The Washington Post

Abortion and the presidency


Though some Christians may think abortion is murder, people of other religions and many nonreligio­us Americans disagree. Because we are supposed to have religious freedom in the United States, the government should stay out of making this decision. Abortion should be legal.

But Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert P. George’s position in their Feb. 19 op-ed, “Biden’s position on abortion contradict­s his Catholicis­m,” was worse. A core group that ensured Republican dominance these past four years were Christians who prioritize­d abortion over everything else. So separating children at the border, encouragin­g corruption and lies, damaging the environmen­t, and so many unnecessar­y deaths from the coronaviru­s thanks to former president Donald Trump all came about because some religious fundamenta­lists thought they needed the government to force women to do their bidding. Sad.

Richard Dine, Silver Spring It is disturbing that President Biden’s religion is ever mentioned as an issue. The U.S. government is religion-free, according to the Constituti­on and the Founding Fathers. If you don’t believe in abortion, that is a religious decision, so don’t get one. If you believe that women should have control over their own bodies, then you are within the law and honoring the separation of church and state.

It is troubling enough that there is a huge majority of Catholic members on the Supreme Court, theoretica­lly representi­ng a country wherein the majority of the population does not correspond to that religion and approximat­ely 25 percent of Americans don’t associate with any religion. Who represents them?

Marcia Hoogstra, Washington

Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert P. George asserted that “it is science, not any catechism, that teaches us that at conception a new and distinct member of the species Homo sapiens comes to be.”

In the 1860s, science first realized that union of chromosome­s from egg and sperm form the genetic inheritanc­e of the future individual. This is such a unique defining moment that, according to Catholic and fundamenta­list thinking, it must also be the occasion for union of soul with physical being. The church and many countries soon passed antiaborti­on laws from the time of fertilizat­ion, not because of moral change but because of change in perception of what there is to protect. The new being is dual physical plus theologica­l.

But since the 1990s, fertility clinics have realized that on average most fertilized eggs do not survive and that viable ovulation is just as critical an event as fertilizat­ion.

So if there can be any scientific proof of something theologic, it is that life does not begin at conception.

In Catholic terminolog­y, a way to say this is the question: Would God endow souls early just to have to turn around and rescue most of them from Limbo?

A big problem in the big fight is that a major thing being fought about remains unspoken. Pro-lifers such as Mr. Ponnuru and Mr. George do not say what they mean by “new life,” leaving pro-choicers confused. And they misstate science.

Ed Takken, Alexandria

I must ask, have Catholic laypersons and clergy alike forgotten the church’s teachings on the primacy of conscience? I understood that as a Catholic high school student in a small Montana town in the 1960s. It was very clear, and it is still on the Vatican website: We must follow our conscience­s and respect everyone else’s as a matter of charity. Yes, we must inform our conscience­s and seek the church’s counsel, but that does not mean that we must be dictated to. Additional­ly, the bishops tell us that we must always vote for the common good, presumably on all issues, political, economic and social.

As a cradle Catholic, I pray and hope for an end to abortion through social justice, through an impermeabl­e safety net and laws that protect all vulnerable children and women. Meanwhile, I have to respect the conscience­s of President Biden and all those whose conscience­s he respects.

Lynn Kearney, Arlington

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