Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain and the Pro-Life Movement

In response to my last post about Obama and how his supporters try to justify abortion, I received the following comment from "Joey-O." He's a reluctant McCain supporter, and he raises some questions about McCain's pro-life credentials. I would like to respond to his comment.

Wow. Abortion is truly horrific. It's sad to read about someone who is ignorant or mislead on such an important thing.
That's for sure.

I had a thought while reading your blog. You seem so certain that McCain would be more pro-life than Obama. I myself do believe that McCain is more pro-life than Obama. However, I'm far from certain on the issue.
Well, just look at their records. is very helpful in this regard. Here's what they have recorded on both candidates:

Barak Obama:
  • Supports Roe v. Wade. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
  • Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
  • Sponsored bill providing contraceptives for low-income women. (May 2006)
  • Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Ensure access to and funding for contraception. (Feb 2007)

John McCain:
  • Supports repealing Roe v. Wade. (May 2007)
  • Voted YES on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP. (Mar 2008)
  • Voted YES on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions. (Oct 2007)
  • Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
  • Voted YES on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
  • Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
  • Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
  • Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
  • Voted YES on banning human cloning. (Feb 1998)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Expand embryonic stem cell research. (Jun 2004)
  • Rated 75% by the NRLC, indicating a mixed record on abortion. (Dec 2006)
  • Prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortion. (Jan 2008)

Now, I can see why someone would be concerned about how consistently pro-life McCain is, but there is simply no question that he is more pro-life than Obama.

I know McCain claims to be pro-life, but I am rather suspicious of this, along with his other recent series of conversions. They have conveniently come just in time for him to run for president. And, McCain's previous statements and voting record, while somewhat mixed, are decidedly pro-choice.
Granted, I haven't been following McCain his entire career or anything, but he doesn't seem like the type that is prone to "conversions." The impression I get is that he is a man of principles. I don't think there is anything to substantiate your implication that he just tailors his views to whoever he is courting. His votes on life issues go as far back as '98 or '99 (in other words, before he began running for president), and while you may view his record as "decidedly pro-choice," I think his record tells a different story. If we use the previous list as our guide, he may not be perfectly pro-life (his "YES" for embryonic stem cell research is a glaring example) but at least he has taken steps in the right direction and he has supported laws that would restrict abortion. That's more than we can say for Obama.

Yes, Obama in his short time in the Senate has managed to consistently vote for every pro-choice/pro-abortion bill that has come up, and yes Palin has some excellent anti-abortion credentials. It's clear to me that on abortion McCain is more pro-life, but only because he doesn't seem to care. It seems like, when it comes to the issue of abortion, McCain just takes the most politically convenient position.
I'd like to know what has given you this impression of him. He's known among his fellow senators as the very man who does not always take the most politically convenient position. When he says, "Country First," I don't think that's a lot of hot air. I think that's truly how he operates.

So, McCain will probably sign an anti-abortion bill if it came across his desk. But, would he sponsor one? Would he appoint a judge that's pro-life? I honestly don't know. I doubt he'd sponsor an anti-abortion bill. And, I doubt a judge's stance on abortion would weigh heavily on his decision making. Obama's like a loaded gun; he's going to be pro-abortion. McCain is like Russian Roulette; he's got a chance at either being deadly to the unborn or having no effect whatsoever.
Look, I realize that he's not the perfect pro-life candidate. He has supported embryonic stem cell research, and while he's against abortion in most cases, he does seem to think it's ok in cases of rape, incest, or risk to the life of the mother. But, he has supported laws that greatly curtail abortion, and I think he would support similar laws in the future. There's no reason to believe that he wouldn't, especially since Palin has his ear and I think that he very much respects her opinion.

As for judges, he voted "YES" on confirming Samual Alito and John Roberts for the Supreme Court, both of whom were supported by the pro-life groups in America. On Jan. 30, '08 he said, "The judges I would appoint are along the lines of Justices Roberts and Alito," so I think we can expect that any future appointees will be sensitive to the pro-life cause. All of this leads me to believe that he is far from someone who is "deadly to the unborn." In the very least, it is likely that he will not cause more harm then has already been caused by Roe vs. Wade and similar legislation. The "Russian Roulette" analogy is a gross exaggeration.

Given this less than black and white situation between McCain and Obama, should we limit our pro-life consider to abortion issues? Normally, I would. It's the clearest and gravest moral issue facing our nation, but when no candidate is decidedly pro-life, how do we vote?
You need to read the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics, from Catholic Answers (see the 16-pg. booklet or the bulletin insert). It is very instructive in situations like this.

There are several issues that effect life, so of course we shouldn't restrict ourselves to abortion. But, abortion is the most serious issue for it effects life the most directly. As a Catholic, you can debate about economic policies, national defense, and border control. There are positives and negatives from both sides on these issues. But, we also have certain non-negotiables, issues that are objectively or intrinsically evil, issues that we cannot support either directly or indirectly. These are abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, and homosexual "marriage." When both candidates endorse positions contrary to non-negotiable principles, you must choose the candidate who is likely to do the least harm. There's no question who that candidate is.

Obama's health-care plan would seem to bring better preventative medicine to the poor and under-privileged, probably saving many lives. His tax plans could potentially put more money in the hands of the poor, enabling them to feed themselves and again, saving more lives. His foreign policy decisions might lead to greater peace in the world.
"Seem to bring" .... "probably saving" .... "could potentially" .... "might lead." Let's concentrate on what we know for sure:

How could anyone vote for him in hopes of somehow decreasing abortions when we know that the first thing he'll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which will undo every single bit of pro-life legislation at the federal and state level? When there is a guarantee that he will strike down anything that he sees as even remotely threatening a woman's "right to choose"? There is simply no proof that Obama's economic or health care policies will do anything to decrease the number of abortions in this nation. Yet we know for a fact that FOCA will do serious harm (for more on this, see the "FOCA Fact Sheet" from the Pro-Life Secretariat of the USCCB). There is a much greater likelihood that an Obama presidency will significantly undo the pro-life cause then that his economic policies will somehow decrease the number of abortions. I'm not willing to go there.

I realize this is all speculative, and as I said, I do evaluate McCain to be overall more pro-life than Obama. BUT, I felt it prudent to challenge your apparent certainty on the issue.
Well, hopefully, I have further clarified my position. For more on Catholic voting, see the following resources:Pax Christi,


  1. This is an absolutely fantastic post. Thank you so much for making it. I hope you don't mind, but I've linked it over in my own blog. Thank you.

    Grace and Peace,

  2. Thanks man! By all means, link away! :D

  3. that's the Nick I know and love !!



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