#YesOn115: Voting as a Catholic Means Voting for a ‘Culture of Life’

Brittany Vessely

November 3 is drawing near for arguably one of the most vitriolic presidential races in the United States’ history, but the presidency is not the only ballot measure of utmost concern for Coloradans. This year, the people of Colorado have the opportunity to ban late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ fetal gestation, promoting the value of life for our culture and affirming the countless preborn children whose lives came to a brutal end before their first breath.

As Catholics and as Coloradans, we must vote YES for Ballot Proposition 115, banning late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ gestation. And we must encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. This is literally an issue of life or death.

Colorado is one of seven states with no legal restrictions on the gestational age of a child for an abortion, allowing preborn children to be killed at any moment until birth. According to the Guttmacher Institute, most states have imposed restrictions on abortion at 20-weeks of gestation or at viability of life outside the womb, which is generally regarded as 22- to 24-weeks’ gestation.1  A May 2020 Gallup poll shows that 70 percent of Americans believe there should be some restrictions on abortions. Despite this public support, the Colorado Department of Public Health reports that approximately 300 babies are aborted per year after 21-weeks’ gestation in the Centennial State. Colorado is far behind the rest of the country in protecting lives of preborn children.

In June, the Colorado bishops released a letter imploring Coloradans to support the Proposition 115 Late Term Abortion Ban. They wrote,

“Ending the legal protection for abortion is the most important political objective of Colorado Catholics because these children are deprived of their right to live. While the late-term abortion ban will not ban abortion entirely, it does protect children who are older than 22 weeks’ gestation. This is a positive change from the status quo and promotes a ‘culture of life’ that values preborn children. It is a step in the right direction.”

The Catholic Church teaches, and human reason based on the findings of science affirms, life begins at conception. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, 96 percent of biological scientists attest to life beginning at the fertilization of an embryo.2 By 20-weeks’ gestation, a human fetus demonstrates all the fundamental characteristics of more developed humans, including the ability to perceive pain and perform sophisticated behaviors. This makes second trimester dilation and evacuation “D & E” abortions, which dismember babies and crush their skulls while they are still alive, even more horrific. Many abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, have even profited off selling the organs of these late-term aborted babies.3

Furthermore, medical advancements have increased infant-survival rates outside of the womb at 22-weeks’ gestation. A recent study by the University of Iowa shows that 64 percent of babies born at 22 weeks and 82 percent of babies born at 23 weeks survived with hospital resuscitation.4 A majority of premature babies born between 22 weeks and 25 weeks are able to be treated by specialized healthcare professionals and live happy, healthy lives. With each week in utero after the 22-week mark, the survival rate outside of the womb increases. 

Opponents of Proposition 115, including Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion lobbyists, argue that the restriction on abortion limits accessibility for women, especially in cases of rape and incest or unviable pregnancies. But abortion for women who have been sexually assaulted would only add trauma to trauma and create yet another innocent victim by killing the preborn child. In these cases, rapists should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and society should support both the woman and her infant child. Groups like Catholic Charities’ Marisol Health are licensed medical centers, fully equipped to help women with their reproductive health in any circumstance, even the most difficult pregnancies.

It is the duty and obligation of faithful Catholics to take part in shaping the moral character of our community, our state and our country. At the heart of the Church’s moral and social teachings are the truths of human dignity and sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. Because we are people of both faith and reason, it is necessary for Catholics to advocate for these truths in the public square. One important way to do this is through our civic responsibility to participate in the political process by voting, both for Proposition 115 and for elected officials who value life. It is imperative, in this election more than ever, that Catholics hold lawmakers accountable – particularly those who profess to be Catholic but reject Catholic social teaching.

Our involvement in public life, especially in a time of so much civic unrest and a need to address wrongs of the past and present, including abortion, will ultimately help shape the moral character of our society for the future and our posterity – especially for the children whose lives will be saved by your vote for Proposition 115.

Remember to Vote YES on Ballot Proposition 115 this election, and vote for candidates who value a “culture of life.” The lives of Colorado children depend on you!

Visit Online

For more information on Prop. 115 and other election resources, visit cocatholicconference.org

COMING UP: For Love of Country: A Catholic Patriotism

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Our country has been through a lot this last year, as we all know. As many people have reacted against the founding and history of the United States, I have found myself drawn towards greater patriotism. By this, I simply mean a deeper appreciation of what I’ve been given by my country and also a growing realization of the duty I have to work for the common good, here and now. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of this duty under the fourth commandment that enjoins honor not only to parents but also to anyone in authority.   

