Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Biden, Ryan discuss Catholic faith, abortion in VP debate

October 12, 2012

Towards the end of the debate between Vice President Joseph Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan, moderator Martha Raddatz asked:

This debate is, indeed, historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this. And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion.

Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And, please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country … please talk personally about this, if you could.

Ryan responded:

I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.

Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, of course. But it's also because of reason and science.

You know, I think about 10 1/2 years ago, my wife Janna and I went to Mercy Hospital in Janesville where I was born, for our seven week ultrasound for our firstborn child, and we saw that heartbeat. A little baby was in the shape of a bean. And to this day, we have nicknamed our firstborn child Liza, "Bean." Now I believe that life begins at conception.

That's why - those are the reasons why I'm pro-life. Now I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they're doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They're infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.

Our Church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties. And with respect to abortion, the Democratic Party used to say they wanted it to be safe, legal and rare. Now they support it without restriction and with taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding in Obamacare, taxpayer funding with foreign aid. The vice president himself went to China and said that he sympathized and wouldn't second guess their one child policy of forced abortions and sterilizations. That to me is pretty extreme.

Biden replied:

My religion defines who I am, and I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who - who can't take care of themselves, people who need help.

With regard to - with regard to abortion, I accept my Church's position on abortion as a - what we call a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception in the Church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the - the congressman. I - I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that - women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I'm not going to interfere with that.

With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.

That is a fact. Now with regard to the way in which the – we differ, my friend says that he - well I guess he accepts Governor Romney's position now, because in the past he has argued that there was - there's rape and forcible rape. He's argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still - it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend.

The discussion continued:

RYAN: All I'm saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn't change the definition of life. That's a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

Now, I've got to take issue with the Catholic Church and religious liberty.

BIDEN: You have on the issue...

RYAN: ... why would they keep - why would they keep suing you? It's a distinction without a difference.

RADDATZ: I want to go back to the abortion question here. If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried?

RYAN: We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination.

BIDEN: The court - the next president will get one or two Supreme Court nominees. That's how close Roe v. Wade is. Just ask yourself, with Robert Bork being the chief adviser on the court for – for Mr. Romney, who do you think he's likely to appoint? Do you think he's likely to appoint someone like Scalia or someone else on the court far right that would outlaw (inaudible) - outlaw abortion? I suspect that would happen. I guarantee you, that will not happen. We picked two people. We pick people who are open-minded. They've been good justices. So keep an eye on the Supreme Court...

RYAN: Was there a litmus test on them?

BIDEN: There was no litmus test. We picked people who had an open mind; did not come with an agenda.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Oct. 14, 2012 1:41 PM ET USA

    The concpet of personhood makes all the difference. It made a difference when slavery was abolished in this country and no one dares question this decision. Nor should they; That decision was good, right, and just. Our rights are being eroded, socialistic concepts are being expounded from the American White House - wake up! We have lost the concept of person from most of our culture-conception to natural death. The choice with the best chance for freedom and the right to life must be made.

  • Posted by: unum - Oct. 12, 2012 3:41 PM ET USA

    Mr. Biden said that he has been a practicing Catholic all of his life. That was his first falsehood, because no one who has supported abortion on demand and funding for Planned Parenthood is practicing the Catholic faith. Then he compounded the falsehood when he said, " ... no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise ... has to pay for contraception ... in any insurance policy they provide. He knows that a number of Catholic institutions are self-insured.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2012 3:28 PM ET USA

    Outright lie from Biden regarding the Obamacare mandate. The average Catholic voter won't know which one to believe. The secular press ignores this, and there is no guidance from the pulpit, weak guidance from the bishop. All should be much more scared of lost souls than lost tax exemption.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 12, 2012 1:23 PM ET USA

    Mr. Biden slyly deflects the real issue. If he personally accepts that life begins at inception, does he also accept the Church's position that abortion is an intrinsic evil that no Catholic can PERSONALLY support UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES? The issue is not if Mr. Biden respects other people's belief. That is a deflection. The real issue is how can Mr. Biden as a Catholic, justify his personal votes and public statements in full support of abortion? Answer – he can’t. The Bishops should be loudly pointing this out and also clearly stating that they are prepared to take action. That there will be consequences (such as public admonishments and denial of holy communion) for all high profile Catholics (like Mr. Biden) who continue to publically defy Church teachings and lead other Catholics astray.