On whether being "Pro-Choice" and "Catholic" are mutually exclusive

Prolifer here who has adopted a more nuanced view of prochoicers than what I had before.

On the internet I have seen memes, graphics, comments (e.g. discussing politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo, etc.) that depict the idea of a “pro-choice Catholic” as oxymoronic.

For example:

And there was a time when I thought that as well: “You can’t be Catholic and pro choice”.

I now think this view is theologically and philosophically problematic.

I’m not just referring to the fact that you are Catholic by virtue of your Baptism and have the indelible mark on your soul irrespective of your politics.

I’m referring to the distinction between denying a moral doctrine taught by the Church and deciding which moral evils ought to be prohibited by law.

There is a spectrum between “all sins should be outlawed” and “no sins should be outlawed”. In between those polar ends are “some sins should be outlawed”.

It is entirely possible for a person to believe that abortion is evil but “should not be outlawed”. Many of us have encountered people who hold this view. Many of us have tried to pursuade them that abortion is among the types of evils that warrants the intervention of law.

But the point is that a Catholic who is “pro choice” because he/she denies that abortion is evil and therefore believes it should be permitted by law is a different case than a “pro choice” Catholic who affirms that abortion is evil but believes it should not be prohibited by force of law. Stated another way, that abortion should be legally tolerated.

  • Consider St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument for tolerating prostitution

  • Consider St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument for the execution of heretics

Relate them to the title of my post:
“On whether being “Pro-Choice” and “Catholic” are mutually exclusive”

Can someone be Catholic and be Pro-Choice in regards to heresy? e.g. that heretics should be free to be heretics without incurring penalty of law (death).

Even though heresy is a moral evil traditionally regarded as murder of the soul (in that sense worse than murder of the body).

Would you say the same thing of a Catholic who says “I think burglary is evil, but I don’t think it should be illegal”?


I would say that their position on the legality of burglary isn’t a sufficient basis for me to determine their Catholicity.

I would need more info. If they agree that burglary is evil, then I would try to persuade them that as a matter of prudence, it should be illegal.

If they deny that burglary is evil, then we have entered the territory of moral doctrine/moral law and Catholic orthodoxy, not just legal philosophy.

“Catholic” and “Pro-Choice” ARE mutually exclusive in every respect. I only recently returned to the Church and I’m still pretty young, so I very well may be mistaken, but my understanding is that any Catholic who aborts or helps to abort an unborn child with full knowledge and consent is de-facto excommunicated from the Church, whether they know it or not (Canon 1398). If you’re a Catholic, you must believe that all life originates from God Himself. Now, does that mean voting for pro-choice politicians is excommunicable? Most likely not. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re indirectly supporting the murder of God’s children.

A metaphor that often runs through my head during debates like this is this: Meth is bad. Doing meth is sinful. Should a Catholic vote for the legalization of meth? No, because the effect upon society that vote could have would directly undermine our society’s structure and would lead souls to sin. We as a society have the means and ability to prevent our neighbors from doing things that could damage the community. That’s what laws are for.

This may or may not be the Church’s belief, but I believe that if you’re a Catholic, you have the moral obligation to advance the Church’s teachings in every aspect of your life and to wholly accept the Church’s moral teachings and traditions. Advocating for situations which would permit others to commit sin more easily directly contradicts this.

Abortion is evil. No Catholic should advocate for the proliferation of evil.


It never ceases to amaze me the amount of mental gymnastics it takes to justify the murder of an innocent baby.


Could a person still be considered a Catholic if they didn’t personally believe it was ok to kill an already-born person, but didn’t think it should be illegal? Because there is no difference, no nuance needed.


No one on this thread has justified the murder of an innocent baby.

The title of my post is not “Is abortion morally justifiable?”.

The title is “On whether being “Pro Choice” and “Catholic” are mutually exclusive”.

This thread is therefore a definitional topic. It’s not about deciding the morality of abortion.

I gave two examples for contrast and comparison.

St. Thomas argued in support of legal toleration of prostitution…despite regarding it as sin.

The Church opposes prostitution as a moral evil.

Can one be Catholic and “pro choice” in regards to prostitution?

Similarly, can one be a Catholic and be “pro choice” in regards to heresy and the proliferation of heresy?

