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viewpoint

My Catholic vote

| Thursday, April 7, 2016

On Monday I attended Wendy Davis’ talk sponsored by the Notre Dame College Democrats. She contributed her views as well as her personal experiences to the political dialogue on campus, discussing important and contentious issues such as minimum wage, healthcare and the role of gender discrimination in those arenas. Several weeks ago, I voted in the Ohio primary election. I come from a very traditional Catholic family in which my parents had always made it clear that they supported Republican candidates, and they cited pro-life beliefs as their primary reason for doing so. Though I too treasure my Catholic faith and oppose abortion, I voted for Bernie Sanders, because I believe that he is the candidate with the most respect for the dignity of human life, despite his pro-choice platform. Davis’ comments on the ideology that underlies the Democratic Party further convinced me that I made the right choice.

There are no perfect candidates, and I disagree with Senator Sanders on more than just his position on abortion. However, more than any of the other candidates, I find his priorities and agenda are more consistent with my faith and hopes for our country, especially when one considers the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching. These themes are far from being realized in our society today. Life and dignity of the human person are compromised by more than just abortion. Life and dignity are also currently subjugated by practices like capital punishment and a lack of commitment to solving conflicts abroad using peaceful means. The theme of “option for the poor and vulnerable” is ignored every time we do not put the needs of the disadvantaged above the privileged. The current minimum wage is not a living wage, which is an affront to the “dignity of work and the rights of workers.” The widespread disregard for environmental initiatives stands in opposition to “care for God’s creation.” Though Bernie’s positions on the economy, healthcare, the environment and international policy were not formed on the basis of Catholic Social Teaching, they seem to me to put the poor, the planet and peace ahead of the interests of businesses and billionaires, which is exactly what the Catholic church calls us to demand from our government.

I believe that life begins at conception, and, thus, the right to life for an unborn child outweighs any rights of a mother aside from her own right to life. Wendy Davis provided examples of situations where many believe abortion is an appropriate and necessary course of action, which all involved medical conditions that already served as a preexisting threat to a fetus’ life. In these cases, I believe there should be an active debate surrounding whether abortion is moral. The abortions that I oppose entirely are those chosen based on non-medical reasons.

However, I hold a deep empathy for all women who choose to have abortions and a deep frustration with the circumstances that lead to that choice. Abortion is a result of desperation. Fixing the issues that cause this desperation is the only lasting solution to this problem. A Sanders presidency could provide for key changes in our society that would dramatically reduce the perceived need for abortions. This need was born out of a lack of support for mothers and respect for women, especially those who have to deal with poverty, racial discrimination, gender inequality and gendered violence, and the intersections between these struggles. Bernie has been fighting to find solutions to these problems for decades.

Abortions will continue to occur as long as women are deprived of better options, even if their right to them is no longer protected by our legal system. I want to live in a world where an unplanned pregnancy does not completely derail a woman’s career, end her education or sentence her to a lifetime of struggling to clothe, feed and shelter her child when she was already struggling to do the same for herself. I want to live in a world where children are blessings, not burdens. Though mothers who choose life are heroes, I want to live in a world where the decision to “keep the baby” is expected and supported, not heroic. The way forward is to give women more options, not take them away. Universal healthcare, gender equality and an overhaul of the adoption system would all be necessary to guarantee life and dignity to unborn children. Senator Sanders’ bold challenges to our unequal system, which often puts mothers at a severe disadvantage, makes him the most dedicated fighter for human dignity in the presidential race.

We are blessed to live in a democracy. However, this blessing comes at a cost — at times, we must come to terms with the fact that our beliefs are not always popular. And though I do not believe that women have a natural right to abortion, the Supreme Court has granted us a legal right to them. I respect Davis’ and Senator Sanders’ dedication to advocating for all women’s rights, including this one. As long as this right exists, efforts to undermine it through executive channels are threats to our democratic system and undermine the role the courts play in protecting all of our rights.

Until we provide mothers with the support they need, they will continue to seek out abortions. In my opinion, anti-abortion legislation is not sufficient to protect the dignity of life. The Republican candidates — who all identify as pro-life — lack understanding of issues that lead women to choose abortion and are not dedicated to solving them. I voted for Bernie in the primary because Bernie’s dedication to equality and vision for the future of America are the most consistent with my own views. I don’t think my decision opposes my Catholic faith, and I pray that I will have the opportunity to cast a vote for him again in November.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Karen Gilmore

Karen is a senior majoring in sociology. She can be reached at kgilmor2@nd.edu

Contact Karen
  • what no really

    “Until we provide mothers with the support they need, they will continue to seek out abortions.”

    No. Women will still seek abortions. Regardless of how much support they are given. It is also their Constitutional right to do so.

  • RedheadRemarks

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

  • Johnny Whichard

    If your “Catholic” vote contributes to the murdering of over 1 million Americans killed by abortion every year….you really ought to reexamine your priorities. Also, “Catholics” observe the Catechism which is vehemently against the types of collectivism Sanders would force onto the American people. (Check out subsidiarity in the Catechism…amazing how the Catholic Church actually does get political…and not in favor of socialists).

    Encourage you to check out my article in which I explain how you can’t be a knowledgeable/educated Catholic and vote for a liberal candidate from a few years ago (still relevant to today). http://ndsmcobserver.com/2012/09/catholics-and-liberals/

    It takes guts to stand up for what’s right…and it takes research to see past the “Conservatives hate the poor” crap that Bernie spews.

