Abortion rhetoric at DNC criticized for failure to respect women

Maureen Malloy Ferguson Senior Policy Advisor at the Catholic Association CNA US Catholic News 9 11 12 Maureen Ferguson of The Catholic Association

Through the use of degrading language and extreme claims, speakers at the Democratic National Convention failed to respect women, said a senior policy adviser for The Catholic Association.

Maureen Ferguson told CNA on Sept. 10 that the "vision of womanhood" presented by abortion advocates at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week was both "limited" and "demeaning."

"Women's rights are defined by a right to kill one's own child," she said.

Ferguson contrasted this view with Church teaching on "authentic womanhood" and the "feminine genius" discussed by Pope John Paul II.

"The Catholic Church provides a beautiful vision of womanhood," she said, explaining that rather than being restrictive, the Church presents "an integrated view of our fertility" that is respectful of women and does not treat pregnancy as a disease.

At a Sept. 4 Planned Parenthood rally that coincided with the Democratic convention, women demanded respect for their rights, focusing on the "right" to abortion and free birth control.

The rally was not an official convention event, but it featured many of the same speakers who addressed the full convention gathering as well.

One speaker at the rally referred to herself as a "b-tch for choice," drawing loud applause from the audience. Numerous women wore "sluts vote" buttons.

Ferguson said that this behavior "absolutely undermines their message" by failing to treat themselves as women with respect and dignity.

In addition, she said, the convention's extreme emphasis on abortion risks isolating moderate members of the party, as well as those who identity as pro-life.

Commentators from across the political spectrum have described the Democratic convention as a "parade of speakers hammering 'abortion rights,'" she noted. Speaker after speaker at the convention praised the Obama administration for its commitment to abortion and a controversial federal mandate that requires employers to include free birth control coverage in their health insurance plans.

Among the highlighted convention speakers were NARAL Pro-Choice president Nancy Keenan, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and Georgetown University law graduate Sandra Fluke, who championed the contraception mandate at a Congressional hearing.

Ferguson said that the convention gave a heavier emphasis to abortion and birth control than to the concerns of any other interest group, such as unions, environmentalists or minority communities.

This extreme emphasis shows "a disconnect with voters," she argued, especially at a time "when Americans are desperate for jobs and leadership on economic issues."

Ferguson said that rhetoric accusing mandate opponents of waging a "war on women" is laughable because it is so "absurd."

"There is no legislative proposal to take away birth control," she observed, pointing out that the Republican Party is not seeking to ban birth control but simply to leave the decision to purchase it up to individuals and employers, as it had been for decades before the mandate.

Rather than an attack on women, the real problem with the contraception mandate is that it is "a gross violation of our religious freedom," Ferguson explained, adding that "conscience rights have always been a bipartisan issue."

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The administration's stance on the mandate is out of touch with the American electorate, Ferguson said, and this could influence the upcoming election.

She pointed to a survey conducted this summer by the Washington, D.C.-based polling firm QEV Analytics on attitudes towards the mandate.

The survey found that 29 percent of Catholics are less likely to vote for President Obama in the upcoming election as a result of the mandate, while only 13 percent said they were more likely to vote for him because of it.

Furthermore, 38 percent of religiously active white females said that the mandate made them less likely to re-elect the present, while just 12 percent said it made them more likely. And 28 percent of independents said that they were less likely to vote for Obama due to the mandate, while only 15 percent said they were more likely to do so.

"The intensity is on our side on this issue," Ferguson said.

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