The National Catholic Review

Some Catholic thinkers, leaders, and even bishops have seemingly implied that voting for former Governor Mitt Romney is the only viable option for Catholic voters of good conscience. But is it this true? When Catholics go to the polls, there is simply never a perfect choice. As has long been the case in American politics, both parties fail to embrace the wide spectrum of Catholic social teaching fully. Rather, Catholic voters must weigh church teaching and choose party platforms and candidates that, in their opinion, will do the most good for greatest number of people.

Might a closer examination of key issues through a lens of Catholic social thought reveal that there is actually no clear choice? Perhaps both Romney and Obama embrace certain parts of Catholic social thought, yet fail to promote key tenets as well? Maybe Catholics who support Obama aren’t at odds with the church, but instead see his policies as more in line with Catholic social teaching?

Romney supports overturning Roe vs. Wade, a development that would result in the criminalization of abortion in many states (though he has since backed off a bit from this view). Many pro-life Catholics support the re-criminalization of abortion, but if the ultimate goal is reducing the number of abortions, and given the current political reality, this might not be the most effective pro-life tactic. Some Catholics have argued that stronger funding for programs that serve pregnant women, infants, and families will actually reduce the number of abortions even if they remain legal. These programs that may suffer, and perhaps be eliminated, by a Romney Administration.

When Romney chose Ryan as his running mate, he implicitly endorsed a budget that would dramatically reduce funding for social service programs, ask the states to care for the poor without as much federal aid, and reduce or eliminate FEMA, a particularly troubling proposition in light of the tragedy still unfolding in New York and New Jersey. Catholic voters should be particularly concerned with how we as a society treat the poor. Romney has proposed massive tax cuts for the wealthiest, believing it will stimulate economic growth and thus expand opportunity for the lower and middle classes. But this is the same economics approach tried by former President Bush that ended in disaster for the nation as a whole and the poor in particular.

On immigration, Romney has proposed that the government make life so unbearable for the undocumented, including forbidding them from obtaining drivers licenses or access to employment, that they choose to “self-deport.” He frequently refers to these human beings by the pejorative and indefensible term “illegals” and has ruled out support of the DREAM Act, a proposed law that would give the children of the undocumented a chance at a better life in the US, bringing them out from the shadows and welcoming them fully into society. Comprehensive immigration reform that respects and upholds families and the dignity of the human person has long been a priority of Catholic bishops, and though Romney has certainly tried to give the appearance of moderation on the issue, his true views are seemingly hostile and lack the compassion even of other Republicans, including former President George W. Bush.

The use of unmanned predator drones is one area where Catholic voters should take issue with both the President and Romney. As I’ve written previously, there are too many unanswered ethical and moral questions about the use of drones, including the loss of civilian life and an era of endless war with limited accountability.

Romney is by all accounts a devoted husband and father and his work in his church is admirable and at times inspiring. But his ability to oscillate wildly on key issues depending on what his audience wants to hear is troubling. I cringe when I hear the phrase “flip-flopper” thrown about in a pejorative way because I believe evolving on an issue can be demonstrative of intellectual growth and curiosity as well as a willingness to face new facts and try different approaches. I also understand that in political life, it’s sometimes necessary to pivot left and right and back to center to get through primary contests and win general elections. But the way that Romney has embraced extreme positions to satisfy the fringe elements of the Republican Party and then deny ever holding these views to win back moderate voters is something else entirely. It’s left even fellow Republicans wondering what their candidate actually believes, unsure if there he has an agenda or if he is animated simply by a want of power so great that he is willing to lie repeatedly with a straight face to the American people. Last week, Romney produced a television commercial that was so blatantly disingenuous it caused the head of a major American auto company to denounce it as politics at its worst. Does Romney’s ambivalent relationship with the truth call into question his effectiveness as a leader?

