The Kennedy clan is the most prominent Catholic family in the highly dynastic world of US politics, and it is firmly pro-abortion. How did this come about? The promise of money and allies from the abortion lobby was underpinned by a group of dissident Catholic theologians who actually had a formal meeting in 1964 to coach family members in the sophistical distinctions they could make to rationalise their position. What they advocated appears to have been basically the familiar claim that a politician can be 'personally opposed' to abortion but as a matter of policy various considerations, from the need to maintain public order to the 'distress' of a woman who might be refused abortion, can justify voting to make abortion easier in every possible way - as if the state's duty to defend the lives of the innocent could be set aside so easily.
Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that [AGAIN… pay attention…] "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."