Would it be ethically ok to vote for a candidate who is pro-choice?


#1

I know this topic has probably been beaten to death, but I’d like some feedback to my specific question. With the midterms coming up, would it be a sin/mortal sin to vote for a candidate who is pro-choice? I consider myself a moderate. (I hate using labels but I will here) I tend to be conservative on social matters and line myself up with the Church (abortion, opposing the death penalty, etc) but more liberal in terms of economic policies. The other candidates who are pro-life but literally line up with none of my other beliefs. What is the most ethical choice? Should I even vote?

Thank you for your help everybody. I love this forum!


#2

You need to assess whether the reason or reasons you would vote for a pro-choice candidate are proportionate enough given the candidate’s pro-choice position.

Jimmy Akin highlights this:

Archbishop John Myers (Newark, NJ) has an article in the Wall Street Journal on what Ratzinger said regarding proportionate reasons for voting for a pro-abort candidate. Excerpts:

What are “proportionate reasons”? To consider that question, we must first repeat the teaching of the church: The direct killing of innocent human beings at any stage of development, including the embryonic and fetal, is homicidal, gravely sinful and always profoundly wrong. Then we must consider the scope of the evil of abortion today in our country. America suffers 1.3 million abortions each year–a tragedy of epic proportions.

Thus for a Catholic citizen to vote for a candidate who supports abortion and embryo-destructive research, one of the following circumstances would have to obtain: either (a) both candidates would have to be in favor of embryo killing on roughly an equal scale or (b) the candidate with the superior position on abortion and embryo-destructive research would have to be a supporter of objective evils of a gravity and magnitude beyond that of 1.3 million yearly abortions plus the killing that would take place if public funds were made available for embryo-destructive research.

Frankly, it is hard to imagine circumstance (b) in a society such as ours.

Certainly policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

jimmyakin.com/2004/09/archbishop_myer.html

In June, Archbishop Burke had said Catholics who vote for pro-abortion politicians were committing a grave sin and must confess before receiving Communion.

He had told the Post-Dispatch that “it doesn’t make a lot of difference” why a Catholic votes for a pro-abortion politician. “If the voter is aware of that politician’s pro-abortion position, they would still be supporting someone, who is cooperating in the promotion of abortion,” he said.

But in an interview Thursday, Archbishop Burke told the Post-Dispatch that while he has not changed his position, he said he felt he had to clarify.

The archbishop told a reporter that he believes Catholics could vote for a politician who supports abortion rights as long as that’s not the reason they are voting for the candidate, and they believe the politician’s stance on other moral issues outweighs the abortion issue.

“That is called remote material cooperation and if the reasons are really proportionate, and the person remains clear about his or her opposition to abortion, that can be done,” the archbishop told the Post-Dispatch.

“The sticking point is this - and this is the hard part,” Archbishop Burke was quoted as saying. "What is a proportionate reason to justify favoring the taking of an innocent, defenseless human life? And I just leave that to you as a question. That’s the question that has to be answered in your conscience. What is the proportionate reason?

One of the reasons the bishop did not discuss this point in June is because “it is difficult to imagine what that proportionate reason would be,” he said.

catholicnewsagency.com/news/archbishop_burke_to_clarify_stance_on_communion_in_upcoming_pastoral_letter/

Fr Stephen F. Torraco:

14. Is it a mortal sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

Except in the case in which a voter is faced with all pro-abortion candidates (in which case, as explained in question 8 above, he or she strives to determine which of them would cause the let damage in this regard), a candidate that is pro-abortion disqualifies himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. This is because being pro-abortion cannot simply be placed alongside the candidate’s other positions on Medicare and unemployment, for example; and this is because abortion is intrinsically evil and cannot be morally justified for any reason or set of circumstances. To vote for such a candidate even with the knowledge that the candidate is pro-abortion is to become an accomplice in the moral evil of abortion. If the voter also knows this, then the voter sins mortally.

ewtn.com/vote/brief_catechism.htm

Bishop Robert J. Carlson:

If one had a properly formed conscience admitting the grave evil of abortion and euthanasia, as the Church teaches, and does not share a candidates stand in favor of abortion and euthanasia, but votes for the candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation which can be permitted, Cardinal Ratzinger states, if proportionate reasons are present, e.g., the candidate would limit abortions.

ewtn.com/library/bishops/informfa.htm


#3

Depends…what office? Many offices have no bearing on the issue…where does the candidate stand in relation to others? Sometime all candidates are pro-abortion, then you may have to decide on other issues…it’s not easy.


