Gerson falsely claimed Clinton said Catholics "somehow responsible for abortion in America"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

In his September 26 Washington Post column, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter and policy adviser to President Bush, asserted, "[A]s [author Paul] Kengor points out in his insightful book, 'God and Hillary Clinton,' Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) defense of abortion rights has been strident, even radical. She has attacked pro-life people as enemies of 'evidence,' 'science' and 'the Constitution.' And she has blamed pro-life 'ideologues' for the prevalence of abortions because of their 'silent war on contraception' -- a remarkable accusation that Roman Catholic opposition to birth control is somehow responsible for abortion in America." However, in his book, God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life (HarperCollins, September 2007), Kengor does not assert that Clinton blamed "Roman Catholic opposition to birth control" for abortions. In fact, he does not claim that Clinton used the word "Catholics" at all, though he does engage in speculation of his own -- writing that Clinton "must have had in mind Catholics in particular" when she referred to "these right wingers [who] left women with no choice but to end their unwanted pregnancies with abortion."

From Kengor's book (Page 255):

One of the more surprising of these remarks came during a May 2006 assertion that right-wing "ideologues" were to blame for abortion. According to Mrs. Clinton, by denying women access to contraceptives -- here she must have had in mind Catholics in particular -- these right-wingers left women with no choice but to end their unwanted pregnancies with abortions. This movement to withhold contraceptives, said the senator, in strong language, "was started by a small group of extreme ideologues who claim the right to impose their personal beliefs on the overwhelming majority of the American people." She added: "They're waging this silent war on contraception by using the power of the White House and their right-wing allies in Congress -- and so far, they're getting away with it."

Kengor was apparently referring to a May 2006 email released by the Clinton campaign in support of resolutions to express the sense of the Senate and the Congress "concerning the value of family planning for American women." However, neither the email nor either resolution accused Roman Catholics of being "somehow responsible for abortion in America."

In the email, reproduced on the Justice Blog, hosted by the website of The Austin American-Statesman, Clinton asserted:

There's a quiet war going on in America -- against the most basic rights of Americans to make their own personal decisions about family planning.

It was started by a small group of extreme ideologues who claim the right to impose their personal beliefs on the overwhelming majority of the American people.

They're waging this silent war on contraception by using the power of the White House and their right-wing allies in Congress -- and so far, they're getting away with it.

That's why I need your help to fight back. We need to protect every woman's right to make her own decisions. That's why Congresswoman Nita Lowey and I have introduced a Congressional Resolution to Strengthen Family Planning Services for Women.

And, we need your voice to make sure every member of Congress votes on this Resolution. Become a co-sponsor today and help us pass this important resolution to ensure women have access to contraceptives.

Click here to Co-sponsor the Resolution to Strengthen Family Planning Services for Women

I will present your signatures to congressional leaders, because it's time for Members to listen to their constituents and defend women's privacy and reproductive rights.

Dozens of state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut or restricted in recent years. The so-called "Deficit Reduction Act of 2005" actually stripped away the promise to cover family planning for all Medicaid enrollees, further reducing access for those who need it.

Low-income women, denied access to contraception, are having more unwanted pregnancies -- four times as many as those for higher income women. And almost half of all unwanted pregnancies end in abortions.

It's time to find out if Congress is serious about reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Our resolution will ask Congress to go on record for programs and policies that make it easier for women of all incomes to obtain contraceptives and use them correctly.

Click here to Co-sponsor the Resolution to Strengthen Family Planning Services for Women

This is not a time for us to be quiet. We must be outspoken and determined to support every woman's right to make her own decisions about family planning.

This war against contraception endangers basic American values. It endangers women's health in order to score political points. And because the proponents of this war know that they do not represent the majority of Americans, it can only succeed if it is carried out in silence.

It's time for us to speak up. It's time to fight back against this silent attack on women's lives and our families' future. We can win -- if we join together.

The Clinton-sponsored "Resolution to express the sense of the Senate concerning the value of family planning for American women" read as follows:

Whereas the United States has one of the highest rates of abortion in the industrialized world;

Whereas reducing unintended pregnancies will reduce the number of abortions;

Whereas one of the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancy is to improve access to safe, affordable, effective family planning;

Whereas contraceptive use has declined (slightly among all women and precipitously among low-income women) and, as a result, unplanned pregnancy rates have risen among low-income women by 30 percent;

Whereas the impact of contraceptive use is hard to overstate--11 percent of women in the United States who do not use contraception account for 1/2 of all unintended pregnancies;

Whereas low-income women today are 4 times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy and more than 4 times as likely to have an abortion as higher-income women;

Whereas abortion rates have increased among low-income women, even as they have continued to decrease among more affluent women;

Whereas 12,800,000 women of reproductive age are uninsured and 9,300,000 women of reproductive age live in poverty;

Whereas lack of coverage for contraception and other health care costs result in women of reproductive age paying 68 percent more in out-of-pocket costs for health care services than do men of the same age;

Whereas family planning is a vital part of helping women achieve the best health outcomes for both women and their babies; and

Whereas Women's Health Week is a time to recognize the important role family planning services play in the lives of women across the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that --

(1) Congress should help women, regardless of income, avoid unintended pregnancy and abortion through access to affordable contraception; and

(2) Congress should support programs and policies that make it easier for women to obtain contraceptives.

From Gerson's September 26 column:

As a moralist, she has been willing to work with conservatives on issues such as religious freedom in the workplace and highlighting the destructive impact of pop culture on children. She has joined congressional efforts against human trafficking and was an early supporter of public funds for faith-based social services. None of this indicates a privatized religious faith.

At the same time, as Kengor points out in his insightful book, "God and Hillary Clinton," her defense of abortion rights has been strident, even radical. She has attacked pro-life people as enemies of "evidence," "science" and "the Constitution." And she has blamed pro-life "ideologues" for the prevalence of abortions because of their "silent war on contraception" -- a remarkable accusation that Roman Catholic opposition to birth control is somehow responsible for abortion in America.

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