Prominent Catholics have articulated a strong case for President Obama’s re-election. The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne notes that Obama is the only candidate focused on the truly Catholic idea of community and the belief that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. He wrote in Time magazine that Obama is fighting for a vision of “a country whose Constitution begins with the word we, not me, and that the private success we honor depends on a government that serves a common good and remembers the most vulnerable among us.”

The President certainly isn’t without flaws. He initially overstepped with the HHS contraception mandate, his rhetoric on abortion can be extreme and even outside the mainstream, his expanded drone program lacks moral clarity, and the braggadocio surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden is at times troubling. But he has done much to advance the common good.

Among his successes, he expanded healthcare to tens of millions of Americans, long a goal advocated for by Catholic bishops (and he has committed to working with Catholic organizations to find a solution to the contraception mandate controversy). He ended the war in Iraq and committed to bringing home all combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014. He directed an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, allowing openly gay and lesbian members of the military to serve, thus further eroding unjust discrimination that even the Catholic Church says must be avoided. His policies generally strengthen the social safety net, which includes many programs that ultimately reduce the number of abortions. He is a pragmatist who preaches personal responsibility but believes that government does indeed have a role to play in addressing the challenges facing America and its citizens.

Obama and Romney are both decent men who want America to thrive, but their visions about how this looks in practice are starkly different. I highlight the troubling aspects of Romney’s proposals not to tear him down, but to show that Catholic voters have a difficult decision to make and that Romney might not be right for all Catholics.

President Obama recognizes the inherent value of community, the plight of the marginalized, the need to stand with the poor, and the dignity of all human persons. For Catholics, there is a choice on Tuesday, and those voting with their Catholic conscience would do well to take another look at the record of this President on issues close to their hearts.

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Comments

Marie Rehbein | 11/6/2012 - 3:48pm
JR,

I have a problem seeing the causal connection between AFDC and an increase in out-of-wedlock births.  Are you saying that there is a class of people who grow up believing that their income is predetermined to be coming from the government and that in this class of people, the women are having out-of-wedlock babies in order to get more of that money?  How can you be sure that out-of-wedlock births cannot be attributed to cultural change that approves of women not putting up with men who are unsupportive or even abusive. 

No one lives especially well on what they get from the government, but for some people there is no work opportunity that provides better.  Removing government assistance and replacing it with horrendous working conditions and small income is the impression I get of the Republican proposals.  Do you see something different?

You will notice that it is often immigrants who work hard for little because they envision a time when this will pay off for their descendants.  For people who come from generations of poverty there is no such vision, and this is not the fault of the government coming to their aid but rather the simple reality of their existence with or without government help.
Barry Hudock | 11/6/2012 - 9:12am
David (#21) - Your point is well made, and the wording is both accurate and significant. ''If there's a good chance that one candidate will work to reduce it while the other almost certainly won't, people who believe in - or even strongly suspect - the humanity of the human foetus have a clear chance to stop an awful lot of legalized murder.''

What if there's very little chance the one candidate will work to reduce it while other almost certainly won't? Of course, we're talking about what a candidate WILL do, which no one can say for sure, so we're in the realm of what truly is ''prudential judgment'' here. In the case of Mr. Romney, a reasonable person can certainly conclude he won't do much.

If there truly was ''a clear chance to stop an awful lot of legalized murder,'' I would say the right person to vote for is crystal clear. But if there's not, AND there's a very real chance that Mr. Romney will try to repeal a law that establishes in the United States what Pope Benedict and Catholic teaching recognize as an important human right (health care), then what's clear changes significantly. 
David Smith | 11/5/2012 - 10:33pm
Amy (#3), only the individual herself knows what she cares about. You may dislike someone, but it ill behooves anyone to base her opinions on the assumption that she can read minds.
J Cosgrove | 11/5/2012 - 9:22pm
''That remains unequivocally false, no matter how many times you repeat it''


What I said is absolutely true.  I will keep on repeating my claims till they gets discussed on this site.  I have no problem backing up anything I say.  If I don't, then I will apologize for my comments.  


