPoliticsPro-life
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