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Bishop: Votes for Obama deepened the culture of death

This bishops' battle against President Barack Obama continues in the new administration - or at least it does in the Diocese of Brooklyn, where I live. That is one of the messages to be drawn from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio's strongly worded column, in which he writes, among other things, that "In my view, those who voted for President Obama bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death."Commenting on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, the bishop also writes:

The so-called pro-choice movement has its roots in the ideology of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who understood her call to be one who would assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit. Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.

He later adds: "Some may think my tone a bit strident and even un-nuanced. Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters, if we hope to preserve what is left of our God-given and Constitutionally-protected rights."The bishop has shown a certain determination by writing in such terms about Obama just as the president returns to office after winning about 80 percent of the votes cast within his diocese. Since he indicates that more is to come, I thought it worth looking at what he's already said.

Bishop DiMarzio's charge about Margaret Sanger, who opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, echoes one Herman Cain made during his short presidential run. Sanger did make some controversial and chilling remarks, but, according to, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, it's not true that she wanted (as Cain had put it) to "prevent black babies from being born." The FactChecker at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, found similarly, saying the quote from Sanger is taken out of context. gave this claim its "pants on fire" rating.The bishop's remark that those who voted for Obama "bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death" would be more persuasive had he not publicly supported pro-choice candidates himself. As reported earlier, he made robo-calls expressing his thanks to Brooklyn politician Vito Lopez, then the county Democratic leader. And he was pictured with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a full-page campaign advertisement in the diocesan newspaper, for which he is the publisher.Of course, the bishop did not do this out of support for the pro-choice policies of these two politicians. He was providing political payback to Lopez for opposing a bill to change the statute of limitations on lawsuits over sexual abuse, and to Bloomberg for his involvement in private fundraising for Catholic schools. Since then, Lopez has come under investigation on charges of sexually harassing women on his staff. Bloomberg bankrolled the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.It's to be expected that a bishop would weigh the pluses and minuses of the candidates in light of church teaching. Members of his flock are entitled to do the same.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).



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The following is from an NYU website. As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the "unfit" and the "fit", admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. don't know if I'd feel comfortable rushing to Margaret Sanger's defense. to Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion, by Jean H. Baker.From one of the Customer Reviews:"I was glad to have Sanger's opinions on race and eugenics explained. To this day, detractors cherry pick the record on this. Sanger had to ally with eugenicists and Malthusians as well as progressives in order to move her issue forward. She founded clinics in Harlem and Black regions of the South. She was an advocate of only voluntary sterilization - the woman's right to what happens to her body."Amazing how much anger and dishonesty the mention of this woman's name still arouses. See, e.g., Herman Cain:

Actually, despite how DiMarzio tries to smear her legacy, Margaret Sanger was more worried about men like the Brooklyn bishop ever being able to procreate.Rest easy Margaret, as best we can tell, DiMarzio swore-off girls a long time ago.

Strange how Catholics like John Rock are never mentioned in this contraceptive lead up to the "culture of death".

DiMarzio again.(yawn)Ya'd think these Vatican sycophants might conclude they could learn from the rest of us for a change.(...then again...)

You and other reasonable Catholics in Brooklyn have my sympathies, Mr. Moses.

David Kennedy's book, "Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger," goes into some historical detail about her connection to the eugenics movement. As I recall, it was not blacks who were the focus of her attention, but immigrants..... the likes of our forebears, Paul. This is slippery territory in the sense that she focused on the link between poverty and large families (of which she was a member as a child). That most poor people in NYC where she worked were immigrants and blacks (immigrants from the South) has given her a pass in the Planned Parenthood world for her alliance with eugenicists. It's a long time since I read Kennedy but I recall that it was the English eugenics movement that attracted her attention.

Agree that the vilification of Margaret Sanger by priests (and bishops) is not based on history. It is a mistake to take their continuing obsession with her as anything other than what it is. I found the portrayal on Boardwalk Empire of Nucky's wife's work with poor women desperate for birth control very touching and historically sound.

Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.Nauseating.

"Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate"Outrageous. How could Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ever think that a statement like that could support the pro-life cause?Where is he coming from? My guess is that he is furious that Obama got elected again. Aside to the bishop: Statements like that are not going to help the cause at all except to reinforce Obamsa haters.