I find it amazing that Mr. O'Loughlin and others here are discussing same sex marriage again and again when there are major problems within our society that are never addressed.  Which is more of an issue in our society, the approval or disapproval of same sex marriage or the fact that 40% of children are born out of wedlock and that 70% of African Americans are born out of wedlock or that underclass's attitude on work and responsibility had deteriorated dramatically in the last 30 years or that religion is of little consequence with poor.   


The poor are certainly not materially deprived compared to past generations or the rest of the world so why are these other issues of no consequence to the Jesuits and those they employ.  We constantly hear about Catholic Social Teaching.  One would think that these other issues would get considered.  Instead we get a steady stream of articles on same sex marriage, global warming, and nonsense about Ryan's budgets or Ayn Rand.  The only thing that explains this is that it is all political.  These are the issues that may play well politically with the uninformed.  Children raised in spiritually deprived house holds is not even on the back burner.


When I bring these inconvenient observations up the response is nothing but rhetoric.  Which only shows what I am saying is true or else the authors and commenters would be responding with facts and not rhetoric.  Ever notice that Mr. O'Loughlin or any of the other authors never uses facts to back up their negative assertions on Republicans.  They tried it on the budget but got squelched with real numbers so now they make innuendos.  It would be interesting to have a reasoned discussion on these topics instead of demonizing a group without any basis.  We might learn something.


I am not a great fan of a lot of the Republican party but compared to the Democrats they are the only reasonable choice.  The truth is that for Catholics there is no great choice but the Democrats are a horrible choice and it has nothing to do with the abortion issue.  To imply they represent an acceptable choice is a strawman argument.  All the pro Obama people slough off the abortion policies of the Democratic party by tacitly saying the Democrats are worthwhile for their other policies and that there is nothing that can be done about abortion.  They say look at the Republicans who have done nothing about abortion knowing full well that if the Republicans did they would be demagogued. 


Republicans are being demagogued across the country during this campaign with the anti women campaign of the Democratic party.  I rarely discuss the abortion issue and never comment on same sex marriage because what I really object to is the hypocrisy of the left on the poor.  They don't really care anything about them or else they would address the issues that have created them, are now creating even more of them and how the policies of government have affected them culturally and spiritually.  All it seems the left is interested in is the money they can generate knowing full well it will do little if anything to help the poor and will probably even hurt them.  Liberal policies of the last 40 years have certain hurt the poor.  Why should spending more money make a difference.  It is control of the money that is the issue not the poor.
Charles Erlinger | 11/5/2012 - 9:51am
I abhor abortion but wonder if the hierarchy's emphasis on invoking the Power of the State (through political sponsorship) in the hope of forcing the Catholic point of view on people who are convinced that it is not one that they share is a slippery slope.  I wonder if voluntary conversion would not be a better direction in which to focus-conversion the old fashioned way, namely by prayer, fasting, alms and exemplary life.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 11/6/2012 - 11:44am
JR #18

''Which is more of an issue in our society, the approval or disapproval of same sex marriage or the fact that 40% of children are born out of wedlock and that 70% of African Americans are born out of wedlock or that underclass's attitude on work and responsibility had deteriorated dramatically in the last 30 years or that religion is of little consequence with poor.''

I think you should be very careful with your wording, and what contitutes as ''backup'' for the claims you make.  Blacks - AS A RACE - have a poor attitude on work and responsibility??  And could you explain what you mean by ''religion is of little consequence with the poor''?  Not trying to be a wiseguy, I just don't get your point here; the poor don't care about religion?  Religion doesn't help the poor?  The poor doesn't THINK religion helps them?

Regarding same sex marriage/civil unions, they certainly can't do much worse than heterosexuals - what are we at, over a 50% divorce rate?  Worse odds than a flip of a coin.  Perhaps if their rights are recognized and enshrined in law, these couples will take on the burden of all these children being born out of wedlock?  Even if children are being born and reared in less-than-ideal circumstances, they should be born, shouldn't they?   

