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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2007 “Faithful Citizenship” guidelines took a strong stand against abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and embryonic-stem-cell research and also brought up other issues for voters to consider, such as social justice, the economy and opposition to unjust wars.
But last week several bishops said abortion should be the main issue Catholic voters should look at when deciding which candidates to back.
We think the bishops’ more balanced 2007 stand represents a better guide, as it focuses on a more complete picture.
Catholics are taught that abortion is taking an innocent person’s life. But several other issues mentioned in the bishops’ 2007 citizenship guide also result in deaths of innocent people.
A president’s sending people to war against a nation that had not attacked us and posed no imminent threat to us has resulted in thousands of our military people being killed.
Capital punishment has almost certainly resulted in the deaths of innocent people at times. Among other reasons, a verdict of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” varies depending on where the trial is held and whether the person on trial is poor or a minority citizen.
Misguided economic policies have also contributed to many U.S. citizens being homeless and starving, both of which can certainly lead to death.
To say the abortion issue is more important than these issues is akin to saying it is more important to oppose shooting someone than it is to oppose stabbing, strangling or suffocating him. In each case, the result is the same.
But in the case of war or capital punishment, deaths are a direct result of government action.
On the other hand, while abortions are legally available in the United States, no politician in our country has ever forced anyone to have one.
The only ways to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion are by a constitutional amendment or another Supreme Court decision.
Yet when the party that professes to oppose abortion controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, no serious attempt was made to amend the Constitution to outlaw abortion. And presidents who said they opposed abortion have appointed Supreme Court justices who upheld current abortion laws.
Based on that record, voting for a candidate merely because he says he opposes abortion hasn’t produced the desired results. But it has produced negative results in many other life issues.
So anyone who suggests that the abortion issue should be the most important one in deciding which candidates to back is overlooking many other important issues on which the government has a more direct effect.
Election Day renewed our trust in democracy and the best it brings out in the greatest nation the world has known.
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