The big questions5/22/2013
Braley says abortion issue “balances” of rights of mother, baby; King says traditional marriage transfers values, no judgment on gays.
Cityview: If a woman wants a child, we call it a baby. If a woman doesn’t want a child, it’s called a fetus. Why should a woman have that power of definition, that kind of a life-and-death call over another human being? Isn’t this the point where the federal government should step in and prevent that loss of life?
Congressman Braley: The federal government, in the form of the Supreme Court, a long time ago, including a Republican-nominated justice, who represented the Mayo Clinic, which has as part of its operation St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., wrote the opinion after examining centuries of legal, medical, religious and ethical principles on when life begins. And in that decision, which has stood the test of time, the Supreme Court determined that life began at the point of viability, which they defined as the moment when that fetus was able to live on its own outside the womb.
And they set up a system that was designed to protect the rights of the mother and the rights of that child at the point of viability through a three-trimester test. In the first two trimesters, there are significant rights that the mother exercises and that the child can exercise in the second trimester. And then the third trimester the balance shifts to the role and life of the child.
But these are important questions. Again, it goes back to I have tremendous respect for individuals’ faith and their beliefs. I got married at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Waterloo. The service was performed by my brother, who’s a Presbyterian minister, and my wife’s three uncles, who are Catholic priests. These aren’t abstract issues for me to deal with.
You have to be able to talk about this. But what’s often left out in this conversation is if you go to National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, on their life agenda, abortion is a big part of it, but so is poverty. So is disease. So is hunger. All of these things are important.
Cityview: The report of the U.S House on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act explained its purpose this way: “Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval with homosexuality.” Do you agree with that statement?
Congressman King: I haven’t made such a statement. I would want to read that whole House report and see what it says on balance. I’ll tell you my position instead — and I’ve long said it’s a legal position. If there’s going to be a change in marriage, first, thousands of years of human experience say that a man and a woman joined together, especially in holy matrimony, is the ideal way to transfer our values into the next generation.
That’s why society promotes affirmatively marriage between a man and a woman. That’s why I wrote the article that’s posted in National Review now that defines why we have a marriage license. You’ve probably heard me make this argument. But I’ve not been rebutted so I’m going to say I think it’s a really sound one. That is that a license is by definition a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal. Hunt, fish, drive, brain surgery, cut hair, whatever it might be. Join the bar or own one, I wrote in that article. So I thought that was a nice little piece of philosophical alliteration. Society provides licenses for all those things and many more.
Every license out there requires that you meet the conditions and the requirements of that licensure. For example, I’ll never be a brain surgeon. I can’t meet the standard. I may be able to be a barber, but it would take a lot of practice. But I’d have to meet those standards and then receive the license. Nobody complains about qualities, qualifications for licenses, and yet that seems to be the complaint about a marriage license.
I think the critics of marriage between a man and a woman have this whole tone wrong, and that tone is a marriage license is something that’s affirmative. It’s a promotion of, not a discrimination against. So I make that case strongly.
Each of the state institutions that have done that have come down on those lines. Motives for other people to support marriage between a man and a woman, under whatever their motives might be, that’s up to them. But I come down on this side consistently, and I’m not making a moral judgment on others. CV
Douglas Burns, a co-owner of The Carroll Daily Times Herald, is a fourth-generation Iowa journalist who offers columns for Cityview.