We can't have it all ways.  We can't trumpet the fundamental right to life above all else and then criticize a high percentage of out-of-wedlock births. 
Gabriel Marcella | 11/6/2012 - 9:14am

Michael,
You say Obama's "rhetoric on abortion can be extreme and even outside the mainstream." This understates the intrinsic evil that it is. It's not mere rhetoric. His policies make him the most pro-abortion president in American history, with more to come if he appoints pro-abortion judges. For a Catholic publication this is unacceptable. It is killing human beings. Unfortunately America is increasingly replete with defenses of the morally indefensible.
David Smith | 11/5/2012 - 10:52pm
Abortion is a bright-line issue in this election. Either it means killing human beings or it doesn't. If there's a good chance that one candidate will work to reduce it while the other almost certainly won't, people who believe in - or even strongly suspect - the humanity of the human foetus have a clear chance to stop an awful lot of legalized murder. 
David Smith | 11/5/2012 - 10:29pm
Michael, why pretend  to even-handedness? To lay that claim while denigrating one candidate and praising the other is puzzling. Whom are you trying to convince of what, and why? As a rhetorical device, it falls flat. 
William McGovern | 11/5/2012 - 8:16pm
Sorry, I don't buy your agrument Michael.  Here's why:

You implicitly are agruing to keep abortion legal, albeit with increased federal funding to support unwed mothers to encourage fewer abortions.

Underlying that position is the belief that abortion is not really killing a baby (person).  Otherwise if ''pro-choice'' people felt it was killing a person, they would support efforts to at least make it difficult to obtain, not ''on demand' as is now the case.

Would most people support killing one-year old babies?  Of course not!  They are people and life is scared.  But people who support legalized abortion apparently don't buy into the agrument that an unborn baby is a person, is scared, and needs protection as the vulnerable among us.

How far down the slope will we go regarding the sacredness of human life?  Is legalized euthanasia ( mandated by the Supreme Court) in the U.S. next?   After all, the old, the infirm, the handicaped are often a ''burden.''
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2012 - 4:19pm
I get what JR Cosgrove is saying.  He is crediting the Republicans with the fact that even poor people have indoor plumbing and electricity at the flip of a switch, assuming, of course, that they have a place to sleep indoors, while blaming Democrats for the fact that among the poor one sees fewer two parent households, assuming, of course, that they are single-parent in order to qualify for assistance, instead of being poor because they are single-parent.
Stanley Kopacz | 11/5/2012 - 9:59am
Amy Ho-Ohn has perfectly articulated why the pro-abortion access Republicans I know can cast their vote for Romney and have cast them for lip service anti-abortion Republicans in the past.  They can see through the facade.  By the same logic, I can and will vote for Obama as a non-Romney.  I would rather vote for Jill Stein.
JIM MCCREA | 11/6/2012 - 5:28pm
There are women who CHOOSE to bring children into this world without "benefit" of a husband.  With the abysmal success of traditional marriages, maybe they aren't too far off after all.
JIM MCCREA | 11/6/2012 - 5:26pm
When in doubt, blame same-sex marriage.

This tired old myth is getting very old.  And very tired.  And very mythical.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 11/6/2012 - 1:24pm
Thank you for the recommendations, Mr. Cosgrove; are the Nook-compatible as well? :)

Regarding out-of-wedlock children; no, I don't support it per se, but then it's not my call to make.  The point I was going for was this: if a higher number of crisis pregnancies (yes, I realize 'out-of-wedlock' does not = crisis, per se) are resulting in births, shouldn't we be commending the strong women who, in this day and age, choose to bring their children into the world, even without the support of a father?  Yes there is a good deal of work and changing of the minds and hearts necessary in the future. 

