by Fr. Gary Pennings
Over the past year, the Church in northeast Kansas vocalized its support of the Value Them Both Amendment, an effort to amend the Kansas Constitution in order to clarify that abortion is not a constitutional right and that any regulation of abortion should fall to the people of Kansas through the legislative action of their duly elected representatives. The Church, which normally would not engage in political campaigns (for a particular candidate, for example) has been active in advocating for a “yes” vote on this amendment because of the moral gravity of the issue and the assault that unfettered abortion will have on life in the womb.
Let’s be clear, even if this amendment passes, it is not an imposition of Catholic theology as some critics have claimed. Catholic teaching says, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…” (see Catechism par. 2270), thus from a Catholic perspective we would prefer that our culture someday see abortion as something unthinkable. But, the passage of this amendment, in itself, will not end abortion in Kansas. It is not the ideal Catholic outcome, but it is much better than the alternative.
In a pluralistic society, Catholics must work for the good they can attain, even if less than perfect. What the VTB Amendment will do is allow existing laws to remain in effect and empower the people of Kansas to decide how abortion should be regulated in the future through the legislative actions of their elected representatives. It takes the issue of abortion out of the hands of the courts and puts it back into the hands of the citizens of Kansas.
The Church cannot be silent and fail to announce the Gospel of Life. Catholics must remain committed to helping women with unplanned pregnancies, supporting good choices after conception (such as adoption), and healing those who suffer from the spiritual wounds of past abortions. The Church will and should advocate for things that are consistent with Catholic teaching, while at the same time realizing that not every good that the Church desires may be fully attainable through legal or political means. The Church is concerned with forming consciences and changing hearts and that must remain a central part of her mission.