Archbp. Nienstedt’s letter to editor about legislation, taxes and abortion

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune on7 February printed an editorial calling for no new limits on abortion rights.  My emphases and comments with editing.

Reject new limits on abortion rights

If ending a pregnancy is legal, income should not be a barrier. [Translation: The editors of the STrib want you to pay for abortions with your taxes or for employers to be forced by law to pay for abortions.]

Last update: February 7, 2011 – 5:44 PM


The issue keeps coming back because strong, heartfelt feelings on this difficult subject run deep. Reasonable people will forever disagree about abortion based on health, moral, religious and privacy concerns.  [Don’t accept the premise.  “Reasonable people” see abortion for what it really is.]

Understanding those legitimate differences, [noooo…] we come down firmly on the side of current law and a woman’s right to choose. [euphemism]

Passage of the proposed bill would directly contradict a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision determining that state health programs for the poor must cover reproductive health procedures — including abortions. [Consider that pregnancy is not a disease or an abnormal condition.]

In fact, the issue is a matter of equity. [And the equity for the child?]

As a legal medical procedure, abortion must be covered under most medical plans. That same right to coverage should be extended to those of lesser means. [And who is going to pay for that?  Taxpayers?]

A woman should not be denied this important reproductive choice simply because of her income. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, state and federal funding paid for about 3,700 abortions in 2008, at a cost of about $1.5 million. [Taxpayers.]

Minnesota lawmakers who oppose abortion are expected to suggest another bill that would further chip away at reproductive rights. [euphemism] As in several other states, legislators here will likely seek to ban most abortions at 20 weeks after conception.

That restriction is unnecessary because about 90 percent of abortions occur during the first trimester. Typically, later pregnancy terminations occur only after a tragic fetal diagnosis has been made or when the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest. [If you can kill someone who is inconvenient, it’ll soon be your turn to die.]

In a national assault on abortion services also fueled by a political shift, some U.S. House Republicans are attempting to push through more-extreme, intrusive measures that could end insurance coverage for countless American women.

The new federal bill would ban outright the use of federal subsidies to buy any insurance that covers abortion. [By now, I’m getting the impression that the editors want as many abortions to take place as possible.]

Under that misguided plan, small-business tax credits that encourage employers to offer health insurance could not cover abortions. [It’s always some else who gets to pay for abortions, is it?] Those who use a tax-preferred saving account to pay medical costs could not use the money for an abortion without paying taxes on the cost of the procedure.

Another bill would deny funding for family planning services to any organization that provides abortions. The measure is directed primarily at Planned Parenthood health centers that offer other important health services and use no federal funds for abortions. [How stupid do they think readers are?  Is money not fungible?  Are they seriously suggesting that federal money given to Planned Parenthood isn’t supporting the big business of abortion?] Both the insurance limits and funding restrictions should be rejected by Congress.

With a governor and majority in the Legislature opposing abortion, neighboring South Dakota passed a ban on abortion in 2006. But citizens, understanding the need to preserve the option, undid that law in a 2008 statewide vote.

Minnesotans who value reproductive rights [euphemism] should also speak up by contacting their lawmakers and responding to the revived momentum of abortion opponents.

Tell policymakers that this difficult decision is best left to women and their doctors and families. [Never mind about the infans, “one who can’t speak”. ]

And remind local politicians that with a $6.2 billion state deficit and high unemployment, they’ve got more pressing matters to handle than tampering with a woman’s right to choose.  [I love that argument.  Don’t worry, Star-Trib, pro-lifers can multi-task.]

Most Rev. John Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis fired back today on the editorial page of the same abortion promoting STrib.

Readers write for Saturday, Feb. 12

Abortion editorial
Board got it wrong, board got it right

I write to express my concern and dismay regarding the Star Tribune’s Feb. 8 editorial “Reject new limits on abortion rights.”

I agree that reasonable people may differ over abortion based on health, moral, religious and privacy concerns. [I guess it depends on what we mean by “reasonable”.] I cannot, however, agree with the idea that the taking of an innocent life is a woman’s right. [Because it isn’t actually “reasonable”.  It’s contrary to right reason.]

