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Catholic in the Public Square

"...the truth will set you free." John 8:32

The Catholic Case for Voting Trump

by | Sep 30, 2016 | 21 comments

In just over one month our nation heads to the polls with perhaps the starkest choice for President that there has ever been. First, Catholics are called to actively form their consciences in the truths of natural law and the wisdom of the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church. Second, Catholics are called to vote, as a matter of moral and civic duty, in accordance with a well-formed conscience.

Choose the Greater Good

Some Catholics defend voting for one of the major party candidates because he or she is “the lesser of the two evils.”  The problem with this approach is that choosing the lesser of the two evils is not truly a Catholic perspective. We must never choose evil of any quantity. The ends never justify the means. We are always called to choose the good, so it is true that a choice between evil and evil is no choice at all. But is this really the reality we are facing as voters?

Some Catholics believe the two major Presidential candidates are so incredibly evil that one cannot in good conscience vote for either. But are Clinton and Trump devoid of all goodness? I would hope that even the most ardent supporter of one could look at the other candidate and their platform and find something good therein. It is as silly to argue that these two human beings are perfectly evil as it is to argue that they are perfectly good. Rather than asking who is more evil, the truly Catholic approach is to enter into the opposite perspective of seeking who is more good. Rather than voting for the lesser of the two evils, we can and should be voting for the greater of the two goods. To do this we must look carefully at their different platforms and positions in order to reasonably consider the two very different outcomes of each candidate being elected. With those different outcomes in mind, we must then ask who is best for the nation and vote for the greatest good.

Abortion is the Greatest Moral Evil of Our Time

A rightly formed Catholic conscience understands that we are not single issue voters, we care and have a stake in just about every issue you can think of, but we are voters who assign varying degrees of importance to each issue and there is no issue of greater weight in our time than the legalized killing of innocent unborn children known as abortion. This position is clear, unwavering, and essential for a well-formed Catholic conscience. Human life is sacred and every right we have is based on the right to life.

It is not dismissing the importance of other issues to understand that we live at a time where one issue is far above all the other important issues because our most fundamental God-given human right, the right to life, is not reflected in the law of our land. The result of this injustice is a culture of death where thousands of unborn children are being murdered every day with the implicit endorsement of our government. Since we live in a representative democracy, we cannot simply blame “the government.” This is on us, we the people who vote for those who will lead and legislate.

As St. John Paul the Great explained:
“Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination (Christifideles Laici, no. 38).”

Unfortunately, there are many confused Catholics, in the most favorable interpretation, who dissent from what is crystal clear Catholic teaching. They seem to make an art of twisting pseudo-intellectual pretzels in the attempt to justify voting for pro-abortion politicians. In reality, they mostly just echo the nonsense that the pro-abortion politicians have cooked up for them.

Some of these “confused Catholics” claim that ending abortion is of minor importance, as one misguided Catholic priest recently told me. Others ignorantly argue that nothing changes on abortion regardless of who is elected to the Presidency. Some will even go so far into fantasy land as to claim that the candidate who is most in favor of abortion will be the candidate who will do the most to limit and end abortion. Seriously? Sadly, they are.

For those who are truly open and willing to accept Catholic teaching – abortion is the greatest moral evil of our time, of far greater weight than any of the many other important issues, and one cannot in good conscience vote for a pro-abortion politician. Natural law and the teachings of the Catholic Church leave no room for doubt on this matter.

This begs the question: where do Clinton and Trump stand on ending the legalized killing of innocent unborn children? Let’s begin by looking at the platforms of their respective parties. Buckle up.

2016 Democratic Platform (p. 25, 41, 50):

“We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, curb billionaires’ influence over elections because they understand that Citizens United has fundamentally damaged our democracy, and believe the Constitution protects not only the powerful, but also the disadvantaged and powerless.”

“Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.”

“We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”

“And we strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination. We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. We recognize and support the importance of civil structures that are essential to creating this for every child.”

