By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
Washington (CNN) – It was the first-ever debate between two Roman Catholics vying for a White House perch, and in Thursday’s face-off between Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, the question was put plainly: How does your faith shape your position on abortion?
It’s one of the most divisive questions in American politics, and the query from debate moderator Martha Raddatz, asked near the end of the sole vice presidential debate, set the table for some of the night’s most personal and poignant moments.
“I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith,” said Ryan. “Our faith informs us in everything we do.”
“My religion defines who I am,” said Biden. “I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life.”
But the two men took very different tacks on applying their faith to the abortion issue. Ryan said his religion – combined with “reason and science” – led him to oppose legalized abortion, and that “the policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.”
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Ryan recalled when he and his wife, Janna, saw the ultrasound of their firstborn child, Liza. “We saw that heartbeat – a little baby was in the shape of a bean,” he said, noting that they still called their daughter “Bean” and saying he believes that “life begins at conception.”
“With respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they wanted it to be safe, legal and rare,” Ryan continued. “Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding … that to me is pretty extreme.”
Biden said he accepted his church’s anti-abortion position – “life begins at conception in the church’s judgment” – but that he refused to impose that view on “equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews.”
“The next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees,” Biden said. “That’s how close Roe v. Wade is. … Do you think (Romney is) likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen.”
Both men also used the question on abortion and Roman Catholicism to pivot to other issues, with Ryan saying the Obama White House is “infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals” presumably because of a new rule requiring insurers to provide free contraception coverage for virtually all American employees.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
Before answering the abortion question, Biden said his Catholicism has “informed my social doctrine … about taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help.”
The Obama campaign and liberal Catholic groups used the debate to organize Catholic watch parties and to argue that Ryan’s proposed budget in the House of Representative ran counter to Catholic values.
About one in four American voters is Catholic, though there is such a broad range in Catholic political concerns and voting habits that many political experts reject the notion of a cohesive Catholic bloc.
Catholics have voted with the winning presidential candidate in every election since the early 1990s.
Obama camp, liberal groups use VP debate to organize Catholic voters
In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54% to 45%. In 2004, John Kerry – the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy – lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, provoking Democrats to take Catholic outreach more seriously.
Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.
Biden is a CINO – Catholic in name only. Pretty much all Dems are CINOs. You can't believe one thing and do another – but then again, that's what all politicians do don't they? So which politician can you trust? I say none of them.
cgaw – surprisingly to some, even members of churches don't all think and believe the same way.
just because they are members of a particular church does not require to check their personal beliefs at the door.
Catholics believe abortion is murder, so you can't say I don;t endorse it for myself but its ok for other people. Cop out statement for politicians who claim to be Catholic.
cgaw – catholic dogma states that abortion is murder and contraception is wrong. that does not mean that catholics believe that.
Then they are not followers of catholicism – they are CINOs
Your leaders are going to be arguing about abortion until we all perish. They will never talk about anything else.
Both candidates are pro-choice. They only differ on whether the parentage matters.
Life DOES NOT begin at conception: A seed is NOT a tree!
Wouldn't we have a great world if there were no religion at all?
A seed is not a tree. A sperm is not a human. But when egg accepts sperm, the magic happens, human life!
So when does life begin?
You are correct, a seed is not a tree, and an egg is not a human. A fertilized tree seed IS a tree. A fertilzed human egg IS a human. Once those LIVING cells start dividing, those cells become what they were intended to become, whether it be a tree or a human...LIFE.
@Getoff – are you serious? A fertilized seed is a tree? No, it's a potential tree. It's like you're saying a fertilized egg is a chicken. You don't scramble chickens for breakfast, do you?
Life does not equal personhood rights, nor does it mean that their rights trump the womans.
Why on earth has the GOP let themselves get hijacked by the christian conservatives? It makes it really tough for us moderates to vote for them...
You said, "Why on earth has the GOP let themselves get hijacked by the christian conservatives?"