The 1973 Supreme Court decision wasn’t based on a “woman’s right to choose” but rather on the right to privacy. [“But Your Excellency!” the editor may be sputtering. “What about the emanations from penumbras and… stuff?”] I believe that it is misleading to suggest this decision affirms that, if a woman wants to have an abortion, taxpayers are expected to pay for it[EXACTLY.]

While it is reasonable to affirm a person’s right to basic health care, it’s also misleading to say that an elective abortion is a health issue. [EXACTLY.]

Citizens do disagree on civil and legal matters, and when they do, legislative bodies react to their constituents. This is the process we are now seeing played out in Minnesota.

It’s democracy at its best.


The writer is archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Well done, Your Excellency.  WDTPRS kudos.

Biretta tip   o{]:¬)    to Stella Borealis.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Biased Media Coverage, Emanations from Penumbras, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. About time SOMEONE said it. Wasn’t it Jesse Jackson who once said that a woman cant use ‘my body, my right to decide’ to justify aborticide than a 19th century slaveowner could have said ‘my plantation, my right to decide’ to justify slavery?

  2. JeffTL says:

    Insurance and public assistance don’t ordinarily pay for elective surgeries that aren’t associated with an injury, disease, or deformity, except for abortion. In fact, the same plans that pay for an abortion typically rule hearing aids to be a lifestyle choice and leave you to your own devices or state vocational rehabilitation aid to pay for them. I think most reasonable people would affirm that a hearing aid is more useful in treatment of disease than an abortion is. Unfortunately the concept of “abortion rights” has spread even beyond what it once meant, as horrid as that was. As you said, Father, pregnancy is not a disease. Our collective resources would be far better spent on taking care of people who actually are sick, injured, or disabled, instead of the killing of our own children.

  3. Tony Layne says:

    Y’know, Father, I don’t think anyone on that side of the aisle remembers or even cares about the original rationale for “privacy”, or that privacy was ever involved in the discussion. White’s majority opinion in Roe even said (in effect), “It doesn’t really matter tuppence where privacy is in the Constitution … it’s there, we tell ya!”

    It’s nice to see H.E. score a point for the democratic process. However, the people on that side of the aisle aren’t interested in democracy, save when it works for them. More and more they’ve become dependent on the judiciary, especially SCOTUS, to work as a “counter-majoritarian force” and to mumble things like “tyranny of the majority”.

    BTW, have you heard about a discrepancy in Planned Barrenhood’s spending between 2002 and 2008 that leaves $1.3 billion in federal funds unaccounted for?

  4. MarkJ says:

    Just to make a point, how about the Republicans introduce a measure that taxpayer funds be used to buy a gun for every citizen who can’t afford one. After all, gun ownership is a clearly stated right in the Constitution, and why should we penalize people who can’t afford to exercise this right? It’s not their fault they don’t have the money to buy a gun!

    Yes, it’s a ridiculous idea, but maybe it might get more people to think about what the government should be doing with our money… especially on issues involving life and death.

  5. Charivari Rob says:

    Perhaps the phrase should be “…otherwise reasonable people…”

  6. AnnAsher says:

    ” if you can kill someone who is inconvenient – it’ll soon be your turn to die” I like that Fr Z! I feel a bumper sticker coming on!

  7. We fought a very bloody, unpopular, and uncivil war to defend, in part,universal rights of all men and women to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Abortion rights is tantamount to revisiting the Dred Scott Decision and making it law again.

  8. abiologistforlife says:

    Roe v Wade is bad law… built on Griswold v Connecticut, arguably the most un-Constitutional decision the Court ever made. (It is based on a pure equivocation; any ‘right to privacy’ implied in the Constitution relates to *means of discovering evidence to prosecute a crime* — there is no warrant anywhere for the novel and bizarre theory that reproductive matters are ‘too private’ to be covered by law.)

