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A Cautionary Tale Print E-mail
By Randall Smith   
Friday, 21 September 2012

Editor’s Note: Professor Smith offers a powerful case for pro-life voting in this splendid column. Let me also remind you again that George Marlin has been providing some very interesting analysis of the Catholic vote in key swing states at our companion site, Complete Catholicism. You can access those materials by clicking here. – Robert Royal
 

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 prepared voters for an election, which Abraham Lincoln, as is sometimes forgotten, lost. The debates covered a range of important political issues of the day, but one issue clearly dominated: slavery. Indeed, no one today really cares what Stephen A. Douglas’s positions were on, say, the economy: what he thought, for example, about the money supply or taxes. The only thing we care about is that he voted for slavery.

To be fair, Douglas repeatedly insisted that he was not for slavery, but he was also one of the architects of the notion of “popular sovereignty,” that is, of allowing the states to decide the matter for themselves. “I hold,” declared Douglas that: 

humanity and Christianity both require that the negro shall have and enjoy every right, every privilege, and every immunity consistent with the safety of the society in which he lives. On that point, I presume, there can be no diversity of opinion. You and I are bound to extend to our inferior and dependent beings every right, every privilege, every facility and immunity consistent with the public good.

The question then arises, what rights and privileges are consistent with the public good? This is a question which each State and each Territory must decide for itself – Illinois has decided it for herself. We have provided that the negro shall not be a slave, and we have also provided that he shall not be a citizen, but protect him in his civil rights, in his life, his person and his property, only depriving him of all political rights whatsoever, and refusing to put him on an equality with the white man. That policy of Illinois is satisfactory to the Democratic party and to me, and if it were to the Republicans, there would then be no question upon the subject; but the Republicans say that he ought to be made a citizen, and when he becomes a citizen he becomes your equal, with all your rights and privileges. They assert the Dred Scott decision to be monstrous because it denies that the negro is or can be a citizen under the Constitution. Now, I hold that Illinois had a right to abolish and prohibit slavery as she did, and I hold that Kentucky has the same right to continue and protect slavery that Illinois had to abolish it.  

Douglas was, in other words, the quintessential pro-choice candidate: he favored choice for all – except of course for the black Americans who were not fully persons under current law. As for his pledge that blacks be extended “every right, every privilege” consistent with the public good, that was quintessential double-speak: what it offered so generously with one hand, it took back brutally with the other.

 
           The principals in an earlier pro-life debate

Don’t think that Douglas didn’t try to paint Lincoln as “immoderate,” “out of the mainstream,” akin to the “fanatical” abolitionists. He beat this drum repeatedly. Lincoln, however, was by no means perfect on slavery himself, opting for “pragmatic” compromises that undoubtedly caused some abolitionists to prefer some morally “purer” candidate instead. Thus there were likely several groups who voted against Lincoln:  those who disagreed with his opposition to slavery; those who were convinced he wasn’t opposed enough; and those who thought slavery was just one issue among many, and on balance, preferred Douglas.

It would be a mistake to treat all issues as though they were of the overriding importance of slavery, but it would be equally a mistake not to realize that there are historical moments when injustices so fundamental arise that they simply outstrip all else, although the seriousness may not be clear to everyone at the time.

There were no Nazis to be found anywhere in Germany after World War II, and yet the party had been elected by large majorities in every election until the war started going badly in 1942. No one looks back now and says about those voters: “Sure the Nazi candidate was voting to deport Jews, but maybe he had good economic proposals.”  No one cares what the economic issues were.

The statement “But they got the trains to run on time!” is now greeted with a special sort of contempt, given the human freight those trains carried. And we don’t have much patience either for anyone who would have argued that it would be better to vote for the Nazi candidate because, if the economy improved, the pressure to deport Jews might have lessened. Unintended consequences can’t be controlled; what people choose to favor or restrict can be. Candidates who oppose life undermine the most basic foundation of the republic.

