Chris Smith and Jim Keady have many things in common. Both are Catholic. Both have been outspoken advocates working toward ending the scourge of human trafficking. Smith is a Congressman in New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District. Keady is contemplating challenging him for that spot.
A prominent area where these men differ is in their approach to abortion. Smith is a steadfast anti-choice legislator who often attaches anti-abortion riders to legislation on various and sundry topics – not just bills that address health. Keady’s approach is more nuanced. He understands that you cannot legislate everything. He takes a more compassionate approach on this difficult issue. But he’s not a one-issue politician. He has worked here and abroad to eliminate overseas sweatshops. He’s been at the forefront of the initiatives to save New Jersey from harmful natural gas pipelines. And he’s a mensch.
Jim recently posted a well-written and relevant essay on Facebook. I’m posting it here with his permission.
I am Catholic and here is why I believe abortion should remain legal.
Given that today marks the annual pro-life march in DC, I would like to offer my thoughts on engaging with our fellow citizens who believe in overturning Roe v. Wade.
First, let me state my position clearly:
I believe that abortion should be legal and safe.
I do not say this lightly. As someone with 18 years of Catholic schooling, a graduate degree in theology, and as a former Catholic HS teacher at schools in NJ and NYC, I am fully aware that I break with official church teaching on this matter. But, as St. Thomas Aquinas urged, we must use both faith and reason when making informed decisions of conscience and this is where I stand.
Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions from happening.
Making abortion illegal only puts women’s lives at risk. This challenging and painful decision that is made by a woman or a couple, should be done privately and in collaboration with their doctor and if they choose, their spiritual director, and whomever else they wish to engage in the process. Beyond that, it is no one else’s business.
For my friends and fellow citizens in the pro-life movement, I encourage you to work through your faith communities to be as open and compassionate as possible with women (and their partners) who may make the painfully difficult choice to have an abortion. We are called to love each other unconditionally. Period.
I also encourage all those marching in the pro-life march today to walk the talk with regard to caring for children – to adopt unwanted children, to take children in who need foster care, to make sure there are loving support systems in place if a woman (and her partner) decides to have her child and does not have the resources to care for the child alone. Being pro-life cannot simply mean being pro-birth. We must love from the cradle to the grave.
Finally, I ask that citizens on both sides of this issue be respectful while attempting dialogue. This is not simply a political football to be kicked about. Making sure abortion stays legal and safe and working collectively to make sure that it happens as infrequently as possible should be our shared goal.
Please know that this issue/debate is not purely academic for me, I speak from personal experience on this matter and that is what informs my position. I certainly appreciate dialogue and critique of what I have shared here and I hope it can be done with the respect worthy of the subject at hand.