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September 6, 1996     The Message
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September 6, 1996
 

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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana September 6, Abortion disagreements stir only outside the cohventi By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service CHICAGO (CNS) -- For an issue that supposedly splits the party, abortion had less of a pro- file at the Democratic National Convention than the macarena, the dance that has become pop- ular around the country. Away from the convention floor, opponents of the party's support for legal and govern- ment-funded abortion held press conferences, staged blockades at abortion clinics, and marched and chanted through the streets of Chicago during the Aug. 26- 29 convention. But little of that effort was witnessed by delegates around town, let alone on the floor of the United Center, the sports arena where the convention was held. There were plenty of people around Chicago who were seri- ous about challenging the Democrats on their support for legal abortion. Rescue America organized a prayer vigil outside the Division West Medical Center Aug. 27 and attempted to block the doors. The group was joined by members of Collegians Acti- vated to Liberate Life, Citizens for Life, the Lambs of Christ and Missionaries to the PreBorn. The following day, several hundred abortion protesters marched around Chicago's Loop district and to the convention, where they chanted, prayed and waved signs at the designated protest site a block from the United Center. But inside the convention, the issue received little more than a few passing references. Rep. Tony Hall of Ohio, who led successful efforts by the Con- gressional Pro-Life Caucus to in- sert a paragraph in the platform acknowledging disagreement about abortion, stirred a small ripple of applause and no dis- cernable negative response when he touched on the subject from the podium Aug. 27. His speech followed shortly after an address by Kate Michel- man of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League amid other short talks on platform issues. "Those in the shadows of life" -- including the poor, the hun- gry, the sick, the elderly and the unborn -- deserve equally to be protected by society, said Hall. Hall, who founded and co-chairs the Congressional Hunger Cen- ter, also encouraged support for programs to fight hunger in the United States and around the world. He told Catholic News Service later that when he submitted his text to party leaders in ad- vance, as requested of all speak- ers, he fully expected someone to try to tone down his pro-life comments. "They didn't change a thing," he said. "I had expected to have to make a fuss." Hall's experience contrasted with that of former Pennsylva- nia Gov. Robert Casey, who held an Aug. 26 press conference to give the pro-life speech he said he was refused the chance to present at the convention. Casey. said his eflbrts to speak were rebuffed or ignored by con- vention planners and President Clinton, who he said were or- chestrating a no-disagreements convention. The Democratic Party, "which claims it stands for freedom of choice, but stifles freedom of speech," makes no room for doubt or dissent, Casey said. The same day Casey spoke at the offices of Americans United for Life, two religiously rooted groups on opposite sides gath- ered their supporters. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice hosted a press conference and prayer ser- vice Aug. 26 at the First Con- gregational Baptist Church, a few blocks from the convention. Rabbi Rachel S. Mikva of Glencoe, Ill., said reli herents are commanded to life whenever they can. are clearly given choices and assurance that we are ca of such momentous moral sions,"she said. Later that afternoon, tian Coalition Ralph Reed rallied ception for pro-life held at the Field Natural History. Co-sponsored by Right to Life Committee, i event honored of Congress who oppose tion. NRLC political action rector Carol Long abortion opponents to within the Democratic and work for change. Election coverage: 1996 Editor's note: Stories on the Democratic National tion, the party platform, and the religious context vention are printed this week as age of issues leadinl up to the 1996 presidential election. Democrats, bishops have some sharp differences, many agreements By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service to all citizens and residents of the United States, including tax funding that parents may use for religious schools. The Demo- cratic platform opposes school choice programs that give money to private schools. Both the bishops' statement and the platform encourage a greater emphasis on teaching values in "school. Both also en- courage supporting teachers better. The bishops specifically advo- cate salaries and benefits for teachers "that