Can we as Catholics **respect** the Pro-Choice view?


This is not a question about whether being Pro-Choice is compatible with the Church’s teaching (it isn’t). It is not a question about respecting people who are Pro-Choice (I believe everyone’s human dignity deserves respect, regardless of their views, sins, etc).

This is a question about being Pro-Life and at the same time respecting the Pro-Choice views. In other words, is it a respectable view?

I discussed this with my wife, and she asked me what respecting a view means. My answer would be: I respect a view X if when thinking about a person holding view X I don’t think there’s something deeply wrong with that person, going beyond the possible error, wrong, or evil contained in view X itself.

For example, I don’t respect racist or fascist views. If I meet someone with such views, I will think there’s something deeply wrong with that person - their personality, reason, etc, more than just that he or she has this erroneous and dangerous view. (Important: I’ll still try very hard to respect the person.)

So, given such a definition, for myself I’m inclined to respect the Pro-Choice views. I think for someone who doesn’t have the faith and is Pro-Choice, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something deeply wrong with their personality or reason. In my view, without the faith, it’s quite easy for the reason of an average person living in our times, sincerely trying to live well, and without harming others to arrive at the conclusion that abortion in the first trimester should be allowed.

What do you think?

I think this question has significant implications: I am willing to talk with people holding views I respect with sincerity and openness, whereas I’m very much suspicious of deeper conversations with people holding racist/fascist views, with much disbelief in their ability to reason well.



I’ve dialogued with many pro choice people. Many are good people who come to their conclusions due to poor philosophy (a semi-utilitarian view), poor education on the facts, and a desire to do good given the information they have. They aren’t monsters.

There are some, of course, who are rabid atheists or zealous feminists who have views completely incompatible; and they can be harder to talk to (I spoke to one person who called all pro life people ‘pro birthers who hate women!’).

But most aren’t that way. And if we approach them with respect, love, and a willingness to listen as well as preach we have a chance of moving the needle with them.


I see what you are trying to say, but I would not “respect their view.” I would respect them as a human being, but not their view.

We can respect different opinions, but the evilness of abortion isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact of the Natural Law.

To me, respecting their “view” is like respecting the view when someone says the Earth is flat or that the Sun and Moon, and all the planets revolve around the Earth.

Some “views” are not opinions - they are simply wrong.

In closing, we can respect different opinions, but we should not respect “false facts.” HOWEVER, we should ALWAYS respect them as children of God, even if they are totally hostile and influenced by evil ideas.

I hope I’m making sense.

God Bless


OK. So, you’re still talking about respecting the person, and not the erroneous views they hold.

In a Christian context, this is how we are called to engage everyone (even those who hold ‘racist’ or ‘fascist’ views, or to wonder whether their rationality is suspect).


You must respect persons.

You are free to reject bad ideas.


I can respect the people but not the view.

It’s like asking if I can respect a person who believes that, in the right circumstances, it’s OK to burn a house down with people inside. Or that, in the right circumstances, it is OK to steal a million dollars by shooting the guard to death. Or that it’s OK to commit adultery as long as you kill your spouse or children.

In all the above, the choices are clear. One does not ‘have to’ burn down a house with people in it, or steal a million dollars and kill the guard, or kill spouse and children to commit adultery. If one chooses to make the ‘other choice’, I don’t think most people would ‘respect the choice’, so why would any other ‘choice’ which always guarantees the death of an innocent child be considered something to ‘respect?”


You respect the person, not the view.


(Bold mine) from USCCB

  1. There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor . Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions . They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned . A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia . In our nation, “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others” (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice . A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

It isn’t just a matter of individual choice and can’t be condoned

You should always treat the person with respect.

Even those on death row are created in the image and likeness of God, and are loved by God.

While respecting the individual, you cannot respect their flawed (and deadly) position.

But, you vastly increase the ability to convince them of the correct position if you treat them respectfully.

That is true of all apologetics and evangelization, not just those with pro-choice mindsets.

Deacon Christopher


I generally assume that anyone who holds any idea which I know to be wrong is of good will and I will discuss their erroneous ideas with them as gently as possible.

I think if we do not engage respectfully with people with whom we disagree, they will never learn, right?

However, I have found some people to be people who are not of good will. Those who are not of good will hold ideas of all different kinds, so I have found some people who might agree with me to not be of good will.

Not any more than Hitler’s desire to exterminate the Jews was “respectable”. We should treat the pro-choice view the same as we treat any other crazy view which supports the killing of innocents. On this topic, there is no “We disagree but I respect your opinion!”


Sometimes we struggle with the meaning of words.
If I respect someone’s opinion it means that I think highly of them (the opinions)
If I respect someone because he is older than me or has more experience than me that does not mean that I have to respect all the opinions that are postulated by that person.

