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Elections and calling evil good

As I listen to the political discussion leading up to the Nov. 4 election, a warning from the prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Is 5:20).

This rings especially true when it comes to the issue of women’s health, which has been a strong focus of the contest between Congressman Cory Gardner and Senator Mark Udall for the U.S. Senate.

I have made the Church’s beliefs on these issues clear to the candidates. Championing abortion and contraception as good for women, is calling evil good. It is no secret that the Church teaches that abortion, which ends the life of an innocent human being, is evil. Science teaches us that the life of a human being begins at the moment of conception. Without conception there is no human being. Life is an inalienable right, not bestowed by the state, but recognized by the state as inherent to what it means to be a human being.

It is also well-known that the Church teaches contraception is immoral because it introduces a refusal of the gift of life, hinders marital unity and reduces each person to a mere object of pleasure.

But fewer people know that contraception is bad for women from a scientific point of view. The possible side effects for the pill include: developing high blood pressure, blood clots, depression, having a stroke, heart attack, or migraines and having difficulty with breast-feeding. The pill also increases the risk of breast cancer by over 40 percent if it is taken before a woman delivers her first baby. Many people have not read the contraindications for taking the pill or using other forms of birth control and rarely are they made public.

Certainly this cannot be good for women. I bring this to your attention because it is my responsibility to teach on these issues so that you are able to vote with an informed conscience.

On the topic of women’s health issues, neither candidate is perfect. Congressman Gardner has proposed making the pill available over the counter, and this is problematic.

Senator Udall has gone a step further by backing the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which requires employers to provide contraception, including some forms that can cause an abortion, and sterilization.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the mandate violated the religious freedom of Hobby Lobby, Senator Udall moved to reverse the ruling through legislation.

This past July, he co-sponsored the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” with Senator Patty Murray from Washington state. As voters, you need to be aware of what this act will impose on people.

This legislation does more than call evil good. It eliminates the option for people of faith to cite their beliefs as a reason not to provide contraceptive coverage, including abortifacients.

Supporters of the bill say that it is aimed at reversing the Hobby Lobby decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, but the bill would do much more than that. It states that when the federal government decides to mandate any item in health plans nationwide, no one will have a right to object that it violates their religious freedom or conscience.

Just as contraceptives have been mandated as a “preventive service” to avert unintended pregnancies, coverage for all abortions–including late-term abortions–could be mandated to avoid unwanted live births. In short, any federal law protecting conscience rights on abortion would be null and void, not just for “corporations” but for everyone involved.

When you decide how to vote in the coming days, I ask you to do so with a well-formed conscience, with real knowledge of what each candidate stands for, and to be mindful of the impact of your vote for good and for evil. We need more respect for religious freedom in our nation, not less.

Finally, remember the invitation given by Pope Francis, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.” Let us never fear bringing our well-formed consciences, values and beliefs into the voting booth!

The Colorado Catholic Conference has created a voter guide that is available in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese here.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila is the eighth bishop of Denver and its fifth archbishop. His episcopal motto is, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).
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