It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community (2239). 

Catholics, and all people of good will, are called to a love and service of country in order to work for the common good.  

Eric Metaxas argues that the future of our country depends precisely upon the active role of Christians in his book, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (Penguin, 2017). He describes something called the Golden Triangle, an idea he borrowed from Os Guinness, but which ultimately comes from the Founding Fathers. “The Golden Triangle of Freedom is, when reduced to its most basic form, that freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; and faith requires freedom. The three go round and round, supporting one another ad infinitum. If any one of the three legs of the triangle is removed, the whole structure ceases to exist” (54). John Adams, for example, related very clearly, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (quoted on 61). Metaxas comments, looking to specific examples around the world, “if you take God and faith and morality out of the equation, everything inevitably falls apart. It cannot be otherwise” (48). It cannot be otherwise. That may sound extreme, but we have many examples from Communist and Fascist countries and now even from movements within our country that aggressive secularism parallels a collapse of real freedom.  

The Constitution established an ordered liberty that requires responsibility and a determined effort of preservation. Hence the title of the book, taken from Benjamin Franklin, a republic “if you can keep it.” We are called to actively preserve our country: entering into a deeper understanding of the “idea” of America that undergirds the Republic as well as showing a loving determination to overcome challenges and threats to its continuance. This is not to whitewash the past, as we all know the injustices of our history. Metaxas argues that we can be grateful for the good and unique blessings of our heritage while also working to overcome failures. “To truly love America, one must somehow see both sides simultaneously” (226). Furthermore, by loving our country we are willing her good, drawing our own selves into the work for her good and helping her to be true to herself. “So that in loving America we are embodying her original intentions — we are indeed being America at her best — and in doing so we are calling her to her best, to be focused on doing all she can to fulfill the great promise which God has called her in bringing her into existence and shepherding her through trials and tribulations all these and centuries — and now” (235).  

As Catholics, we have a lot to offer our country by drawing from our rich intellectual and spiritual heritage. Michael Krom, a philosopher at St. Vincent College, provides us with a great resource in his new book, Justice and Charity: An Introduction to Aquinas’s Moral, Economic, and Political Thought (Baker, 2020). In an age of confusion, Catholics can bring greater clarity in our national discourse on the nature of human life, virtue, and politics. “We live in a time of ideological conflicts, in which the citizens of the nations of the modern world seem incapable of agreeing upon even the most basic of moral, economic, or political principles. Civil discourse has been replaced with violent protest, and reasoned dialogue with character assassination” (2). As Catholics, we should be able to look above all of this, literally: “While the Church does not force us to reject political citizenship, she demands that we direct it to the heavenly, and we can do that by heeding her call to engage the world rather than conform to it. I wrote this book out of the conviction that those who want to heed the Church’s call to engage our culture need to look to the past” (ibid.).  

Dr. Krom shows us that St. Thomas Aquinas has much to teach us about living the good life, in pursuit of a genuine freedom and happiness, and that this should inform a Catholic approach to economics and politics. It is hard to work for virtue if you don’t know what virtue really is, and difficult to act justly toward others if you don’t understand the nature of duty. Aquinas can help us to judge the direction of our country, as “a government cannot be called ‘good’ unless it promotes just moral and economic relationships between its citizens” (121). This is precisely the purpose of government — to promote right order and peace. We can’t just dispense with politics because, “the fact that humans find their fulfillment in political community means that situating their own good with the good of the community as a whole is central to happiness” (125). We are not isolated individuals and can’t attain a good and complete life on our own.  

Our ultimate good, however, is God, not the political life. Everything — all of our choices, including economic and political ones — must be directed to our ultimate goal. There are not “two ends to human existence, the earthly and the heavenly … [T]here is only one end, the beatific vision” (162). In this way the Church informs our citizenship. Krom explains “how inadequate this human law is as a teacher in the virtues, for it is limited in scope to the prevention of those vices from which even the wicked can refrain, and thus leaves those who seek after perfect virtue to their own devices … [H]uman law is in need of a higher law to truly bring about a just community” (155). Unfortunately, we’re seeing that our society is no longer even trying to prevent serious vice. Catholics and all believers have an important role to play, because “the lack of religion in the citizenry leads it down the path of totalitarianism. It Is absolutely critical that a people maintain a strong commitment to a transcendent measure of the common good in order to protect the true flourishing of its members” (171). Krom’s important work on justice and charity can teach us how a Catholic can exercise a proper patriotism, a true love of country.