As we approach the next election, we would do well to remember this cautionary tale. In two hundred years, when the moral vision is clearer, will anyone really care about the political squabbles that dominate us now?  Or will they simply ask (as we do about our forebears): who voted against abortion, and who didn’t? 

The Church’s teaching on this issue has been stated repeatedly; it is clearer in some ways than it was on slavery or treatment of the Jews. I’m often asked: “Why didn’t German bishops excommunicate Catholics who voted for Nazis?” I don’t know. But then I tend to be less concerned about the sins of the past than about avoiding my own moral blindness. Judgment is a sharp blade that cuts both ways.

The Church cannot compel, as governments often do; she can only appeal to the consciences of men and women of good will. Would this sort of clarity help?  A Catholic with a properly formed conscience cannot vote for a candidate who favors allowing abortion over who one favors restricting it any more than a Catholic with a properly formed conscience could have voted for a pro-slavery or pro-Nazi candidate. Would anyone today argue that a Catholic would have been somehow justified voting for Douglas over Lincoln, or a Nazi over a Jew? 

Don’t fool yourself. Those with ears, let them hear.

 
Randall Smith is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.
 
 
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Comments (34)Add Comment
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written by jsmitty, September 21, 2012
sigh....except Obama isn't a Nazi really and Romney sure as heck is not a Lincoln. Other than that a very convincing piece.


Professor Smith is the GOP guaranteed your support as long as their candidates do nothing more than check the right box on abortion?? How far must we go with this? When Reagan was president I really felt like the GOP was the far better party overall for the country with a program that was superior in nearly every respect...so having a pro-life litmus test seemed very easy. But I've since become so disgusted with the direction of the GOP in the last 10 years (on the economy, foreign policy, domestic issues) that asking for a carte-blanche for them (provided they tow the line on abortion) in perpetuity no matter how bad the Republicans candidates are and how crazy the party becomes and how much nonsense is put forth for policy--this is a really hard pill to swallow. I feel like my vote is being taken for granted by cynical political strategists who really don't care what I think.

I'm not ready to change parties yet and vote for Obama but the GOP cannot count on my support forever. I doubt I'm the only disgruntled Catholic Republican who feels this way.
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written by Grump, September 21, 2012
"Lincoln, however, was by no means perfect on slavery..."

Quite an understatement. A little fact-checking is in order here. Contrasted with Douglas, who was able to find a semblance of equality between the races, Lincoln's record on the slavery is abysmal despite his unearned title of "The Great Emancipator."

There are numerous examples of "Honest" Abe's pro-slavery and white supremacist views. In 1861, a letter signed by him implored the governor of Florida to rally political support for a constitutional amendment that would have legally enshrined slavery in the U.S. Constitution.

Leading abolitionists, including Lysander Spooner, author of "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery," despised Lincoln for wearing at least two faces, depending on his audience.

In essence, Lincoln's position was no different from Douglas's, but Lincoln was more artful and disingenuous in framing it.

Lincoln's "forever" amendment read as follows:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."

In his first inaugural address, he said: "I have no objection to (the amendment) being made express and irrevocable."

For Lincoln, "freeing the slaves" was secondary to his stated higher purpose of "saving the union." This was exemplified by his letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley in which the president explained to the world what the war was about:

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."

Despite leftist conventional history largely swallowed whole to this day, led by Lincoln apologists such as Doris Kearns Goodwin and Marxist Eric Foner, Lincoln was a racist and white supremacist, as numerous quotes can attest to.

Romney's "moral vision" may be better than Obama's based on his view that abortion ought to be more "limited," but in the end political expediency remains the ultimate consideration of any candidate.

It's not morality that counts, it's votes and in order to get them you have to put your finger to the wind and see which way it blows the hardest.
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written by Jim Thunder, September 21, 2012
As I understand it, the German bishops excommunicated members of the Nazi Party very early on, like 1933. Also, my pastor has recited in a homily the papal pronouncements against slavery -- before 1860 -- that were not accepted by American bishops. I'd be happy to see more comments on either point.
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written by Jack,CT, September 21, 2012
Thanks for a refreshing article!