They need the sheeple to get the votes. There simply aren't enough people in the 1% to get elected. To be able to be in a position where they can fleece society, they need to pander to the ignorant.
you largely have Karl Rove to thank for that, though in truth he only presided over the unholy marriage between the GOP and the American Taliban.
They started going steady during the Reagan adminstration. Nixon introduced them when he converted southern Dixiecrats who hated Johnson's civil rights laws to the cause.
I'm Catholic, a scientist and I support abortion. Current laws have the correct balance.
what's that...free abortions for all? Late term abortions? Snuffing out the life of born babies who were intended to be aborted? You might as well quit the church and join one of those superfun rock band churches.
Yes, Getoff, jump straight to that idiot conclusion! Free abortions for all – let's pass out punch cards and sponsor parties.
Democrats like Biden continue to struggle with their stances on abortion, and for good reason. The church, in doing it's part, should put more pressure on active politicians who support abortion – letting them know if they continue these kinds of public stances there will be church discipline. For some reason, Catholics have refrained from that for the most part. That's too bad. Biden pointed out one more reason to vote for Romney in the fall – the next president will likely decide the judges who will decide the future of Roe v. Wade in the coming years. We finally have an opportunity to get this horrific practice outlawed. Hopefully we don't blow it.
You said, "The church, in doing it's part, should put more pressure on active politicians who support abortion – letting them know if they continue these kinds of public stances there will be church discipline."
Keep your delusions out of government.
You have the right to believe whatever bullshit you want. You don't have the right to expect anyone else to be equally deluded.
Theocrat. You have no place in modern government.
separation of church and state. period.
Og say TAX EM if they meddle in politics!
Rock say superst ition stupid. Og like rock.
dave – churches who attempt to pressure politicians and influence public policy should immediately lose tax exept status.
Rock think it stupid to want back party that destroyed economy, couldn't win war, suspends freedom. Rock smart. Og like rock. Rock say Osama dead GM alive. Rock know that not true if other party still in power. Rock smart. Rock have memory longer than 20 minutes. Og like rock.
Your opinion would mean so much more if you had been born with a uterus.
Here's where you and most people get it wrong. Roe v. Wade has already been decided and ab.ortion is now legal in all 50 states. It doesn't matter if SC.OTUS has 9 ul.tra-conservative judges on the bench, they can't change the fact. SC.OTUS does not have the power to review a past case and overturn the ruling based purely on idealog..ical and personal grounds. They must have a similar case brought forward and then it's up to them whether or not the case that set prece.dence should be overturned or not.
To go a step further, most dems don't necessarily have issues with their stance on abo.rtion, they have issues with the people painting their stance. Very few people are for abo.rtions to be used as a form of birth control. Not only does it fisca.lly not make sense, but the moral and psyc.hological conse.quences are an issue. What we are in favor of however is to keep the opt.ion open and to let a person decide. This includes ra.p.e, inc.e.st, threat to the mother or the fact that if a 16 year old who is only taught to practice abstai.n.ance suddenly becomes pre.gnant, it won't ruin her life, her families or her unwanted baby. It will keep the crime rate down, it'll eat up less resources.
Well, if Romney-Ryan want to follow Catholic teachings then they will have to outlaw contraception as well. Let's see how far that goes. Biden's comments about not dictating to others is the way to go.
Rock like casandra. Casandra smart. Og like Casandra. Rock know Fid Vit stupid, Og like rock.
If pregnancy was 10 days, not 10 months would all of you pro choicers have the same position....
But it isn't now is it?
What a pointless hypothesis.
If cows were as cute as kittens, would you still eat burgers?
Yes. Because I do not have the right to impose my beliefs on others. Each person needs to make the decision for/against abortion individually. It's not up to me or you to tell others how to live.
It is clear that a Fetus is not a Child because Republicans don't care about Children!
doc – you don't think calves are as cute as kittens?
calves are both adorable and very tasty.
every person when reaching a certain age, probably about 12, should be required to do public service time in slaughterhouses and food production. it will likely change a lot of behavior.
Rock say Casandra make Fidelis look stupid with truth. Og like rock. Og like Casandra.
