COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP) -- In 2008, a handful of notable pro-life evangelicals and Catholics threw their support behind a presidential candidate sworn to uphold elective abortion as a fundamental right.
"Of course abortion isn't the only issue -- any more than the treatment of slaves wasn't the only issue in the 1860s or the treatment of Jews the only issue in the 1940s. But both were the dominant issues of their day."
They argued that doing so constituted an enlightened pro-life vote that was morally superior to the narrow party politics of religious conservatives. Instead of passing laws against abortion, so the argument went, the candidate and his party would "reduce" it by addressing its underlying causes. True, they said, he was mistaken on abortion, but he was right on other, important "whole-of-life" issues such as opposition to war, concern for the poor and care for the environment.
The candidate's political strategy was simple: shrink the significance of abortion so it was more or less equal with other issues. It worked. Twice as many white evangelicals age 18 through 44 voted for Barack Obama in 2008 than voted for John Kerry in 2004. Catholics, meanwhile, supported Obama at 54 percent, up seven points from what they gave Kerry four years earlier. The candidate got just enough pro-life votes from these groups to tip the election his way.
I submit that each of these alleged pro-life votes represents a profound misunderstanding of the pro-life position. The fundamental issue before us is not merely how to reduce abortion, but who counts as one of us. How we answer will determine whether embryos and fetuses enjoy the protection of law or remain candidates for the dumpster. As Francis Beckwith points out, a society that has fewer abortions but protects the legal killing of unborn humans is still deeply immoral. Given what's at stake, it's vital that pro-life Christians persuasively answer five key questions before the 2012 election:
1. Are pro-life advocates focused too narrowly on abortion? After all, informed voters consider many issues, not just one. Read More