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Voting by Roman Catholics opposed to abortion

Teaching by a Vatican official (2008)

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Teaching by a Vatican official (2008):

A Vatican official confirmed the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI in 2004 when he was Cardinal Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The official explained the responsibilities of the Catholic voter on the abortion question during an Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)/Sirius Radio broadcast of  "Catholic Answers Live" shortly before the 2008 presidential elections. 1 He explained that because the Church teaches that every abortion is considered a murder of a human person, the only acceptable law is for a state or country to criminalize every abortion, even if an abortion would be needed to save the life of the pregnant woman. The underlying Catholic teaching is that no act that is of itself evil can be performed under any circumstances, even if it would lead to a good end, like saving a life.

Thus, he explained, if a voter has a choice between two candidates or parties:
  • One of whom would work towards the absolute abolition of all abortions, and
  • The other would allow some abortions to be performed -- e.g. if one is needed to save the life of the mother,
then the Catholic voter must vote for the former candidate or risk their eternal security after death.

He also said that if neither candidate would work for the complete abolition of abortion, then the voter must vote for the candidate whose policies would result in fewer future abortions.

Generally speaking:

  • The Republican party's 2008 platform concentrates on reducing abortions by restricting women's access. If its current goals are achieved, the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. The laws of the individual states and the District of Columbia would once more regulate abortions. Probably:
    • About 22 states would immediately or quickly ban most abortions;
    • The District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, and 16 states in the west and northeast would retain women's access to abortion;  and
    • The remaining 12 could go either way.
    However, all or essentially all of those states that would ban most abortions would still probably allow abortions to save the life of the woman.
  • The Democratic party's 2008 platform favors free access to abortion, which would tend to increase the number of abortions. However, they would also fund educational and support programs designed to reduce unwanted pregnancies and make it feasible for pregnant couples to continue their pregnancy. The end result is expected to be an overall reduction in the number of abortions.
Since neither party plans to totally eliminate abortions, then the Catholic voter appears to be obligated to vote for whichever candidate or party is most likely to effect the greatest reduction in abortions. That is a matter of opinion for which there is no precise data available.


The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay.

  1. "Catholic Answers Live" Eternal Word Television Network on Sirius Radio, 2008-OCT-22. I am unable to supply the name of the Vatican official since I only heard the tail end of the program.

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-OCT-26
Revised and updated: 2008-OCT-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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