by David Lesch, Esq.


Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in New York City this Thursday.  I happen to be very excited about his visit.  Whenever a Pope arrives in New York, he seems to take up residence a block and a half from my apartment.  And although it is chaotic on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, our City basks in the glow of a historic moment.  

But as much as I am looking forward a glimpse of his Holiness, I am troubled by the failure of Pope Francis to take a strong position on issues that are legal in nature.  And one issue in particular is the issue of a woman’s right to have an abortion.  

Although Pope Francis has been quoted as urging the church to put less emphasis on “rules and more on mercy,” he seems to flip-flop on the issue of a woman’s right to choose.  Recently he told a group of Catholic gynecologists that abortion is based on the “widespread mentality of profit” and “a throwaway culture.”  He told the physicians that they have a responsibility to spread the pro-life message, no matter how they may be condemned in the community.  

Through four decades, US courts have agreed that women deserve the right to control their own bodies, without interference from anyone.  And throughout the 1970’s and continuing to today, the women’s movement has demanded legal abortion as a right which should be available to all women, no matter how poor, how young, married or not.  

But lately, the playing field has shifted as courts have given state legislatures more latitude to limit who can consent to the abortion, who needs permission, and to enact restrictions on abortion.  Recently, Republicans in Congress have moved to defund Planned Parenthood over claims that the organization is profiting from “harvesting” fetal tissue and organs from aborted fetuses.  

The right to abortion has been steadily eroded so that now the debate is over who should be able to preempt a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.  The courts now allow parents, husbands, and, even, state governments to prevent pregnant women from choosing to end a pregnancy.  

Even a well-known Republican who seeks his party’s nomination for President has been accused of flip-flopping on the issue.  Although Florida Senator Marco Rubio has long been an opponent of abortion rights, he has supported bills containing a “rape exception”.  But once again, he has been flip-flopping on his position.

As a native New Yorker, I’m all about trying to appease both sides on an issue.  But there are certain times that we need straight answers from our leaders.  Whether our leader is a Pope, or a potential nominee for President, we need straight answers.  

What exactly is the Catholic Churches’ position on abortion?  What exactly are the Republican Party’s beliefs regarding a women’s right to choose? I’m confused.  Maybe by the time the Pope leaves our City after addressing the United Nations, I will have a better grasp as to what he truly believers. And maybe, just maybe, by next November the Republican Party will have a clear stance as well.

Todays Verdict_David LeschDavid Lesch is an attorney and host of ‘Today’s Verdict with David Lesch‘ on Bronxnet. Today”s Verdict airs Tuesday nights at 6:30pm, Cablevision channel 67, Fios channel 33. 


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