Back when the 2008 Presidential election campaign was at its high point, I got into a lengthy and rather heated conversation on a private internet forum regarding the candidates, their respective political parties, and all sorts of other things. One of those other things involved the difference in the official position on the sanctity of life between the platforms of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. I left the Constitution Party, the Libertarians, the Green Party and other "third party" platforms out of the discussion because I was conversing with someone on the other side of the country, and the two major party candidates were the focus of our discussion - third party candidates not consistently making the state ballots across all 50 states.
The other party to this discussion held the view that Obama's social policies and campaign positions were closer to Catholic social teaching than were McCain's. Also, my counterpart opined that it was fruitless to either be vocally pro-life, participate in activities to further a culture of life (such as protesting at abortuaries, etc.) or to bother to vote for a candidate who professed to be pro-life because, as he put it, 'there will always be abortion, and it might as well be legal so women won't have to resort to quacks in back alleys with coat hangers.' (I disagree with both statements, by the way. Obama advocated socialist positions while campaigning, and has attempted to impose a socialist rule on America since taking office - and the Church roundly condemns socialism.)
First of all, I'm Catholic, as I mentioned in my very first post on this blog. I would hope that I am a faithful Catholic, and as far as I am aware I adhere to all the teachings of the Church that are necessary to remain in good standing with the Church.
Secondly, I've read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The sanctity of life takes precedence over every single other social justice issue extant, simply because without a respect for the most vulnerable lives in society - the unborn and the elderly - how can we as Christians hope to bring about any other meaningful social change?
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. (CCC, 2nd edition, paragraphs 2270 and 2273, emphasis in the original)
Third, I took the time to download and read the official platforms of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. What I read was rather shocking, and after thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that I cannot ever, in good conscience, as long as I profess the Catholic faith, vote for any candidate who officially identifies his or her political party affiliation as Democrat, due to that party's position on life issues and the resulting possibility of my being a source of scandal through my support of a Democrat candidate for any elected office.
You may download the 2008 Democratic Party platform here. The relevant section is at the bottom of page 50 and the first line of page 51of the pdf document, in the section titled "Choice." Money quote:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.
Not only are the Democrats in favor of abortion and contraception, but they have placed their positions on these two issues before they even mention, almost as an afterthought, the fact that they also support women who choose to have their babies.
You may also notice, if you read the entire document, that the Democratic Party solution to what ails the nation is nothing but huge, bloated government entitlement programs. That in and of itself violates the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which means that social issues are taken care of at the simplest level possible. For instance, you notice that your neighbor down the street has lost his job and though he goes out job hunting every day, it's been a while and you think he might be getting low on groceries. Instead of sticking a note on his door with the address of the nearest Food Stamps office, you drop off some bread, peanut butter and jelly, and maybe offer to give him a ride to a food pantry if he's really strapped.
Now see what the Republicans have to say about life issues in their platform; the relevant section can be found by clicking on "Values" and then the title of the following quote, at this link:
I think that a true conservative, Constitutional limited-government candidate is going to take positions on the issues, and favor policies, that more than 9 times out of 10 are more closely aligned with subsidiarity and other facets of Catholic social doctrine. In my opinion, a smaller government takes less from its citizens in the form of taxes, leaving them more of their hard-earned income to distribute to charitable causes as they see fit. A smaller government limits its citizens' choices of livelihood less, so that it is easier for that person to discern and follow God's calling in his or her life.
So my vote will be cast for the BEST candidate for the elected position to be filled, taking into consideration both the individual candidate's positions AND his party's official platform position. Because of the Democratic Party's official pro-abortion and pro-contraception position as stated in its party platform, I do not consider myself, as a Catholic, able to cast a vote for a candidate who is running as a Democrat. Most of the time this means I'll vote Republican, although I will vote for a third-party candidate when that candidate's position on life issues and policies which affect those issues, as well as the third-party platform's official position, is more closely aligned with Church teaching than the Republican candidate's.