Abortion Politics and the Shabbos Goy


“…Avi tells him that he’s a “Shabbos goy,” the guy hired by Orthodox Jews to do the work they can’t because of their religious beliefs. In other words, he’s telling Mickey he has no moral code, no sense of right and wrong.”
—Vulture, Recap of Roy Donovan, Season 5, Episode 5

When I was very young (some 80 years ago),  my paternal grandmother would hire a neighborhood Christian teen-ager to come in, turn on the lights and perform other minor tasks that she, as an Orthodox Jew, was forbidden to do on the Sabbath.  He would gratefully receive 25 cents for this arduous labor (this was during the Great Depression).  My maternal grandparents did not need such a service since they were secular Jews, having been indoctrinated as socialists in Paris before they immigrated to Colorado.

In my childish naivete, I wondered at the time “if it’s wrong for a Jew to work on the Sabbath, why is it then OK to make a gentile  work?” (But see below.)  Now, as a Catholic,  I also wonder how Catholic politicians can vote against pro-life measures, using a Shabbos Goy excuse to say that they themselves are against abortion, but it’s OK for non-Catholics to have “a choice.”

 And now abortion politics again rears its ugly head: Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for Supreme Court Justice, is being lambasted by the Left for possible stances on pro-life cases.  So we ask: do Catholic politicians follow Catholic teaching on abortion?  Why do they say that only Catholics must believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death?

Let’s see how the 24 Catholics in the US Senate (15 Democrats and 9 Republicans—see here for a list) voted on the three pro-life measures listed below:

  1. Nullify Obama pro-abortion Title X rule (roll call #101, 03/30/2017);
  2. Defund Planned Parenthood (roll call #167, 07/25/2017);
  3. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (roll call #25, 01/29/2018).

Seven of the nine Catholic Republican Senators voted for all three measures;  Senators Collins (Maine) and Murkowski (Alaska) voted against all three measures. 

 All 15  Catholic Democrat Senators voted against the first two proposals.   Of these 15, only  Senators Casey (Pennsylvania), Donnelly (Indiana) and Manchin (West Virginia) voted for #3, the Unborn Child Protection Act.

 How have the Catholic Democrats tried to justify their pro-abortion votes?   

At one end of the spectrum are those who effectively ignore Catholic teaching altogether;  these politicians do not need a Shabbos Goy.  At the other are Catholics who call themselves pro-life, but say they don’t want to  impose their beliefs on others. These Senators use Shabbos Goys in order to follow a party line that conforms to that  Culture of Death so well defined by Pope St. John Paul II.

Senator Dick Durbin, Democratic Whip, typifies the Catholic politician who totally ignores teaching on the sanctity of life. He said in a CNN interview (April 23, 2017) that it’s OK for a Democrats to hold pro-life views on a “personal basis,”  but they must go along with the Democratic party line promoting abortion and contraception:

As long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe vs. Wade, prepared to back women’s rights as we’ve defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party…I am committed to women’s rights under the law, reproductive rights certainly, and our party is… We’ve made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time.”

Durbin has been banned from receiving Holy Communion by Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Durbin’s residence).  In a recent press release Bishop Paprocki justified this ban: 

Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart. Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life.”

It’s clear that Senator Durbin’s situation is not equivalent to my grandmother’s.  He is not hiring a Shabbos Goy to do a job that violates Catholic teaching, he is doing so himself.  As Bishop Paprocki said, he promotes abortion by voting against the Unborn Child Protection Act and has done so consistently in the past..  And his requirement that Catholic Democrat   politicians, whatever their personal beliefs might be, should follow the Democrat anti-life party line, reinforces the judgment of “manifest grave sin” given by Bishop Paprocki.

What about the so-called pro-life Democrat Senators?  Senator Bob Casey (Pennsylvania) claims to be one of these.  I should note that many pro-life Pennsylvanians lament the confusion of voters who mistake Senator Casey (Bob Casey, Jr.) for his father, the former Governor Casey (Bob Casey, Sr.)   Governor Casey was a strong pro-life advocate; he promoted legislation imposing limitations on abortion during his term of office, legislation that was upheld for the most part by the Supreme Court (Planned Parenthood versus Casey).    He was not allowed to speak at the 1992 National Democratic Convention because of his strong pro-life position.

Senator Casey (Junior, that is) did vote for the Unborn Child Protection Act, but against defunding Planned Parenthood.  He justified continuing federal support for Planned Parenthood, despite its record as a purveyor of abortion mills, in the following statement (Huffington Post):

“The fact is, Planned Parenthood prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces abortions. Blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood could have the exact opposite effect. By increasing access to all forms of contraception and high-quality contraceptive counseling, Planned Parenthood enables women to choose the methods that work best for their bodies and lifestyles.”

