Catholic Senator Tim Kaine offers to dialogue with Archbishop Naumann

I am a practicing Catholic and follow church teachings about the sanctity of life.

In my personal life, that has meant long periods of abstinence, natural family planning, avoiding unwanted pregnancy, fidelity to my wife of 33 years, and welcoming the gift of three precious children.

It has meant taking a year off from law school to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras and representing and ministering to people on death row.

It has meant longtime public advocacy, together with my wife, for better adoption and foster care policies, for services to the poor and immigrants and disabled, for the advance of children, for good health care for all.

It has involved opening our life and even our home to those in need, including — on one occasion — a pregnant teenager who needed a place to stay before having a baby.

Sometimes, Catholics who support women’s reproductive rights get casually derided by church leaders as if being “personally pro-life” is just paying lip service to Catholic teachings.

To the contrary, Catholics like me walk the walk and sacrifice to live our values every day.

Church law for Catholics is one thing. But, as a civil rights lawyer and elected official, I know that civil law for everyone is something else.

In the area of the civil laws on contraception and abortion, I believe that the Griswold and Roe cases were decided correctly by the U.S. Supreme Court.

While our church, or any faith, has the right to set terms for those who choose to belong to it, I do not believe that state law should be used to punish women or doctors for the decisions women make about contraception or abortion.

I have, and do, support some limits on abortion as contemplated by Roe and subsequent cases — parental consent for minors seeking abortion with a judicial bypass in the event that a minor’s home situation makes that practically impossible, a ban on certain late-term procedures so long as there is an exception for the life and health of the mother, a ban on federal funding of abortions.

But I fight to maintain a robust health safety net, including access to contraception and strong pro-adoption programs, partly because such policies help drive down unintended pregnancies and abortions.

And I fight to protect women’s constitutional rights to make their own choices about their pregnancies, free from arbitrary restrictions that are merely designed to undermine those rights. Continue reading

  • Tim Kaine is a Democratic Senator for Virginia. He was the vice presidential running mate of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
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