GOPer Bobby Jingel just called the GOP 'the party of stupid'.E.G Was the Obama victory not in Brooklyn papers and TV? Didn't Obama overwhelmingly win Brooklyn? Bishop DiMarzio disses about 2/3 of his flock.. But schmoozes with the pro-Obama pols? I suggest he do clean up out in Rockaway now that his GOP pals finally released some clea-up funds.

"Un-nuanced"! It's early in the year, but that will likely be a competitor for the understatement of 2013. Oh for the days of Francis Mugavero, Brooklyn priest and Brooklyn bishop! Or Thomas Vos Daily. The present bishop, "a gift" from Newark, is a bit of a street brawler.

I think it's unfair to conflate contraception with Sangar, as if the only person who could approve of it would be some kind of eugenics monster. As I mentioned above, responsible Catholics like Rock helped create the pill.

Agree, Crystal, but for some reason, Margaret Sanger is THE symbol of contraception in the "minds" of many. (I had a renowned priest/theologian/journal editor/etc. as a theology professor. He was old and decrepit and never raised his voice as he read to us from his yellowed old notes. Except when he would go off on Margaret Sanger. Oooh, how he ranted. It was funny, in a weird way. Like hearing someone bashing Carrie Nation.)

Yep - culture of death from this president who is supporting a number of measures that are pro-life: gun control; climate change; environmental standards; decreasiing unemployment; stabilizing the housing market; addressing the growing divide between haves and have nots; implementing PPACA; addressing the rights of gay folks; immigration reform, etc, etc.Narrow and ignorant. Must have the catholic episcopal equivalent of Fox News - DeMarzio, Jenky, Morlino, Olmsted, George, etc.

What do the priests an people of Brooklyn think of the bishop? I think he''s a goof on the national stage in these in these kind of prononcments and his hypocrisy with the photos, etc., but I'm curious how he's perceived in the neighborhood. Do they just write off these remarks as "DiMarzio being DiMarzio"-- like we Sox fans wrote off "Manny being Manny." because he produced a lot of riuns?

Sanger's philosophy had its extremely odious aspects, like this pearl: "While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble minded, the insane and the syphiletic [sic], I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit. They are excellent means of meeting a certain phase of the situation, but I believe in regard to these, as in regard to other eugenic means, that they do not go to the bottom of the matter." (, p. 12)In other words, in Sanger's view, the biggest problem with eugenics is that it is ineffective; scientific birth control seemed to her a more promising method to rid the world of the "unfit".I don't think she would have opposed President Obama's birth per se, as I don't think the President meets her criteria for unfit. I don't think that Bishop DiMarzio has her pegged exactly right. The President, according to reports I've read (living as I do in true-Blue Illinois rather than a contested state, I had almost no first-hand exposure to the recent campaign), ran a robustly pro-abortion campaign. And the religious liberty issue is genuine. So I sympathize with DiMarzio's passion. But I don't think his piece strikes the right tone. And he does need to check his facts.I don't think bishops should tell people whom to vote for nor against. That's the laity's job. There are many eloquent and polished pro-life activist spokespersons among the laity. He might be better served giving up his column space to one of them for a week.

Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.You can use words like nauseating and outrageous, but these are nothing more than emotional, knee-jerk reactions. Lets face it. the bishop makes an arguable point. You would do better to rebut it with a rational argument than an irritable gesture.

Hello, Mark Prosska. There is more to my comment, Outrageous!How could Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ever think that a statement like that could support the pro-life cause?

Hello HelenIsn't it obvious? The bishop is saying that far too many young ones born in the same circumstances as Barack Obama are aborted. That's a bad thing, right? The pro-life cause seeks to reduce that, right? You are not making an argument.

Is this factually correct from the Bishop's column: " the lamentable Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy." I thought it was only up until viability. Any Con law experts around?

There are many legal restrictions on abortion in the US, different ones in different states. If you look at the graphics on this Wikipedia page, you can see that the right to "legal on request" abortion only appears to exist in 4 states ....

My undertanding is that since Casey (in 1992) a state cannot prohibit abortions prior to viability but it can prohibit them after viability provided there is an exception for the life and health of the mother. "(d) Adoption of the undue burden standard does not disturb Roe's holding that, regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.(e) Roe's holding that "subsequent to viability, the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother" is also reaffirmed. Id., at 164-165. Pp. 869-879."Heath includes mental health, so it can be quite a broad exception depending on the doctor.

