How important are a candidate's pro-life views to pro-life voters?

By Scott Alessi| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
blog Ethic of Life Politics

Plenty of Catholic leaders, including Archbishops William Lori and Charles Chaput, have joined the chorus of church pundits who argue that no real Catholic can ever vote for a candidate who supports abortion. Most often, those comments are aimed at Democratic candidates who uphold the pro-choice views of their party platform. But what happens when a Republican won't take a strong pro-life stance?

Well, maybe it is OK to look the other way. Or at least, that's how it sounds in David Gibson's analysis of Mitt Romney's murky views on abortion at Religion News Service. Romney has flip-flopped on the abortion issue in the past and more recently has backed away from it in an effort to gain the support of more moderate voters. He's made no indication that abortion is a top concern for him as Election Day draws near.

So what do pro-life groups, who do consider abortion the single most important issue in any election, have to say?

“We don’t necessarily need in public office someone who is going to be a crusader on this issue," says Father Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life and a well-known crusader on this issue. Abortion isn't Romney's leading issue, Pavone says, and he is OK with that.

Then there's Marjorie Dannenfelser, who runs the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. She too is OK with electing Romney even if he isn't a strong pro-life candidate and she believes that he'll "follow through on his commitments" if elected because of pressure from anti-abortion groups. Commitments, perhaps, like the one Romney made earlier this month to the Des Moines Register that no legislation dealing with abortion would be part of his agenda.

Some would-be supporters of Romney have expressed concerns about his position on abortion. But for those who wave the pro-life banner yet only criticize one candidate or party's view on the issue, it makes you wonder where their priorities really lie.