#4

It is morally permissible to vote for a candidate who espouses an intrinsic evil only if such a vote is the lesser (or least) of evils and your vote can help prevent someone even worse being elected. Of course people will disagree what issues are more important and what evils are worse. As Catholics we must have a hierarchy of values formed by Church teaching.

Care for the environment, for example, is important, but is it more important than preventing the direct, constant and deliberate genocide of thousands of unborn children? Than protecting the traditional the definition of the family, the basic unit of society? etc, etc.


#5

No other issue is as important as the right to life. No other set of issues combined is as important as this issue. If you have one candidate who is pro-life, and the other is pro-choice, your conscience should bind you to vote for the pro-life candidate. Until that issue is resolved, no other ones matter.


#6

In Canada I really struggle as even the Conservative Party, which does have individual pro-life members, has officially stated it will never in any way touch the issue of abortion (that is, there is no hope that even with a Conservative government, as we have now had for several years, that restrictions will be placed on abortion). The other two major parties are probably composed of far more blatantly pro-choice members, but when no party will touch abortion, it is hard to use that as the deciding factor.


#7

I’ve always wondered what this means. When someone says “Until that issue is resolved, no other ones matter.”, when would it be considered “resolved”? Does that mean when abortion and euthanasia are totally eliminated from the face of the earth? Or does it mean the when incidents of these things is down to 1% of what it is now? At what point is the seriousness of the problem low enough that one can turn his attention to air pollution, for example?

Or does it depend on the legal status of these life issues? Suppose abortion was declared illegal by a constitutional amendment, but only minor fines were established for it? Would we still be bound to consider no other issue until the problem is better resolved? Or must we wait until abortion is not just illegal, but is punishable by death for the doctors performing it? I know we are very far from that state of affairs now, but if we want to travel down a road, it might be good to have some idea what the destination looks like so we will know when we have arrived. If the answer is “never” then we have to resign ourselves to “never” caring about the environment, or the poor, or tax policy, or interstate highway policy, or food safety, or anything else. So I’m pretty sure that is not what was intended.

Finally, I also wonder why this attitude of “pro-life before all else” does not extend to other areas of life besides voting. For example, people allocate their money according to what causes they want to support. Some money may be given to pro-life causes. Some money might be given to organizations that promote beautification of public parks. And some money might be given to buy myself a new boat. If this “pro-life before all else” attitude were extended to how we allocate our discretionary funds, no one could ever contribute to the beautification of public parks, and they certainly couldn’t buy themselves a new boat just for fun. So if someone could explain to me why this attitude only applies to voting, I would appreciate it.


#8

You need to asses whether any of the reasons you want to vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life candidate would be proportional enough to actually vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life candidate?

Archbishop Chaput wrote:

“So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can’t, and I won’t. But I do know some serious Catholics – people whom I admire – who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain. And most important: They don’t keep quiet about it; they don’t give up; they keep lobbying their party and their representatives to change their pro-abortion views and protect the unborn. Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite – not because of – their pro-choice views.”

“But [Catholics who support ‘pro-choice’ candidates] also need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it. What is a ‘proportionate’ reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed.”

catholicnewsagency.com/news/denver_archbishop_calls_on_catholics_for_obama_to_face_the_senators_views_on_abortion/

Archbishop Burke:

The archbishop told a reporter that he believes Catholics could vote for a politician who supports abortion rights as long as that’s not the reason they are voting for the candidate, and they believe the politician’s stance on other moral issues outweighs the abortion issue.

“That is called remote material cooperation and if the reasons are really proportionate, and the person remains clear about his or her opposition to abortion, that can be done,” the archbishop told the Post-Dispatch.

“The sticking point is this - and this is the hard part,” Archbishop Burke was quoted as saying. "What is a proportionate reason to justify favoring the taking of an innocent, defenseless human life? And I just leave that to you as a question. That’s the question that has to be answered in your conscience. What is the proportionate reason?

One of the reasons the bishop did not discuss this point in June is because “it is difficult to imagine what that proportionate reason would be,” he said.

catholicnewsagency.com/news/archbishop_burke_to_clarify_stance_on_communion_in_upcoming_pastoral_letter/

Most Rev. Robert James Carlson:

If one had a properly formed conscience admitting the grave evil of abortion and euthanasia, as the Church teaches, and does not share a candidates stand in favor of abortion and euthanasia, but votes for the candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation which can be permitted, Cardinal Ratzinger states, if proportionate reasons are present, e.g., the candidate would limit abortions.

You cannot form your conscience properly based on popular opinion or feeling or an article in some news magazine, but only from the Scripture and the teaching of the church. If your personal belief or feeling is different from the church, then you need to change.