The rest of Senator Casey’s Huffington Post apologia follows the party line: for women’s health, freedom for reproductive choice, government support of contraception, etc., etc.  Planned Parenthood is Senator Casey’s Shabbos Goy, an agency to carry out acts the Catholic Church (his Church?) takes to be sinful.   

Here’s the problem in enabling a Shabbos Goy to commit the sins you aren’t allowed to do yourself.   The Jews regarded themselves as God’s chosen people.  They were obliged and privileged to follow The Law, but gentiles were not.  Accordingly, a gentile did not sin by violating the Sabbath; it was not his or her obligation to do so.   

But the morality of the Catholic Church is not just for Catholics; it is given by God, and therefore is universal.   If it is wrong for a Catholic to kill, it is wrong for an atheist to kill.  If it is wrong for Catholics to kill the unborn, to perform abortions, it is wrong for a Jew or a Muslim to do so.   If Humanae Vitae tells us that contraception is wrong, then it is wrong for all, not just for Catholics. 

So, if you’re a Catholic who wants to follow the teachings of the Church, how should you vote?  Should you vote against Democrat and Republican politicians who do not favor pro-life legislation?   Should invoking Cardinal Bernadin’s  seamless garment” of Catholic Social Justice override considerations on the sanctity of life?   I know my own answers to these questions.  I’ll not presume to answer for you, the reader.

More to explorer


  1. In Britain (but not in Northern Ireland) and in much of Western Europe, mainstream political parties have sedulously refrained from making “questions of conscience” party-political issues.

    Reform of the Divorce laws, capital punishment, the abortion laws and homosexual law reform have always been introduced by Private Member’s bills, with governments confining themselves to making time available for Parliament to debate the issue and members have always been allowed a free vote.

    On the rare occasions that they have been asked about these questions, parliamentary candidates tend to say that they are very grave issues and that they will listen very attentively to the debates before forming an opinion or casting their votes.

    In this way, politicians have been largely successful in insulating themselves from the “Culture Wars.”

  2. Not true MPS. The governments are simply on the wrong side of the Culture Wars and will usually use the power of the State, under the guise of “hate speech” laws, and other mechanisms of oppression, to suppress dissenting opinions.

  3. Great article Bob Kurland.

    …As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.
    Joshua 24:15

    I believe, deep in the heart of man, that he truly knows abortion is the taking of innocent life. No hypocrisy will change the fact. God have mercy on us.
    How did we as a people not see this? A license to kill the new life. When the last life is snuffed out in the womb and the great and terrible day begins, I’ll wish I had done much more for the right to life.

  4. “By increasing access to all forms of contraception and high-quality contraceptive counseling, Planned Parenthood enables women to choose the methods that work best for their bodies and lifestyles.”

    So why is it morally acceptable for these feminist women to fornicate with whomsoever they will, and contracept and abort their way out of any responsibility or accountability, but it is NOT morally acceptable for Donald Trump to commit adultery with Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, and pay money to evade any responsibility or accountability?

    As far as Catholic politicians supporting abortion goes, this is like Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the chaff.

  5. In this way, politicians have been largely successful in insulating themselves from the “Culture Wars.”

    Oh, that makes it so much better. While we’re at it, Crisis a number of years ago published an article by a Liberal Democratic MP about his experiences advocating for life in that party which gives the lie to your account.

  6. Orwell: “Politics are essentially coercion and deceit.”

    Abortion is murder.

    The Presidents Bushs did nothing. President Donald Trump is actually doing something (e.g., Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) to end abortion.

    Abortion is murder.

    Church teaching on “keep holy the Sabbath” requires attendance and participation at Holy Mass. Our Jewish brothers’ teaching is temple, rest and no work.

    Catholics and Jews have similar teachings on murder.

    Abortion is murder.

    The (absolutely) last biology course I took was 55 years ago in HS. My untutored understanding is that each human pregnancy is not an exercise in Darwinian Evolution (daily refuted by democrats). The gestational human is a human from the moment of conception. As a Catholic, I believe (correct me) from conception the fetus has a soul. Abortion is murder.

    Each pregnancy is a collaboration between God, man, and woman in creation of a human person. Abortion usurps God’s Will that that baby shall live, i.e., wantonly ends a human life. Abortion is murder.

    The propaganda that “Abortion is women’s health” is one of the major splashes of mind vomit communally eaten by tens of millions of moral bankrupts, i.e., establishment GOP and democrats.

    Abortion is murder.

