The Catholic vote
Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 17, 2008
In his perceptive commentary on the Catholic vote, Professor Rice asks why so many Catholics voted for Obama. The answer, I suggest, is that they simply do not accept the Church’s teaching respecting the personhood of the fetus. Oh, they may say that they do and go on about “balancing” other “life” issues and the like. Some may even believe they do. But, demonstrably, they do not. Consider this analogy: The Supreme Court rules that a mother has a Constitutional right, under the privacy rubric, to direct the humane killing of her child within 24 hours of birth if a doctor determines that the infant suffers from a major disability. A Presidential candidate declares support for this ruling, opposition to any efforts to limit or undo it and endorsement of federal funding to underwrite these infanticides. Obama is that candidate unless that infant’s claim to life is stronger than a fetus’s.
Obama and most, if not almost all, of his supporters assert that it is. But a Catholic voter cannot make that distinction and at the same time proclaim adherence to the Church’s teaching respecting the sanctity of life in the womb. The elaborate calibrations of prominent pro-abortion Catholics who purported to follow the bishops’ guidelines were, accordingly, transparently infirm. A Catholic who genuinely accepts the Church’s central teaching as to the moral personhood of the fetus cannot in conscience vote for an Obama any more than he or she could support the infanticide candidate of the hypothetical. It matters not whether the candidate’s program might somehow result in a reduction of abortions or infanticides in the future. The deliberate taking of innocent lives today cannot be “balanced” by the saving of other lives tomorrow, whatever the numbers. Not, at least, in any Catholic moral equation. This, of course, does not mean that a Catholic should have voted for McCain. That is a different question.
class of 1952