Pro-life leaders across the country are calling the election of 2004 the most critical election in years for the Culture of Life. With several Supreme Court Justices near retirement, newly enacted pro-life laws under fire and the battle over same-sex marriage coming to a head, it has never been more urgent to get out the pro-life vote.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops in their statement, Faithful Citizenship, remind us that “one of our greatest blessings in the United States is our right and responsibility to participate in civic life. Everyone can and should participate.” They go so far as to say that “participation in the political process is a moral obligation.”
Register To Vote
The first step in carrying out that obligation is to register to vote. If you have recently moved, married or turned 18, or have never registered before, register now to be eligible to vote on Nov. 2. Registration deadlines vary from state to state, usually about a month before the election, so find out when the deadline is in your state and register at the public library, city hall, county clerk’s office, driver’s license facility or any other registration site available in your area.
“Participation in the political process is a moral obligation.”
—U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
To help more pro-life citizens participate, voter registration can be set up at a church or school or wherever it is convenient for people to gather. For information on holding a voter registration day visit Priests for Life home page at priestsforlife.org and click on the campaign button.
Find Out Where Candidates Stand
Before considering where a candidate stands on defense, education, the economy, the environment and other issues, find out whether he or she values human life. State right-to-life organizations may be able to provide a sheet listing all the candidates for office and where they stand on the life issues.
You may also have to dig for the information yourself. Call a candidate’s campaign office and ask where the candidate stands on abortion. Campaign staffers may try to avoid the question or claim they don’t actually know the candidate’s stand. So don’t give away where you stand, and be persistent until you get a clear answer.
Catholic Answers has published an excellent ten-page pamphlet outlining the “non-negotiable issues” that voters should consider first, starting with abortion. The abortion issue should be foremost in a voter’s mind when deciding between candidates. Candidates who say they are “personally opposed” to abortion but will work to uphold abortion rights should be considered pro-abortion by the pro-life voter.
Another non-negotiable is euthanasia, which is creeping into our culture. It is never right to kill an innocent human being, even out of a misplaced sense of compassion. Likewise embryonic fetal stem cell research, which kills an innocent unborn child at its earliest stage of life out of misplaced compassion for those suffering from debilitating conditions, is non-negotiable. Human cloning must also be rejected as an assault on God’s plan for the begetting of new life. The final non-negotiable issue is same-sex marriage; legislators have no right to redefine the meaning of marriage, the most basic institution of society.
Consider the Consequences
When one major party candidate in an election is firmly pro-life, the choice is easy. More often, the obligation to participate in the political process requires the pro-life voter to choose between imperfect candidates. The pro-life voter must remember that a vote is not an endorsement of everything a candidate stands for. If one candidate is clearly more pro-life than the other, state your preference for that candidate by casting your vote for him or her.
At times it is worthwhile to vote for a third party candidate who has no real chance of winning in order to protest the major parties’ neglect of the abortion issues. But in close elections in battleground states, that may mean handing the victory to the candidate most damaging to the cause of life.
When choosing candidates the voter should pay special attention to the national offices of President, Vice-President, Senator and Representative. But even candidates for lesser offices should be chosen carefully. They may rise to more influential positions once they have won their first election.
Cast Your Pro-Life Vote
Cardinal Francis George writes in a recent column that the Church serves society and cooperates with the State by being a witness to God’s ways among his children: “Faith shapes a believer’s political conscience, whether as voter or officeholder.” As voters we have the power to shape society. It is an awesome power to be exercised with great care. On November 2 be sure to go and cast your pro-life vote.
- Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility — Oct. 2003 document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
- “Not Church and State but Faith and Life” — Apr. 25 2004 article by Cardinal Francis George article in Catholic New World
- Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics from Catholic Answers
- Priests for Life’s Election Resources