Any one who is "Pro Choice" I dare say can
they call them selves Catholic?,I think NOT>

I will leave you with Bishop Fulton Sheens Prayer
for the unborn.

"Jesus,Mary and Joseph I Love You
very much.I beg you to spare the live
of the unborn baby that i have spiritually
adopted who is in danger of abortion.
Amen"

please adopt spiritually the life of a unborn
child as Bishop Sheen called for us to do.
4000 babys are killed every day!
Prayer is are weapon to help these little angels.

"Before I formed you in the womb
I Knew you.
Jeremiah

we must stand together and pray for the "Lost souls"
As well as the soul of the child we adopt
Jack
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written by Chris in Maryland, September 21, 2012
Grump:

You're missing the whole point of the article and the discussion.
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written by Howard Kainz, September 21, 2012
The Democrats, who rejected the appeal of the DFLA at the convention to include the "Big Tent" amendment in their platform (openness to pro-life as well as pro-choice), could now with justice be called the "Abortion Party." Would Catholics still vote for them, after that name change?
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written by jim g, September 21, 2012
The point is we have a choice-Mr Obama an expressed proponent of liberal abortion, and Mr Romney-not(or less so) a proponent of such if we must exercise our vote, which one need we in conscience vote for? Sometimes the lesser of two evils is the choice we're presented with-this world is not perfect yet...inaction is unacceptable.
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written by Mark, September 21, 2012
Professor Smith has this one dead on. This exact argument should be distributed far and wide. It is a logic that can't be refuted by the logical. Therefore it may sway a few who might otherwise vote for pro-abortion candidates.
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written by Larry Jordan, September 21, 2012
"Or will they simply ask (as we do about our forebears): who voted against abortion, and who didn’t?"

Or will they simply ask:

who voted to execute criminals and who didn't?

who voted to pursue unjust wars, and who didn't?

who voted to provide healthcare, and who didn't?

who voted to tax the rich to help the poor, and who didn't?

who voted to discriminate against gays, and who didn't??

There are many pro-life issues to consider.

Just my opinion. Thanks for listening.
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written by Athanasius, September 21, 2012
I wholeheartedly agree with this article. Stopping abortion is THE civil rights issue of our time, and it trumps all the other issues. I have often used the slavery and Nazi comparisons in my own debates on the subject. People who put their own economic well-being or their chance to hold elected office ahead of the unborn children of God act selfishly.

Further, in the final chapters of Evangelium Vitae, Blessed Pope John Paul II recalls Chapter 12 of Revelation where the passage on the Woman and the dragon is. The dragon is waiting to attack the child, but God saves Him. And in Isaiah 49, God uses the love of a mother for her unborn child as an example of His perfect love. I read these passages and see abortion as a grave sin in God's eyes.

I believe that the central focus of all creation is the incarnation of our Blessed Lord. From all eternity God chose to send His Son into the world to become man. It is in this very intimate way that God primarily wanted to interact with us. Even after His earthly mission was completed, Jesus gave us the Blessed Sacrament as a way to continue a bodily communion with Him.

I believe that the theology of the body points to this mystery, and describes the sexual union of man and woman as a foretaste of the eternal union of man with God in heaven. The incarnation and our sexuality are so intrinsic to our being that it is through the body that God allows us to participate in His greatest act of creation in the visible world, that of a newly conceived human child. So great is this act that we call it procreation.

Therefore, any deliberate attack on the unborn child in the womb is an act to profane procreation, and ultimately is a sin against the incarnation of our Lord. A very grave sin indeed. This is why abortion should carry much more weight in our public policy and voting decisions than other issues, important though they may be.

P.S. Grump, it doesn't matter if Lincoln wasn't perfect. The point of the article does not change. Today, a vote for Romney is clearly the more pro-life vote. I like him over Obama for many other reasons as well, but the pro-life issue trumps.

