Letter to the Editor: Our politics on abortion have forced us into two camps

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Abortion is tearing our country apart. 

Few people see abortion as a positive good. That includes many of the women who choose to have an abortion. Yet our politics have forced us into two camps. Both sides of the issue are to blame. 

Those of us who are Catholic Democrats do not see abortion as a good thing. The issue is not whether abortion is wrong, but whether it is a good thing for the state to make it illegal.  It is possible to argue that some behaviors are evil but that getting the state to punish them creates more problems than we wish to accept. 

There are countries that make prostitution legal. There are countries that make use of any kind of drug legal. There are excellent arguments on both sides of those issues, but countries have made the decision that the lesser evil is on the side of permissiveness. 

Our own country experimented with making alcohol use illegal. Few people saw alcohol addiction as good, but eventually the country decided that the lesser evil was to permit alcohol use. We have gradually developed ways of dealing with alcoholism better than making alcohol use illegal. 

There are better ways of dealing with problem pregnancies than making abortion illegal. We can support women, and men, who find themselves pregnant. We can support them socially and financially. Many  groups such as Birthright have been doing heroic work in support of such people.

But when a problem is so massive that private initiative cannot effectively deal with it, we use government support, no matter what it costs. We do that with floods and fires and hurricanes, and now with Ukraine. We need to do it with our own people who are pregnant. Whether the pregnancy is their own fault or not is not the issue. They and their unborn children are ours, and we take care of our own. 

We are not heartless people who care only for fetuses but not about women after their children are born. We are not heartless people who see fetuses as a form of maternal disease. We are people who have gotten ourselves into polarized camps by leaders who are too willing to fight rather than to talk.

We need to talk, and talk some more, and recognize that our opponents are human just like us, moral people just like us, and not as cocksure about their rightness as our leaders are trying to make us believe. 

Father Joe Zimmerman
Quincy, Illinois

Zimmerman is a Franciscan friar living in Holy Cross Friary at Quincy University, where he taught sociology before he retired. He recently was recognized for his 60 years as a priest, and he has been involved in the “Safe and Livable Housing Committee” effort to improve the condition of rental housing in Quincy.

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