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Kerry urged not to use 'abortion litmus test'

BOSTON — Former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn urged fellow Roman Catholic and Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry not to "impose any abortion litmus test on candidates for the federal judiciary — especially those who are faithful Catholics" if he is elected president.

In an ad that took nearly a full page in Sunday's New York Times, Flynn scolded Kerry for saying he would appoint only people who support abortion rights to be justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Removing political correctness from that statement, Senator Kerry, you have announced that you will only support people to the federal judiciary who support killing unborn children," Flynn wrote in the open letter paid for by an organization of lay Catholics he heads — Liberty, Life and Family Inc. of Washington. The group, which describes itself as nonpartisan, says its primary concern is preserving the civil rights of unborn children.

Kerry has denied that his standard amounts to a "litmus test," only an assurance that any prospective justice would support a constitutionally protected right of privacy.

During his debate with President Bush last Friday, Kerry said that as a practicing Catholic, he personally opposes abortion, but as a political figure, "I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever."

Kerry and Flynn have been political allies. Kerry helped Flynn get elected mayor in November 1983, and Flynn helped Kerry win his first race for the U.S. Senate a year later.