I think you're right there. There's a lot in the production of meats that I don't ever want to think about. I'm quite guilty of denial in that regard.
cassandra – best reply to a cnn post,EVER.
But it is not... whats ur point?
Why do Catholics oppose birth control?
The condemnation of birth control stems from their belief that God wants humans to spew forth as many cro/tch critters as possible in order to populate heaven and to "be fruitful and multiply" (gen 1:28).
To purposely countermand God's will to breed like rabbits is to lie to the Holy Spirit in the same way that Ananias and Saphira did in Acts 5 : 1-11 when they held back a portion of their gift to God. God's slaying of that couple is one of the few instances of divine wrath in the New Testament.
They also believe that many forms of birth control, like IUDs and the pill, are actually forms of abortion and therefore consti.tute murder.
There is also a heavy emphasis on self-denial as a path to righteousness amongst Catholics, this stemming from Matthew 16:24 in which Jesus says "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
For Catholics in terrible marriages, God allows separation (and therefore lifelong abstinence) but not divorce.
It was the apostle Paul's opinion that it was far better to be single and abstinent, but marry if you can't control your loins.
"To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)
There is also the old fear of witches and warlocks and their ungodly potions which God condemns in Gal. 5:20 and Apoc. 9:21. Today's sorcerers are pharmaceutical biochemists.
But most of all, the scripture cited by Catholics in regards to contraception is Genesis 38:9.
In that uplifting story, God commanded a fellow named Onan to impregnate his sister in law.
They repeatedly got jiggy, but Onan kept pulling out at the critical moment. For this transgression, God killed him.
Contrarily, the Vatican teaches the concept of Primacy of Conscience.
"Man has the right to act according to his conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters". (catechism of cath. church)
The quid pro quo is that Catholics are expected to develop their conscience based on obedience to the infallible dogmatic tenets of the Magisterium. In other words – Catholics are encouraged to make their own judgment calls when it comes to morality, but they go to hell if their conscience dictates other than that which the Church mandates.
cnn is a joke to me, they tend to with where other media going and what is popular, they mis-calculate who won the debate last night, i bet they will to change their decision now we know Joe Biden won, at least cnn take your time before you post anything on tv. CBS,MSNBC, ABC got it right. i saw Biden 63% on your web. at the same time you posted 48% Ryan 44% Biden. i will never believe cnn poll anymore.
I really don't care what a woman does with her fetus. Is that wrong?
Proceeding the real issues:
The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...
The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:
The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% ACTUAL failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% ACTUAL failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.
Added information before making your next move:
from the CDC-2006
"Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
Consumer Reports, January, 2012
"Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-
Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.
"Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)
Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.
The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
– (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
– (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)
Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).
No, it is not wrong. It's her decision ... not mine. Nor anyone else.
@reality – If you want to include the morning after pill as a form of birth control rather than an abortion pill, I don't care if there is much of a difference. Conception means nothing to me.
The Government Should Not Be Imposing Their Beliefs On Others, As History Is Perfectly Clear This Country Was Built On Diversity I Am Catholic But That Doesn't Mean Everyone Else Is And I Can't Force My Beliefs On Others And I Do Not Wish To..... Government Should Stick To Government Not Telling People What They Can Do With Their Own Bodies And Who They Can Marry.... My Vote Goes To Obama I Don't Tell Others How To Live Their Lives It's Not My Place Or Anyone Else's.
You don't have to capitalize every word in a sentence, just the first one. And or course proper names and places.
The real issue is what it always has been – do you have the right to impose your religous views on others by government law? The answer is what it always has been: NO. This will not stop people from trying anyway. What a waste of time arguing about an issue that should not be relevant to the running of government.
Ryan is no Catholic. He's an Ayn Rand worshiper.
Oh, yeah, he pretending he's Catholic now 'coz Mr Etch a Sketch advised it's the best marketing tactic.
But 30 years Ayn Rand to cultist level, then overnight Catholic...
I trust his faith less than I'd trust the rear end safety of a young boy off the streets seeking shelter and accidentally ending up in a church.