For senator, I have a choice between 2 pro-abortion candidates. I will vote for the Republican because she is not as pro-abortion as the Democrat, and will vote to give the more pro-life party the majority in the Senate. This is important when confirming justices. So, even if narrowly, my vote will still be based on my pro-life views.
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written by Deborah Ghesquiere, September 21, 2012
Larry, All those issues pertain to human beings who actually had a chance at life. Abortion kills you before you ever had a chance to vote on those issues. Every one of those topics is something that we can debate, however, if you're already dead you can't have a vote. That's why voting pro-life is the most fundamental pro-life issue to consider.
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written by Graham Combs, September 21, 2012
We could on and on with numbers and the whole unholy litany of modern evils in the English-speaking world and elsewhere. So let's do it. As the Archbishop of Philadelphia stood in front of the media last week to support a death penalty ban, literally hundreds of mostly young black men and boys had been shot to death in our inner cities -- mostly by one another. How many executions are there in one year? A similar observation could be made about the Archbishop of Detroit who last week was collecting old guns from city residents. As of yesterday there 31 murders committed in Detroit just in September (and remember, the city is dying as its population flees anywhere but Detroit). Unjust wars? Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Congo, Nigeria/Biafra, Liberia, Sierra Leone (in those last two countries American and Royal Marines ended the the slaughter that included the chopping off of arms and hands of small children), Sunni/Shiite violence on one another, the Islamic insurrection in the Phillipines, China's resurregent bullyism, Iran's arms philanthropy across the middle and far east...Never mind the oppression in Zimbabwe, Russia, Uganda, Rwanda, and China, and religious violence in Nigeria, Kenya, India, Egypt. Gays? Ask the HRC why it is necessary to truncate the religious liberties of Catholics in San Fransico, Washington, DC, Seattle, New York etc in order for them to exercise their rights? Who created that zero sum game? As if the life of a foster child weren't hell enough. What about a culture of death so prevalent in New York in the 80s (when I lived there) than even playwright and gay activist Larry Kramer used the word "murder" in his play THE NORMAL HEART to descibe it. And I knew people who died and I wouldn't wish that death on anyone. In this country we only recognize the suffering we can see -- and we're selective about that. But what about that which we don't see. Charles Murray documents that in his book COMING APART. And in case after case, decade after decade foster children have been abused to death by monsters who get parole.

People do need and deserve healthcare, but this bill was always about instituiontalizing abortion so that it could never be extricated from American life. And if we bankrupt the country? What then? No jobs? What then? Children who waste their early lives in dangerous, dysfunctional propaganda mills called publish schools? What then?

We can play this game all day. Fifty million babies have been aborted since 1973 -- that we know of. We also know from a recent study that 160 million female babies have been aborted because they were female. And your feminist friends call the English-speaking world "patriarchal?" Fr. John Powell called it a silent holocaust. I suspect even he had no idea.

But please go ahead wave the laundry list that is the Flag of Social Justice.

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written by Lee Gilbert, September 21, 2012
"Or will they simply ask (as we do about our forebears): who voted against abortion, and who didn’t?"

It is very likely that they will ask, "What ever made the Catholic Church in the United States imagine that it was against abortion?" It did not oppose with vigor all the many things that contributed to the abortion culture. So many streams of pornography, despair, a culture of pre-marital love-making contributed to the great rushing river of a hyper-sexualized culture, and at the very last moment when the flood is about to go over the cataract, and millions of babies have been promiscuously conceived and are about to die, THEN we oppose this irresistible force with all our might and imagine that we are pro-life.

No, when I hear priests urging the fathers of the parish to keep televised sports out of their homes, and the mass media in all its corrupting forms, reminding them that they and no one else are responsible for the culture of their own homes and the moral and religious formation of their children, THEN maybe we will have made a beginning of being pro-life.