But can't we see this statistic that the message of life is being heard rather than emphasizing the less-than-ideal circumstances of the births in question?
Vince Killoran | 11/6/2012 - 1:18pm

There are so many inaccurate, exagerrated, and downright wrong assertions by Cosgrove in these posts, e.g., "The Great Society then accelerated [out-of-wedlock births]. . ." 

There is absolutely no evidence to support this.  As usual. 
Rick Fueyo | 11/5/2012 - 3:45pm
This is utter nonsense.  Who do you think whose policies have created the underclass and whose policies over time have made their life more tolerable materially.  The problem with the poor is not material but spiritual and cultural and the Democrats have created that.  They own it.
 
 
That remains unequivocally false, no matter how many times you repeat it, which seems not less than twice a day. I really try to refrain from these partisan discussions, but you constantly make that pronouncement as if there were any factual basis for this statement, likely based on the same level of intellectual scholarship that generates Paul Ryan's claims. It's just not true.
 
Comfort yourself with the rationalization if needed, but don't condescend others as if it were actually true.
JIM MCCREA | 11/5/2012 - 3:19pm
Bottom line issues:

Supreme Court nomination(s)

Healthcare

Think.

Vote.

For Obama.
J Cosgrove | 11/5/2012 - 2:49pm
''On the other hand, it's not difficult to foresee 'a long winter' for the nation's poor should Mr. Romney win. ''


This is utter nonsense.  Who do you think whose policies have created the underclass and whose policies over time have made their life more tolerable materially.  The problem with the poor is not material but spiritual and cultural and the Democrats have created that.  They own it.  Romney and Ryan's budget proposals offer more material support for the poor than did Bill Clinton who bragged that there wasn't any more needed.


So lets get rid of the bogus points that Mr. O'Loughlin made to somehow justify voting for the Democrats.  In no way are the policies of the Democratic Party more in sync with real social justice or Catholic Social Teaching.  It is amazing that the authors here get away with such distortions of reality in their OPs.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 11/5/2012 - 7:16am
"Flip-flopper" is just a negative term for what used to be called a "horse-trader." The President should be a good horse-trader; the legislative branch has become extremely complex, with many competing, even irreconciliable, interests and ideologies. The President is the de facto referee, and if he isn't up to the job we'll just be stuck with more gridlock, more debt, more incompetent legislation and more polarization. 

I think Mitt Romney's position on abortion is pretty clear: Mitt Romney doesn't care about abortion. He is most interested in economic policy and somewhat interested in foreign policy; social issues bore him.
Kevin Murphy | 11/5/2012 - 1:05am
In light of Mr. McLoughlin's post and my response above, I'd recommend rereading  Tim Reidy's September 17, 2012 In All Things post titled Should Catholics Vote for Either Party?, which contains an excellent essay on the topic by Anna Nussbaum Keating.
Kevin Murphy | 11/4/2012 - 11:28pm
Under another In All Things posting, America Undecided, written by Nicholas Cafardi (a member of Catholics for Obama), promoting the opinions of Ed Gaffney, Doug Kmiec and Patrick Whelan (other members of Catholics for Obama), I made the point that Obama has made abortion central to his reelection.   His whole campaign has hindered on purposefully dividing the country by class (his coopting of Occupy Wall Street rhetoric), religion (his unnecessary war on the Catholic Church and other religious institutions) and gender ("the war on women," of which abortion has been front and center.)    Mr. McLoughlin states Obama's "rhetoric on abortion can be extreme and even outside the mainstream."   That is putting it mildly.   Who can forget the Democratic convention where speaker after speaker proudly proclaimed their right to terminate a pregnancy.   Under the America Undecided posting I cited an article from Politico ("Democrats go all in for abortion rights" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82912.html)   detailing how Obama and the Democrats no longer bother using the “safe, legal, rare” fig-leaf.  Abortion is simply one more medical procedure, a tool to be used for political gain.    


