La Crosse Catholic Times profiles Sean Duffy and Julie Lassa

ASHLAND, Wis. – The battle for the 7th U.S. Congressional district in Wisconsin – which includes Chippewa, Clark, Marathon, Portage and Wood Counties in the Diocese of La Crosse – is being fought between Wisconsin state senator from the 24th district Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and former district attorney for Ashland County Sean Duffy (R-Ashland). Lassa and Duffy are vying for the seat left vacant by Democrat David Obey, who is retiring after 41 years in the House of Representatives.

Duffy spoke to The Catholic Times about issues important to Catholics, while Lassa was unavailable – after repeated attempts to contact her through phone and e-mail. Much of the information about her positions on issues can be found at her campaign website and various media outlets and organizations supporting her candidacy.

Faith and integrity

A member of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Ashland, in the Diocese of Superior, Duffy said, “I intend to take my Catholicism to Washington, D.C.” “I think our faith is a part of everything we do in our lives, whether as a husband, a father, my former role as a prosecutor and now as a candidate,” he said. “My faith has a role in every aspect of who I am.”

Although no mention is made on her campaign Web site of Lassa’s Catholicism, the Web site does state, “As the oldest of three children Julie learned the importance of hard work, the value of a dollar, and that honesty and integrity are a necessity. Those are the same values that Julie and her husband John are teaching their two daughters growing up in Stevens Point.”


The difference between Duffy and Lassa on the issue of abortion is clear cut – if only because of the organizations, such as the pro-abortion EMILY’s List headquartered in Washington, and Planned Parenthood, endorsing Lassa for her proabortion stance, despite being a Catholic.

Duffy sees the issue of abortion as a straightforward case of legal protection for the most vulnerable. “I am 100 percent prolife without exceptions,” he said. “It’s pretty straightforward. To qualify, I believe that if we have the life of a mother as an issue, the mother’s life takes priority, but we must make every effort to save the life of the child.”

Besides Roe v. Wade decision itself, the greatest threat, Duffy said, to the unborn at this time is the federal funding which will allow for abortions under the new health care reform law signed last March by President Obama.

“I’m opposed to this funding and want to make sure that the Hyde Amendment is continued,” he said, referring to the annual appropriations rider which outlaws federal funding of abortion. “As powerful as that amendment may or may not be, it’s all we have right now and I want to make sure that continues so federal dollars aren’t funneled into abortions in the U.S. or around the world.”

Extending his pro-life commitment to women as well as babies, Duffy said that he will also do all he can to address the issues facing both the unborn and expectant mothers. “I think it’s important that we have programs in place for women who find themselves with unplanned pregnancies,” he said. “If we’re pro-life, we need to help women who find themselves in that situation [by providing] life-affirming options so they can choose life. Our community and sometimes our government has to get involved to make sure we support women in that situation.”

Health care

On the issue of health care reform, Duffy and Lassa agree that more can be done than what the health care reform bill which President Obama signed into law last March proposes.

“The health care in place can be better,” Duffy said. “I don’t think this is the bill that was going to accomplish the end goal of increasing access and reducing costs. There are some good things in the bill. … But if you look at this 2,600 page bill and all that’s put into it and how it’s going to reform the system, I don’t think the end objectives will take place. This is a trillion dollar bill over 10 years with $500 billion from Medicare and another $500 billion from tax increases. … It’s not sustainable.”

But at the minimum, he hopes to be able to help strike any provisions that will fund abortions with federal funding. “If we’re going to take the bill and make it more effective, one of the parts we’re going to be looking at carving out, is the part about abortion,” he said.

At her campaign website, while admitting she’s not satisfied with the new health care law, Lassa said that Wisconsin will benefit from its provisions as they stand.

“The recently passed health care law, while needing improvement, contains many positive elements that help individuals and families,” the Web site states. “It prevents insurance companies from dropping our coverage when we get sick, bans discrimination based on pre-existing health conditions, creates tax credits for small businesses to provide health care to their employees, and lowers prescription drug costs for senior citizens. These are all positive steps forward.”
 Joseph O'Brien - The Catholic Times

I have never heard a Catholic candidate say "I intend to take my Catholicism to Washington, D.C."  What an idea!!


  1. It's refreshing to see the Duffy has embraced his faith and is true to his convictions. I am personally upset that many in my very, very large Catholic family turn a cheek to the issue of life when voting. How can they consciously attend Mass on Sunday and then vote for pro-choice candidates on Tuesday?

  2. I hear ya Anon. They have separated their faith and reason, which is like separating the head from the body.

  3. The reason Catholics like myself don't have a problem voting for anti-life candidates is because we're not convinced that outlawing abortion is going to change the number of abortions that occur. If not much can be done there, why not vote for issues that maybe you can affect? The Church could do a better job of convincing parishioners of why banning abortion will work in reducing abortions that occur (which nobody likes). That would help push people to vote for pro-choice candidates. Instead, the Church likes to pretend people that ask these kinds of questions are dumb and not good Catholics, and that's probably the least effective way to sway anybody to your side.

  4. That would help push people to vote for **pro-life candidate

  5. That position is not valid in Catholic thought Anon. Check out my post here on Proportionalism.

    Bombing Hiroshima was wrong whether it brought about a quicker end to the war or not.
    Killing abortionist is wrong whether is brings about and end to abortion or not.
    Voting for anti-life candidates is wrong whether it increases or decreases the number of abortions.

    Supporting candidates who are racist and promote racism is wrong whether is brings about an end to racism or not. Even if it means that voting for an anti-racism candidate would increase racism in the country.

  6. OK, if you want to think about it that way, that's fine. Duffy has some pretty extreme positions when it comes to immigration. He wants to kick out all people that are here without documents, and 'make them get into the back of the line' back in their home countries. He supports Arizona's immigration law that profiles people based on their race/ethnicity. He made these comments to the Wausau editorial board back in July/August. Obviously, this would have horrible effects on families in the United States. I would argue he's being racist here. I guess I can't vote for him because I can't vote for a racist candidate! Under this line of thought, I don't think we'll ever be able to cast a ballot.

    About the health-care debate, too, you state that the health-care bill promotes abortion. This question has been being played out in a Cincinnati congressional election. A Democrat that says he's pro-life voted for the health-care bill and was being attacked for being pro-choice. Fortunately, both a Catholic organization and an independent watchdog called out the charge absolutely false. See an article about it here: So I think you are either confused or lying here about the relationship between abortion and the health-care bill and I'd encourage you to be honest, that's a commandment after all.

  7. Abortion is not a negotiable issue for a Catholic. Immigration reform is negotiable. I am not a fan of breaking up families, and I probably agree with you on most points of immigration reform.

    "This line of thought" is the Catholic thought. If you want another there are philosophers like Immanuel Kant that you can follow. Obviously you're being facetious calling Duffy a racist. How to handle illegal immigration is not a Catholic doctrine. How to handle abortion is Catholic doctrine, it is never permissible.

    I will certainly try my best to be honest, but I haven't made any comments on any Ohio election? I cover mostly Wisconsin topics. Are you saying you want to know how the current health care reform legislation due to go into effect pays for abortions? You can check out this video here:

    I think we can both go all day on this. You think abortion should be legal. I think abortion should be illegal. And as I stated before, I do not support Proportionalism( and this thought is foreign to Catholic thinking. At least if you will not support making abortion illegal, I encourage you to pray for women pressured into abortion, and for those suffering from Post Abortion Stress Syndrome.


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