    It provides a pretty good argument for reviving the pre-Civil-War idea of Nullification… yes, I know it was rejected, but Barack Obama is no Andrew Jackson, and I do not think the current Federal government could maintain Roe against the active opposition of even a few states.

  9. iowapapist says:

    Mr. Tony Layne: While I agree with you in sentiment, I must correct a misstatement of fact contained in your entry. The Hon. Justice Byron White (a Democrat appointed by JFK) did not author Roe v. Wade. White and the Hon. Justice Rehnquist dissented in that opinion. White was consistently on the pro-life side of opinions dealing with abortion. Roe v. Wade was authored by the Hon. Justice Blackman, a Nixon appointee. I would encourage anyone who has not already done so to read the opinion. The reader will note that the opinion is bereft of logic and incorrectly cites to the scientific writings of St. Thomas Aquinas (who was employing the science of Aristotle) to support the conclusion.

  10. Katherine says:

    [Translation: The editors of the STrib want you to pay for abortions with your taxes or for employers to be forced by law to pay for abortions.]

    I applaud the Archbishop and disagree strongly with the S-T.

    I am sorry to read Fr. Z getting soft on the issue of defending the unborn however. [ROFL! That’s quite simply dumb.]

    A lot of secular conservatives would like to merge right to life efforts with Tea part types who oppose government funding for anything elective, non-essential or a frill. I object to abortion was something evil by nature, not just a frill that taxpayers should not be subsidizing.

    But that political alliance has caused some to shut their mouth (Father?) about the reality that bosses and private enterprise are being forced to pay for abortions, but that 2/3rds or more of them are voluntarily paying for abortion. Too many men who are willing to take on pro-abort politicans get all wishy-washy when it come time to take on Big Business for their abortion financing.

    The Bosses are not being forced to pay for abortions — they do it willingly and freely and with very little objection from most conservatives.

  11. S. Murphy says:


    You make a valid point, but since you show up in these comboxes as a token lefty, and you seem only make this point in order to rub it in Fr Z’s face, I have to ask, what are YOU doing to stop privately-funded abortions?


    The counter-prolife argument used to be ‘well, if you’re not for massive government welfare – if you have any disagreement with the D-party on practical problem-solving issues of poverty, crime, and so forth, then you don’t have a right to oppose abortion. Now it’s “we won at the level of private insurance, and we want to use that evil victory to try to disqualify you from oppose public funding for infanticide.” Both of these ‘arguments’ consist of merely changing the subject, and sliding in a left-handed ad hominem like a stiletto between the ribs.

    Right now, there’s I can’t stop private industry (insurance) from paying for abortions. The best I can do is not buy a policy with a company that does this. So far, having the US Navy as my HMO works just fine. Unfortunately, so people I went through entry-level training with have left our beloved Corps and now wish to campaign for abortions in military hospitals.* Such a move, like funding abortion with public money, would force me to pay for abortions, unless I can find a clever way to cheat on my taxes – something that I do no wish to do, because it would contradict everything I have been doing in serving my country in uniform for 12 years.

    I see a bumper sticker on my street that says “Against abortion? Don’t have one.” When you insist on paying for early infanticide with my money, I no longer have the choice not to have one – unless I make the choice of ceasing to be a law-abiding citizen. I may never be pregnant, but I am paying for abortions. I see this as a violation of my First Amendment rights – which is almost trivial compared to the monstrosity of executing an innocent child for the crime of being inconvenient, but at least it’s something all Americans should still be able to comprehend.

    I also see bumper stickers that say “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.” Is it really too much to ask that those who hold this sentiment would keep their Moloch-worship out of my wallet?

    *This, should it happen, would eradicate any meaningful choice in the matter for military women. They will be quietly pressured or overtly bullied into having abortions – even if they are married and want to start a family – because nothing is less respected than ‘that female’ who got out of a deployment because she was pregnant.

  12. Philangelus says:

    I love the opening:
    If ending a pregnancy is legal, income should not be a barrier.

    If eating prime rib is legal, income should not be a barrier.
    If driving a Ferrari is legal, income should not be a barrier.
    If advertising during the Superbowl is legal, income should not be a barrier.