Until we do something of the sort we are FULLY complicit with this culture and its consequences. We didn't want to be characterized as religious nuts, or prudes. More than anything else, we wanted to fit in. And, God help us, we fit in all too well.



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written by Richard A, September 21, 2012
Grump: and yet, he brought an end to slavery in America.
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written by Mark, September 21, 2012
Larry Jordan: Only abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. What possible justification is there for it? So one can fornicate without consequence (seemingly)?
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written by Different Mark, September 21, 2012
Televised sports contribute to the abortion culture? Wow! That's a new one.
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written by Randall Smith, September 21, 2012
The Author Replies:

Mr. Smitty,

The names "Barack Obama" and "Mitt Romney" appear nowhere in this article. That you immediately associated the "pro-abortion" position with Barack Obama suggests that you in your conscience must know the truth of the matter.

As for your question, is the GOP guaranteed my support as long as they, in your words, "continue to check the right box on abortion," by no means. Only those who truly oppose abortion will get my vote. But again, the terms "Democrat" and "Republican" never appeared in the article, other than in the speech by Stephen Douglas. What does it say that you associated Democrats with "pro-abortion" and Republicans with the opposition to it? The choice might not be so stark for everyone, but the sides seem very clear to you.

And finally, as for Obama not being Hitler, nor Romney Lincoln, that's undeniably true. Nor have I made any sort of comparison of that kind. How could I have? The names "Romney" and "Obama" don't appear anywhere above, except in your reply. The issue here isn't the candidates; the issue here is the voters, in particular the Catholic ones, who are being called upon to form their consciences according to the definitive teachings of the Catholic Church, which holds: (A) abortion is a grave moral evil, on par with slavery or the killing of innocent Jews, and (B) it is not an evil that can be "balanced against" other political issues. Or will Catholic voters shut their eyes and ears to the greatest moral horror of this generation?

Would we really have much respect for, let us say a Catholic college or university president who in the late 1950s said to his students: "I would LIKE to integrate the campus, but I don't want to alienate the students who come here from southern states." I think most of us would know what to call such a man.

History's judgment on the tepid in this struggle will not be kind.

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written by MikefromED, September 21, 2012
A fascinating analogy and one which people should think hard about, especially those who complain about people who decide how to vote only on a single issue.

Just one item which I thought needed some comment:
“There were no Nazis to be found anywhere in Germany after World War II, and yet the party had been elected by large majorities in every election until the war started going badly in 1942.”
Firstly, the Nazi Party never achieved an absolute majority of votes in any election held in Germany.
Secondly, the last election held in Germany before the restoration of democracy after the Second World War was in 1933. Once Hitler had achieved total power through the Enabling Act he never held any further elections.
I know what you mean by saying that there were no Nazis to be found but in fact plenty of Nazis were being identified and many of them were brought to trial or for processing through denazification courts. According to Herbert Hoover’s press release of the US President’s Economic Mission to Germany and Austria Report No. 1 German Agricultural and Food Requirements referred to in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denazification#cite_note-4): “By early 1947, the Allies held 90,000 Nazis in detention; another 1,900,000 were forbidden to work as anything but manual labourers”.
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written by Jack,CT, September 21, 2012
Mr Jordon,
Your list, meaningless without life.
Jack
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written by Grump, September 21, 2012
@Richard. At the cost of 660,000 American lives. Several other countries earlier ended slavery PEACEFULLY.
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written by jsmitty, September 21, 2012
Smith writes:

Only those who truly oppose abortion will get my vote.

me: So how do you make that determination of genuineness? I can recall within days of getting the nomination McCain in 2008 blanketed the airwaves touting his support for stem cell research while implying that he favored armed conflict with Iran, North Korea, Georgia etc. etc. This is pro-life? This is what I mean by "checking the right box" on abortion for political expediency.

And Mitt Romney...can anyone seriously argue that this guy cares a fig about abortion one way or another--beyond what "box he had to check" to get the GOP nomination.

