Catholics and abortion: Single-issue voting? (Part III)

Today’s post, my last in this series, is also likely to be the most controversial.  I nonetheless hope that any discussion it engenders can still be reasonable.  I decided not to post this series during an election season because the emotion and loyalties campaigns arouse make such discussion difficult.  Voices in the Catholic media begin to treat the Church’s social teachings as ammunition to be used in defense of their predetermined party of choice rather than looking to the Church as a genuine guide.  Sometimes the loyalty Catholics show to their candidates and parties borders on the idolatrous.

I’ve argued that for both theological and practical reasons, Catholics should prioritize opposition to abortion above other political issues.  Today I’m going to get a little more specific in discussing what I think are the real world consequences of this argument.  When we get to the point of concrete political decisions we have to be a bit more specific with our terms than I have been in my earlier posts.  So when I say that I think abortion should be “issue number one” for American Catholics, I mean specifically that working to weaken and overturn Roe v. Wade must be our top priority.

There are lots of other ways to combat abortion, after all, such as volunteering in crisis pregnancy centers or subsidizing adoption, all of which are praiseworthy—but none of which are a substitute for overturning Roe.

The reason I say this is that Roe v. Wade made abortion a civil rights issue, rather than a matter of criminal law or, still less, private morality.  Civil rights issues are important because they deal with categories or classes of people who, because of a legal injustice, are denied basic human rights.  To use the language of Catholic social teaching, such groups are excluded from the common good.  Roe v. Wade excludes an entire class of people—those not yet born—from the protection of law and all of society’s benefits.  No candidate or party supporting Roe v. Wade can ever legitimately claim to be acting for the common good.

Furthermore, because it is so extreme, enshrining abortion on demand as a constitutional right, Roe has had the effect of making abortion an either/or issue.  Our democratic system of elections, checks and balances, free press and public debate means that most of our laws are decent compromises—never perfect, but rarely abominable either.  Roe v. Wade, on the other hand, because it was decided by judicial fiat, had the effect of short-circuiting all these processes and imposing a virtually unlimited abortion license.

All of this means that if Roe is reversed, we likely won’t end up with perfect abortion laws, just as we don’t have perfect civil rights laws, perfect health care laws, perfect criminal laws.  But because Roe is so extreme, our normal legal processes for addressing social issues have been in effect suspended, and all the talk of making abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” which we have heard from every pro-Roe presidential candidate since Bill Clinton, is utter nonsense.  Claiming to want to make abortion rare while defending Roe v. Wade is Orwellian doublespeak.

What does this mean, however, when we enter the voting booth?  Most of my education as a Catholic has been in fairly liberal circles where being called a “single-issue voter” is akin to being labeled a troglodyte.  At some point, however, I realized that at the end of the day almost everyone is a single-issue voter.  Remember “It’s the economy, stupid” from Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign?  The fact that the single issue is often something vague like “the economy” or “change” doesn’t seem to me to make it more important than something concrete, such as the death of more than a million aborted children every year.  In fact, usually it means that one has simply succumbed to the emotive manipulations of campaign spinmeisters.

Lots of people vote based on party preference.  But it’s hard for me to see how that’s nobler than voting based on one particularly important issue.  Our two major political parties, after all, tend to be ideologically vague conglomerations of special interests, each with their own single-issues.

Unease with the notion of “single-issue voting,” however, is not completely irrational, and two cautions are in order.

First, even if you agree with me that abortion is the most important issue American Catholics confront today, that does not mean it is the only issue of importance.  This means that just because a candidate is pro-life, he shouldn’t get a blank check on everything else.  Many so-called Catholic “neo-cons” (a vague term I use reluctantly) hurt their credibility by too enthusiastically supporting President Bush on the war in Iraq after having been won over by his pro-life stance on abortion and generally positive policies toward religious faith.  Catholics need to be fiercer in defending our independence.  Political idolatry is a danger for both liberals and conservatives.

