If, however, the considerations we have adduced in this essay are sound, they practically preclude a vote for Biden. If one acknowledges the gravity, scale, and scope of the injustice of abortion, and of a legal regime that denies to an entire class of human beings the most basic of human rights, thus exposing them to lethal violence, then it is hard to imagine what proportionate reasons there could be for joining one’s will to the desire of a supporter of it for great political power.
Twenty five years ago, John Piper wrote:
No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president.
But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed. Or a person who said that no black people could hold office—on that single issue alone he would be unfit for office. Or a person who said that rape is only a misdemeanor—that single issue would end his political career.
These examples could go on and on. Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office. . . .
You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It’s simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those.
What this means is that being pro-life should be a necessary condition for earning my vote, but it is not a sufficient one.
I want to commend a new piece this week by Robert P. George and Ramesh Ponnuru.
They look at Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic, who claims to agree with his church about abortion, but does not believe he should impose his religious belief upon others. In other words, he is in the camp of those who are “personally opposed” to it but believe it should be legal.
George and Ponnuru show that the Catholic Church agrees with the indisputable fact of modern embryology.
Because this is a truth fully available to natural reason (that is, it doesn’t require special revelation in the way that belief in the incarnation does), this means “abortion is not the sort of wrong (or sin) that law and the state have valid reasons for tolerating. On the contrary, it is precisely the sort of grave injustice and violation of fundamental human rights that it is a central duty of law and the state to prohibit.”
They continue: “For government to permit abortion, the Church teaches, is for government itself to commit an injustice against its victims—denying a disfavored class, the unborn, protection it affords to all others. To be responsible, or partially responsible, for the injustice of the law in exposing unborn children to legally authorized lethal violence is to be complicit in grave injustice.”
George and Ponnuru then connect this to implications for voting: “To grasp the grave injustice of abortion is to take on some responsibility to work to end it both as a social practice and as a legally permissible option.”
It is not the only issue, and citizens have other responsibilities too. But the gravity of abortion and the fundamental issue of human rights weighs more heavily than other political issues, even important ones.