Many states allow early voting. This means that even if you do not have a reason why you cannot get to the polls on Election Day, you may vote before Election Day. Priests for Life has posted the regulations and dates that apply to each state. Visit priestsforlife.org and look for political responsibility.Why is it a good idea to vote before Election Day? Because we should not put off until tomorrow what we can do today. Every vote really does count, and when we wait until the last possible day to vote, we leave ourselves open to the chance that something will stand in our way — we may become ill, or have car trouble, or encounter a family problem, or bad weather, or just forget. Don’t let that happen! This year, vote early!
Each of us has but one vote. Yet we can all influence thousands of votes. And we should start with the people who need the least amount of urging. If you have friends who already agree with you on the key issues of the day, and who would probably support the candidates you support, please make sure that they do in fact intend to vote for that candidate. Some information from you, a friendly nudge, or perhaps a promise of assistance to get them to the polls can go a long way.
We should reach for the “low-hanging fruit.” If the same amount of energy by which we persuade one who disagrees with us can mobilize ten people who agree with us already, get the ten first; then come back for the rest.
One of the most striking, bold, and sobering paragraphs ever written about the impact of abortion on the common good is the 20th paragraph of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). It is a great antidote for the thinking that says we can elect a “pro-choice” candidate because “their other positions are good.” It’s easy to start counting the positions we think a candidate has “right” and see what candidate has the greater “sum” of right answers or “Catholic” answers. But that’s a very superficial and flawed way of doing moral analysis. It’s like saying to a supporter of terrorism, “I disagree with you on the one issue of terrorism, but what’s your health care plan?”
Paragraph 20 of Evangelium Vitae starts by showing the radical and practical impossibility of living with the implications of “pro-choice.” The same illusion that separates “choice” from the demands of respect for life is the illusion that makes us think we can separate other “rights” from the right to life. But human rights are integrally interconnected. Take away the basis for respecting life and you’ve taken away the basis for all human rights. As the Pope says, “At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining.”
The Pope then takes aim at the idea that if abortion has been legalized according to proper democratic procedures, then that’s all that matters. He says, “The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained …. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted?”
Along with this, he has some of the strongest words ever written about what happens when the state legalizes abortion: “In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the ‘common home’ where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members … When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun. To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.”
“The disintegration of the State itself…totalitarianism…the death of true freedom.” In other words, no “common good” can co-exist with legal abortion. The very foundations of civilization break down. It sure sounds like abortion is more than just one issue among many.
Election Day is right around the corner, and I’m motivated to vote and to influence many other votes. I’m motivated because voting is part of what I need to do to fulfill my life’s dream – a dream shared by many others – that abortion, the biggest holocaust the human family has ever known, will cease.
Some, even in the Church, don’t seem to get the fact that there’s no problem in society bigger than abortion. But it’s a fact nonetheless. Curiously, those who don’t seem to understand this tend to be the least willing to hear the descriptions of abortion or look at the pictures.
I’m motivated to vote, not because one election will end abortion, and certainly not because I expect our elected officials to be perfect or to do my work for me. The People of God have to do the work of ending abortion – providing alternatives, educating minds, changing hearts, changing laws. But part of that work is electing the people who will pose the least obstacle to that mission. We don’t elect people to do our work for us, but rather people who will let us do our own work. So often it’s a choice of the person who will do the least damage, or permit the fewer numbers of abortions. And to choose to limit evil is a good.
I’m motivated, because we’ve made progress. We have two new Justices on the Supreme Court who don’t believe in inventing new rights from “penumbras” – and just like in 2004, the Supreme Court is at stake again. The next President and Senate will move the Court in one direction or another.
We have also gained many new federal judges, who understand the limits of judicial authority. And we have new laws that bring us closer to the protection of the unborn, like the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the first ban on an abortion procedure since Roe vs. Wade, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
So now it’s a numbers game. We have to spend our time and energy not convincing the one stubborn person, but reminding the many who will listen, if we simply nudge them a little and tell them who the best candidates are. We should go for the “low-hanging fruit,” those easiest to mobilize. And we should vote early. Many states allow voting before Election Day. Let’s get others to vote early, so that unforeseen circumstances don’t stop them from voting later. Let’s help the people who may need a ride to the polls. Let’s get our churches to send out reminders to vote.
Let’s also donate to and volunteer for the candidate of our choice, and let our lawn signs and bumperstickers be seen. Let’s hand out literature, make phone calls, send emails, and put links on our websites to urge people to vote the right way.
And remember, polls don’t determine elections; the people who show up at the polling places do. Let’s bring them out!