    • Jimbo

      I guess you think you know more than our Pope . Maybe you should take some time to read what he said just a couple years ago — and then update your little article accordingly.

      I’ll note that he sure sounds more like Bernie Sanders here than Ted Cruz. And, interestingly, he doesn’t say that none of this matters (and thus can be ignored by right-wing politicians and voters) as long as abortion still occurs. Nope, he seems pretty darn clear that we need to consider EVERYTHING, including what a politician says about radically reforming our inequitable economic system.

      “53. Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. . . . Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

      ****

      54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

      ****

      202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed[.] . . . As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

      ****

      204. We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

      http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

      • Johnny Whichard

        Please point out where any of that calls for an all-powerful government to redistribute wealth…

        We all agree…poverty is bad….want to contribute something new to the conversation?

        • HolyHandGrenade

          FYI the government ALREADY redistributes wealth.

        • João Pedro Santos

          You’re right, the government shouldn’t redistribute wealth. It should keep raising income inequality like it had been doing since Ronald Reagan came to power. Like when corporations don’t need to pay their employees a living wage because taxpayers are the ones doing that.

    • RandallPoopenmeyer

      What does the other side want? They want to “carpet bomb” the middle East (murdering of people) and ban Muslims. That is more Catholic than abortion?

      • Johnny Whichard

        Killing ISIS baddies with bombs beats killing ISIS baddies with bullets…less American lives at risk (doubt you bothered to even consider American lives, right?)

        Also, nobody is trying to “ban Muslims”. Two republican candidates have called for temporarily ceasing immigration from nations that breed terrorists.

        Any other MSNBC talking points you want to dribble out?

        • RandallPoopenmeyer

          Wait, do you care more about American lives than other lives? That isn’t very Catholic of you. These drone strikes don’t just kill terrorists, that is obvious, they kill more innocent people than terrorists.

          • Johnny Whichard

            As an American, obviously I value innocent American lives and the lives of our service people over the lives of ISIS members.

            The innocents who are unfortunate casualties in this war are the victims of ISIS hiding behind them….you know? The people who believe in Sharia Law? Killing gays? Treating women like dirt?

          • Johnny Whichard

            Is your “tolerance” so great that you allow grave injustices to prevail? As a Catholic, I believe in helping my fellow man….and I doubt the victims of ISIS would view your more pacifist approach as “the right thing to do”.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            So it is ok to kill people as long as it saves Americans? Why does it matter that the victims of air strikes were also victims of ISIS? In the end they died by the US. That is why ISIS is getting powerful, we are making terrorists by killing innocent people.

            Just wow, you are the most Catholic person I have ever met, in that you are very hateful and ignorant.

          • Johnny Whichard

            The duty of the United States government is primarily to protect its citizens….would you not agree? I’m a Catholic…but I’m also an AMERICAN. I understand my nation’s role in making the world a better place….and part of that duty right now, is to exterminate ISIS.

          • Johnny Whichard

            Not to mention….the duty of the US government is to PROTECT ITS OWN PEOPLE. How can you seriously not get this? You are quicker to attack the US than be critical of people who slaughter Christians, Jews, and Hindus by the dozen.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            … you still fail to address the US murdering innocent people to save innocent people.

          • Johnny Whichard

            It’s a reality of war, Randall. There will always be civilian casualties when the bad guys use them as human shields.

            What’s your alternative? Hug them all to death while hundreds of people are raped and murdered?

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            I am pretty sure your precious Jesus is against killing innocents to save innocents.

          • Johnny Whichard

            Then Jesus would have been against the USA getting involved with WW2? Are you serious?

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            It is not ok to kill an innocent person to save an innocent person.

          • Johnny Whichard

            Okay. Let’s alter history and let the Nazis win WW2.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            Hmm, well I guess if the Crusades are any indication of the peace your god wants to spread….

          • Johnny Whichard

            So now your target is the Church instead of the United States? Now you are targeting the most effective charitable organization to have ever existed on the planet….meanwhile you are receiving (I assume) a degree from a Catholic school….man….

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            I work here, funny huh. They commit sins every day by paying me their money.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            If it is ok to kill innocents, it is certainly to kill an innocent fetus.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            No no no, you want to make AMERICA a better place. You don’t care about anywhere else. You want to exterminate ISIS at the expense of non Americans. You are a sick loser. Where lines are drawn on a map makes no difference. You would think it is wrong if people started bombing us and killing innocents to get rid of dangers that they perceived.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            It is easy to look up what kind of person you are. I would suggest using a fake name handle…

          • Johnny Whichard

            Stalking me? And you’re the one calling ME a “loser”? Lol

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            You care more about Americans than others, you are no Catholic lol.

          • Johnny Whichard

            Go move to Europe. Collectively, they seem to agree with you on these issues and it’s clearly working out for them.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            Lived there, loved it!

          • Johnny Whichard

            Great!

        • RandallPoopenmeyer

          I don’t care just about Americans. I care about all countries and their peoples. But I forgot your precious Jesus loves America the most.

  • RandallPoopenmeyer

    “And though I do not believe that women have a natural right to abortion, the Supreme Court has granted us a legal right to them.”

    Well, if I don’t have a “natural right” to my body, then do you see rape, slavery and kidnapping as wrong?