After your lawyerly response to my post I can only conclude that your position is that in this election Catholics have to vote Romney or write in a fantasy candidate or not vote at all. And this will be the same as long as the party platforms on abortion remain as they are, because abortion trumps all else...fair enough...Actually its hard to disagree in this case because the Dems have gone out of their way this time to offend traditional Catholicism.

Why not just say that rather than couching your argument in hackneyed and unconvincing analogies? Can we please give the Nazis a rest? Is the decision to vote for Obama really akin to the decision to vote for Hitler? Do you really believe that? Do you think this is persuasive to people on the fence or even many who basically agree with you?

Also you hardly needed a whole article to recycle this argument. A sentence would have sufficed. It would have been far more interesting to have you wrestle with the issue of why so few US bishops have actually put the matter so starkly. Could it be that many of them don't see the matter as clearly as you do?
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written by TeaPot562, September 22, 2012
President Obama, while a state senator in Illinois, voted several times against providing ANY care to babies born alive from attempted abortions.
Matching that against perceived ambiguity of Romney on this issue should not be difficult.
TeaPot562
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written by Lee Gilbert, September 22, 2012
Different Mark, you wrote:
"Televised sports contribute to the abortion culture? Wow! That's a new one."

Well, it would be wouldn't it, since it is very difficult to preach the perfectly obvious to millions of Catholic fathers who would ordinarily have thrown the TV out decades ago were it not for televised sports and their vicious attachment to them. Through TV we and our children are being endlessly propagandized on the life issues, on sexual issues, on Church issues and little by little separated from the doctrine of the Church and communion with the Church.

Just this evening I learned of the following incident from a young woman in the cattle futures business: "Last week a cattle industry colleague of mine called to relate his afternoon's activity. He was driving with his four children, aged 9 to 1, when the following conversation took place in the car:
4 year old girl: Can two girls get married?

"6 year old boy: NO, SILLY! Two girls can't get married. It has to be one boy and one girl.

9 year old girl: Nuh-uh. I saw on TV where two girls got married.

"This is what it finally took for this man, this husband, this father, this guardian and protector, to FINALLY understand the full horror of what is being done to his children. . . ."

Multiply that one incident times thousands in the life of every Catholic and Christian family for the past fifty years and we will no longer have to ask the very dumb question of why our children and grandchildren are falling away in droves, why they are "shacking up," why there is only the slightest difference in moral attitude and formation between our children and the public at large, why we have a culture of death.. The problem is not fundamentally abortion, gay marriage etc, but our supine acquiescence in being endlessly propagandized by the enemies of the faith.

In trying to make this argument over the past thirty years I inevitably come up against televised sports and their place in the life of Catholic fathers. The gatekeepers are narcotized. The enemy floods in. Sons and daughters are seduced, babies are murdered, marriage re-defined, our politics corrupted, our convents and seminaries emptied, our children uneducated and unformed in the faith. Yes, one could lay all this and more at the feet of Catholic and Christian dads watching, watching, watching . . .
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written by G.K. Thursday, September 22, 2012
Larrry is right there are many pro-life issues to consider. What Larry leaves off or is unaware of is that for Roman Catholics there is a crystal clear order of importance for these issues. Top of the list as most important is the prohibition against taking the life of innocent children, including abortion. Larry or others may research this in the Catechism or in Splendor Veritatis easily enough.

So if a candidate believes in the slaughter of the innocent (I.e., is pro-choice or in favor of abortion), that would override all the pro-life issues of lesser importance. Much like Douglas' own unequivocal opposition to murder did not excuse his support for pro-choice slavery, a candidate's support for issues of lesser importance would never excuse a stance in favor of murdering innocent children (I.e., abortion). And the Roman Catholic voter who has a well-formed conscience would be obliged to oppose such a candidate.
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written by Beth, September 22, 2012
@Larry

Well, lots of democrats and republicans vote for sustaining "unjust wars" in the Senate and the House. Both sides of the aisle...