I was delighted today to join pro-life people at the abortion mill in Toms River, NJ, as part of the 40 Days for Life observance. I spent the 9 to 10 am hour there, and the spirit of prayer was intense. Children were there with their parents and godparents. Many of the prayer warriors are EWTN watchers as well, and so they were very familiar with the Priests for Life mission and message.
Two litanies formed our hour of prayer. One was the Litany in Response to Abortion, which is part of our Priests for Life prayer booklet. The other one was a litany for women who have died from so-called “safe and legal” abortion. I read the names of 242 women slowly and solemnly, and after each name, the crowd prayed, “Lord, have mercy on her.” This list is just a fraction of the women who have been killed in this way. The abortion industry must be called to account for the deaths of these women they claim to serve and care about.
Praise the Lord for the many people responding to our call to come out and pray at the abortion mills during these 40 Days and throughout the year! I look forward to seeing many of you in your own communities.
Free Speech Trumps Pro-Abortion Censors
Staten Island, NY – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said today that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a lower court ruling allowing the issuance of “Choose Life” license plates in Arizona is a victory against censorship.
“Only a pro-abortion zealot would consider the words ‘Choose Life’ to be controversial,” stated Fr. Pavone. “Abortion profiteers and their political supporters are obviously threatened by the thought that someone, somewhere, sometime might choose an alternative to abortion. Now that the Arizona government’s pro-abortion censors have been rebuked by the courts for the last time, drivers can finally exercise their free speech rights and choose ‘Choose Life’ license plates.”
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.
I’m flying back from Seattle today, and had a great Mass for Life with the members of Legatus yesterday, at which I addressed in my homily the critical importance of next month’s elections. It was good to see the fervor and determination of so many of them for making sure that pro-life candidates are elected.
In one of the discussions I had with these business leaders, we talked about the relationship between the elections and mercy. Essentially, we are asking God for mercy on the nation when we pray for a good outcome of the elections. The US Bishops said in Living the Gospel of Life that we get the public officials we deserve. Yet we can pray, as we do in the First Eucharistic Prayer, “do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness.”
Today is the Feast of St. Faustina, to whom Jesus gave the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. He gave it to her specifically because the world needed to make reparation above all for the sin of abortion. She even felt the pains representing the women aborting their children. The pro-life movement has made the Chaplet, very appropriately, one of its key prayers. Let’s use it intensely in these final weeks before the election.
At the 2008 Legatus International Fall Summit, which I have been attending here in Seattle, the Cardinal O’Connor Pro-life Awards were presented on Friday night, October 3. Peggy Hartshorn, President of Heartbeat International, presented the awards to the following recipients: Sr. Paula Vandegaer, Chris and Joan (Andrews) Bell, and the Sisters of Life.
Sr. Paula is the Executive Director of International Life Services. Based in Los Angeles, she coordinates pregnancy centers and trains volunteers who devote themselves full-time to pro-life work. Sr. Paula has been doing this work for decades and is highly respected in the movement. She has an advanced training institute at which Priests for Life Associate Director Janet Morana spoke this past summer.
Chris and Joan Bell live in New Jersey. Chris runs the Good Counsel Homes, which take in moms and babies, no matter what challenges they are facing socially, physically, or emotionally. Joan (Andrews) Bell is best known for her heroic witness in the Rescue movement. For peaceful intervention to save babies, she spent some 6 years in jail, with over two years in solitary confinement.
The Sisters of Life were founded in the early 1990’s by Cardinal John O’Connor, Archbishop of New York. They have both a contemplative and active dimension to their community, and their full-time ministry is pro-life work.
They take a special fourth vow for the defense of human life.
Priests for Life congratulates these recipients, all of whom are friends and colleagues of ours, and thanks Legatus for recognizing the importance of their work and witness.
Fr. Frank and Peggy Hartshorn (l.), both previous recipients of the Cardinal O’Connor Pro-life Award, join this year’s recipients, Chris and Joan (Andrews) Bell and Sr. Paula Vandegaer (r.) at the Legatus Summit in Seattle.
Friends, this is a story we placed this morning on our Priests for Life website. Please learn more about Legatus and think of people in the business world who may be interested in it.
From October 2 to 5th, Fr. Frank Pavone is joining Catholic CEOs from around the nation in Seattle for a Summit of Legatus, the organization which was founded by Tom Monahan and which assists Catholic business leaders to live out their faith in the marketplace. Legatus has always been strongly committed to defending the right to life, and as he has done since 1994, Fr. Frank will share with the members some of the latest updates in the pro-life movement and encourage them in their own involvement in this greatest human rights cause of our time.
One of the arenas in which the Legatus members are urged to live their Catholic identity is in politics, and Fr. Frank will point out the crucial role that next month’s elections will play in the advancement of the cause of life.
Fr. Frank with John Hunt, Executive Director of Legatus, and his wife Kathy.