Second, recognizing that abortion is objectively the most important issue doesn’t mean that we must concentrate all of our efforts as individuals on that issue.  People have different callings to work on different issues.  I know it’s unfashionable to defend our Catholic bishops, but I think that right now they are setting a pretty good example of how to do this.  They’ve been firm and forceful on the priority of abortion, but they’ve also expended a great deal of energy on issues like immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty.  (Whether their efforts get fair coverage in the media is another matter.)

So, if “single-issue” means “only issue,” we’re making a mistake.  But if it means “decisive issue,” I think we’re on solid ground.

Perhaps it might be best not to speak of abortion as a “single-issue” but as a “disqualifier.”  In other words, if a candidate takes the egregious stance of supporting a constitutional right to abortion on demand (i.e., supporting Roe v. Wade) he disqualifies himself from receiving my vote.  Such a “disqualifier” is particularly important for presidential and U.S. senate candidates, whose decisions determine the justices on the Supreme Court.  Another pro-life justice is the only realistic way of overturning Roe.

It is perhaps theoretically possible to imagine a politician taking a morally worse position than support of Roe—someone who promised to restart the slave trade, for example, or to launch nuclear weapons at major foreign population centers to free up more room for us—but no existing legal structure matches the evil of that Supreme Court case and all that followed it.

To put my argument in the starkest terms:  voting for a pro-abortion candidate requires one to finish the sentence, “He supports legally killing 1.2 million innocent children per year, but that’s okay because…”

I don’t think there’s any rational, morally defensible way for that sentence to end.

The truth is ugly, but it is something we must face:  voting for Roe means voting for the legal killing of more than a million of our sisters and brothers every year.  We must do everything in our power to see such injustice overturned.

AL, SJ

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21 Responses to Catholics and abortion: Single-issue voting? (Part III)

  1. Donato Infante III says:

    I enjoyed your piece immensely. One thing we can’t forget though is that when you say that is is especially important at the at the national level to vote for candidates who do not support Roe v. Wade, we risk giving an impression that it does not matter at lower levels. This was obviously not your intention, but how often do we hear people say, “Why does it matter for this position, when it will not have an policy effect on Roe?” We must remember that today’s pro-Roe mayor is tomorrow’s pro-Roe presidential candidate. Candidates don’t come from nowhere. They rise through the ranks, and we need to support pro-life candidates at the lowest offices, too, so that someday, they will be able to run for higher office.

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      A good point, Donato.

      I’d add also that supporting local pro-life candidates is especially important for pro-life Democrats. I know there are different opinions on the question, but I am of the view that it’s best in the long term to have a strong pro-life presence in both parties. Given the financial and political strength of the pro-abortion lobby in the Democratic Party right now, it is very, very difficult for a pro-life candidate to win a Senate primary and probably impossible even to be taken seriously at the presidential level. But pro-life Democrats can and do win at the local level.

  2. Liam says:

    When considering a candidate for office, one may also consider the proximity of the office’s responsibilities to improving the morality of policy at hand, and the realistic likelihood vs contingency of that improvement.

    Btw, the recent example of South Dakota casts serious doubt on whether the reversal of Roe will have the effect desired. It certainly would move the debate to the states, but if even a relatively pro-life state like SD had problems digesting a pro-life initiative, it makes for sobering assessments of the likely effect of reversing Roe (but it would very certainly be great for media outlets and political campaign industries).

    In the end, the net probable change would likely be a handful of states that ban abortion except in the case of rape/incest or to save the life of the mother. A couple of more handfuls might enact restrictions that eat away at marginal practices. (All are certainly improvements, of course, and I am not discounting them.) Keep this in mind when imagining the post-Roe world.

    Remember, not a single one of the current Catholic justices on the SCOTUS espouses a natural law view of abortion – all are positivists who feel bound by the text and the historical interpretation thereof, and there is no federal common law tradition in that regard to draw on. Furthermore, I am not aware of a single competitive Presidential candidate in memory who espoused appointing natural law justices to the SCOTUS – all of the talk about originalism and judicial restraint works against the very thought.

