"The assumption of many [Roman Catholic] bishops that I could impose my views on the law passed by Congress reflected a misunderstanding of my constitutional role at that stage of the democratic process."

From ......... GOVERNING AMERICA- An Insider's Report

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

page 67 .............. ABORTION


Whatever distance the President wanted from me on other policies, like school integration, the anti-smoking campaign. or Social Security cuts, he held me at his side whenever he spoke of abortion:

("Joe Califano, who is Secretary of HEW, feels the same way I do against abortions");

(".... the Secretary of HEW agrees with me completely on this issue ...");

(''Joe Califano, who is head of HEW, is a very devout Catholic ..... I happen to be a Baptist, and his views on abortion are the same as mine'');


page 70-71 ............. ABORTION


The only person who told me she agreed with the comment of the President was Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who wrote me on July 15:

It was one of the few times I can recall disagreeing with the political judgment of this extraordinary woman. She had become and remained a dedicated and politically persistent participant in the abortion controversy, an energetic opponent of federal funding.

In July, unknown to the public, to most of the antagonists prowling the halls of Congress with roses and hangers and, indeed, to most congressmen and senators, a secret compromise remarkably close to the agreement the House and Senate would reach in December was beginning to take shape in the mind of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

She called me, as she was undoubtedly calling others, in the middle of the month, three weeks after the Supreme Court tossed the issue back to the Congress. She had

And, spraying words in her staccato Massachusetts accent, she added:

Eunice read me some language and concluded,

Just as I was about to hang up, she added,

Eunice was working on a bill to fund centers to help teen-agers who were pregnant (she was so well connected within HEW that I got her revision of my draft testimony in support of the bill before I even received the draft from the departmental staff). Impressed by a Johns Hopkins program that helped teen-agers deal with their babies and avoid having more, she wanted to duplicate it around the nation. But even there she stood firmly on abortion.

When the teen-age pregnancy bill was being considered in 1978 and HEW Deputy Assistant Secretary Peter Schuck was quoted as saying states might give funds to clinics providing abortions if they were providing services to pregnant teen-agers, Eunice sent me a strong letter:

Due in large measure to her lobbying on the bill, when the bill was eventually enacted, no abortion services were funded under it.


page 87 ................. ABORTION


IN PERSONAL terms, I was struck by how infinitely more complex it was to confront the abortion issue in the broader sphere of politics and public policy in our pluralistic society than it had been to face it only as a matter of private conscience. I found no automatic answers in Christian theology and the teachings of my church to the vexing questions of public policy it raised, even though I felt secure in my personal philosophical grounding.

I was offended by the constant references to me as

in the secular press when it wrote about the abortion issue. No such reference appeared next to my name in the stories reporting my opposition to tuition tax credits favored by the Catholic Church or my disputes with the Catholic hierarchy on that issue.

I was dismayed by the number of Catholics and diocesan papers that attacked me for the regulations I issued on abortion. Their attack so concerned Notre Dame president Father Theodore Hesburgh that he urged me to speak about the conscience and duty of a Catholic as a public official at the commencement in South Bend in 1979.

The assumption of many [Roman Catholic] bishops that I could impose my views on the law passed by Congress reflected a misunderstanding of my constitutional role at that stage of the democratic process. As it turned out, like the President's, their assumption that the sixty-day reporting period for rape or incest constituted a legal loophole was as ill-founded in fact as it was in law.



GOVERNING AMERICA- An Insider's Report

from the White House and the Cabinet

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Pub.by Simon and Schuster 1981

ISBN 0-671-25428-6