Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

2/13/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The voters of Northern Virginia deserve an honest answer.

I removed my original article on Comstock from Catholic Online in order to give myself time to consider her "veto session" explanation. Having considered it, I find it not only inadequate but a sad reminder of the kind of explanation used by Rep. Bart Stupak when he backed down on his opposition to abortion funding in the health care bill.I've been told, publicly and privately, that I'm making it easier for a Democrat to win the 10th Congressional District, that Comstock is "electable," and so forth. As a Catholic commentator on politics, my obligation is to press hard on precisely these kinds of inconsistencies in the records and platforms of Catholic politicians.

Delegate Barbara Comstock

Delegate Barbara Comstock

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/13/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Barbara Comstock, Northern Virginia,


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - Politics is a world where friends give and receive the benefit of the doubt. And that, I think, is as it should be. The loyalty of friendship naturally smooths over, or ignores, what acquaintances or strangers find troubling. When friends gather round to support one of their own in a political race they sometimes act startled when those being introduced to their candidate don't shrug off troubling issues.

A few days ago, I published an article raising questions about the vote of Delegate Barbara Comstock in the 2013 Virginia General Assembly. Comstock has recently announced her candidacy for the GOP nomination in Virginia's 10th Congressional District which encompasses an area running from McLean to Winchester. Thus, the voters Comstock must win, or any of her opponents, range from the "purple" of affluent McLean to the solid red of counties farther west.

My article elicited various criticisms, private and public, and led to the announcement of a Catholic Outreach committee for Comstock, many of whom are friends of mine. Comstock, by the way, is Catholic and attends St. Luke's Church in McLean. Having been the leader of Catholic Outreach for G. W. Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, I am no stranger to the workings of Republican Catholics in DC and Northern Virginia. The worst I have heard from any of these friends is that I was "badly misled," and it is to that charge that I must address myself.

Was I misled or inaccurate in my evaluation of Comstock's vote against the amendment to VA H.B.1900 that stripped the Virginia medical exchange, created under Obamacare, of all insurance coverage for abortions? The vote was considered against life, and scored as such, by the leading pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage organization in Virginia, the Family Foundation. Of the ten leading pro-life Delegates in Virginia, only one, in addition to Comstock, voted against the amendment.

As a result, Comstock received a 100% rating in 2013 for her vote from NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and her rating from the Family Foundation dropped from 100% to 89%. (Her lowered rating from the Family Foundation also includes her "yes" vote in favor of same-sex marriage activist judge, Tracey Thorne-Begland.)

There are many Catholics who find it odd that Comstock would vote against an amendment that stripped abortion coverage out of the implementation of Obamacare in Virginia. Since Delegate Comstock presented herself as a candidate who was both Catholic and pro-life, I looked into the matter. This is the kind of work I have been doing since taking over Crisis Magazine in 1995; as a pro bono adviser to Catholic Outreach at the Republican National Committee; and as a public commentator on Catholics in politics, including two books, How to Vote Catholic (Morley, 2004), and my 2008 book, Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster).

Over the years, my constant concern has been to hold the feet of Catholic politicians "to the fire," so to speak, when it comes to the Church's settled issues such as abortion, marriage, sterilization, and euthanasia. Catholics have had many disappointments - the majority of Catholics in Congress have supported abortion for decades. Only a few years ago, one Catholic Democrat, Rep. Bart Stupak, tried to hold out against immense pressure but eventually caved in, allowing abortion coverage in the health care bill that went to the desk of the President.

Thus, abortion coverage in Obamacare became both substantially and symbolically the sine qua non of pro-life politicians, especially among Catholics, since it was one of our own who couldn't take the pressure. 

That I would be curious, as would any other Catholic voter, about Comstock's vote against the abortion funding amendment, is both natural and necessary. It is natural because we don't want to elect another Stupak; it is necessary because it is the obligation of Catholics to consider settled issues such as abortion and marriage ahead of prudential matters when casting their vote.

Comstock and her supporters all know this.

After the article was published, I immediately received, privately from several different sources, her justification for the vote: A vote during a "veto session" on an amendment automatically becomes her vote on the entire bill. That is, a no vote against the amendment is a no vote against the bill.

That is why, I was told, Comstock voted against the amendment: she wanted to register her opposition to Obamacare - when H.B.1900 was first presented to the General Assembly in February, 2013, Comstock had voted against it. When the Governor sent it back to the General Assembly in April, with the pro-life amendment, Comstock's second "no" vote was registered against the pro-life amendment in order, I am told, to once again register her opposition to Obamacare. (NARAL even awarded her for voting "no" to the pro-life amendment.)

At the surface of it, this might sound like a perfectly reasonable explanation, especially to those who deplore Obamacare for the all reasons it can be deplored. However, for someone who thinks life issues should be considered first, it raises more questions:

Since the Virginia medical exchange was already cleared by both chambers and the Governor, why didn't Comstock want to be part of a majority of Virginia Delegates who voted on April 3, 2013, to remove abortion funding from the VA implementation of Obamacare?