    Just keep these cross-currents in mind.

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      Thanks for the reply. Obviously, speculation on what exactly a post-Roe world would look like is, well, speculative. The Guttmacher Institute predicts 20 states outlawing abortion within a year (in a few it would be automatic), while the Center for Reproductive Rights put the number at closer to 30, again within a year. (Here’s one fairly recent analysis:
      http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/what_would_happen_if_the_supreme_court.html)

      Because some of these groups have an interest in exaggerating the immediate effects of reversing Roe (for fundraising purposes) and because of a natural pessimism, my hunch would tend toward the lower end.

      To some extent, however, the emphasis on what would happen immediately is beside the point since with a problem of this scale, the long term matters more.

      The bottom line is that as long as Roe is law, nothing significant can change. The nature of the problem is such that we first have to overturn the status quo before we can even begin to discuss serious legal remedies at the state level. Even then, as I said above, we won’t end up with perfect laws, and we certainly won’t end up with perfect laws instantly. But a vote for Roe is a vote for the abortion on demand status quo.

      That said, to end on a more optimistic note, the effect of the Supreme Court reversing Roe on public opinion can’t be underestimated. The law is a moral teacher and shapes public attitudes. Furthermore, as we saw with the debate over partial birth abortion, the mere fact of having public debate on specific abortion-related laws is good for pro-life opinion because it causes people to confront the reality of what abortion is; even if it doesn’t result in a string of instant victories, 30-some legislatures debating abortion laws would go a long way, long term to building a “culture of life” even in states (CA, NY, etc) unlikely to enact pro-life laws in the near term.

      We do need to avoid the argument, which I’m not attributing to you but I have heard before, that because abortion won’t go from 1.2 million to 0 instantly, we’re just better off moving on to other things.

  3. Qualis Rex says:

    Hello Anton, very nice piece. And while I support and agree with your sentiment on the need to vote for pro-life candidates, I’d have to say you sincerely have more faith in the judicial system than I do. Case in point: we have had Anton Scalia in the SCOTUS for how many years now? And has the issue of personhood (which would effectively resolve the entire issue point blank) ever once come up?

    IM(not-so)HO, I don’t think the key is in the SCOTUS overturning Roe-v-Wade so much as state laws being created/enforced due to a grass-roots movement for 2 reasons; 1) I don’t think there is/will be anyone strong enough sitting on the SCOTUS to tackle this during their career. I think they are appointed specifically because they realize they are not to make waves, as it were. 2) The abortion industry is big business. Just like the anti-smoking campaigns drastically cut the demand for tobacco, so to can the people reduce the demand for abortions on a local level. Once the morality shifts towards abortion being on par with smoking, we will see the disappearance of abortion mills across the country (but not everywhere, as WA, CA, MA and DC would probably revolt/separate).

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      I’m not sure if it’s so much faith in the judicial system, as the recognition that the reality of our legal system means that overturning Roe is the only realistic option for seriously tackling the culture of legal abortion on demand. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything else; the sort of “activism” Nathan suggests below for example is a good thing, as I allude to in my post, though it means fiddling with the margins rather than striking at the heart of the problem. (Of course, given the enormity of the problem, even fiddling with the margins means saving thousands of lives–certainly nothing to sneeze at.)

      And even though I can see the reason for a certain discouragement regarding the Court, I wouldn’t give in to it. It took even longer to overturn Plessy v. Ferguson than Roe has yet been on the books. Furthermore, Casey and the more recent decision on partial birth abortion do genuinely undermine the ruling. Scalia and Thomas are already on record as wanting to overturn Roe, and Roberts and Alito wrote a very interesting concurring opinion last year (might have been to the Citizens United ruling but I don’t remember) laying out what it would take to overturn a precedent. I remember as I read the criteria thinking that they might have been a description of the legal status of Roe…

  4. Jimmy says:

    As a liberal Catholic who considers himself pro-life and who votes for pro-Roe candidates, I would like to add a couple of comments here:

    (1) I take issue with the constant co-opting of the pro-life label by what is really nothing more than an anti-abortion position. One can be anti-abortion, but certainly not pro-life. Coopting the “pro-life” terminology provides moral cover to those whose commitment to preserving the dignity of human life starts and ends with unborn babies and makes it easy for such anti-abortionists to gloss over the fact that many other policies cost real lives in many other ways — perhaps indirect ways, but no less abominable.

