What If Hillary Wins?
In a continuing look at presidential hopefuls, the Register examines the background, stands and prospects of Hillary Clinton.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton remains a polarizing figure throughout the nation, but support for her continues to grow.
Critics agree that many of the presidential hopeful’s positions on some issues may attract Catholic voters, but warn that her position on abortion should make every Catholic voter wary.
“If Hillary is elected, she would be the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States.” said Brian Burch of Fidelis America, the political branch of the national Catholic advocacy group Fidelis.
Calls and e-mails to the Clinton campaign were not returned.
Clinton has been an avid abortion supporter throughout her entire political career. As a U.S. senator from New York, she opposed all measures to limit abortions, most notably, recent legislation to ban partial birth abortion. When debating the bill in the Senate, Clinton insisted that a woman should have the right to abort a child in the third trimester calling it a “most personal and intimate of decisions,” for the sake of a mother’s “mental health.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision that upheld the law, Clinton served as a co-sponsor for the Freedom of Choice Act. Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, noted that the bill was designed by pro-abortion politicians to solidify abortion rights and eliminate all pro-life advances in the last 30 years. If passed, the bill would invalidate any federal, state or local government law that denies or interferes with a woman’s access to abortion.
“The freedom of choice act is the furthest thing from neutral,” added Johnson. “It would be a very aggressive use of federal power to try to put an end to the pro-life position as a matter of public policy.”
Pro-life activists also note that Clinton’s universal health care plan would include funding for abortion services as it did in her widely criticized health care proposal in 1993.
“When it comes to a national health care plan, she has stated that she would include tax funding for abortion-related services.” said Burch, “That takes it to a new level, implicating American taxpayers in the crime of abortion.”
Clinton has also indicated that she would reverse funding restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research, denouncing President Bush’s ethically driven policies as “a war against science.”
“I think that if Clinton is elected, she would usher in an unprecedented amount of spending on research that involves the destruction of human embryos,” Burch said.
Johnson also noted that Hillary’s abortion ideology would lead her to install Supreme Court justices that demonstrate support for Roe v. Wade and would rule in favor of cases to strike down existing pro-life legislation.
Her Faith, Her Politics
Clinton is a member of the United Methodist Church, which allows her to take a pro-abortion stance, even though she shares the same faith as President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
According to the Book of Discipline, the United Methodist Church supports legal abortion. “When the Clintons attended the Methodist church in Washington, D.C., in the 1990s, they never had to worry about the reverend lecturing to them about inconvenient matters like the sanctity of human life,” said Paul Kengor author of God and Hillary Clinton (2007, Harper).
Although Clinton rarely uses her religious views to publicly defend her drive to support abortion rights, she does use religious rhetoric to bolster her social agenda.
“Like many politicians, she integrates her faith to support some of her policies.” said Kengor, “In her case it would be issues such as race, class and economics.”
Examples of this include her widely reported comments last year criticizing a tougher immigration bill passed by the House.
“It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself,” she said at the time.
Clinton also used religious rhetoric to enhance her message of children’s health care.
In a speech she gave in 1996, she said: “Take the image we have of Jesus — of Jesus as the Shepherd. Taking that face and transposing it onto the face of every child we see, then we would ask ourselves, ‘Would I turn that child away from the health care that child needs?’”
Her words appalled many pro-life Christians.
“It’s strange that she would advocate for children in the name of Jesus, but on the other hand, she would not transpose the face of Jesus on every unborn child in the womb,” said Kengor. “For most Catholics, that’s going to be too much to swallow.”
Burch admitted that in spite of Clinton’s pro-abortion agenda, her position on the Iraq war and some of her social justice issues would still be appealing to some Catholics.
“If you look at any authoritative document on informed Catholic voting, clearly the life issue is the priority,” said Burch. “You cannot be right on those issues and wrong on the life issue. … A vote for Hillary would be a serious setback for American Catholics.”
Charlie Spiering writes from
- November 11-17, 2007