But I am getting sick and tired of Kathryn Jean Lopez thinking that she has some ingenious insight on how Catholics should vote. Today she writes the following while arguing Catholics shouldn't vote for Obama.
Our religious morality necessarily informs our political judgments.All of this is, in fact, true, but Lopez is either too dishonest or too stupid to actually think about what any of this means on a larger level.
The thing about abortion is, it’s not just any other issue — as serious as so many others are. Abortion is not open to debate.
Pope Benedict, in a speech to European politicians in 2006, offered some instruction for the Catholic conscience: “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today: the protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family — as a union between one man and one woman based on marriage . . . ; and the protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.”
First, let's just point out that making abortion illegal doesn't equate with ending abortion or even greatly decreasing it. As a 2007 study by the Guttmacher Institute found, outlawing abortion does "not affect its incidence" (WHO pdf link). So, were one truly interested in stopping abortion, working to make it illegal isn't the way to do it.
As a Catholic, I do oppose abortion, but I simply don't think making it illegal does anything but drive it underground, leading to even more horrors. Working to teach children properly about sex and correct the situations of hopelessness which lead to the majority of abortions seems more sensible approach, because I don't only care about the life of the child, but also the life of the scared teen which could be lost in a back-alley abortion. Of course, Lopez seems to believe those little whores are just getting what they deserve when they bleed out on a dirty mattress and shouldn't be included among the numbers of the "life in all its stages" deserving protection.
The Guttmacher Institute found that making contraception more widely available was the best way to decrease abortion. The New York Times article linked above points out that
In Eastern Europe, where contraceptive choices have broadened since the fall of Communism, the study found that abortion rates have decreased by 50 percent, although they are still relatively high compared with those in Western Europe. “In the past we didn’t have this kind of data to draw on,” Ms. (Sharon) Camp (chief executive of the Guttmacher Institute) said. “Contraception is often the missing element” where abortion rates are high, she said.And Lopez, in her article, does suggest that she sees an important distinction between contraception and abortion and says that "a ban on contraception" is "not a serious consideration," so wouldn't it be best for her to become an advocate for more contraception access?
Regardless of Lopez's views, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated last year in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship that
As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support."So it's not as simple a picture as Lopez likes to paint.
And when you consider that Lopez declared John McCain "not one of us" because he opposed water boarding, she was arguing that McCain differed from her because he opposed torture, another act the Church considers "intrinsically evil." Lucky for her, McCain came around to her way of thinking. Unfortunately for her, Pope Benedict has been clear about this issue, reminding Catholics last year that "the prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances.'"
(Who called water boarding torture, by the way? The United States did in 1947, when the Japanese used it against our troops and then argued the same thing for 60 years (pdf link) until John Yoo came along and said torture was part of the "core of the Commander-in-Chief function", so Congress "can't prevent the President from ordering torture.”)
Ultimately, here's what my conscience tells me: While I don't want abortions to occur, I think my commitment to my faith is to volunteer and to advocate to make life better for the women who get abortions out of fear--60 percent of women who had abortions in 2000 were poor; 60 percent were already mothers. In the end, not all women will choose to have a baby, though, but criminalization of abortion won't change that. Working to better women's lives to the point they will be better able to accept a child seems the best I can do in the interests of protecting "life in all its stages." I cannot prevent abortion, but I can do good and hope that good will come of it.
Think about this, though: I wouldn't support a woman getting an abortion in order to protect my lifestyle. However, Lopez (as an editor of the National Review) surely supports the magazine's argument that Bush's veto of anti-torture legislation was justified because "with the most hardened terrorists, effective interrogation may not be possible at all without recourse to more robust measures" and, therefore, "history will judge that President Bush made his top priority the protection of the American people against a wily and ruthless enemy."
In other words, as long as it keeps us safe, Lopez and her fellows at the Review are willing to let Bush commit--and order others to commit--evil acts on their behalf.
But there is a life beyond this one and anyone who truly believes that should not support evil acts simply to prolong this one. When you look at the arguments of Lopez and others, you have to wonder, actually, where their abortion opposition would go if it were not terrorists but an unborn baby in between them and another day on the planet...
By the way:
In a recent survey of 19 states that have held presidential primaries this year, 63% of Catholics identified themselves as Democrats compared with 37% for Republicans, a sharp increase from 2005 when 42% of Catholics identified themselves as Democrats, based on polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.