    (2) You speak of abortion in such absolutist terms (and yet avoid speaking of other pro-life issues so starkly or decisively); and this leads you to categorize the politics of abortion in such unequivocal moral terms such that it gives the impression that people like me simply have no place in the Catholic communion for approaching the politics of abortion as a more complex matter such that there is room in the pro-life orbit for voting for candidates to public office who are pro-Roe. If you think that my vote for a pro-Roe candidate means that I am failing in weighing the balance of pro-life considerations to my voting choices (which I think is clear in your “single-issue” position that you do think this), then you are presuming something about me that (1) is simply not true and (2) is actually quite offensive. I will tell you that pro-life considerations are central to my voting choices, and that my votes for any candidate are, to the best of my ability, made with a conviction of what is the best decision with regard to promoting and protecting human life and the dignity of the human being.

    Even though I think anyone who would rationalize voting for George Bush after he declared “pre-emptive” war and after we knew about the horrendous torture regime he directly authorized at Guantanamo is morally much more problematic on the pro-life front than voting for a pro-Roe candidate, I don’t go around issuing absolutist proclamations about the moral obligations (if not judgments on the moral standing) of Catholics and their choices to vote for Bush.

    Perhaps my pro-life liberalism (and, yes, my commitment to the pro-life dimensions of Catholic social teachings) that leads me to vote for pro-Roe candidates in your mind makes me ultimately unworthy to be in communion with you as a Catholic. So be it. I’m comfortable and at peace with where I stand before God, who I believe looks at me in all my human complexity and imperfection and struggle to live a moral, pro-life existence, and understands and accepts me, who votes for pro-Roe candidates, in a way that you seem incapable of or unwilling to.

    • Juan Lino says:

      In the interest of trying to understand your worldview, I’d like to stir the pot a bit Jimmy.

      Shouldn’t our self identity derive from the fact that we have been incorporated into Christ at our baptism? If that’s true, then it seems to me that you do yourself (and the Body of Christ as a whole) as disservice by defining yourself as a “liberal” Catholic. “Liberal” and “conservative” are political terms that are used to marginalize and label people and thereby turn our gaze away from Christ and His Divine revelation as mediated to us through His Church – quite possibly the baptized person standing in front of you.

      Regarding your first point, unless I am misreading what you’ve written it, seems to me that you are assuming (probably unintentionally) that a human being outside the womb is worthy of more respect and protection than one in the womb. If that is indeed the case, then what criterion are you using to determine that being against abortion should not be the first and primary decisive issue? After all, if abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human person shouldn’t that be the first act to be eradicated and the first right to be defended by the State?

      Of course, being of Spanish descent, I don’t think it’s accidental that many abortion providers open shop in predominately black and Hispanic neighborhoods …but that’s another point for another time.

      Regarding your second point, never forget that because of concupiscence, we elevate conscience to the status of oracle and forget that it is simply an organ! (“Oracle” in the sense of “an utterance of great wisdom, significance, or import; an opinion or declaration regarded as authoritative and infallible” and “organ” in the sense of “a means, instrument, or device by which some purpose is carried out or some function is performed.”)

      To shed light on what I mean by “oracle” instead of “organ”, I offer this excerpt from a document issued by CDC titled “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian”:

      #38…Argumentation appealing to the obligation to follow one’s own conscience cannot legitimate dissent. …while the theologian, like every believer, must follow his conscience, he is also obliged to form it. Conscience is not an independent and infallible faculty. It is an act of moral judgment regarding a responsible choice. A right conscience is one duly illumined by faith and by the objective moral law and it presupposes, as well, the uprightness of the will in the pursuit of the true good.

