A small update by way of Catholic Light on John Kerry's heresy trial. The Catholic Church obviously doesn't want to inject itself into the US presidential campaign in this fashion but the unofficial response received strongly strengthens the orthodox Catholic hand in this long term confrontation between themselves and pro-choice Catholics. In short:
If a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code.
The penalty for knowingly doing this is what Roman Rite Catholics call automatic excommunication.
Now I'm from a different corner of the Catholic Church. It actually has alternate canons and (at least according to my own bishop) lacks the concept of automatic excommunication. A bishop has to go and wrestle with a sinner and his conscience before you get to the point of excommunication. The idea of excommunicating yourself as a sort of paperwork saving device is one of those things that make me glad I'm a Romanian Rite Catholic where if my bishop thinks I need to be knocked on my butt for being a bonehead, he's quite capable and willing to do the deed himself (and, in the past, has though not on this serious a scale).
Sometime in the next decade, what is unofficial today is very likely to turn official and a good 5%-15% of the voting population is going swing with it. Even at the low end, that's going to be a huge change in voting patterns that will just devastate the Democrat party while inflicting no small amount of damage on pro-choice Republicans as well.