Respectfully clearing away justifications to not vote for the pro-life candidate

By Dave Andrusko

It is difficult for staunch pro-lifers to believe that there could be anyone who hold a pro-life position who won’t vote for pro-life candidates come November 6. How could that be?

There are loads of excuses and even a couple that come close to qualifying as a “reason.” But in the final analysis they come down to a lack of awareness where candidates stand; being talked into believing that while abortion is very important, there are many important issues; a sense that any one candidate—even President—can’t make THE difference; or a purity test– the pro-life candidate is not “sufficiently pro-life”– even when her/his opponent is an unapologetic abortion-on-demand-without-apologies man or women such as President Obama.

Obviously, newcomers to our cause and/or those who haven’t carefully examined what’s at stake may be the most susceptible. But there are others who know more than enough not to go astray who talk themselves into voting for a “pro-choice” candidate or not voting at all. They need our help, too.

Paul Stark is Communications Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), National Right to Life’s state affiliate. His latest web posting is titled “Can pro-life voters reasonably support pro-choice candidates?”

The post is lengthy because it is complete. Mr. Stark takes on many of the most familiar rationalizations that are used and gently points out their flaws and weaknesses

I have reproduced his introduction and first question below. Mr. Stark’s entire analysis can be read at

Can pro-life voters reasonably support pro-choice candidates?

By Paul Stark

Not all voters who hold a pro-life position plan to vote for pro-life candidates for public office in the Nov. 6 election. As in 2008, some pro-life Catholic and evangelical protestant Christians are undecided or expect to vote for “pro-choice” (pro-legalized abortion) candidates in contests between pro-life and pro-choice options, such as in the presidential race between Mitt Romney, who supports protection for human beings in the womb, and Barack Obama, who supports unlimited abortion.

Some of these voters simply don’t know (yet!) where the candidates stand. But some do know and plan to vote for pro-choice candidates anyway. Public examples include evangelical figures like Jim Wallis and David Gushee and Catholics like Doug Kmiec, Charles Reid and Stephen Schneck. Does this make sense? Here are a number of (often-overlapping) explanations, some of which I have heard from ordinary pro-lifers and some of which are offered by academics and commentators. I respond to each. I also respond to pro-lifers who plan to either sit out the election or vote for third-party candidates.

(1) Abortion isn’t the only issue. There are many important issues, and I’m not a single-issue voter.

As Scott Klusendorf notes, abortion isn’t the only issue today any more than slavery was the only issue in 1860. But if the pro-life position on the ethics of abortion is true—as those I am addressing here believe—then abortion is a uniquely important issue, as slavery was a uniquely important issue in 1860. First, abortion is a question of basic justice unlike any other issue or concern in American society today. In no other area is a class of innocent human beings placed outside the protection of the law and allowed to be killed for any or no reason. At stake is the principle of the equal fundamental dignity and right to life of every member of the human family, irrespective not only of race, gender, religion and social status, but also of age, size, ability, stage of development and condition of dependency. Human equality is on the ballot. Second, abortion is the leading cause of human death (at 1.2 million unborn children killed annually in the United States), and the candidates we elect will affect our laws and policies in ways that will influence the incidence of abortion. Lives really are on the line. Even if a pro-life voter agrees completely with a pro-choice candidate on every other issue, it is difficult (if not impossible) to see how voting for that candidate can be reasonable given the moral gravity and scale of what is at stake regarding abortion.

None of this is to deny that there are many important political issues. It is just to say that some issues are more important, and more foundational, than others. ….