Re: health care. Because one opposes Obama's health care program does not mean that said person does not want people to have health care. It's not an either/or situation. Personally, I contribute healthy charitable donations to clinics rooted in Christian medical ethics. Yes, I know that these same clinics may benefit from block grants, etc., but I give to them directly because I am confident that they don't perform abortions, etc. I have a modicum of discretion regarding my contribution's recipient in a way that I don't with the taxes collected from me. This is why I don't contribute to Catholic Charities, United Way, etc. I want to know who is getting my money and what they are doing with it.

Re: tax issues. It seems to me that most voters would like to see tax reform. What's missing from the larger public square is a thorough delineation of ideas from both sides about how any proposed reforms are rooted in solid economic theories AND supported by at least correlative data that argue for a proposal's strengths.

Re: discriminating against gays. As with many other issues, the ideas and values surrounding human sexuality deserve a more complex discussion than is typically had. Slogans can't substitute for debate or conversation. To have questions about the nature and implications of advancing gay rights is more often than not characterized as bigotry here in the New York metropolitan area from which I write.

Children in utero are a curious phenomenon. On the one hand, our society recoils against a mother drinking wine or whiskey as fetal alcohol syndrome could result from such behavior. Yet... dismembering a child with curettes or surrounding it in saline solutions which burn it are considered a good thing if the woman who conceived the child so desires. If the fetus is wanted, it's a child. If the fetus is not wanted, then it is considered less than human and the mother a mere gestational unit. What kind of anthropology is that? It's the one we are surrounded by and it is deeply disturbing.
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written by Chris in Maryland, September 22, 2012
@ DifferentMark:

You might take notice of the creepy leading edge of porno that the NFL squeezes into its commercials. You might take notice of the network of NYC and US sports casters / journalists who are openly attacking Tim Tebow for modeling Christian behavior for young men. Professional sports in the US is moving from away from the previous emphasis on character-building and virtue to pure adolescent indulgment of appetite and vice.
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written by Tim, September 22, 2012
Thank you Smitty. Grump too. I have voted in 5 presidentail elections and have never voted for the Democratic candidate. As of this election cycle, I am done voting for the Republican alternative either. A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil, and I don't understand how Catholics or any other kind of off-brand Christian would vote for Romney/Ryan.

It's time for a "Common Good" party.
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written by bill bannon, September 23, 2012
The Catholic writing world is not even seeing that both political parties have an unhealthy relationship to abortion. Democrats favor abortion enabling laws and republicans (Ryan) want $800 billion in cuts to fed mediCAID each of the next ten years. Medicaid covers 37% of the country's pre natal, delivery, and post partum care that takes place. Ryan is against abortion but his cuts would increase them. Right now in NY, single females making above $31K in expensive rent NY city must, if they sinfully get pregnant, pay all birth related bills while they watch their clubbing friends who make $30K and less obtain full coverage from medicaid. A ten week abortion costs $400. If such females are going bare on health insurance, an abortion is likely if they have no mom nearby to watch a child. As the Ryans of the country reduce medicaid, that number of sinning single females whose birthing bills are not covered will rise and abortions will increase. No Catholic paid writer seems to notice because we dumb down all issues to reach an IQ level that seems somewhat low as being the average Catholic perhaps nationwide. We need a Catholic statistician to ascertain whether Ryan by medicaid cutbacks would cause more abortions in the long run than Dems who write pro choice laws but who might make abortions less likely by their medicaid inclinations. That the topic is invisible in the Catholic paid media bespeaks our dumbing down tendency to over simplifications.
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written by Beth, September 23, 2012
@Bill Bannon

Jonathan Last at The Weekly Standard explored the idea that decreasing medical subsidies would increase the incidence of abortion.

