[Jesuit] Boston College Celebrates [Kennedy Family Friend and Political Hack] Tip O’Neill Despite Troubling Abortion Record
Boston College is celebrating the 100th birthday of the late congressman Tip O’Neill, whose record on abortion caused at least one bishop to boycott a graduation ceremony that honored him.
The late Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Democratic Speaker of the House between 1977 and 1987, would have been 100 years old this year. In the first of three events that Boston College designed to commemorate O’Neill, political analyst Thomas Mann gave a lecture in O’Neill Library last Thursday tracing political change throughout O’Neill’s career.
“Tip clearly thought that social justice and the teachings of the Catholic Church were central to what his job was,” R. Shep Melnick, the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Professor of American Politics, said. “His passion for the poor was central to what God demands.”
But O’Neill’s political stances on abortion were… murky at best. In a time when many Democratic politicians like Teddy Kennedy completely turned from pro-life to pro-abortion rights, O’Neill seemingly kept his public pro-life view. But the reality is a but more troubling.
Phil Lawler, the editor of CWN News, wrote a book about the Church in Massachusetts and said that O’Neill “did everything in his considerable power to ensure that the House of Representatives never held a vote on any effort to ban abortion.” As O’Neill was the Speaker of the House between 1977 and 1987, he often decided which bills could be voted on.
Lawler admitted that O’Neill “retained a pro-life record” but added that “he made it possible for dozens of other Democrats to retain their pro-life credentials without lifting a finger to stop the slaughter of the unborn.”
In 1985, Bishop James C. Timlin refused to attend the graduation ceremonies at the University of Scranton because O’Neill was being honored. Bishop Timilin reportedly said he “cannot even appear to be supportive of a congressman who on occasion failed to support legislation which could have halted legal abortions.”
The next event to commemorate Tip O’Neill will be a luncheon talk by Yale professor David Mayhew on Friday, Nov. 2.