I have sent this question and others to Comstock's representative, Susan Falconer, but have received no response. I also asked the more important and most pertinent question: Does Delegate Comstock recognize a difference in moral priority between voting for an amendment that will eliminate abortion coverage, and an entirely symbolic vote against Obamacare, which was already ratified for Virginia?

If this question is ever addressed by either Comstock or her supporters, I expect to hear that she considered a vote against Obamacare the moral equivalent of voting against the abortion funding amendment. I consider that position indefensible. The entirety of Obamacare, no matter how much emotion it stirs in us, is not the moral equivalent of abortion, for the simple reason that Obamacare encompasses all medical practices.

I removed my original article on Comstock from Catholic Online in order to give myself time to consider her "veto session" explanation. Having considered it, I find it not only inadequate but a sad reminder of the kind of explanation used by Rep. Bart Stupak when he backed down on his opposition to abortion funding in the health care bill.

I've been told, publicly and privately, that I'm making it easier for a Democrat to win the 10th Congressional District, that Comstock is "electable," and so forth. As a Catholic commentator on politics, my obligation is to press hard on precisely these kinds of inconsistencies in the records and platforms of Catholic politicians.

That Comstock strongly supports over the counter contraception, several of which are considered abortifacients, is not in doubt. That Comstock voted against an abortion funding amendment, hailed at the time by pro-life groups as absolutely "necessary" to protect innocent lives, is also not in doubt. Her reason for that vote, however, is still in doubt.

The voters of Northern Virginia deserve an honest answer.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

RATCHETING UP SANCTIONS: U.S. Europe increase sanctions against Russia Watch

Image of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that he is not considering adding new sanctions. Australia lost 28 citizens on Flight MH17. Abbott said that at the moment

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy have been announced by U.S. President Obama. It's all part of Washington's latest efforts to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his support for Ukrainian rebels. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'Achievements and contributions… to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy,' Obama celebrates achievements of Muslims Watch

Image of A recent survey found that 72 percent of Muslim-Americans approve of the President, more so than any other religious group.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the persecution of Iraqi Christians at the hands of Islamic jihadists continued, President Obama and First Lady Michelle released a statement this past weekend thanking Muslim Americans for their many "achievements and contributions...to building the very ... continue reading


U.S. Bishops say Obama's executive order 'implements discrimination' Watch

Image of Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, pictured, and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo in a statement noted that the executive order, which will impact a fifth of the U.S. workforce, discriminates against faithful Catholics.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new order by U.S. President Obama that forbids federal contractors from discriminating "on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," has been denounced by U.S. bishops as "unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed" and, in effect, ... continue reading


Israel harshly critical of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called 'an Alien' Watch

Image of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's apparent decision to use Qatar as a conduit through which to communicate with Hamas, effectively ditching an earlier Egyptian proposal which the group had rejected has stirred the pot.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States and Israel have been the staunchest of allies since Israel reached statehood following World War II - but this doesn't mean that the nations have always seen eye-to-eye. Indeed, the right-wing faction of the Israeli government are harshly ... continue reading


President Obama is 'mailing it in', bought the farm - spending lots of time golfing and goofing off Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Lackadaisical. That word is used to define "lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy." Lackadaisical appears to described U.S. President Barack Obama as of late. The president is pending an awful lot of time playing golf while the nation and the ... continue reading


In President Obama's war on religious freedom the people suffer another loss Watch

Image of A July 21 executive order has dealt a huge blow to the cause of freedom of religion in the United States.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's July 21 executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual-self-identification has lead to strong criticism from several prominent U.S. bishops, calling the executive order "unprecedented and extreme." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Efforts against female genital mutilation could be thwarted by population growth Watch

Image of Due partly to community activism and legislation, the prevalence of FGM, which involves the cutting away of the external female genitalia, and the marriage of girls under the age of 18 has decreased slightly over the last 30 years, UNICEF said.

By Lisa Anderson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Advances in fighting female genital mutilation, or FGM and child marriage could be offset by population growth unless the rate of progress increases, according to new data released Tuesday by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


FREE SPEECH VIOLATED: Tea party groups' lawsuit against IRS proceeds Watch

Image of Among the individuals named in the lawsuit is Lois Lerner, who headed the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status at that time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They're not going to take it - and they're taking their claims to court. A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit by 10 tea party groups to move forward against the Internal Revenue Service. The judge rejected a request by the federal government to dismiss all the ... continue reading


'Suing the president is the right path to go down here,' Boehner declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The House of Representatives has no plans to use its own constitutional authority to withhold funding from actions by President Obama. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that if the president takes actions that exceed his constitutional authority, ... continue reading


Federal government says state death penalties are 'unconstitutional' Watch

Image of A federal judge has called California's death penalty unconstitutional. Surprisingly though, this judge is a conservative republican, a party that has long opposed federal overreach into state rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A federal judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional on July 16, claiming that the state's system is arbitrary, unfair, and cruel and unusual because of a lengthy process that leaves prisoners in the dark about their actual death row status. ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter