Not quite lost in the budget battles in the House of Representatives are what can be called Republican “war on women” bills: defining down rape, making it impossible for insurance companies to cover abortion, cutting budgets for maternal care and much more.

In fighting back, there is one strand of sanity to keep grasping:
We need to see this as one group of people imposing views they believe to be religiously sanctified on another group of people who don’t share the doctrines and/or don’t believe they should be imposed on others. Lloyd Stephan, Professor of Religious Studies at Lehigh University said of Pope John Paul’s belief in the “absolute innocence” of the fetus: “As an American, I do not believe “absolute innocence” should ever become an “established” view of fetal humanity sanctioned by the government. That is a religious belief that should not be imposed on me or any citizen and certainly not forced on any woman considering what to do after becoming pregnant from, say, rape or incest or who is facing possible death due to medical complications.” (

The Republican congressmen behind the attack on women (among them, Joe Pitts, Mike Pence and Chris Smith) clearly think the “absolute innocence” of the fetus means the life of the fetus holds privilege over the life of the mother. The “Protect Life Act” (H.R. 358) they back would deny a woman in danger of her life an abortion, or even require a referral to a facility where that legal medical procedure is performed. In the case of a Catholic healthcare facility or provider this is most troubling. For example, in a recent case involving a Catholic medical facility in Phoenix, Arizona, the hospital administrator, a Catholic nun, allowed an abortion to take place to save the life of a woman. The administrator was excommunicated and reassigned to “other duties” within the hospital for violating ethical rules governing the Catholic health care system, as determined by the local bishop. Eventually, the case led to the hospital losing its Catholic designation.

The congressmen are not open about the reasons they privilege the unborn, but their actions demonstrate they that hold up the unborn as implicitly the more worthy life to save when there is a choice to be made.

Theirs is not a pro- life doctrine. It is an anti-life doctrine, against celebrating the life of the world around us, and caring for the humans within it.

Note: Links to information on Catholic Church teachings on moral decision-making and abortion and the latest data about American Catholics’ support for and use of legal abortion, contraception and other reproductive healthcare issues: