For the record, on at least one issue, Our Sunday Visitor may be more liberal than President Barack Obama. And probably more supportive of the right of choice.
The core of liberalism is respect for rights of conscience; it is profoundly illiberal to coerce citizens to perform acts that violate their beliefs.
And yet that is what the Obama administration seems prepared to do by rescinding a federal regulation that protects health care workers and facilities from discrimination if they refuse to perform abortions. The administration says that it intends to introduce new rules, though details are lacking.
First, a note of clarification. Conscience protections for medical personnel and facilities do not rise and fall with these regulations; such protections are already written into federal statutory law, and have been for three decades. What the regulations did was enforce the statutes by requiring compliance certificates from recipients of federal health funding.
So why the furor? Because it is clear that the regulations served a purpose. As the regulatory language itself pointed out, the public and many health care providers have been largely "uninformed" about the statutory protections, which led to abuses "detrimental" to conscience rights.
The necessity of such regulations is even clearer in light of a lawsuit seeking to overturn them by Planned Parenthood, and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. It was filed days before the Obama administration rescinded the regulations.
As a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed a motion supporting the regulations, said: "The arguments in the lawsuits themselves demonstrate lack of compliance with these laws and the necessity of the regulation they are challenging."
Regulation opponents warn that women's access to abortion will be limited. Whether that's true is far from clear. But what if it were? Would they be comfortable forcing Quakers to shoulder machine guns for our country if not enough other soldiers could be found to conduct a war?
Conscience protections are deeply ingrained in American law and tradition. And it has found expression in other areas of the medical profession, too. Media accolades were showered two years ago on a pair of prison anesthesiologists in California who refused to participate in execution of the death penalty.
Why should the question of abortion be any different? Especially considering that for millennia, and until recently, abortion was expressly forbidden by the doctor's Hippocratic oath. In a very real sense, performing abortions is not an exercise of medicine at all; it cures no illness.
But now some opponents of the conscience regulations argue, unbelievably, that pro-lifers should avoid the conscience conundrum by opting to enter professions other than those in the medical field. Not only is this to propose sweeping discrimination, it ignores the fact that most pro-life women probably would prefer visiting a doctor who shares their views respecting the dignity of all human life.
There is bitter irony in seeing those who champion "choice" try to deny it to pro-life doctors and nurses. It is meaningless to respect the conscience rights only of those with whom you agree.
Mr. President, this is a time when you need to act like a liberal.