Recently my name appeared on a New York Times ad urging citizens to call for the removal of George W. Bush from office. The reasons cited are many, among them:
- his reckless pursuit of war in Iraq, which has helped to destabilize the entire middle East
- his approval of torture
- his zealous promotion of imprisonment and executions
- his fiscal policies which make the wealthy people more wealthy and poor people poorer (During the past six years poverty in the U.S. has risen 17%)
There is, however, one issue addressed in the ad that I cannot endorse, which if I had seen the final version of the ad would have led me to withhold my signature. The statement reads: "Your government is moving to deny women here and all over the world the right to birth control and abortion." The life issues involved in the beginning of life are exceedingly complex. My stance on abortion is a matter of public record. I stand morally opposed to killing: war, executions, killing of the old and demented, the killing of children, unborn and born. As I have stated publicly many times, I stand squarely within the framework of "the seamless garment" ethic of life. I believe that all of life is sacred and must be protected, especially in the vulnerable stages at the beginning of life and its end.
I signed the ad because as a follower of the way of Jesus and a U.S. citizen, I cannot stand by passively and silently as I witness my government wage such grievous oppression and violence. It has been this same spirit of engaged citizenship that has for the past twenty years led me to speak out against the death penalty while encouraging my fellow citizens and my church to deeper reflection on the issue by the books and articles I have written and numerous public lectures.
For me, personally, it would be sinful not to raise my voice publicly in opposition to the life-destructive policies and practices of the Bush administration. That is what led me to sign the ad calling for his removal.
When I signed my endorsement of the ad, the conversation focused on the abuses of the Bush administration. I understood that the draft form of the ad which I signed was an intent of my willingness to sign the ad; however, I expected to be given a final version to critique before affixing my signature. Since that opportunity was not granted, I feel the need to issue this clarification.
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