"Some may think my tone a bit strident and even un-nuanced. Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters, if we hope to preserve what is left of our God-given and Constitutionally-protected rights.Challenge accepted.You are a whited seplechure. Repent.While Your fellow bishops are still on probation for child endangerment, You talk about politics? How dare you!

Crystal Watson, perhaps you are looking at the map labelled "Abortion laws in the U.S. prior to Roe"

Sangers philosophy had its extremely odious aspects . . . Jim Pauwels,Why is Margaret Sanger always dragged into discussions on abortion? She never advocated abortion. In fact, she disapproved of it. And Margaret Sanger's writings on race in 1919 have to be viewed in the context of their time. The move to legalize abortion had nothing to do with eugenics, and abortion has absolutely nothing to do with eugenics now. People who perform abortions are doing it because there is a demand. They are not creating that demand. People who procure abortions are not doing it for the betterment of the race. They are doing it because they don't want the babies they have conceived and they are furthermore unwilling to continue with pregnancy. So the pro-life movement vilifies Margaret Sanger, while making every excuse possible for women who actually procure abortions and promising never, ever to hold them responsible for their actions. They are the "second victims" of abortion.

John - yes, thanks, you're right.

January 22nd was the 40th anniversary of the Roe decision, but also the 40th anniversary of its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Though Roe created a trimester regimen that in theory made it more difficult to obtain an abortion post-viability, Doe implemented a "health" of the mother exception that is quite broad, as John Hayes noted, and that applies throughout gestation:Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute, an abortion is necessary is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Courtthat the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. the Roe trimester regiment has been modified to some degree by subsequent decisions such as Casey, the Doe health exception has not been modified and in practice has been invoked to permit abortions at any time during gestation.

Hi, David, I see you're addressing me in your comment. Just speaking for myself - I didn't drag Sanger into the discussion. Bishop DiMarzio brought her up, and a number of other commenters have commented on her. I think(?) DiMarzio's point about Planned Parenthood is that she founded it, and it has evolved into the largest provider of abortions.In point of fact, she saw birth control as an alternative to abortions, of which she saw many among women in the slums, and which she deplored as dangerous to women's health.

"Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters." Only on this issue, or on others as well?A bishop calling for direct conversation? THAT'S HILARIOUS.

Doe was consistent with a Model state law:". In 1959 the prestigious American Law Institute (ALI) published a new "model code" for state legislatures. It would allow a doctor to perform abortions in cases of rape, incest, serious deformity, and whenever the doctor believed there was risk to the mental or physical health to the mother. The word believed was significant, because it meant a doctor was virtually immune from prosecution so long as he would claim, whatever the medical facts, that he had believed them threatening. Few imagined that such terminology could become an open door to abortion on demand.Protestants, and even many Catholics, had historically recognized the validity of what is called therapeutic abortion. Abortion reform purported to expand the categories of those tragic decisions. Suppose that the birth of a child conceived by rape threatened to destroy the mother's mental stability; could not an abortion be considered life saving?In 1967 the AMA voted in favor of legal reform. In the same year the National Organization for Women came out in favor of abortion, and feminists joined the cause. A number of states passed reforming legislation, along the ALI recommended lines, which would give physicians greater latitude in performing therapeutic abortions."

The should have been an ellipsis between the second and third paragraphs. See the link for the complete text.

"How could Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ever think ..."Helen: how can you presume that he did "think"?And can you really trust a man who dresses like he just came from the set of The Sopranos? ....

Are you insulting the creativity of 14th century Italian tailors? Don't you like Benedict's cute white slippers? Could the fact that they look like they're from another planet explain their alien thinking? 40 years of controversy have proved that there is no common ground on the ground the battle is being fought. It's time to move to higher ground. When people are given three bad choices, people are going to make bad choices. I don't know what better choices would be because no one has seriously asked the women involved. I do know that many better choices are going to cost money. No one can be prolife or prochoice and against tax increases at the same time.

The bishops of course are correct. Even though I am glad Obama is trying to do something on gun control and trying to improve the situation regarding indocumentados, I did not vote for him. Why? Because Democrat party embraces abortion (baby killing) euthanasia (granny killing) and gay marriage; that's why.Voting for people who promote abortion, artifical birth control, euthanasia is hardly striving for a culture of life.I agree with the president when he said if tightening gun laws saves just one child's life it would be worth it. I wish he would be as concerned about the million or so babies killed in America's abortion mills each year.

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