“We will support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe. In addition to expanding the availability of affordable family planning information and contraceptive supplies, we believe that safe abortion must be part of comprehensive maternal and women’s health care and included as part of America’s global health programming. Therefore, we support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the ‘global gag rule’ and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world.”

It is also noteworthy that a commitment to religious liberty in the context of abortion, which was included in the 2012 Democratic Platform, has been removed for 2016.

2016 Republican Platform (p. 13-14, 24, 34, 36-37, 51):

“The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can ‘be deprived of life, liberty or property’ deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that ‘all’ are ‘endowed by their Creator’ with the inalienable right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”

“We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.”

“We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from individuals with disabilities, newborns, the elderly, or the infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“We affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women who face an unplanned pregnancy. In order to encourage women who face an unplanned pregnancy to choose life, we support legislation that requires financial responsibility for the child be equally borne by both the mother and father upon conception until the child reaches adulthood. Failure to require a father to be equally responsible for a child places an inequitable burden on the mother, creating a financial and social hardship on both mother and child. We celebrate the millions of Americans who open their hearts, homes, and churches to mothers in need and women fleeing abuse. We thank and encourage providers of counseling, medical services, and adoption assistance for empowering women experiencing an unintended pregnancy to choose life. We support funding for ultrasounds and adoption assistance. We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.”

“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for leading the effort to add enforcement to the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act by passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which imposes appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery whether the death of the infant is intended. We strongly oppose infanticide. Over a dozen states have passed Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version. Not only is it good legislation, but it enjoys the support of a majority of the American people. We support state and federal efforts against the cruelest forms of abortion, especially dismemberment abortion procedures, in which unborn babies are literally torn apart limb from limb.”

“We call on Congress to ban sex-selection abortions and abortions based on disabilities — discrimination in its most lethal form. We oppose embryonic stem cell research. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. We support adult stem cell research and urge the restoration of the national placental stem cell bank created by President George H.W. Bush but abolished by his Democrat successor, President Bill Clinton. We oppose federal funding for harvesting embryos and call for a ban on human cloning.”

“The Democratic Party is extreme on abortion. Democrats’ almost limitless support for abortion, and their strident opposition to even the most basic restrictions on abortion, put them dramatically out of step with the American people. Because of their opposition to simple abortion clinic safety procedures, support for taxpayer-funded abortion, and rejection of pregnancy resource centers that provide abortion alternatives, the old Clinton mantra of ‘safe, legal, and rare’ has been reduced to just ‘legal.’ We are proud to be the party that protects human life and offers real solutions for women.”

“We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.”

“We renew our call for replacing ‘family planning’ programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach — the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease — empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception and believe that federal funds should not be used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.”

“Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and wellbeing of women, and we stand firmly against it.”

“America’s healthcare professionals should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession. We respect the rights of conscience of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and organizations, especially the faith-based groups which provide a major portion of care for the nation and the needy. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty. We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children. We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children and urge enactment of legislation that would require parental consent for their daughter to be transported across state lines for abortion. Providers should not be permitted to unilaterally withhold services because a patient’s life is deemed not worth living. American taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion. As Democrats abandon this four decade-old bipartisan consensus, we call for codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare. We call for a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.”

“We call for expanded support for the stem cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions — through adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells — without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning for research or reproduction, and a ban on the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research. We applaud Congress’ ban on the FDA approval of research involving three-parent embryos. We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.”

“The U.N.’s Population Fund has, from its origin, been rooted in no-growth policies that limit economic development in the countries needing it most. Its complicity in China’s barbaric program of forced abortion led President Reagan to set a wall of separation — his Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the granting of federal monies to non-governmental organizations that provide or promote abortion. We affirm his position and, in light of plummeting birth rates around the world, suggest a reevaluation of the U.N.’s record on economic progress.”