It seems there is no reliable statistical evidence to say that the outcome Schneck and others envision would actually occur. Perhaps in the days to come whatever solid research pertaining to this issue exists will be given its day in the sun. Nonetheless, our basic charge as Christians remains: change the culture which promotes irresponsible sexual activity and at the same time help families and women in financial crisis. If government programs are reduced in scope (to prevent financial collapse), than, yes, parishes and parishioners need to pick up the slack and provide resources that will promote the choice for life. Giving more money to the Sisters of LIfe and other such apostolates is what we need.

As I say this, though, it's important to recall that abortion is not only sought by the poor. Lots of middle class and upper class women have them. It's not how abortion is paid for, it's the abortion itself.

And so a reminder, the Forty Days for Life campaign is about to start on Sept. 26.

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written by bill bannon, September 23, 2012
Beth,
Private charity is miniscule compared to the medicaid budget. The Vatican has one billion dollars in investment savings. If the Pope gave it all to Medicaid, it would cover less than one full day out of 365 days of medicaid bills. The medicaid budget is over 400 billion dollars per year. The Vatican has one billion. The Vatican gave $200,000 each to Haiti, Iraq, and Japan after their troubles. 17644 Catholic parishes gave 60 million dollars to Haiti....that amount would keep only 1090 elderly in a nursing home for one year.
Catholic old age homes run by nuns are getting 60% of their income from medicaid which covers 60% of the elderly in nursing homes. When a nun nurse in such work eats supper, 60% of her supper is coming from medicaid money. You are envisioning Ryan's cuts as having no effect on the nuns supper or on females opting for $400 abortions now that fewer of them have pre natal, delivery, and post partum covered by medicaid. You and the Weekly Standard would be correct if the females getting pregnant were raving saints. They're not. They're people who loved Nelly Furtado and Timberlane singing "Promiscuous Girl". They have sex on the first date. They're clubbing. That's not the behaviour of raving saints. Do you think the Weekly Standard is objective sociology? Can the Bishops maybe find and commission a real sociology group that is not connected to a partisan paper.
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written by tz, September 23, 2012
First, what about 'good guy' Rick Santorum's demand Catholics vote for pro-abort Spectre over 100% prolife Toomey a few years ago?

Second, ok, even if I think the maybe squishy corrupt candidate that is nominally pro-life but like Bush jr won't defund Planned Parenthood will incinerate 50 million in the middle east, cause ww3, and lead to mass poverty, famine, and starvation, I must vote for him?
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written by Beth, September 24, 2012
@Bill
Your passion about the problems our country faces comes through in your posts. A couple of points of clarification: I did not state that The Weekly Standard piece was the end of the discussion. Rather, its author argues for what you seek: the presentation of reliable data so that political analysis can happen.

Next. I am aware that Catholic charities are supported by tax monies but those tax revenues need to be tied to a sustainable national economy. The data about the fiscal insecurity of our national economic policies is out in the public sphere. What seems to be coming is a crisis that may make the point of government subsidies moot.

The culture needs to change and it isn't going to change because of government initiatives. Jeanne Jugan and Dorothy Day, Francis de Sales and Don Bosco are the leadership models we need. Obama, Romney, et al, are in some ways distractions. Every era has been crisis filled. Ours is no different and we need to step up as individuals, families and friends.
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written by joeclark77, October 11, 2012
tz, and others, you cannot be unaware of the difference between intrinsic evil and prudential judgment. People can disagree about whether a war is just or unjust. People can certainly disagree about what the unintended consequences of some policy might be (and it is ridiculous to assume your prediction is guaranteed to be the right one). We cannot disagree about murdering babies. If the Democrat says "I'm for murdering babies" and the Republican says "I'm for winning the war", you cannot vote for the Democrat just because you think the war might not go as planned, maybe. This is about YOUR soul, too. Voting for child murder makes you culpable for it.
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written by Dan, October 11, 2012
Yes, Lincoln was very pro-life. Just ask any citizen of Atlanta c. 1865, after they stood their surveying the dead women, children and aged people, the burned-out Churches, the decimated city and countryside, etc.

Please, sir.

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