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Guest opinion: Bishops, face reality over abortion



Ever since my severely religious grandfather struck me for talking back, “authority” has had a problem with me.

I’ve been beaten up and put down, and the people who have tried to “teach me a lesson” have taught me only one thing. Freedom of speech is not free.

Because women spoke out against authority in the 1960s, the women of the U.S. no longer need to risk their lives to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion is legal and safe.

While political activists and progressive clergy of our myriad religions work tirelessly to end suffering – war, poverty, ignorance, brutality in all its forms – the nation’s Catholic bishops met in Baltimore in November to declare abortion “the most important issue in setting policy and in deciding which candidate to vote for.”

The bishops are opposed to abortion, contraception and gay marriage. Sex education is “abstinence” only.

Although 54 percent of Catholics chose to vote for Barack Obama, Archbishop Joseph Naumann asked Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, to stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance on abortion.

Sebelius, I suppose, is among those whom some of the most outrageous members of the clergy, probably empowered by eight years of right-wing government, have warned “to repent or risk their immortal souls” for having voted for candidates who support abortion rights.

“You cannot free a slave who has never known freedom” is an adage our grandmothers’ mothers proved to be false by securing our right to vote, which we have preserved.

The women of the 1960s fought for our right to a legal and safe abortion without apology, and it is our responsibility to continue to prove not only that you can free a slave who has never know freedom, but also that you cannot enslave 21st-century women who have known freedom.

In this overpopulated world, do a handful of right-wing politicians appealing to a minority of voters, and the right-wing religious rulers of impoverished nations, think the women of the U.S. will be intimidated by their self-righteous nonsense?

The young women I know – Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews – will never let it happen here!

In the name of the “immortal souls” of the women slaughtered through illegal abortion, women who refused to allow the dictates of presumptuous, pompous men of whatever religion come between them and their right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, I say to our nation’s Roman Catholic bishops: Keep your religion out of politics. Adhere to the U.S. Constitution, the separation of church and state. Give up your pride, face reality and repent.

Gretchen Nielsen is a Tucson peace activist and poet.

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