However, it is not only Mr. Obama’s “rhetoric” that is “extreme” and “outside the mainstream.”   So are his actions.   In his article titled “I will not vote for pro-death president” (http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/i-will-not-vote-for-pro-death-president/), Nat Hentoff, the well-known civil-libertarian, atheist and pro-life advocate begins “I cannot vote to re-elect President Barack Obama, who more than any other president in our history continuously exceeds the constitutional limitations of the executive branch ..... Obama, without going to a judge, regularly selects those who are to be assassinated from a “kill list”; this includes American citizens suspected of being associated with terrorists."    He then states that "no previous president has been so radically pro-abortion as Obama, who, when he was in the Illinois Senate, voted three times against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. The bill would have ensured that if a live baby fully emerged before an abortion was successfully completed, he or she was to be saved."    Hentoff describes situations where nurses found abandoned children left to die after the botched abortions, and states "Nonetheless, then-state Sen. Obama, who dissented against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, had opposed what he called the view that “you have to keep alive even a pre-viable child.” 
This is not advocacy for Romney.   Mr. McLoughlin makes excellent points about how Romney is also not suitable for Catholic support.   This is advocacy against those that are willing to tolerate some evil as long as “the common good” is served.   Also, as I stated under the America Undecided posting, America magazine, with Mr Cafardi’s and now Mr. McLouglin’s Obama advocacy, has made it clear that it does not accept Catholic teaching on right-to-life.  I’ve yet to read a posting indicating how Obama’s policies disqualify him from receiving Catholic support.   
Mr. McLoughlin cites E.J. Dionne (another long-time Obama advocate) stating "The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne notes that Obama is the only candidate focused on the truly Catholic idea of community and the belief that we are indeed our brother’s keeper."   He also states that Obama recognizes "the plight of the marginalized ...  and the dignity of all human persons."     This may all be true unless, of course, you are still in the womb and, in some cases, even when you make it out.    Then, in the eyes of President Obama, you are an inconvenience, and on your own.
J Cosgrove | 11/6/2012 - 2:52pm
Mr. Rooney,

I have both a Nook and a Kindle.  I prefer the Nook for some odd reasons and got the  ''Coming Apart'' book for the Nook but the older books, ''Loosing Ground'' and ''The Dream and the Nightmare'' are only available on the Kindle.  Of course you can get a hard copy of each used for a reasonable price. 

I actually got the hard copies of each one but I prefer to read the book on an e-reader and look at the charts and bibliography on the hard copy.  Some of the charts contain a lot of data so the hard copy is better for that.

I don't think anyone here would suggest an unwed mother abort her child but it is important to look at the various social forces that lead a women to have a child out of wedlock in the first place especially if they know that the child will most likely grow up in a far less than optimal environment and her life will also often be grim as a result.

We could have a long discussion about stable families but you may find the data in ''Coming Apart'' interesting on divorce and stable families as well as religion.  To me ''Coming Apart'' was the book of the year but the fact it got so little notice is in itself interesting.  It certainly points to an unpleasant future unless somethings change.  The fiscal mess and environmental or Mideast tensions pale in contrast to what may be ahead of us culturally and sociologically.
J Cosgrove | 11/6/2012 - 12:41pm
Mr. Rooney,

I suggest you read ''Loosing Ground'' and ''Coming Apart'' by Charles Murray and ''The Dream and the NIghtmare'' by Myron Magnet.  Each is available for the Kindle and you could start reading any of them in 5 minutes.


''Even if children are being born and reared in less-than-ideal circumstances, they should be born, shouldn't they?  ''

''We can't have it all ways.  We can't trumpet the fundamental right to life above all else and then criticize a high percentage of out-of-wedlock births.
''

These are very strange remarks.  Who implied that they shouldn't be born?  Are you supporting out of wedlock births as a way of life?
J Cosgrove | 11/6/2012 - 12:33pm
Marie,

I never said I have a solution or that anyone had a solution but the situation has been gradually getting worse each year so maybe consider stopping the stimulus that seems to be making it worse is one thing to consider.  But acknowledging the problem is the first step to solving a problem.  Sweeping it under the rug or giving more candy to the screaming child will quiet it for awhile but few think that is a solution.


