Catholics & Politics - the dance continues
Several months ago, before we reached our current apex of political unrest, Fr. Paul Keller posted a two-part column entitled “Can a Catholic vote for a Democrat?” While countless Catholics have doubtlessly been answering “yes” to this question for ages, Fr. Keller uses a relatively fresh series of arguments to arrive at that same conclusion.
To begin, Fr. Keller mentions the recently published USCCB document intended to assist Catholic voters. He goes out of his way to highlight the disclaimer that the bishops “do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.” This disclaimer, of course, is nothing new. The Church has always been obligated to refrain from recommending or opposing any specific party or candidate, lest it forfeit its tax-exempt status.
From there, he develops a mainly two-part justification for Catholics choosing a pro-choice candidate: first, that Roe v. Wade is unlikely to be overturned regardless of the president’s partisanship, and second, that the government is not directly responsible for abortions – only those actually performing & procuring abortions are the ones culpable.
The second of these concepts is novel in its approach. It certainly sounds liberating and refreshing – what Catholic wouldn’t love to be morally indemnified when voting? This line of reasoning has some merit in theory, but falls short in reality.
It’s one thing for a president elect to be sworn into office and then do nothing – whether expansive or restrictive – to current abortion policy. It’s quite another thing to enact legislation that allows abortion right up until the moment of birth, all while funding it with tax dollars.
The latter scenario is precisely what Hillary Clinton has promised if she takes office. Under her control, the Hyde Amendment (which previously banned taxpayer dollars from funding abortions) would be overturned. How, in this instance, would the government not be responsible for abortions?
This would hardly be the first instance of Catholics being coerced into immoral complicity by the government. Not so long ago, the Little Sisters of the Poor were nearly run aground by the HHS contraception mandate, threatened with staggering fines if they refused to include birth control in their insurance coverage.
And this past June, Obama stated that no religious employers – not even churches – were exempt from California law requiring them to provide abortion coverage under their insurance policies. This coverage includes elective, sex-selective abortions.
While it may be true, as Fr. Keller observes, that the chances of Roe v. Wade being overturned are slim to none, the fact remains that current & prospective Democratic presidents are committed to undermining religious freedom regarding abortions. The question, then, of whether or not a Catholic can vote for a Democrat should be answered in light of current political realities, not broad ideologies.