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6158


#9

The reality is most candidates for most offices have no practical power over abortion laws. What is significant about their opinion on abortion issues is that it reflects their worldview and therefore their propensity to vote a certain way.

A pro-abortion politician has the view that man is the greatest authority, even over life itself. In light of their outlook they tend to be much more pro big government because that is where man can gather the most power.

So, while most politicians up for re election will have little say on abortion laws, it will give you a better idea of whether your area will have greater taxes and more overbearing government.

Pax.


#10

When abortion is made illegal and carries significant punishments due for taking an innocent life.

Finally, I also wonder why this attitude of “pro-life before all else” does not extend to other areas of life besides voting.

Because this is where we are most directly affecting the issue. Also, the alternative in other cases is neutral not the opposite. The corollary in money is not giving to a Pro-Life cause or buying a boat, it’s giving to a Pro-Life Cause or giving to a Pro-Choice cause. And in that case the principle holds true. When donating your money to a cause you could never donate it to a pro-choice cause.


#11

Are you sure my one vote has more affect on the issue than a billboard I could fund that would be seen by all the voters in my city? That could possibly affect hundreds of votes. By choosing to buy a yacht for myself, I could be denying hundreds of votes for the pro-life cause, thus allowing the pro-choice candidate to win. The action may have been neutral, but the affect was the same as voting for the pro-choice candidate hundreds of times over. I don’t think your explanation is well-founded.


#12

I’m just saying you can’t do evil, but I’m not binding you to do good. If you want to spend your money on a billboard, great! I wouldn’t say you’re obligated to, but that’s awesome. What I am saying you are obligated to do though, is not help support a pro-choice candidate. One is a choice between doing good or not. The other is a choice between doing good or evil. You can’t help evil.


#13

Well, that’s a different principle - the idea that one may not help evil. But if the pro-life candidate also favors removal of all environmental regulations, voting for him would be helping evil. So if we are to analyze the voting question based on this new principle, we could not vote for the pro-life candidate.

The first principle that we were discussing was a different one. That was the principle that when comparing one good/evil choice with another good/evil choice, the deciding criterion is always the one relating to abortion. On that principle it is hard to see how buying a boat instead of funding a billboard campaign is more acceptable than voting for a pro-choice candidate for other reasons.


#14

Okay, let’s forget the boat analogy, it’s confusing things. The answer to your original question is no. If having to choose between two evils you must always choose the lesser of the evils. And there is no evil worse than the slaughtering of innocent children. So until that genocide comes to an end, no, there is no other evil that gets to take precedence.


#15

The biggest discrepancy here is that not all pro-choice candidates are pro-abortion or pro-death. In fact they can totally be against abortion and believe it’s a horrible thing, but still think they have no right to intercede with a woman’s right to choose. I have heard several candidates state this, and it makes sense when they say it, as hard as it may seem to believe.


#16

Intentions aside, they will still help to keep the genocide rolling and therefore we cannot have them in the position of deciding such things.


#17

It is not an analogy. It is a real choice that can be affected by the same principle being used to explain the voting question. If it seems confusing perhaps it is because the principle upon which the voting question is rationalized is a confusing principle.

The answer to your original question is no. If having to choose between two evils you must always choose the lesser of the evils. And there is no evil worse than the slaughtering of innocent children. So until that genocide comes to an end, no, there is no other evil that gets to take precedence.

OK, so we are back to the original principle - the hierarchy of evils. If the slaughtering of innocent children is the evil that must be opposed at all costs, then it seems that my buying a boat instead of a pro-life billboard could make the difference between a pro-choice candidate winning and a pro-life candidate winning. If the pro-choice candidate winning is the worst of all evils, and if my buying the boat led to that evil, then how can I justify buying the boat?


#18

Apparently you can’t. Buy the billboard.

But on the question of voting, nothing else, just voting. Can you give me a reason that you would use to justify voting pro-choice?


#19

On the question of the boat, you are apparently willing to let me make up my own mind what is right for me. But just because you can’t answer a question of mine does not mean I have to try to answer a different question of yours.


#20

Your questions are running from the issue at hand. I’m trying to narrow in on it. This started as a thread asking whether you could vote for a pro-choice candidate. I said no. Now you want to confuse this one issue we’re talking about, I guess, in the hope of hiding from the truth. I think deep down you know you can’t do this. That if you do, you will feel guilty about it. You’re looking for a way to not feel guilty, but the only way to do that is to hide from the simple truth. To not focus on the decision at hand. The decision at hand is who to vote for. Face the decision straight on. That’s all my question above was asking you to do.


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