Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Moral Questions About Voting

In recent days Catholic bloggers, myself included, have been tackling the question as to whether a Catholic may support John McCain to the extent of voting for him. This question seems to hinge on whether one believes that McCain's support for ESCR creates a moral mandate for a Catholic to avoid voting for him, lest the Catholic voter commit an act of mediate remote material cooperation with intrinsic evil in the absence of proportionate reasons.

My position on this matter is that I don't think it can be said absolutely and without fear of refutation that there are no proportionate reasons which would make a vote for McCain morally acceptable. I think that this is where the debate tends to get stuck, because proving this lack of proportionality beyond the shadow of a doubt seems to be elusive. Some may end up convinced that this lack of proportionality indeed exists and mandates a vote for a third-party candidate or no one at all, while others may remain convinced that the need to keep Obama from taking office and beginning his term by keeping his promise to resurrect the horrific "Freedom of Choice Act" which would increase the number of abortions in America.

I respect both notions, and find sympathy with both viewpoints. But it can be disheartening to remember that many of our fellow Catholics aren't worried at all about the morality of voting for McCain, because they intend to vote for Obama. Doug Kmiec's new book, titled Can a Catholic Support Him? is talking about Obama, not McCain; Kmiec is currently traveling the country as part of Obama's "faith tour," an effort to convince religious people in battleground states that it's morally fine to vote for the most rabidly pro-abortion and even pro-infanticide candidate ever to run for the presidency.

In the article above Deacon Keith Fournier argues against Kmiec's flawed position in favor of Obama. Kmiec responded, and his response was also printed here. I'd like to take a look at one section of it; responding to a notion that he is ignoring what various spiritual leaders have said Kmiec replies:
Not so, I have relied upon these fine teachers of the faith in order to undertake the proper inquiry into whether there is proportionate reason allowing the choice of a candidate who has an alternative way of promoting human life other than a thus far futile, and in any event, insufficient effort to criminalize some, but not all, abortion practice.
But Kmiec has apparently missed this recent report which says that abortion rates are at a 30-year low, or this one which highlights the drop in teen abortion rates precisely because of what he calls a "thus far futile, and in any event, insufficient effort to criminalize some, but not all, abortion practice..."

The bald truth is that abortion rates will increase under a President Obama. He plans to tear down all of the laws that have successfully been passed which have incrementally reduced abortions in some states; he has always opposed parental involvement laws which might arguably be the biggest reason for the drop in abortion rates that we see at present; he plans to create a culture where opponents of abortion might face federal fines and even prison time for peacefully protesting abortion; he plans to elevate judges to the Supreme Court who will ride roughshod over abortion opposition, and entrench the pro-death position so firmly and irrevocably in our laws that nothing but a collapse of the Republic itself will undo it.

There is, in my mind, no justification whatsoever for a Catholic to cast a vote in favor of Barack Obama. If proportionate reasons are difficult to find for Catholics to vote for the pro-ESCR McCain, I can't even imagine what possible proportionate reasons could exist that would allow a Catholic to vote in good conscience for the most pro-abortion candidate since the advent of legal abortion on demand in America. I've heard people try to justify such a vote on the grounds that it is imperative that we end our involvement in Iraq (a position I agree with), but given that Obama's former adviser, Samantha Power, said that her candidate couldn't be held to his initial timeline I wonder on what optimistic grounds people think Obama will be more competent in getting us out of the Middle East than McCain will be? So on mere hopeful speculation, some Catholics are apparently willing to vote for and support a man who doesn't think a woman's right to an abortion ends with the birth of the baby.

At least when I'm arguing with Mark Shea or Zippy or others over whether a Catholic might or might not vote for McCain without committing a sin, I have some idea where they're coming from. The Catholics who want to support Obama are Catholics I find impossible to understand.


Sarahndipity said...

he plans to create a culture where opponents of abortion might face federal fines and even prison time for peacefully protesting abortion.

Really?! That's scary - can you elaborate?

volpecircus said...

wonderful post as usual. i just blogged about this myself this afternoon. i was at the library and saw a van with a "Catholics for peace" bumper sticker and on the other side and "obama 08" one. i was baffled. i'm still torn on the whole mccain issue but the obama one is a no brainer.

Red Cardigan said...

Sarahndipity, I was going to link to the NARAL page which talks about "clinic violence" etc. but decided against it; essentially, NARAL takes the position that people engaged in various *nonviolent* protests against abortion create an atmosphere of "fear and intimidation" that keeps doctors from performing abortions or training to do so; they claim that this "interferes" with a "woman's right to choose." (Because so long as there's not an abortionist on every street corner women aren't really "free" to "choose," of course.)

NARAL endorsed Obama and has given him a 100% "pro-choice" rating (he's more pro-abortion than they are, apparently). Obama said that his first act as President would be to sign the "Freedom of Choice Act," which NARAL and other agencies like Planned Parenthood want. That act makes it unlawful for any state or local government to "interfere" with abortion and in one pen stroke overturns all laws restricting abortion that states have passed; it's not very hard to see how states or municipalities that failed to stop nonviolent protesters from "interfering" with abortion might be also charged with violating this Act.

NARAL supports "bubble zone" laws which they say sixteen states and DC have passed; you can bet they will want something like this at the federal level too, since the FACE act only refers to violent protests and/or blockades of clinics. What they really want is to make it illegal for protesters to gather within sight/hearing of an abortion clinic. If Obama is elected I think NARAL will get what they want, which should worry all of us.

Anonymous said...

Someone in a post below linked to a couple of articles indicating that perhaps McCain has changed his position on ESCR--do you have any comments on this, Erin?


Nancy said...

Not to mention the fact that defending the Church's teaching on marriage will likely come afoul of an Obama administration as well.

It just seems to me that a Catholic voting for Obama is like giving the Romans the keys to the lion cages.

Tim J. said...

This is just where I am on the voting issue right now, Red Cardigan.

I don't see that Zippy's argument is as conclusive as he makes out, yet I think it is a strong argument that should be made and considered.

I live in a swing state - Arkansas has split 2 - 2 in the last four Presidential elections, so this is of more than just academic interest for me.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...


You always do such a great job explaining things.

I'm very troubled that Catholics try to justify their position of voting for Obama...

Thank you for all of your efforts!

Beate said...

Obama promised that the first thing he would do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. This would make it illegal to have any state constraints on abortion - including informed consent, parental consent, and conscientous objection. I believe a similiar measure is pending in Australia.