It's no doubt that this has been one of the most interesting elections in the United States ever. It is also an important one and this time, more than ever, it seems that the Catholic vote will be crucial.
As we approached our own Canadian election, I became more and more disillusioned by how the abortion issue is not even up for debate. We have a Prime Minister who has not only distanced himself from the abortion question as much as he can, but he has vowed to muzzle his own MPs who bring it up and to squash any bills that seem remotely connected to the abortion question. Thus, the death of Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims act.
In our neighbouring country south of the border, the abortion question is very much an electoral issue. In fact, for many, it is THE
I've been down in the U.S. three times in the last two months: Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, and speaking with my friends and acquaintances there, has left me confused as to the predictability of the U.S. election, this coming November 4th.
My friend in Trinidad is concerned about claims that 50% of U.S. Catholics support John McCain: "How can that be?" he asks, "when McCain supports the War in Iraq? How Catholic is that?" I had to explain to him the abortion issue.
In the U.S., since 1973, there have been some 40 million abortions. More than all the casualties of all the American wars ever, combined. That is about 1.4 million abortions every year, about 3000 abortions daily; 3-4 abortions every minute. That is the equivalent of a 9/11 every day. In the U.S. currently, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion. And it is not just people of lower incomes seeking abortion, it is everyone. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 people have been involved in an abortion. The number one reason for having an abortion: "my contraceptive failed". For many Catholics, these are significant facts. Besides, war can be justified, abortion can never be justified.
In Chicago, I was at a conference looking at the effects of abortion in men. Pretty much everyone who was there was ProLife. Most people I spoke to had it very clear: Obama would be a great Catholic candidate if it weren't for the abortion question. If abortion is of concern to you, vote McCain.
In Houston, at the University of St. Thomas, I decided to speak to a few political science and philosophy students about their thoughts on the matter. I found that 50/50 split. On one hand, McCain is the only viable choice for Catholics. On the other hand, Obama is the perfect "catholic" candidate, with his socialist views and his stance against war. These people believe that it is more realistic to reduce the number of abortions, than to try to ban them completely. They believe Obama will do that, after all, as he has said many times, "no one is pro-abortion".
What they don't know is that Senator Obama has supported every single pro-abortion bill in Senate, including voting against the ban on partial-birth abortion. He supports the Freedom of Choice Act
, which will make abortion the rule of the land by codifying Roe v. Wade and guaranteeing the right to "choose" for future generations of women by removing all limitations to abortion.
There is no way that a President Obama will do anything to reduce the number of abortions. In fact, he will make sure that every woman has unrestricted access to abortion, during all 9 months of pregnancy and that tax dollars pay for them. In speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, on July 17, 2007 he said, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8
) He will make sure that in every state minors have access to abortion, not requiring parental consent and that husbands continue to have no reproductive rights. Electing an Obama administration will ensure that the next three or so Judges elected to the Supreme Court will be pro-abortion, sealing another 30 years or so of legal abortions, on demand. That's another 40 million deaths. I presume that those Catholics who support Obama, are not aware of these facts.
In L.A., we went to Mass at the Cathedral, and included in the Parish bulletin, was the United States Bishops' Conference document titled, "Faithful Citizenship." It states: "there are things that we must never do, as individuals, or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported. A pre-eminent example is the intentional taking of human life through abortion. It is always morally wrong to destroy innocent human beings. A legal system that allows the right to life to be violated on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed." It continues to mention other direct threats to the dignity of human life, such as euthanasia, human cloning, genocide, torture, acts of terrorism and war, saying they can never be justified.
It continues: "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." (For more on the moral challenge of voting, see "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," nos. 34-39. Visit www.faithfulcitizenship.org
Making sure that Catholics inform themselves and go out to vote is another group called Catholic Vote
. They produced a very compelling video, you can watch on their home page. Abortion is very much one of the top issues.
On the other hand, those opposing U.S. foreign policy are then stuck trying to justify to themselves why the horror of war is worse than the horror of abortion.
It made me think that it's sad that some may feel trapped into becoming "single-issue" voters. In L.A., many of the Catholics we spoke to could not support another Republican administration, no matter the abortion issue. In fact, we spoke to one gentleman, who is not just Catholic: he works for a Catholic organization with Catholic priests, he knows Church teaching and is what I would call a Church-loving individual, sometimes attending daily Mass. He has an informed conscience. He is ProLife, yet he is an Obama supporter. He left us by saying that "perhaps he was wrong, perhaps we were wrong." He then said, "no one knows the will of God." It's true and that's what we pray for: the will of God. We may not know what God's will is when it comes to who the president of the U.S. is, but to pretend to not know the will of God when it comes to abortion, is both foolish and blind.
In the last two months, the topic of abortion has been everywhere: We participated in the Life Chain
, the 40 Days of Life Vigil
is taking place in 179 cities across the U.S. as well as in Ottawa and Halifax. There is also a UN petition circulating online calling for the Rights and Dignity of the Human Person and the Family
. See, abortion is not just an issue in the U.S. It is increasingly becoming more and more of a threat in many countries. Today I received an email alerting me of a proposed new law in Panama that would legalise abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.
In Colorado, ProLifers have managed to include a proposition on their ballot
. It is an amendment to the State constitution. It simply reads: "The term 'Person' or 'Persons' shall include any human from the time of fertilization." In order to include this amendment on the ballot, they required 76,000 signatures. They gathered 130,000. People in Colorado will be able to vote on this amendment on Nov 4th. Not all hope is lost.
In Houston, we went to the Planned Parenthood site where the 40 Days of Life vigil is taking place. How many are not aware of Planned Parenthood and the business of abortion? In an interview with Fr. Frank Pavone of Priest for Life, former abortion facility owner, Carol Everett said that her goal was to have 4 abortion facilities, in order to provide 40,000 abortions a year because she made $25 an abortion. That way, she would be making a million dollars a year. The truth is that Planned Parenthood "counsellors" are nothing but tele-marketers trained to sell a product. It's a nasty business. No one knows about this because it is not in the best interest of Planned Parenthood to let people know what they really do (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/about-us-90.htm
). It is the foremost Pro-Abortion organisation and lobby group in the U.S. In many cities if you are wondering where abortions take place, look for the Planned Parenthood offices.
In L.A., we found the Planned Parenthood site by seeing the barbed wire that surrounds the parking lot in the back of the building. On the building there's a sign that says, "planning families". On the bus shelter bench in front of the building a poster that read, "abortion kills children"
It's amazing that no matter who we spoke to about the election, ultimately brought up the issue of abortion. In Houston I started the conversation asking the students if they thought there was room for faith in politics. Next thing I knew, we were talking about abortion. We had a fascinating discussion on the topic before we started taping the discussion.
The conversation I had with these two University of St. Thomas students, will be on Catholic Focus Wednesday, October 29th. We didn't spend the whole time speaking about abortion, but rather, we looked at our responsibilities as Catholic voters and politicians. We talked about the separation of Church and State and what that means. Perhaps listening to our conversation will help you clear the confusion that exists out there about Catholic politicians who claim that they can't use their own moral beliefs when making political decisions. Be sure to watch Catholic Focus, In God We Trust, tonight, October 29th, at 7 and 11pm ET, with an encore presentation on Saturday, November 1st at the same times.
And send us your comments. We love to hear your thoughts on this matter.
If there is anything everyone we spoke to agreed on was the need to pray. I invite you to join us in praying a novena for the U.S. elections. Pray for God's will, and pray not just that abortion is not legal and available, but that it is unthinkable.