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The Catholic Vote and the Counterbalance to Abortion

How can Catholics for Obama rationalize their support for the pro-choice candidate?

by
Elizabeth Scalia

Bio

July 13, 2008 - 12:04 am
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In his column of June 24, Wall Street Journal writer William McGurn looked at the mostly NARAL-friendly Catholics named to the Obama campaign’s National Catholic Advisory Council. Noting that Obama enjoys a NARAL approval rating of 100%, and that — while in the Illinois State Senate — he voted against a measure similar in intent to the unanimously approved 2002 Federal Born Alive Act, McGurn wonders how the council and other Catholics for Obama can rationalize support for a candidate who stands in such profound contrast to the church’s firm teaching that abortion is “an intrinsic evil.”

The…line of argument is the They’re-Just-As-Bad-As-We-Are defense. Thus the Web sites that go on and on about Catholic social teaching on war and poverty and greed and the death penalty…the implication being, of course, that…simply by enumerating all these concerns, you can somehow balance out the Democratic Party’s singular commitment to abortion on demand. [link and emphasis mine]

On the surface, that argument seems reasonable — so reasonable, in fact, that the ardently pro-life Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Denver, writes of forming his own conscience in just such a way in 1976:

I knew Carter was wrong in his views about Roe and soft toward permissive abortion. But even as a priest, I justified working for him because…he was right on so many more of the “Catholic” issues than his opponent seemed to be. The moral calculus looked easy.

The moral calculus does look easy until one considers that war, torture, the death penalty, poverty, racism, and even the excesses of capitalism — those evils so well defined in Catholic social teaching, and of concern to Catholics of all political persuasions — are fully present in the act of abortion.

Consider:

War is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether just or unjust, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. War introduces pain, fire, violence, savagery and torture into societies.

Abortion is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether “justified” or not, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. A vacuum abortion, saline abortion or a D&C introduces pain, fire, and a limb-shredding, relentless violence deep into the very being of a woman’s body, within her very womb. A partial birth abortion, which involves inserting a scissor into the base of the skull of a partially delivered fetus, then suctioning out its brain before fully withdrawing the fetus from the birth canal, embodies the sort of savagery and real torture which is the most abhorrent part of any war.

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