    • Qualis Rex says:

      Hello Jimmy as a “plain” Catholic (see: faithful, with no need to put a political modifyer in front of my faith) I “take issue” with certain people constantly attempting to weaken the pro-life message by insisting we talk about EVERY facet whenever the specific issue of abortion comes up. It’s as if we must call out and preface euthenasia, death-penalty and healthcare everytime the issue of abortion comes up or risk losing credibility.

      Well, I for one do not play that game nor dignify that completely transparent trap, since, as I said at the begining, I am Catholic. Meaning all issues are very clearly covered by the church, and there is no need to go into them every time the issue of abortion comes up. When the topic is about euthanasia, capital punishment or healthcare, we can talk about those just as easily. But Anthony made it extremely clear what the topic of this post was, dispite your best efforts to dilute and hijack it.

  5. I think working to overturn the culture of death must be our top priority, not just Roe. I make the distinction because I still think that not every person who supports abortion “supports killing 1.2 million children per year.” By that I mean that I still give some people the positive read that they are genuinely spiritually confused, and that this is not simply a rational issue. While it should be, spiritual confusion plays a large part in people’s positions, spiritual confusion picked up from our culture of death and consumeristic society.

    “This means that just because a candidate is pro-life, he shouldn’t get a blank check on everything else.”

    I think this is an important point to make, and I know that you make it. I generally abstain from voting, becuase voting for the military industrial complex has become for me an extremely important life issue. And this complex is typically supported by “pro-life” candidates. I would caution giving politicians like them who support the culture of death our support just because they object to Roe. “Catholics,” as you say, “need to be fiercer in defending our independence.” I absolutely agree.

    “Pro-life” Republicans have done very little for the movement. I still think the way forward is a genuinely pro-life bi-partisan grassroots movement. That is broader than just being anti-Roe, but I think is the only long term sustainable option.

    • Jimmy says:

      Nathan – I very much appreciate your measured response and find myself in agreement with its spirit. I would like to challenge you a bit on one particular point, though. It has to do with your comments about spiritual confusion. I really don’t think that there is much spiritual confusion among Catholics about pro-life matters, or at least among Catholics who seriously ponder the pro-life question. At least with regard to the many pro-life Catholics I know who vote for pro-Roe candidates, the weight of such a voting decision comes not from spiritual confusion but actually from spiritual clarity and conviction. How could a pro-life Catholic NOT agonize over his or her decision to vote for a pro-Roe candidate without arriving at some clarity and conviction about the full measure of what such a vote means to the larger pro-life cause. Likewise, I think anti-abortion Catholics who believe as strongly as Anthony does about abortion are also in no way spiritually confused about the matter. I think ascribing people’s varied (and at times opposing) thoughts on the subject to a kind of spiritual confusion questions the discerning capacity of individuals. It’s not that people are spiritually confused, but rather, I would say, that the pro-life issue is a complex one that transcends any single issue such as abortion, war, or the death penalty.

      I also appreciate that you singled out the following phrase from Anthony’s posting:

      “This means that just because a candidate is pro-life, he shouldn’t get a blank check on everything else.”

      This phrase encapsulates what I think is quite problematic, actually, with Anthony’s conflation of abortion with a broader pro-life conceptualization. And even you fall into this problematic narrative by saying it is an important point that Anthony makes. Actually, when you think about it, it is rather an absurd point. To wit: what is that “everything else” that Anthony means if not issues that are also central to being “pro-life”? Again, this is where the myopia of single-minded anti-abortion pro-lifers rears its head and where folks like me are grossly misunderstood.

      • Jimmy,

        I was talking about politicians who support Roe who may be spiritually confused, not those who vote for those politicians. Just to clarify.

      • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

        Nathan, Just to avoid getting backed into full-blown relativism, I think you should stick by your point about confusion.

        Anyone who supports Roe does *in fact* support the killing of 1.2 million children per year.

