Letter to the Editor: a Light on a Hill
With so many issues facing voters in the upcoming election a clear straight forward stand on key issues may help many decide which candidate to vote for. It is obvious that the first duty of government is to protect innocent human life. Without this protection all other rights have no value. For example, if a candidate said they were for terrorist acts against innocent Americans, most Americans wouldn't ask them what their positions on the economy, education, or healthcare is, The fact they are for terrorist acts against innocent Americans should completely disqualify them regardless of how good their other positions are. In light of this reasoning a Catholic defense organization called Catholic Answers has issued a voters guide based on the unchanging doctrines of the church. There are five non-negotiable issues.
These five current issues concern actions that must never be promoted by the law and can never be deliberately performed. No candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any action contrary to the non-negotiable principles involved in these issues.
l. Abortion. The church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is "never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it" (EV 73). Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide. The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others' sins.
2. Euthanasia. Often disguised by the name "mercy killing," euthanasia also is a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person. In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person (cf. EV 73).
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo" (CRF 4b). Recent scientific advances show that medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells can be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults fromwhom they come. Thus there is no valid medical argument in favor of using embryonic stem cells.
4. Human Cloning. "Attempts...for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through 'twin fusion,' cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union" (RHL I:6). Human cloning also involves abortion because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.
5. Homosexual Marriage. True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement. "When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10).
Though many Americans have all but forgotten about the millions killed by abortion, an honest look at what an abortion is, and at how many victims it claims, is enough to reveal that nothing outweighs its gravity among the many "life issues." Multiple church documents have confirmed this insight, repeating over and over that the abortion tragedy demands urgent attention and priority and being wrong on abortion outweighs being right on other issues. The truth is, if you are wrong on abortion, you can't be right on other issues. To permit abortion, but then to cry out for the right to work, housing, education, health care, and so forth, is to say that these other rights belong to some people but not to all. They obviously do not belong to those who were snuffed out by abortion. Therefore, these rights cannot be human rights, because you have already said that not all humans have a claim on them. This trivializes those other rights and puts them on an obscure and questionable foundation.
If you permit abortion, then, on what basis do you defend the other rights? Why do we care for the poor? Because they have a right to food, clothing, and shelter. But why do they have a right to those things? Because they have a right to live. Why are we concerned about unemployment? Because people have a right to make a living. Why do they have that right? Because they have a right to live. It all comes back to that foundational right. Abortion is not the only issue, but neither is the foundation of a house the only part of a house. Take it away, however, and see how well you can build the rest. The reason that being wrong on abortion makes it impossible to be right on other issues is that the heart and soul of every "issue" is precisely the dignity of the human person whose right to life is not under the dominion of any other person. A person's dignity comes from the fact that he or she is human, not that someone else decides to grant that right at some point in time. Any human right begins when human life begins; otherwise, it isn't a human right, but rather some kind of benefit bestowed for another reason. Now if you can take the right to life from some humans, as abortion does to the children in the womb, then obviously you can take away from those same humans all their other human rights, because non of those other rights made such a claim upon your resect that you had to let those people live to possess it. This is why the leader of a billion plus Catholics had said: "...when the right to life is not protected, cries for other human rights are false and illusory." (John Paul II)
When one is wrong on abortion, one cannot be right on anything else.