Candidate Websites

Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton’s official website for her presidential campaign states the following:

Under the issue of “Women’s Rights and Opportunity,” it states “As President Hilary will…

  • Proudly stand with Planned Parenthood. Hillary is proud to have earned the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She will always defend the essential health and reproductive care that Planned Parenthood provides for women.
  • Protect women’s health and reproductive rights. Women’s personal health decisions should be made by a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor. Hillary will fight back against Republican attempts to restrict access to quality, affordable reproductive health care. She will defend access to affordable contraception, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion—not just in principle, but in practice.
  • Promote women’s rights around the globe. In far too many parts of the world, women are still held back by social, economic, and legal barriers. Hillary will promote gender equality around the world.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s official website for his presidential campaign currently has no mention of abortion or protecting innocent human life.

Digging Deeper on Trump

Predictably, Clinton’s positions as put forth on her campaign website are consistent with her party’s radical pro-abortion platform. There is no doubt where she stands.

One would expect that Trump’s positions would be similarly expressed on his campaign website. The fact that his website is absent of any trace of his party’s strong right to life platform is among the fodder for why many people are having a difficult time believing Trump’s personal pro-life convictions and his commitment to act on his party’s platform once elected.

What can we look to for some recent indication of how Trump would likely govern in this area?

September 16th: Trump created a Pro-Life Coalition and appointed Marjorie Dannenfelser as the national chairwoman. Dannenfelser is the longtime leader of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life group of more than 465,000 members dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates to reduce and ultimately end abortion. Dannenfelser is the real deal.

In creating this coalition and appointing Dannenfelser, Trump concurrently released a letter stating:

“I am committed to:

  • Nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and reallocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care
    for women.
  • Making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.”

September 22nd: Trump formed a panel of Catholic leaders to advise him as part of the Trump Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee. Included in this panel are politicians with solid right to life records, such as former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, along with an impressive cast of pro-life leaders, such as Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.

Vice-Presidential Picks

Clinton selected Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. Kaine is another politician in a string of recent Democratic leaders who calls himself a “devout” Catholic, but holds the absurd position of claiming he is personally against abortion, yet publicly in favor of it (current Vice President Joe Biden, former Speaker of the House and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, etc.). NARAL, the oldest “abortion rights” advocacy group in the U.S., endorses Kaine as having a 100% “pro-choice” voting record in the U.S. Senate.

Trump chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Pence has been a stalwart leader for promoting the right to life as both a Congressman and Governor. NARAL gives Pence a 0% “pro-choice” voting record.

Likely Outcomes

Based on these platforms and positions, we must now take a sober look at the divergent outcomes for our nation depending on who is elected.

If Hilary Clinton wins…

  • The federal status quo on abortion in the U.S. continues: legalized abortion on demand and available throughout all stages of pregnancy (even after viability with a medical judgment based on a broad definition of the “health of the mother” which can include physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age).
  • Taxpayer funding of abortion massively increases as the Hyde Amendment is repealed. For example, current federal and state taxpayer dollars directly pay for about 15% of abortions annually via Medicaid. It is estimated that if the Hyde Amendment were repealed, Medicaid would pay for an additional 300,000-500,000 abortions annually (about a 200%-500% increase). Repealing the Hyde Amendment would also open up massive federal taxpayer abortion spending via Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, Federal Employees and Dependents, Military Personnel and Dependents, Indian Health Services, Peace Corp Volunteers, Washington D.C. residents, and Women in Federal Prisons.
  • Religious freedom exemptions for hospitals and medical workers who object to providing or assisting with abortions may be eliminated. Exemptions for religious organizations who object to offering health insurance plans that do not pay for abortions and contraception may be also be eliminated.
  • At least one, likely two, or possibly even three or four Supreme Court justices are appointed who are unfavorable toward enshrining the right to life into law. This will likely ensure legalized abortion on demand throughout our nation for at least the next several decades.
  • State laws restricting abortion are struck down and overturned by federal judges appointed by Clinton. To understand the power of the U.S. President in the nation’s judiciary, understand that as of this month, President Obama has appointed over 600 federal justices during his presidency, including two Supreme Court justices.
  • Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, continues to grow and flourish as it receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually from taxpayer funds under the Title X Family Planning Program. States like Texas and New Hampshire that have cut the share directed toward Planned Parenthood are ordered to reinstate the appropriation due to a rule change from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The Democratic Party continues its deep entanglement with Planned Parenthood and its aggressive pro-abortion lobby which leads to even greater pressure for an ideological purity which excludes any politician who does not publicly support abortion. A culture of death ethic continues to work as a leaven within the party and further pushes party leaders in the wrong direction on euthanasia, assisted suicide, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and prevents ethical medical progress by minimizing the allocation of funds for adult stem cell research.
  • The U.S. actively promotes, exports, and funds abortion around the world in a mass scale unlike anything we have ever seen as President Clinton eliminates the Helms Amendment. It is all done under the false categorization of “women’s rights.”