  7. As a Catholic, I believe (correct me) from conception the fetus has a soul. Abortion is murder.”
    Death is the proof of the soul. When the soul leaves the body, death occurs. When the soul is infused into the fertilized ovum, life occurs. A sovereign person wills to survive or he becomes a miscarriage. The soul directs the growth of the human being, a unique individual for that is what “individual” means; only one of its kind in all of creation by “their Creator”.
    The burden of proof that the sovereign person did not exist in the womb after conception was never born by Roe v. Wade. Time is come for Roe v. Wade to finish the trial…

  8. Bob-Great! We must all keep this up – and speak the truth to the American electorate before Nov. 2018 and again for Fall 2020. I say again: “It is a mortal sin for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience (as that is defined by Holy Mother Church) to vote for any Democrat.” see http://sinvote.democrat/faith-filled-citizenship-voting-catechism/.

    Thanks, Bob – some of these little folks will be there to welcome you at the Pearly Gates.

    All, have a fullofwonder weekend. I am so joyful to anticipate what we will learn and what we will know by this time next week. Ain’t the pell-mell juggernaut of disclosure grand?

    Guy McClung, Texas

  9. Art Deco wrote, “Oh, that makes it so much better.”

    The fact remains that no party would ever include such issues in their manifestos and they have never been an electoral issue.

    There are probably more socially conservative MPs on the Tory benches, but many progressive Labour MPs representing working-class or ethnically mixed constituencies have a fair number of social conservatives (with a small “c”) amongst their electorate.

    The last thing they want is to see such topics raised in an election campaign.

    This has been the case ever since 1967, when the Abortion Act was introduced by a backbench Liberal MP (Davis Steel) and carried with cross-party support. The Sexual Offences Act of the same year, decriminalising homosexual offences was introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Arran, an hereditary Tory peer (the 8th holder of an Irish Earldom, known at school as “Boofy”) and was sponsored in the Commons by Leo Abse, a Welsh Labour MP of Russian-Jewish descent, representing a rural constituency in the Welsh Marches. Again, the bill relied heavily on cross-party support

    This was the pattern that was to continue.

  10. The last thing they want is to see such topics raised in an election campaign.

    MPS, that’s not something which speaks well of the British political class. That seems to elude you.

  11. Art Deco wrote, “[T]hat’s not something which speaks well of the British political class.”

    Any view on questions of the day that enjoys a reasonable measure of support in the country at large will inevitably find its supporters in the House of Commons. When the House is called on to reach a decision on them, unconstrained by party allegiances, that opinion will tend both to guide and, eventually, to reflect the opinion of the nation as a whole, as what was once contentious becomes a commonplace.

    As Bagehot said, “I do not wish very abstract, very philosophical, very hard matters to be stated in Parliament. The teaching there given must be popular, and to be popular it must be concrete, embodied, short. The problem is to know the highest truth which the people will bear, and to inculcate and preach that.” What the public looks for is “a distinct, though moderate conclusion… something which they feel not to be abstract argument, but abstract argument diluted and dissolved in real life.”

  12. Any view on questions of the day that enjoys a reasonable measure of support in the country at large will inevitably find its supporters in the House of Commons.

    Who have never said a word about it to their constituents. You pretend you’re not aware that opinions on vice are class-delimited and if MPs aren’t bullied by their constituents good and hard they just do what’s the fashion of their peers. And, yes, studies of Eurotrash legislators have found that they’re notably less responsive to popular opinion than the crooked hacks who populate state legislatures in the United States (and our truly awful federal legislature). Capital sentencing and immigration are the obvious examples of elite conspiracies contra popular preference. Abortion is another (especially in the U.S.).

  13. The comments above reveal what is so appalling and frustrating about most of the US elected – on questions of abortion and pro-life they do not vote according to their constituents’ beliefs. According to polls Americans do not like abortion yet legislation to protect the unborn human being child is consistently voted down.

    What does that tell us about our political system as a whole and elections in particular?

  14. “I’ll not presume to answer for you, the reader.” Why not? So many out there flat out get it wrong every time. Every time you or I have an opportunity to declare the Truth, we MUST do so. Otherwise you are providing another, “Who am I to judge?” moment.

  15. Yo, JFK: “I’ll not presume to answer for you, the reader” is, to put it finely, a rhetorical device. It should be obvious from the rest of the article what my opinion is. On the other hand, I don’t presume to dictate other people’s opinions. I hope they follow mine, but if not…(can’t find an emoji for a shoulder shrug).

  16. I believe you will find most politicians on issues such as this resemble a sailing ship that simply tacks with the political wind. They are without principle or moral compass. The few remaining are either for or against an issue based on their personal morality, sometimes right, sometimes not. That is why dealing politics is like wrestling with a pig in mud. To accomplish anything, even worthwhile, you will get dirty.

  17. I believe you will find most politicians on issues such as this resemble a sailing ship that simply tacks with the political wind.

    Not sure ‘most politicians’. My wager is that the poseurs you’ll discover are (1) people culturally disjoined from their constituency (e.g. Albert Gore, whose background was much more ‘official Washington’ than it was Tennessee) and (2) Republicans of a business / careerist bent.

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