Pregnancy and then Abortion, product of immoral western lifestyle.
Terrorism and shooting young girls who just want to learn are products of religion and god.
Rock say Casandra swats Theen with truth again. Rock like Casandra. Og like rock. Og like Casandra.
Don't know why people keep thinking that life is so precious.
To argue against the Catholic Church's view that they should be free to impose their religious beliefs on their organizations that are hospitals, imagine the response from the public if an Islamic religious organization were to want to impose their religious beliefs on a hospital they operated.
Christians are willing to impose their religious laws on the public, but are not willing to allow Sharia.
No religion should govern outside of their churches and no religious individual should impose his religious views on any other person. The First Amendment works both to protect one's right to practice religion and also to protect others from being affected.
Religious groups can operate businesses such as hospitals, but they are not free to impose their religious beliefs on all employees because of the First Amendment which prohibits the government from treating such hospitals specially, different from all others, from treating one business specially just because a religious order runs it.
When a church or individual steps into a public business role, they cross a legal line and they become ordinary people, without the ability to carry along their religious beliefs.
Put another way that may be clearer – would anyone expect the government to allow a Catholic Church run hospital to discriminate by hiring only Catholics?
Now, another thought – should the President impose his own personal religious beliefs on the way his executes the duties of his high office? Should he expect the public to support him in his religious beliefs when those affect all who do not agree with him?
Pure hypocrisy. Religious people and their tunnel vision.
You speak the truth. No religion, period, should be allowed to dictate to all the rest of our U.S.A.
The First Amendment that you are apparently so fond of quoting also protects Chruches from interference in their operations by Governments. The HHS Mandate clearly violates that Amendment. Do you expect the Catholic Church or anyone else to remain quiet when their Rights are taken away from them without a majority vote?
southern – that argument is a red her ring. churches already have an exemption. we are talking about insti tutions which employ the public at large, such as hospitals and universities. these are not religious or ganizations.
"So if my hand wants to slap you upside the head, you shouldn't be able to control my body?"
About the most ridiculous analogy I've ever encountered.
What are your talking about?
I am Pro-Life from conception until natural death. I am also Pro-Choice, but the choice is whether to get pregnant or not. Both Biden and Ryan stated they believe LIFE starts at conception. If Biden truely believed this, how can he justify taking an innocent life by means of abortion. You can not have it both ways.
I can guarantee you that VP Biden will NOT have an abortion. He therefore will not have taken an innocent life.
" I am also Pro-Choice, but the choice is whether to get pregnant or not."
Get off the computer, Mr. Akin.
Fact: Abstinence until children are desired is neither ideal nor realistic for the last majority of the population.
Fact: Abortion is virtually always the last resort that people have when it comes to preventing childbirth, due to personal trauma and social stigma.
Fact: There's a valid argument that bringing an unwanted child into the foster system is a greater evil than preventing a baby from existing.
Fact: Studies show that the best way to cut down on teen pregnancy is to provide ample se.x education and easily available contraception.
Almost everyone agrees that abortion is at the very least unpleasant. However, when women really, really don't want to carry a child to term, they'll find a way not to. Wouldn't you rather they terminate that pregnancy early on, in a save procedure performed by a medical professional, when the fetus is a small ball of cells, instead of them having to wait until it's large enough that they can try to induce miscarriage by falling down a flight of stairs... or something more gruesome?
Want to cut down on abortion rates? Convince people to adopt. Work so that unwanted children can be taken care of, so it's less clear that abortion is the lesser evil. Educate men and women about their bodies, provide contraception to teenagers so they can fool around safely – because they're going to fool around. Waggle your fingers as much as you like – or "pray" – but you're not solving any problems like that.
under no circu mstances should an elected official use their office to push their beliefs on the populace.
Who says the pregnant person had any choice whatsoever in becoming pregnant?
Since ra/pe victims don't have a choice, you're OK with them having abortions?
Yes you can have it both ways, is called a CHOICE" why do Republicans pretend they protect freedom & liberty but when it comes to women choice on abotion, they cannot accept it.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.