Sr. Jeannine Gramick, a chronically controversial Loretto religious, has signed a public letter to President Obama expressly urging him (as if he needed urging) to fund abortion overseas.
In her letter Gramick claims the mantle of ‘leader of a faith-based organization’, declares it “immoral” not to pay for overseas abortions, asserts that paying for abortions is a “moral imperative”, and signs the letter “In Faith.”
You can read the letter for yourself here.
When a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy is a threat to the life of a woman, safe abortion can and should be made available and accessible, and U.S. foreign assistance should support such access. Unfortunately, the Helms amendment does just the opposite: it denies millions of women and girls access to safe abortion services. While ultimately we seek elimination of this law, at a minimum the executive branch of the U.S. government should clarify existing law so that in the cases of rape, incest and life endangerment, U.S. foreign assistance is allowed to support abortion access.
We applaud the unprecedented steps taken by your administration to establish a U.S. foreign policy that puts women and girls at its center. The National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; the White House Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence; and the newly launched Safe from the Start Initiative demonstrate a deep commitment to the health and human rights of women and girls globally.
As faith leaders, we ask that you continue to build on this momentum. Ensuring that U.S. policy and programs support the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls globally – including safe abortion in the cases of rape, incest and life endangerment – is the natural extension of your policies. It is also a moral imperative.
Canon 1369 of the Johanno-Pauline Code states: “A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty” (emp. added). Gramick’s open letter urging, as a moral imperative no less, the funding of deliberate pre-natal homicide, satisfies, in my opinion, the elements of this canonical crime and suffices to launch a criminal investigation of her under Canon 1717. As I have noted in many similar cases, Gramick has not, on these facts, violated Canon 1398 (on abortion) and the question of her (in)eligibility for holy Communion under Canon 915 is not a criminal matter. At the same time, though, besides her egregious letter to Obama, Gramick’s other public writings on Church doctrine and discipline can, and should, be examined in light of Canon 1369.