Having an effect

John F. Kerry’s Fourth of July visit to Dubuque, Iowa, was marked by comments about his rationale for supporting abortion rights.

The Associated Press reported that, after attending Mass, Kerry told a man in the lobby of the church that “I’m against partial birth abortion,” although he voted against banning the procedure six times in the Senate.

In an interview with Dubuque’s Telegraph Herald newspaper published that same day, Kerry said: “I don’t like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can’t take my Catholic belief, article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist ... We have separation of church and state in the United States of America.”

That argument is fallacious. As the U.S. bishops have recently stated, “Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”

Still, should we not welcome the fact that a contender for the White House seems to be softening his views on abortion? If he has, in fact, come to accept the belief that “life does begin at conception,” should we expect some concrete manifestations of that newly expressed belief? Because if “life does begin at conception,” its deliberate destruction is an immoral act, and should not be sanctioned by our legal system. Furthermore, no public official should betray his conscience on such a fundamental issue.

Yet, Kerry’s votes have consistently run contrary to this belief, as NARAL — the most notorious pro-abortion lobby in the country — recognized when it gave Kerry a 100 percent score for his defense of abortion rights.

Predictably, Kerry’s aids rushed to put a spin on his comments. Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told the AP that “He’s pro-choice and believes that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”

Even as he maintains his pro-abortion position, Kerry’s comments indicate that the pro-life message is having an influence on politicians, showing it cannot be ignored — even by those who hold the most staunchly pro-abortion views.