    Honestly, when did the legality of something make it a necessity that the government should fund it?
    And remind local politicians that with a $6.2 billion state deficit and high unemployment, they’ve got more pressing matters to handle than tampering with a woman’s right to choose.

    And similarly, how about the Star-Tribune folks work on making sure my friend has free insulin and testing strips for her daughter with juvenile diabetes rather than having to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket to cover them?

    Fr. Z's Gold Star for the Day Award

  13. tobiasmurphy says:

    “If ending a pregnancy is legal, income should not be a barrier.”

    Pretty bad when even the first line of an editorial is as illogical is that. Getting drunk is legal. Should we be obliged to make sure there are no economic borders to that either?

    Poor thinking.

  14. Nan says:

    MarkJ, in response to Obamacare’s individual mandate, a bill has been introduced in South Dakota mandating that every citizen in the state who is over 21 purchase a gun. Legislation mandating that government provide a gun would be a good companion.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Any dictates which start with an emphasis on financing abortion are: 1)Marxist socialist in philosophy; 2) genocidal in philosophy; 3) post-modernist as well in philosophy; 4) outside of natural law philosophy, which until recent times, was the philosophy on which our legal system rested. I hope Minnesota does not turn into the next socialist state, such as Illinois, which will become bankrupt because of ideological nonsense over who gets money when.

    Bravo, Archbishop!

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    “Get your rosaries out of my ovaries” doesn’t exactly rhyme. I’ve always thought that was one of the stupidest chants I had ever heard.
    “Get your rosaries out of my hosieries” is a little closer.
    “Get your bovaries out of my ovaries” rhymes, so does “Get your rosaries out of my toes-uh-rees”
    My rhyming dictionary has no rhyme for rosary or rosaries, neither does the online rhyming dictionary.

  17. S. Murphy says:

    Dr Eric, only patriarchs and pawns of the patriarchy worry about perfect rhyme or scansion.

  18. idatom says:

    Fr. Z.;

    Here in Ohio our legislators are crafting a Bill that would out law abortion after the heart beat is detected. Who in his right mind could argue with that? Planned parenthood does, they predict it will go to the “Supreme Court”.

    God Help us.
    Pray harder.

    Tom Lanter

  19. Obediah says:


    I always wondered one thing. It is widely known that the Churches that oppose abortion rights have very large resources to outlaw abortions politically. The only thing standing between you and success in outlawing abortion is the willpower to do the job. All you have to do is declare yourselves non-tax exempt and you can legally utilize all your resources to conduct the political fight to outlaw abortion in America and probably throughout the world.

    I have always wondered if abortion is just a tool that the Churches use to expand their true agenda of acquiring money and power. If not, they why don’t you turn from advocating against abortion and actually join in the fight and outlaw it already?

  20. Katherine says:

    Katherine, You make a valid point,

    Thank you.

    I have to ask, what are YOU doing to stop privately-funded abortions?

    I have worked to expose corporations and bosses who promote abortion in this way and organized others to join me. I have receive NO support or interest from my local Right-to_lfie group.

    The counter-prolife argument used to be …
    I’m not counter-prolife. I’m prolife. It seems the conservative argument is that if you are pro-life and dare support social welfare or dare criticize Big Business financing of abortion, you are accused of beign pro-abortion.

    Right now, there’s I can’t stop private industry (insurance) from paying for abortions.
    And I can’t stop Congress from doing anything. So why belittle me for tryign to expose and stop Big Businesses support for abortion?

    *This, should it happen, would eradicate any meaningful choice in the matter for military women. They will be quietly pressured or overtly bullied into having abortions – even if they are married and want to start a family – because nothing is less respected than ‘that female’ who got out of a deployment because she was pregnant.

    Thank you for your service. But will all due respect, I thing one has to be a fool not to understand that right now, the military is one of the worse places to be as far as having the horrors of one’s boss pressuring one to abort. The practical order to abort is too common among bosses in the private sector (“all -holy” to some) and is 100 times worse in the military.

Comments are closed.