Thursday, February 27, 2003

Is it ever morally licit to vote for a pro-choice candidate?

Quick answer: yes. But read on...

Kevin Miller (who is soon to abandon De Virtutibus for the uber-blog, HMS Blog) today linked an article at Fox News by Radley Balko, The Agitator. Mr. Balko discusses the firm grip which the abortion rights lobby has on the Democratic Party, as evidenced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich's reversal on the issue. As Balko writes, "Opposition to war, egalitarianism, feminism, big government -- one can fall on the "wrong" side of any of these issues and still be at home on the left. All of these issues are negotiable. But abortion isn’t." Yes, pro-life is the big no-no for any Democratic politician who has national aspirations. Gephardt, Gore, Clinton... they all switched, because it was politically expedient for them to do so. As Fr. Richard Neuhaus noted, Clinton's dedication to the abortion-rights lobby is the only promise he ever kept.

But back to Mr. Balko's article. In the midst of it, he states, "I consider myself pro-life, but I’d gladly vote for a pro-choice candidate with whom I felt comfortable on other issues (I hope to do just that, when Condoleezza Rice runs for president in 2008)."

I have a hard time with this view, because there isn't any issue more important than the life issues. Lower taxes, smaller government, free trade... they are all important issues, but they are nothing compared to the life issues, because all the rights which other issues deal with are predicated on the right to life... if you aren't alive, you don't have any rights!

So if you recognize the truth of the pro-life position, why would you ever vote for a pro-choice candidate, even if they were terrific on the other issues? Either you happen to hold the pro-life position without realizing its gravity, or there is an extenuating circumstance at play...

In fact, there is only one extenuating circumstance I can think of by which one could vote for a pro-choice candidate, and that is this: if the other candidate is also pro-choice, and is worse on the other issues. In this case -- and as far as I can tell, this case alone -- one could licitly vote for a pro-choice candidate.

Now, if that is what Mr. Balko is thinking when he says he'd vote for Condi Rice in 2008, I can understand his position; after all, there is almost no chance that the Democratic opponent in '08 will be pro-life, as Balko's article demonstrates. But the fact that he doesn't clarify this at least makes me wonder. Perhaps he didn't because it wasn't the point of the article. But I'm not sure...

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