A question that inevitably will be raised, debated and, quite possibly, dismissed is: Who’s left in the presidential race who’s really pro-life? And by “pro-life,” I mean the minimalist view advocated by many self-styled “conservative” Catholics and not the fuller, more consistent “pro-life” of the Catholic tradition. The minimalist version of “pro-life” is that of the so-called “non-negotiables,” which posits abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research as the life issues. On this view, a candidate must be personally and politically against the enhancement, promotion and protection of these sins by the state.
I think the only candidates who really fit the “pro-life” profile of the “non-negotiable” crowd are:
- Mike Huckabee
- Fred Thompson
These two have gone on record stating their opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research, with Thompson going so far to say that “no legislation will pass my desk that funds or supports this procedure without my veto” with regard to abortion. It seems to me that the “non-negotiable” crowd cannot legitimately vote for any other Republican candidate during these primary elections without contradicting the very terms (i.e., “non-negotiables”) by which they stand. To do otherwise during the primaries would be to render abortion and embryonic stem cell research “negotiable.”
Ron Paul opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, but is remiss on state funding. He does not object to the actual research itself.
Mitt Romney has attempted to convince us that he is “firmly pro-life,” but he has not clarified whether or not his support for life is merely a personal and private issue, as it is in Rudy Giuliani’s case. Romney’s past record on “pro-life” issues is sketchy, so one cannot help but be a bit incredulous or, at least, hesitant.John McCain’s support for embryonic stem cell research is documented and chronicled (voted in favor of its enhancement as a senator in 2006 and 2007), and he has not made any public statements or gone on record with a change of heart, despite whatever he may be saying behind closed doors.
Now, some Catholics from the “non-negotiable” crowd may claim that they can legitimately support Romney or McCain on account of their “electability.” I love that excuse because, obviously, general election polls in January no doubt give us a reliable gauge of electability in November. Right. Let’s relax our “pro-life” demands if we don’t think the real “pro-life” candidates can beat the Democrats. Sounds real Catholic.
What do I think of the Catholic who exclaims that abortion and embryonic stem cell research are “non-negotiable,” but then endorses/votes for a candidate during the primaries who supports one or both of these sins despite that fact that there are other candidates still in the race who are “pro-life”? Well, I think that Catholic is not only disingenuous and hypocritical, but guilty of elevating the purely speculative and inexact calculation known as “electability” to a level of non-negotiable status surpassing that of the certain and definitive evils of abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
Simply put, either put the “non-negotiable” business to rest or own up to the standards you construct for other Catholics. Prove to me that the “non-negotiable” talk was genuine and not really a covert support of the Republican party by means of an exploitation of the Catholic faith. Because the sad truth is, the Republican party ain’t your “pro-life” party with either McCain or Giuliani at the helm.