Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old by John E. McInerney

To one and all:

Every year, as part of the Pro-Life Breakfast the Ancient Order of Hibernians hosts on January 22nd before the Right to Life March, I usually give a talk or write an article, or both. This year it was held at the Irish Channel in Washington, DC. I wish to share my 2012 article with you.

Senator Kennedy on “the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old”

by John E. McInerney

Political flip-flops bounce around the political news these days during this 2012 election season. Words uttered or opinions expressed decades agocan be instantly quoted, sometimes to a politician’s embarrassment. 

The late Edward Kennedy’s 47 years in the US Senate brought him to top leadership positions and roles. Many times if Kennedy supported a piece of legislation, others who respected him often voted the same way Senator Kennedy voted. Known as a powerhouse and a leader, he earned the title of “lion of the 
Senate.” His support of an issue was often persuasive that it often carried the day. His opposition to an issue was often hard to counter.  

In the Senate when the issue of abortion came up for debate and discussion since 1973, Kennedy could be counted on to support the right of a woman to abort her unborn baby. Since Roe vs. Wade, he held that the Supreme Court ’s decision was the law of the land and we had an obligation to obey the 
law. This is the way many lawyers reason. Ted Kennedy was liberal.

However, traditionally at one time, liberals stood up for the rights and dignity of human beings. They believed in a just wage for work performed. However, they would work hard to cheat the hangman and the abortionist of their wages because of their respect for human dignity and life. Tragically, somewhere along the line the abortion lobby seized control of the Democratic Party. Today the issue is not even debatable or negotiable in the party’s platform. Democratic candidates and office holders must 
fall into step with the new doctrine of the Democratic Party if they want to be re-elected and move up in its leadership. Sadly, principle and listening to one’s conscience has taken a back seat for so many Catholic Democrats to the gospel proclaimed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice 

It came as a surprise to many others and me when a copy of a 1971 letter Senator Kennedy wrote on his pro-life views on abortion. Here is some of what Senator Edward Kennedy wrote to Thomas Dennelly of Great Neck, New York in his 1971 letter.  

“Dear Mr. Dennelly: 

”I appreciate your letter containing your views on abortion. There are many moral and legal aspects arising from this complex issue which is gaining the acceptance of large numbers of women faced with unwanted pregnancies, while disturbing the consciences of a great many other Americans.

”Opponents maintain that abortion is wrong from every theological, moral and medical aspect. Proponents are firmly convinced that the woman, alone, has the right to decide.

”While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain right which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

”On the question of the individual's freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely 
by desire.

”I share the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society's problems - an inadequate 
welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

”When history looks back on this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its 
responsibility to its children from the moment of conception.”

Edward M. Kennedy

In Kennedy’s letter he strongly affirmed the Catholic, pro-life conviction about the sanctity of unborn human life, from the time of conception. As an amateur historian I often ask the question of “what if” in history.”

What if Lincoln lived out his term after the Civil War? 
What if Theodore Roosevelt did not become president in 1901 as the result of 
What if President Kennedy did not visit Dallas in 1963?
What if the decision of Roe vs. Wade was never written in 1973?

In all of these cases history as we know it today would have changed – be it for the better or the
worse. We do not know but can only speculate. If Senator Kennedy continued to hold these pro-life convictions throughout his legislative career and eloquently speak out the fundamental pro-life 
message against abortion – we may not have the issue we are facing in these times in this nation. 

Tragically and unfortunately, Senator Kennedy abandoned this pro-life conviction in his subsequent legislative career. In fact he became the most prominent Catholic politician in America to dissent from 
the Church’s teachings and beliefs on abortion.  Being from the most prominent Catholic family in our nation, he gave an invitation to Governors Mario Cuomo and to many other Catholic legislators, governors and politicians to follow suit and abandon and ignore the fundamental teachings of our 
Catholic Faith. The very basic first principle of Christianity is life.

Kennedy’s flip-flop has its serious consequences on the value of human life in history today. Some segments of the Republican Party have followed Kennedy’s lead on the issue. If Kennedy had used his God-given talents to advocate protecting human life from conception, there would not have been an avalanche of Catholic elected officials following him. This created a serious scandal. 

Here in 2012, the Democratic Party is strongly pro-abortion while the Republican Party is staunchly pro-life. It is basically a question on who among us has the right to live and who does not have the right to live. When it comes down to it, both parties may disagree over philosophy, policy, issues, law, and programs. But if there were no life – none of us would be here today. Basically, both parties can and need to agree on the gift of life as something we all share in common while fully realizing that without life 
nothing would exist. By respecting life we can then discuss and argue the other issues. 

On the “what ifs” of history, surely Senator Kennedy’s original pro-life attitude and belief in 1971 would have had a great impact if he continued to eloquently speak out against abortion and in defense of human life. Unfortunately, there is no way of telling the impact President Kennedy’s brother could have had if he had stayed the course and proclaimed the pro-life message. 

Tragically, he did not stand up for the life and dignity of unborn infants. He did not stand up and speak out about the violence committed on unborn babies and women during abortions. Remember what Senator Kennedy wrote in1971 – “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to 
grow old.

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