Or does being personally anti-heresy commit us to making heresy illegal?

Those are not comparable. Voluntary prostitution very rarely, if ever in the modern first-world, results in death. Abortion ALWAYS results in the destruction of an innocent and defenseless life.

The answer is still no.


To be clear: Are you taking the position that it is possible to be a Catholic who is personally anti-prostitution, but “pro-choice” in regards to the legality of prostitution?

And that the same is not possible for someone who is pro-choice with regards to abortion?

My opinion is this:
You cannot compare prostitution to the literal murder of defenseless and unborn children of God (unbaptized human lives!). They aren’t even on the same plane, and justifying one doesn’t justify the other.

Prostitution should stay illegal. I’m inclined to believe Holy Mother Church agrees. Abortion MUST remain illegal. It is one of the most evil acts of our time, and it MUST stay out of reach, lest it become more common than it already is.

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Being pro-choice and Catholic are mutually exclusive, end of discussion.

To put it simply: Identifying as a “pro-choice Catholic” is like being a Jewish Nazi.


I don’t like sticking labels on people .

We are not jars of jam or tins of baked beans .

We, each one of us , are unique individuals .




When he was Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis said that any Catholic politician who voted for abortion should consider himself excommunicated.

Not exactly. While procuring a completed abortion does result in automatic excommunication technically, the person is not excommunicated if they did not know they would be excommunicated. All the provisions of Canon law 1323 must be in place:


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  1. What is the rationale behind your answer that they are mutually exclusive?

  2. The reason I started this thread is because I have a problem with lay Catholics on the internet issuing combox excommunications and declarations of of others as heretics because they are Catholics who are pro choice.

This mode of thinking completely fails to take into account that the Church has a higher standard for determining if one is a heretic than lay Catholics have of each other.

The actual basis on which one would be able to determine the Catholic status of said person, is for said person to speak for him/herself regarding the following teaching of the Church:

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law”. (CCC 2271)

This would reveal to use whether they agree or disagree with the Church’s teaching regarding the MORALITY of abortion.

That’s step one.

Step two regards their understanding of the relationship between human law and moral law. We would ask the person on what basis he or she believes that abortion should remain legal, and ask if they are aware that the Church urges governments to make abortion illegal as legal protection of unborn human life.

Do you understand this distinction between denying the Church’s teaching on the morality of an act vs. believing that some moral evils should be legally tolerated?

Where I differ is that I would not consider a person who is Catholic and pro choice to be “not really a Catholic”
unless they hold the view that the Church is wrong about it’s teaching of abortion (i.e. they believe abortion is morally good, morally neutral, or morally permissible).

If they don’t think the Church is wrong, then this is not a matter of heresy or “error of belief” concerning the morality of an act (abortion).

Their error of belief concerns the philosophy of law.

You cannot be pro-choice and a faithful Catholic in good standing.

Abortion is intrinsically wrong. There is no conceivable circumstance under which it can be justified. To hold that abortion is acceptable in some circumstance whiles still claiming to be a faithful Catholic is oxymoronic.

They are still Catholic in the sense that they are baptized in the Catholic Church, and therefore are always considered to be a member of His body, but their inclusion is in name only, not in any meaningful sense.


There is no evidence of that whatsoever other than one cherry picked quote with no context at all that is repeated by many others. As usual, cherry picking leads to distortion. Pope Francis quotes get misused like this all the time by the secular media.

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Actually it really does generally end up with trying to justify abortion. For example trying to justify the execution of an unborn child by arguing if they’re persons worthy of life. All such arguments are trash but they are still made for some reason.

I believe that banning abortion alone won’t end it. History has shown that. When desperate women in need who are considering abortion know that there are services to care for and support them and child and/or these services are enhanced, then that’s when abortion will end and the abortion industry and its apologists are put out of business permanently.

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Being Pro-choice for prostitution is actually better, because it reduces the amount of prostitution related deaths by making it legal. When prostitutes are abused, they can’t go to the police, because they themselves will be convicted of a crime. By making it legal, it makes it safer. I’m not supporting prostitution, but the safety of women.

On the other hand, being pro-choice for abortion will always result in the death of a living human being.

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