So we should always treat other people with respect that is just the way it should be. But we can debate ideas and opinions always charitably.
Abortion is an evil activity, it is the wilful murder of an innocent life, a human being. So that is NOT a respectable activity and we should denounce for what it is. Using reason, science and religion to explain why we hold this belief.
When one fully understands that we are not removing a cyst or a tumor but a real human being then it is more difficult to explain the murder away,


Does your use of the word ‘rabid’ as an adjective here seem in any way ironic to you given the rest of your statement?


I think (as an unbeliever who does not share the Catholic view on abortion) that it is possible to ‘respect’ a view on this or any issue that is not your own.

To meet my criteria for respect the view would have to be in accord with observable facts and rationally drawn from them and other beliefs held by someone. The view would have to be one that in my view did not cause harm to others, or at least sought to minimise harm.

So I have no trouble respecting the view of someone who thinks a fertilised ovum (zygote) is a human being deserving of the same right to life as other human beings. I don’t agree, but can respect the view.

I understand, given that, that a person of that view would try to extend legal rights to the zygote. But where this proposal extends to the denial of others’ rights such as that of the woman in which the zygote is living I find it more difficult to respect that view.

The reason is that unlike Catholics, I do not believe it is wrong to do something ‘evil’, to use the Catholic term, for a good end. I do not think, for example, that it would be wrong to tell a deliberate and direct lie to save another’s life.

But I do respect the view in so far as ‘respect’ means in part ‘understand’ since I understand that the view derives from a belief that ‘the end does not justify the means’.

But when a pro-life person tells me that I ‘must’ believe that or that I am ‘rabid’ I do not have respect for that view.

If pro-lifers ‘respected’ pro-choice views in the sense that they made an effort to understand them and the genuineness of the observations and beliefs behind the pro-choice view we might make some progress and find some common ground.




In fact, what you are saying is that, if a person genuinely believes in, say, the superiority of the white race over other races, their view should be respected.

Here’s the thing. I do NOT believe in the superiority of any race over another. I find the idea repugnant, abhorrent, and absolutely cannot respect that idea whatsoever. There is simply no way that I can understand that view, no matter how deeply that view has been reasoned out and accepted by that other person.

And that’s the way I feel about abortion. I understand all the arguments about ‘personhood’, ‘the right of the woman to her body” (I’m a woman), the whole process of fetal development scientifically speaking, etc. I understand them when they speak of zygotes not being ‘persons’ etc. and I do not agree with them.

Now we’re at an impasse because, to so many people today, understanding something implies ‘accepting’ it. If you don’t ‘accept’ this proposition then you don’t understand it.

I’m not saying it doesn’t go both ways. Plenty of people do understand the Catholic position, and they don’t ‘accept it’. So be it.

But then they have to realise that in the same way, we Catholics can likewise totally understand the ‘non-Catholic’ position and not accept THAT position either. Again, not accepting does not mean a lack of understanding. And not accepting a position also does not mean that the person holding that position is not respected as a person, or not ‘understood’.


No I am saying what I said, which was:

No I can never respect the view but I can respect the people who have this view it does no good to disrespect them I stand by my view and hope other come around to my view I can’t make them believe what I believe

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I see the distinction you’re making. You already know you should respect the person. You’re wondering whether the viewpoint itself can be respected.

Well, yes, I think the viewpoint itself can be respected. It isn’t as if all pro-choice arguments are bad arguments. It’s a sign of wisdom on your part that you would even try to respect the view itself, with which you disagree.

For example, I myself am not a socialist. But are there Catholic socialists? Yes (eg, Elizabeth Bruenig). Do they have sophisticated arguments for their position? Yes. Have I bought into those arguments? Not really, but I try hard to understand their reasoning.

As far as I have seen, the same is true for the pro-choice side. Some of their arguments do seems like poor ones. But I’ve also seen sophisticated ones that are difficult to contend with.

Again, there are those who would (in their view) claim that one could hold the belief that the white race was superior and could back it up with facts and not cause harm to others. For example, the majority of the Western World philanthropists in the 18th and 19th centuries did indeed believe that the white race was superior but also believed that other races could become ‘equal’ and so built schools, hospitals, etc for the benefit of others. And in fact, they did benefit many non whites. Of course, there is always the ‘but what if” theories, just as there were with regard to the settling of the New World, that if “the whites’ had stayed away that the native peoples would have been better off. And of course, it’s possible. We don’t know what would have happened in any ‘major event’ if things had gone the other way. What if the Axis had won WW2? What if the Russians got to the moon first? What if Lincoln had survived the assassination attempt? Or Kennedy? What if the A-bomb had been developed in Germany? Or never developed at all?

Yep, I’m getting a little off track here but again, you’re arguing for what YOU ‘determine’ is ‘in accord with facts, did not harm, etc’.

But you are one human being.

And what of the humans like me who, in determining that abortion, in scientific fact, destroys the life in the womb which certainly causes harm to the child??

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