This was published as an op-ed in The New York Post:
The Catholic bishops of the United States are facing a great deal of political pressure these days. We are told that we must pursue dialogue with those who disagree with the divine and natural law on the issue of abortion — or who agree privately as Catholic believers but decline to govern according to this moral teaching.
But here is my honest question: What precisely is there to dialogue about? It’s a question I’ve posed to politicians in the past.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of offering an address at the Library of Congress. To an audience of senators, representatives, lobbyists and Hill staffers, I spoke of the vocation of the politician. I asked each person in that room to remember the purity and idealism of the moment when he or she first thought of pursuing a life of public service.
I told them that in the measure they felt the urge to fight for justice, they were responding, at least inchoately, to the summons of God, who is Justice Itself.
I’m the son of a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago Catholic Democrat. My father, whose family was very involved in city politics, would sooner have become a Lutheran than vote Republican. But my trouble with modern Democrats, I explained, has to do with abortion policy, where the party has lately staked out an especially extreme position.
My interlocutors insisted upon the necessity of an ongoing dialogue between pro-choice politicians and the Roman church. I replied, “OK, I’m with you. In fact, the Catholic Church, though it opposes all abortions, would be willing to support legislation that sets at least some limits to the procedure. If you’ll give even a little bit, we’re happy to talk.”
I then commenced to test the waters. Would they, I asked, consider the banning of third-trimester abortions? Absolutely not, came the reply. Would they, I pressed, be open to restricting partial-birth abortion, the procedure by which a pair of scissors is inserted into the brain of a baby already in the birth canal? No way, they said.
All right, I wondered, would they be agreeable to supporting born-alive legislation, designed to protect the life of a baby who has miraculously managed to survive an abortion? No, they said. And lest you think this intransigence was peculiar to this particular group, recall that, just a few months ago, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) made a born-alive proposal, and it couldn’t muster enough votes to break the Democratic filibuster.