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Voting by Roman Catholics opposed to abortion

1. What do individual Catholics really believe?
2. A book review

Sponsored link.

What do individual Catholics really believe?

It appears that there is a wide gap between the church's teaching and the beliefs of the laity.

A survey by the Knights of Columbus was released on 2008-OCT-14, about three weeks before the 2008 election. It found that:
  • 39% of Roman Catholics are Democrats; 30% Republicans; 29% independents; 2% didn't answer.
  • 48% identify themselves as pro-life; 47% as pro-choice; 5% were uncertain

Subjects were also asked to what degree -- if any -- a pregnant woman should have access to abortion. They responded:

  • 17% would ban all abortions, even if needed to save the woman's life.
  • 11% would allow abortions only in order to save the woman's life.
  • 35% would allow abortions only in case of rape or incest or to save the woman's life.
  • 26% would freely allow abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. 1

Only 17% of Catholic laity would support the Church's position: that it is always immoral to perform an evil deed (e.g. kill a fetus via abortion) even if reluctantly done to achieve a good end (e.g. allow the woman to live.)

The Church's teaching typically would produce a dead fetus and a dead woman. Allowing an abortion would generally result in a dead fetus and a living woman who could go on living, continue to be a parent to her children (if any) and continue to be a spouse to her husband or wife (if she is married). This teaching is quite consistent with the Church's moral teaching. However it must be a very difficult sell to the laity.

813 persons who identified themselves as Catholics were surveyed. The poll's margin of error was ±3.6 percentage points. 2

A book concerning abortion and the Roman Catholic vote:

"Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Questions about Barack Obama by Douglas W. Kmiec, Penguin, (2008). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

Reviewer's comment by Martin Sheen:
"Douglas Kmiec’s 'Can a Catholic Support Him?' may very well become the most important comprehensive document written to date on American Catholics, abortion, and candidates for public office.”

Product Description:
On April 18, 2008, Douglas W. Kmiec was denied Communion at a Catholic Mass in Westlake, CA. Ironically, Kmiec had been invited by a Catholic business group to give a dinner address on the Bishop’s teaching of “Faithful Citizenship.”

Kmiec had served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for both Ronald Regan and George H. W. Bush. But now, he found himself rejected by his faith—simply for endorsing the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.

In "Can a Catholic Support Him?," Kmiec offers us a thoughtful explanation of his rationale. He addresses the difficult questions at the core of his decision: Can a Catholic support a Pro-Choice candidate? Can there be a reverence for life that embraces a larger set of values? How does a Catholic citizen balance his obligations to the Church and to community? In asking these questions, he challenges those whose partisan interests are provoking a false rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic party. This inquiry could hardly be more timely. Catholics have been on the side of the top vote-getter in the last nine presidential elections, and make up roughly one fourth of the electorate. This provocative book—at once a legal and religious treatise and a sincere and personal journey of faith—will be an irreplaceable contribution to the conversation, in 2008 and beyond.

About the Author:

Douglas W. Kmiec is the Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University’s School of Law, and has previously held prestigious positions in the law faculties of The Catholic University of America and of Notre Dame. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Mark Pattison, "New Knights' survey outlines Catholic views on host of moral issues," Catholic News Service, 2008-OCT-15, at: http://www.catholicnews.com/
  2. A margin of error of 2% means that an individual datum is accurate to within ±2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. i.e. if the poll were repeated 20 times, with the same number of contributors, then a given value would typically be within 2 percentage, for 19 of the repeats. "The margin of error in a sample = 1 divided by the square root of the number of people in the sample." Thus, with 1,865 responses, the margin of error is 1/ 1865 exp -0.5 = .023 = ±2.3%.

Site navigation:

Home > Abortion > Reducing the rate > Voting > Catholic > here

Home >"Hot" religious topics and conflicts >Abortion >Reducing the rate >Voting >Catholic >here

Home Religious information > Basic info > 2008 elections > Voting > Catholic > here

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

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