Catholics are once again the swing vote that has decided who will be the next President of the United States. Donald Trump has won voters who self-identify as Catholic 52% to 45%, reversing President Obama’s 2012 win. Among Catholics, Trump outperformed numerous past Republican presidential candidates.
Catholic voters in America have given Donald Trump both the presidency and a Republican-controlled Congress. But for pro-life Catholics, one question must be considered: is this the person we want to represent the pro-life movement?
As a college student, millennial, and devout Catholic, I take both my faith and the right to life very seriously. I don’t simply want abortion to be prohibited, but for all people to be supported and for their humanity to be affirmed, dignified, and upheld. I am pro-life for the whole life. This means standing against abortion, the death penalty, unjust wars, and euthanasia. It also means being in favor of a living wage, accessible and affordable healthcare (especially for mothers and their children in times of need), mandated paid maternity leave, and more funding for crisis pregnancy centers. Everything that society can do to protect and support pregnant mothers and their babies should be offered, because this commitment to life and human dignity is what will ultimately end a culture of assisted suicide, abortion, objectification, and xenophobia. This will bring about a genuine culture of life. These are all things I consider when I enter the voting booth.
Many of my friends who are devout Catholic millennials support these same values, and many struggled to determine how they would cast their ballots. Sadly, due to their care for the unborn child, many felt they had no choice but to vote for Donald Trump due to his newfound commitment to appointing judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Personally, I could not bring myself to vote for either major party candidate. I voted for a whole life write-in candidate. On election night, as my friends watched the results of the election pour in, we looked at each other in disbelief. Many who voted for Trump had thought they were making a protest vote, that he wouldn’t actually become president. But now, he is the President-elect of the United States.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, a strong opponent of abortion, has called Donald Trump both a “belligerent demagogue with an impulse control problem” and “an eccentric businessman of defective ethics whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president.”
So why then have so many Catholics entrusted Donald Trump, a thrice-married, loudmouth misogynist with carrying the torch of the pro-Life movement?
He’s a former supporter of abortion, even partial-birth abortion. He’s said inflammatory and demeaning remarks about immigrants, veterans of war, women, opposing candidates, and everyone in between. He’s called for the minimum wage to be lowered. He took out a full-page ad in 1989 calling for the death penalty for the perpetrators of the rape of a white jogger in Central Park. Five teenagers, ages 14 to 16 were arrested and convicted of the heinous crime. 30 years later, these five men would be exonerated, having never actually committed the crimes. In Donald Trump’s America, these five men would have been unjustly executed. Is this what we consider pro-life?
Not only has Trump deceived many pro-lifers, much of our pro-life leadership has also let us down. The National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, and Priests for Life all supported Donald Trump for President. They completely failed to stand up to his disgraceful behavior and inconsistent commitment to life.
What kind of leadership is this from pro-life organizations, who are supposed to uphold the dignity of the human person? Supporting a man whose words and actions time and time again have not upheld the values of truly being pro-life has cheapened and damaged our movement.
Therefore, it is time we called for a new and revitalized pro-life movement. It is time we set aside partisan differences and narrow approaches and return to the principles of “A New American Compact,” a bipartisan effort to take the pro-life movement in a better direction.
We need a movement that does not automatically correlate upholding the dignity of human life with laissez-faire economics–one that does not pit our commitment to the unborn against the defense of the poor, the migrant, the abused, and the marginalized of society. One that does not view the pro-life movement as belonging to a singular political party.
We must actively work to promote a culture of life within both political parties. That means promoting the lives of those who come to our country in need in the party that supports the deportation and fragmentation of millions of families across America, as well as promoting the dignity of the unborn child in the party that endorsed federally-funded abortion in its plank. Our tendency to set our Catholic worldview aside in exchange for a partisan framework has caused too many Catholic pro-lifers to ignore the reprehensible behavior of their preferred candidate.
We can’t accept the status quo. We must work to change our parties so that they will better reflect a whole life commitment to life and dignity. And we must not let Donald Trump become the face of the pro-life movement.
Christian Matozzo is a Senior Journalism Major at Temple University and the Pennsylvania State Chapter Coordinator of Democrats for Life of America.