        Now, they might for various reasons not think that that is what they are doing: they might not think unborn children are really children; they might not realize abortion is such a big problem; they might simply take a pass on thinking about it (ie, “it’s above my pay grade”); they might be so caught up in the euphemisms about “terminating pregnancies” and “reproductive rights” that they really are incapable of moral reasoning on this topic. But Roe has objective consequences, whether we subjectively wish it to or not.

        Confusion, as you might be getting at, can of course diminish the culpability of individuals who commit evil acts, but since I’m not particularly interested in meting out culpability to individuals in this post, I’ll just leave that question be. In other words, I don’t much care whether someone’s confusion is genuine or not – but I do care about clearing that confusion up.

  6. Let me perhaps clarify a little more. Since this post is a practical one about priorities, I don’t think the average Catholic can or should prioritize Roe. The reason is because I am an activist. And I want weekly action, minimum. But the amount of weekly action that an average Catholic can do to affect Roe is minimal. I suppose he can write letters weekly to Senators or things like that. But on a weekly basis there is a lot that an average Catholic can do to combat abortion and the culture of death. He can picket abortionists homes, clinics, side-walk counsel, pray the rosary, etc. He can pass out literature at intersections, in malls, put literature in shoes in shoe stores, etc. If the average Catholic prioritizes ending abortion and the culture of death, he will be more active. So practically speaking, in the name of creating more action in a politically dead society, I say we don’t prioritize Roe (though we go after it), but we prioritize fighting abortion and the culture of death (including anti-war activism).

    • Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

      The above should not be read as arguing that the majority of one’s time should be taken up with directly anti-Roe activities at the expense of other activities. In fact, I make that point fairly directly in my second qualification. If one thinks the above argument means that one should sit home writing legal briefs no one will read instead of volunteering in a clinic, that’s a mistake. But the things you mention aren’t a real substitute for working, in the limited ways our system allows, chiefly voting, to see Roe overturned (or at least refraining from helping to reinforce it – since I do have some respect for those, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, who make an argument for refusing to vote even if I’m not ultimately persuaded by that argument). I’m not sure why these approaches need to be in conflict with one another.

      • While John Paul II’s “culture of death” can easily become a meaningless phrase about everything, we must continue to use it. It was helpful for me to use a sentence similar to the one you used above, “He supports legally killing creating embryos and freezing them for research, but that’s okay because…” in order to keep me from voting for John McCain. That issue has become as large as abortion, with the millions of frozen embryos in freezers all over the United States. While overturning Roe is extremely important, “lesser evil” questions tally up.

  7. M.P. says:

    What we can hope for is that a quiet type of revolution of hearts takes place in many , taking in the message that ‘war is punishement for sins’ ! – our Lady’s words at Fatima .

    There are news reports about terrorists trying to have nuclear weapons and biological weapons ; the weather , like in days of what Egypt had to face in time of the Exodus !

    Hopefully , enough in our nation would wake up to realise that killing of the unborn is an issue that affect all even here and now , like it did when the Egyptians started killing off the male babies of the Israelites !

    The hidden costs from all the repercussions of abortion is another aspect that many have chosen to hide in the darkness too – data support how the cells of the baby live in the mother for years afterwards !

    The parents thus become not just spiritually but even physically like death or vengeance bearers – unless with grace of repentance !

    Studies show some of the effects – depression , breakup in relationships , cancers , hardening of hearts ,heart attacks , inability to trust in God and his mercy , possibly addictions !

    May God help many to open their hearts , to His wisdom !

    Hope that the spiritual warriors in colleges would make liberal use of the Green Scapular – a ‘hidden’ sacramental , to aid in grace of conversion which is our basic need , thus to see each other , in the Light of The Holy Spirit , from His Merits , as beloved children of The Father – our Lord manifests Himself thus at The Baptism , to grant same to us too !