Don't confuse compassion with government programs.  Few want to see people remain in misery while many have excesses.  But the unintended consequences of the so called solutions have produced more harm than the original situation.  And few on the left want to deal with that.  They will only shout how heartless the Republicans are when that is so far from the truth it is risible.   But it creates hate and gets votes.


Before AFDC the out of wedlock birth rate in the black community was the same as the white community, about 6%.  By the late 1960's black illegitimacy had risen to over 25%.  The Great Society then accelerated it and today it is around 70%.  In  the early 1960, white illegitimacy was about 6%.  Now it is at 30% and climbing.  Hispanic illegitimacy is in between these two rates.  In nearly all cases it results in children being raised without a full time father.


You can bring up coal miners or destitute women or starving children but that essentially evades the real issue.  No one wants to not help those in true need.   The question is how, and especially how to do it without creating dependency and a deterioration of spiritual and cultural life.  This is a topic made for the Church and people like the Jesuits.  But no, those here are only interested in left wing politics and feign concern for the poor.  If they really wanted to help the poor the emphasis would be somewhere completely different.
Marie Rehbein | 11/6/2012 - 10:50am
RE JR Cosgrove #18


 "I will keep on repeating my claims till they gets discussed on this site.  I have no problem backing up anything I say.
"...there are major problems within our society that are never addressed.  Which is more of an issue in our society, the approval or disapproval of same sex marriage or the fact that 40% of children are born out of wedlock and that 70% of African Americans are born out of wedlock or that underclass's attitude on work and responsibility had deteriorated dramatically in the last 30 years or that religion is of little consequence with poor."


I am interested in your solutions JR.  My understanding of the history of public assistance in the country was that Aid to Families and Dependent Children was established to help families of coal miners who were killed in mining accidents.  If we had been there back then, maybe we would have decided that people in that profession should be covered by some kind of employer paid life insurance.  I tend to think, though, that this was one of those times that business interests were not easily controlled by government regulations, and so we have the government stepping in to help these people and as a consequence setting a standard where the government helps households without a male breadwinner.  Please correct me if I am wrong.

I don't think assigning blame to one political party or another does anything to encourage people to revisit the longterm wisdom of government compassion.
Vincent Gaitley | 11/5/2012 - 8:58pm
What happened to Catholic realism?  Is it so bad to describe someone as an "illegal alien"?  Pejorative? Nope. Indefensible? No.  Accuracy focuses the mind.  Euphemism dulls the politics and the consequences deliberately.   George Orwell warned about this numbing language.  
Barry Hudock | 11/5/2012 - 2:23pm
Tim O'Leary comments (#7) that if ''If Obama wins, Christians are in for a long winter.'' There may be some truth to this, but he's already been president for 4 years and I don't know that I'd characterize what we've had as a long winter for Christians. Sure, the HHS fiasco has been a cold breeze in some ways, but the new healthcare law has been, in terms of Catholic, Christian values, a new springtime and still holds more blossoms to unfold unless it's repealed. 

There's no question that the more frighteningly long winter has been, for 4 decades, for the unborn. Though Mr. Obama has offered little respite here, it's unlikely Mr. Romney will make a difference here either. Winter, in this regard, will almost surely continue regardless of this election's outcome. 

On the other hand, it's not difficult to foresee ''a long winter'' for the nation's poor should Mr. Romney win. 
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2012 - 2:21pm
Perhaps, Janice #9, meant to point out the high abortion rates in eastern Europe, instead of the whole of Europe.  Western European abortion rates are significantly lower than US abortion rates because of pregnancy prevention.  My understanding is that native western Europeans are not reproducing in great enough numbers to replace themselves, but so what?  The fact that they have fewer descendants to support them does not mean that they have no workers.  They allow immigration, which changes the culture, but so what?