If Donald Trump wins…

  • The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is passed and signed into law by President Trump, making all abortions after 20 weeks illegal (when unborn children are capable of feeling pain).
  • Legal abortion is possibly eliminated altogether as President Trump could sign a human life amendment into law which makes it explicitly clear that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants the right to life to all unborn children from the moment of conception (this is contingent on Republicans retaining control of Congress, which would be a likely coattail effect if Trump wins).
  • At least one, likely two, or possibly even three or four Supreme Court justices are appointed who are favorable toward enshrining the right to life into law. They will likely uphold the Constitutionality of any pro-life bill that comes before them and could possibly even overturn previous pro-abortion rulings, such as Roe v. Wade. The right to life is protected by the highest court in our land for at least the next several decades.
  • Planned Parenthood loses all federal taxpayer dollars (hundreds of millions annually), likely closes many of its facilities, and possibly even shuts down entirely.
  • The Democratic Party is freed of its deep entanglement with Planned Parenthood and the aggressive pro-abortion lobby as a whole, which leads to wider acceptance of pro-life Democrats and even a possible change in party platform. This brings new life into the two party system as both major parties agree on the right to life and more vigorous debate begins on the many other important issues (now with a more accurate perspective on the dignity of the human person).
  • The U.S. defends the right to life around the world as President Trump reinstates the The Mexico City Policy, makes the Hyde Amendment permanent law, and prohibits funding to the United Nations Population Fund which provides support for government programs which have promoted forced abortions and coercive sterilizations (ex. China). Currently, under President Obama, our nation gives tens of millions of dollars annually to the U.N. population fund.

Conclusion

When one objectively examines the platforms and positions of the candidates and reasonably extrapolates out the likely outcomes of each candidate being elected, it is extremely difficult to understand how anyone with a well-formed Catholic conscience could possibly refuse to vote, vote third-party, or vote Clinton in this election. The greatest good for our nation and the clear choice for anyone with a well-formed Catholic conscience is to vote Trump for President this November.

Sadly, a well-formed Catholic conscience seems to be a rare commodity these days. According to a recent Pew Research study, registered Catholic voters ranked the economy as the most important issue for this election, with abortion coming in at 13 out of 14 issues (only 46% of Catholic voters said it was “very important”). Furthermore, an August 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that registered Catholic voters are favoring Clinton over Trump by a margin of 55%-32%. Disgraceful.

It is up to Catholics with well-formed consciences to help form the misguided in their midst. Generously share this article and engage in conversations. This Presidential election is not about partisan politics, electing a perfect candidate, or endorsing everything a candidate says and does. This election is very clearly about whether we the people will finally dismantle and defeat the greatest moral evil of our time, or whether we will allow the mass destruction of innocent unborn human life to become more deeply ensconced into the fabric of our nation and ultimately destroy America from the inside out.

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