A lot of ink gets spilled around elections regarding the phenomenon of the single-issue voter. Though several issues may, in any election cycle, be identified with this phenomenon, such as the economy, the War on Terror, and the like, the phrase is used most often to describe the voter who considers abortion to be the most important issue, and who does not vote for candidates who are not, however imperfectly, committed to the right of all human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, from conception to natural death.
I am proud to be such a voter. As a Catholic I find the Church's teachings against abortion to be rational, profound, deeply human, and rooted in a philosophical understanding concerning the inherent sanctity and dignity of each individual human being, regardless of age or condition of dependency. But it would be far too simplistic to say that I oppose abortion 'merely' on religious grounds. Rather, my religion and philosophy inform my reason but do not contradict it in any way. Those who favor abortion on demand are the ones with the unreasonable position; they think that a human being's life is only worthy of protection if that human being has emerged from her mother's birth canal and entered the world, but not five minutes sooner, as if the ability to breathe air somehow defines humanity; further, that protection can be removed, according to many people whose views have been formed by the culture of death, should the newborn, or child, or teenager, or adult, or elderly person fail to demonstrate "quality of life," a fluid phrase that can be changed to include even the slightest degree of dependence on another person for her daily needs.
In this current election year, some writers who are also pro-life have begun to wonder whether it really matters whether or not the person we elect to the highest office in the land is pro-life or not. The president, the argument goes, can do little to change the laws regarding abortion, aside from his valuable role in appointing Supreme Court justices; however, even pro-life presidents have missed the mark time and time again by appointing judges who were not even close to being pro-life, and who are not only not the impartial jurists we were promised, but are radical activists bent on re-shaping every facet of American law until it resembles nothing so much as the policy papers produced by the United Nations, or at the very least the laws of the European Union. If, say some, we can't even trust pro-life presidents to appoint good judges, why should we worry about the president's stand on life issues? Isn't it more to the point, in these troubled times, to worry about other things, such as the president's ability to bring about an end to our involvement in Iraq, or the president's leadership on issues like immigration, health care reform, economic progress, and so on?
I know that Catholics are permitted to vote for pro-abortion candidates, even for high office, under some circumstances. If, for instance, the only viable choices are two pro-abortion candidates, if it is possible to determine that one of them will be less harmful to the unborn than the other, and if that less harmful candidate takes good positions on other issues of concern to Catholics, it may be possible to cast a vote for that candidate in good conscience. Even though I understand that, I'd just like to say for the record: I have not ever knowingly voted, and never will knowingly vote, for any candidate who is not pro-life for any office higher than that of dogcatcher, and probably not even then. In a race where I know that both candidates are pro-abortion, I either leave the ballot blank beside that race, vote for a third-party candidate who can not possibly win the election (as a "none of the above" vote) or, if permitted to do so, write in a third-party candidate. For example, I have never voted for Kay Bailey Hutchinson, one of my state's senators, for that reason; it didn't matter to me one bit if she were ever voted out of office, because in addition to being pro-abortion she has also worked closely in the past with a group that exists to get more pro-abort Republican women elected to office.
That is one of the biggest problems, to me, with supporting a pro-abortion candidate, even in the short term. While you may elect someone who is not as rabidly in favor of the legalized killing of unborn humans as his or her opponent (Senator Hutchinson, for instance, is considered a "moderate" on abortion), that person is likely going to use his or her power and influence to see to it that more like-minded people are elected to similar offices, and to expand to the extent that he or she can the power of pro-abortion special interests, quasi-government agencies, and all those who feed on the blood of the unborn and the money generated by the big business of killing them.
But isn't it, some might object, too idealistic and impractical for us to insist that our candidate be pro-life above all else? Pragmatically speaking, there are lots of things that need to be done, lots of problems that need to be addressed. Shouldn't we vote for the candidate most likely to do the most good in the greatest number of areas, even if he is weak on life issues, or even completely pro-abortion?
I know that there are post-abortive women out there who truly regret what they did to their unborn children, so out of respect for them I'm not going to link to a picture of the aftermath of an abortion. We've all seen the images, the tiny hands and feet severed from a little body at only eight or ten weeks gestation. We know the reality of the suffering our littlest brothers and sisters are enduring, a slaughter of the innocents that makes Herod's activities look like the work of a bungling amateur in the ranks of the culture of death. George Tiller has killed more children than Herod ever did; and their mothers pay him to do so. The abortionists in America have caused more death and suffering than has occurred in Iraq these past five years; every one of them is so steeped in evil that we should tremble for their souls as we pray for their repentance and conversion.
No issue that America faces can possibly be as grave as the hideous injustice that is abortion. No clearer sign of the degradation of our culture exists than the ease and almost-indifference with which the innocent unborn are killed, four thousand of them every day. The other issues that plague us, serious though they may be, do not contain within them the moral imperative demanding their resolution that abortion does; the innocent voices cry out to Heaven for vengeance, and God Who hears these cries will not long spare our nation from the consequences of these decades of hideous depravity, where the death of the child in the womb is seen as of no more moral weight than the removal of a tooth or the choice of a haircut. We ignore this issue at our peril.
Believing as I do, I am, as I said above, proud to be a single-issue voter. I am as proud to be so as the abolitionists were proud to vote motived by their strong beliefs in the immorality and injustice of slavery; I consider those brave men and women to be, in a manner of speaking, the spiritual ancestors of all who, like me, find no more space in which to tolerate the legalized killing of the unborn than the abolitionists could find in which to tolerate the bloody chains of slavery.
For those whose chief objection to my position here is to say that we will never overturn Roe v. Wade, or that we will never completely outlaw abortion, I can only point to our ancestors who kept working to end slavery even when decisions like the Dred Scott decision seemed to settle the question on the pro-slave side, once and for all. I know one thing: America can endure as a nation, or abortion can endure as the public policy of this land. Both will not endure. Either abortion will one day be viewed with as much horror as we now view slavery, or America as a country will cease to be. If we cannot bring the justice of men to end this barbaric practice on our native soil, God's justice will prevail.