  8. Anthony Lusvardi, SJ says:

    To respond to issues raised by Nathan and Jimmy:

    The squabble over labels strikes me as a red-herring. Jimmy, if you would like to substitute “anti-abortion” for pro-life for the purposes of this argument, fine. It doesn’t change the argument itself. As I argued, especially in part 2, of all the issues that I consider important and one could reasonably label pro-life, abortion should be our top priority. Pointing out that there are, in fact, other issues that impact upon human life and dignity is true but doesn’t really answer the argument I’m making, which assumes the reality and seriousness of these other issues. Thus the need to make an argument.

    I use the term “pro-life” to signify opposition to abortion (and specifically opposition to Roe) because (1) that’s the convention and (2) I think it’s to be preferred to the term “anti-abortion” which has pejorative connotations. (You’ll notice that it’s the preferred term for pro-abortion folks, such as Planned Parenthood, the New York Times, etc.) Pro-right-to-life would be a bit more precise, but rather cumbersome. If there’s a better term which is more precise and non-pejorative (not using the negative prefix anti-), be my guest to use it.

    Likewise, Nathan, I agree that opposing the “culture of death” or supporting the “culture of life” is more important than simply opposing abortion because opposition to abortion is one part of both of those umbrella goals. In fact, all of these terms (pro-life, culture of death, etc) can be understood so broadly that they become rather meaningless. We could say that the real goal is pursing good and avoiding evil. The hard part comes when we have to figure out how to make decisions when specific issues within these broad umbrella values (life, human dignity) come into conflict. My argument here, and especially in part 2, is that of all of the issues which could be considered “life issues,” abortion is the most important, so important that it should be the decisive issue when there is a conflict.

    I actually did think about adding a little terminological disclaimer to the first of these posts, but I figured I had already been verbose enough…

  9. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “My argument here, and especially in part 2, is that of all of the issues which could be considered “life issues,” abortion is the most important, so important that it should be the decisive issue when there is a conflict.”

    Bravo! To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if abortion isn’t wrong, nothing is wrong.

  10. thereserita says:

    “Anti-abortion” vs “prolife” is just providing semantic wiggle room. That’s very obvious if you substitute “anti-slavery” vs “abolitionist”. The issue is still the 1.2 million kids you refered to in your post. You know, the ones who are dying everyday while we’re straining at gnats.
    This post is very straightforward and what I thought was very basic Catholic teaching. I realized it wasn’t when my own mother voted for “hope & change” a couple of years ago because a priest told her it didn’t really matter what the candidate’s stand on abortion was. She felt very vindicated on May 17, 2009 when O was lauded at Notre Dame U. No wonder the people in the pews are confused!

    • Erastus says:

      There are many Catholic clergy who have simply grown tired of the abortion debate and take the position that a politician’s position on abortion is morally irrelevant. This results from two things: the invisibility and silence of the victims, and a desire on the part of some priests and Catholic leaders to “fit in” socially and appear tolerant / open-minded.

      Pro-Roe politicians offer a seductive mantra – “Abortion should be safe, legal and rare” — which is simply political snake oil designed to salve voter consciences and make us feel okay about supporting the abortion status quo under Roe. But the first rule of politics is or should be, Look at what I do, not at what I say. Look in vain for any effort to make abortions “rare.” If Roe allowed the killing of 1.2 million disabled adults or homosexuals every year, could politicians get away with such dishonest posturing? Of course not. A million disabled people and gays won’t meekly lie down and submit to killing without a fight.

      At bottom, the “right to abortion” is a product of a political and social philosophy that rejects and demands the absolute elimination of any inequality between the sexes, including inequalities resulting from different sex organs, different dispositions, different hormones, and different reproductive and parenting roles. In other words, it represents a revolt against a central aspect of what we humans are, biologically and psychologically speaking — an attempt to “correct” (in their view) what God, or evolution, screwed up.

      So lease make no mistake: abortion is a defining issue for our society, our culture, our politics, our philosophical and religious beliefs about who and what we are. We can’t afford to get tired of debating it, and we must never trade our moral conscience for social comfort.

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