THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Is It Legitimate for Legislators To Oppose Abortion on Religious Grounds?

Am I missing something?

On Saturday, I watched the House debate the Stupak amendment restricting access to abortion and noticed that most of the loudest anti-choices voices came from Roman Catholics and Christian fundamentalists who oppose abortion because that is what their faith teaches.

Why is that legitimate? Is not separation of church and state still in effect?

Would it be appropriate for Jewish and Muslim House members to oppose legislation beneficial to the pork industry or to insist on a ban on eating pork products altogether? I mean, Henry Waxman would not let pork pass his lips but the last thing he will use his clout for is to ban BLTs for everyone else.

I know abortion is serious and pork eating isn't (except for Jews and Muslims who died rather than submit to those who tried to make them eat pork). But the principle is the same. Those who oppose abortion should not have them. End of story.

As for the person of faith's objection to his tax dollars going to pay for other people's abortion because he or she considers abortion be be murder, so what.

That is how I felt about Bush's attack on Iraq and Israel's use of US supplied weapons in Gaza. But my tax dollars paid for the killing anyway -- just as as the opponent of capital punishment subsidizes that form of, what she considers to be, murder.

None of us gets a line item veto on taxes that subsidize government actions we don't like.

Religious considerations of any kind are utterly inappropriate in the US Congress. More than that, they are unconstitutional if we take the "separation clause" seriously.

And, yes, I'd apply that to Israel too. If a legislator's support for US aid for Israel is motivated by faith, then that is just as inappropriate as opposing abortion out of religious convictions.

No, we cannot control motivations. A legislator is going to do what he's going to do. All I'd change is that the next time a legislator invoked his faith, I'd gavel him down. Out of order.

Spare us the piety.

If James Madison watched the House debate on Saturday, he'd have spun in his grave. I did, and I was only in my living room. Get religion out of Congress. All religions.

Note: This argument also applies, in spades, to the legislators who use their faith to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians and to oppose the right to marriage. I've got news for the ultra-faithful. Leviticus is about as relevant to the Constitution as "Gone With the Wind."