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In another installment of Words Mean Things, we get to another instance of using rhetoric to confuse and deceive. "Pro-abortion" is about as meaningless a phrase as "pro-amputation" or even the pro-life's other favored phrase "pro-life."

Mark Evanier: A news item this morning says, "A top Vatican cardinal said Friday that priests must deny communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, but he would not comment on whether it was right for John Kerry to receive communion." This raises a few questions in my addled, non-Catholic cranium...

One is this: Kerry would describe himself as "pro-choice," not "pro-abortion." Actually, I can't think of anyone I would describe as "pro-abortion" in the sense that they run around saying, "Abortion is great! Let's have more of them! Let's forcibly abort pregnant women against their wishes!" Maybe there have been a few nutcase population-control people somewhere saying that but in the mainstream, "pro-abortion" is just a more emotional, somewhat incorrect way of describing "pro-choice" people.

Kerry's position, as I understand it, is that he personally does not like the idea of abortion but feels it would be wrong to interfere in a woman's right to choose. Does this mean he fits the definition of "pro-abortion" that in the above news item would mean he should be denied communion? If the answer is no, then to whom does it apply? If the answer is yes, isn't the above just a disingenous way for that "top Vatican cardinal" to condemn John Kerry while pretending to stay out of politics?

Other question: Last I heard, the Vatican was as opposed to the Death Penalty as it was to abortion. When was the last time a top Vatican cardinal came out to say that priests must deny communion to Catholic politicians who support the Death Penalty?