reflect the princi- ples of economic justice." The Democrats say that teachers "should be required to meet high standards for professional per- formance and be rewarded for the good jobs they do." On families and children, the Democrats' "Families First" agenda directed at congressional campaigns is in many respects a mirror of the bishops' "Putting Children and Families First" campaign begun in 1991. The platform statement sim- ply lists the themes of the Fam- ilies First agenda -- "promoting paycheck, health care, retire- ment and personal security; cre- ating greater educational and economic opportunity; and re- quiring greater responsibility from individuals, businesses and government." The bishops' statement reit- erates their 1991 call for ana- lyzing every policy and program for its impact on children and families; insisting that policies support families and encourage self-help; empowering families 428-2665 CHICAGO (CNS) -- There are a few areas of stark contrast and many of commonality be- tween the Democratic Party's 1996 platform and the policy recommendations of the U.S. Catholic bishops. A comparison of the Demo- cratic platform with the U.S. Catholic Conference's current statement on political responsi- bility and the bishops' testimony submitted to both partie s ' plat- form committees reflects similar thinking in the areas of arms control, welfare reform, family television programming, eco- nomic reform, environmental protection, family priorities, im- migration and controlling vio- lence. In significant contrast are the issues of abortion and school choice. And there are several subjects on which the bishops express concern but the Demo- cratic Part is silent, and vice versa. Among them, the bishops discuss euthanasia and protec- tion of refugees, while the Democrats address neither. The platform, on the other hand, discusses economics, job creation, tax relief and a hal- anced budget in great detail, while the bishops primarily mention the economy in the con- text of protecting the poor. Here's how the two compare in relation to specific issues. On educatiolz, the USCC ad- vocates public and private fund- ing to make education available ' :, + through tax, workplace, divorce and welfare policies that help them stay together; and work- ing to "overcome poverty, pro- vide decent jobs and promote equal opportunity." On health care, AIDS and, substance abuse, the bishops say, "Our criteria for reform in- clude respect for life, priority concern for the poor, universal coverage, pluralism, cost con- tainment and controls and equi- table financing." "The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to af- fordable, high-quality health care," says the Democratic plat- form. It goes on to note efforts of the Clinton administration to expand the Women, Infants and Children program of prenatal and early childhood nutrition and to expand immunization programs. Both the bishops and the Democrats advocate policies that encourage research into AIDS and compassion toward its victims. The Democratic platform in- cludes three paragraphs, 10 sen- tences in all, on abortion. The bishops' political responsibility statement concerning abortion is also three paragraphs, 10 sen- tences. There the similarities end. The Democrats include a goal of making abortion "less neces- sary and more rare, not more 00cbnit00ibant00 RESTAURANT SPECIALIZING IN DELICIOUS GERMAN FOOD PRIME RIB CILED STEAQK COUNTRY FRIED CHICKEN SEAFOODS ' SALAD BAR BANQUET ROOM FOR PRIVATE PARTIES i ,q .wins 3913 3rcLAvik, Jl.lper, IN difficult and more dangerous." The platform "stands behind the right of every woman to choose, consistent with Roe vs. Wade, and regardless of ability to pay." It also supports contraceptive research, family planning, fam- ily life education and family planning, including efforts to re- duce unintended pregnancies. The bishops call abortion "the fundamental human rights issue of our day because it is the deliberate destruction of a human being before birth." They go on to decry the coun- try's "most extreme abortion pol- icy of any industrialized West- ern nation in the world." The statement supports policies that encourage childbirth over abor- tion and additional government help for pregnant women and their families. The bishops also support leg- islation to prohibit or restrict abortion and to constitutionally protect unborn human life. On welfare reform, the bish- ops were quite vocal appointment about several J pects of the legislation. Democratic platform also cizes the law, despite decision to sign it. The bishops oppose donment of the federal ment's essential role in hel families to overcome meet children's basic neec They specifically that protect s human life and nity, strengthens family courages and rewards work, serves a safety net for vulnerable, builds partnerships to fight poverty invests in human dignity poor families. 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