Can You Compromise The Right To Life?

We are now in a presidential election year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The question of abortion will be on the ballot in a way that we have not seen in a long time.

As I’ve written about before, the pro-abortion side was preparing for the overturning of Roe in a way that the pro-life side was not. For many on the pro-life side, the end of Roe v. Wade was seen as the final victory in the struggle for life. But this could not be further from the truth.

The struggle is just starting.

The pro-abortion side was busy at work pushing their views through social media and mass media. Abortion, in many mediums, is celebrated and lauded. Any voice in defense of the unborn is seen as a horrible restriction on women’s rights. The Culture of Death wasted no time. This is nothing new, but the pro-abortion side hit the ground running while the pro-life side is playing catch up.

For example, in my home state of Ohio, last fall we passed a constitutional ammendment basically legalizing all forms of abortion. The winning side successfully convinced enough of the voters that Ohio’s laws restricting abortion were too broad. The average voter favors some abortion rights, but not an unlimited one. For example, the overwhelming majority of people believe abortion should be legal in cases of sexual assault.

Because of things that have happened in Ohio, some pro-life politicians have been moderating their political stances. Fearing that standing up for the life of the unborn will cost them votes, they have done the political calculus of saying that they believe abortion should be legal in some cases.

So how is a Catholic to respond to this?

To be fair, this can be an incredibly complex situation and I do not want to make the mistake of oversimplifying it.

However, we must begin with this as our bedrock foundation: killing unborn children is wrong.

Our ultimate goal needs to the the abolition of abortion and the recognition of the dignity of every life.

But how do we accomplish this goal? Can we compromise on our beliefs?

For example, let’s say that in the next election in Ohio, there is a proposed constitutional ammendment that would keep abortion legal except for in the third trimester. Could a Catholic vote for this in good conscience?

The answer is: it depends.

What it depends on is the interior intention of the voter.

If I vote for this hypothetical ammendment because I think that some human life has value and other human life does not, then my motivation is bad.

But if I vote for this ammendment because I see it is a way to mitigate the mass murder of the unborn and save some children, then yes I can vote for it. Oscar Schindler worked with Nazis and gave money to Nazis in order to bring Jewish people to safety away from the death camps. Schindler could not stop the entire Holocaust, but he saved as many people as he could. In the same way, voting for a law that limits abortion partially is a way to save some life.

The ultimate goal must still be to end abortion. Throughout the years before the Civil War, efforts were made to mitigate the spread of slavery. But the abolitionists always held that the ultimate goal was the end slavery forever. It is morally licit for a Catholic to vote for an imperfect law.

But the voting for that law must be done with the understanding that it is an imperfect compromise that is a temporary measure in pursuit of the perfect. Pro-lifers cannot accept a permanent moderation.

The challenge lies in changing the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. This is what I have been working towards all of my adult life. It is a slow and arduous process. But it is one that leads to a more permanent solution. Human beings can pass all the laws we want. But if we do not change the heart, those laws will shift with the currents of the era.

In all this, we need to once more focus on becoming a people of prayer. Public and private prayer to end abortion is the key to final victory. We make our arguments and live out our witness, but in the end, it is God who changes the heart.

The Culture of Death already has a head start on us.

But we know that in the end, the Culture of Life will win.

Copyright 2024, WL Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

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