In China, the government intrudes upon the wombs of its citizens.  This is something we should want to avoid.  Just like we permit all kinds of disgusting speech in our dedication to the principal of free speech, we should allow women the privacy of their wombs in our dedication to the principal that the government has no business dictating what happens in and with our bodies.

The fact of the matter is that girl children are not valued as highly as boy children in most of the world.  The fact that Chinese parents opt for boy children when restricted to one child is a symptom of that standard.  Not allowing women in the US to have access to legal abortion would not change that.

It is untrue that President Obama intends to make Catholics pay for abortions.  The reason he did not support additional legislation to make it more of a crime to not protect a born alive baby that was intended to be aborted is because it is already a crime.  The problem may have been that it was not prosecuted, but making more laws that are not enforced does not help these babies.  People who care about abortion should distinguish between the distortions presented to them by people interested in getting their votes and reality.
JANICE JOHNSON | 11/5/2012 - 1:33pm
I think that abortion, beyond its moral implications, has ramifications that touch upon the common good and community. It is wise to look at what is happening in Europe, with its cradle to grave social programs and its high rate of abortions.  Killing millions of babies in the womb  leaves a scant number of workers to subsidize the ever-increasing number of elderly who have a multitude of illnesses.  I believe this is also true in Japan.  In countries such as China , Korea and India, the high rate of abortion and infanticide of female babies has caused a dangerous imbalance in the male/female ration.  I would think that 163 million missing girls, as has been
documented would be a wake-up call for feminists.  Instead, too many of us are focused on "choice".  I suggest checking on Feminists for Life.

Thanks Kevin and Tim for pointing out the radical acts of Obama.  AS a former democrat and liberal, I find it too difficult to rationalize a vote for Obama.  I am disappointed in those Catholics for Obama who are doing so. 
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2012 - 1:05pm
People who want to stop other people from having abortions should limit themselves to stopping them from aborting viable fetuses and stop equating the fertilized ovum with a person.  It is nonsensical to the average person, even one who believes in God, to have the government define personhood as beginning with conception.  It also alienates normal people to make the claim that women may not defend themselves against implantation by fertilized ova.  Probably no year to date in the effort to end abortion has there been so great a setback as this year due to elected officials' insensitive and unscientific reasoning being written into law.

Every fertilization of an ovum is an accident.  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5) applies only to Jeremiah.  It is meant to set him apart from everyone else, not to convey that everyone is like Jeremiah.  If a fertilized ovum does not result in a live birth, assume it is God's will whether the cause is abortion or nature. 

Since science has shown us that fertilized ova are more often expelled than implanted, what in the world is a personhood amendment for fertilized ova except the imposition of a religious belief based on a questionable interpretation of the Bible?  The anti-abortion movement shouldn't be going there, just as it should have made the ultrasound bills passed in various state legislatures the friend of women by requiring only signatures that they decline the opportunity to have an ultrasound that would otherwise be free.

Don't blame the presidential candidates for the fact that women choose abortion, blame the anti-abortion lobby for its terrible PR.
Tim O'Leary | 11/5/2012 - 11:27am
C R#5
While you are right that persuasion is the optimal approach, as it leads to the conversion of the sinner as well as the righting of a wrong, there is also the obligation of justice. With abortion we are dealing with a human rights issue, where the weak are being killed by the strong. It is possible that slavery and civil rights might have been ended just by persuasion, without laws, and by conversion of hearts, but few would want to abandon the laws against slavery today.

Maybe Amy is right and Romney will only affect abortion on the margins. But, at least he will not force Christians to pay for the killing, as Obama and his allies are moving to. If Obama wins, Christians are in for a long winter.
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2012 - 8:59am
Don't also forget the vice presidential candidates who in a heartbeat could become the president, and then consider what policies these men would advocate.