Roundup: Why So Many “Pro-Life” Catholics Backed Obama

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Roundup: Why So Many “Pro-Life” Catholics Backed Obama

Brady Swenson

Exit polls show Obama winning the Catholic vote 53-45, in 2004 Kerry lost Catholics to Bush 52-47; Women gain seats in Congress and two strong advocates in the White House; Poll shows Filipinos broadly support teaching of family planning practices to students.

Why So Many "Pro-Life" Catholics Backed Obama

In addition to flipping several states from red to blue in yesterday’s election President-elect Barack Obama also flipped the Catholic vote from red to blue.  In 2004 President Bush won the vote of America’s Catholics 52-47 over Catholic Senator John Kerry.  Yesterday Obama won Catholic voters 53-45 over Senator John McCain.  Andrew Greeley of the Chicago Sun-Times offers an explanation of why Catholic voters swung to Obama:

It might have been that while the candidate did not reject abortion,
he supported most of the other Catholic positions on life, i.e. he
condemned unjust wars, the death penalty, torture, kidnapping, cruelty
to immigrants that his opponents implicitly support.

Some bishops and priests argue that abortion is such a horrible evil
that there can be no proportionate reason. That might be their opinion,
but it goes beyond Catholic ethical demands. Another — and similar —
stand might be that the Catholic voter would have to abstain from all
politics since there are very few political leaders who support the
whole list of Catholic life issues. Opposition to abortion does not by
itself exhaust the moral obligations of the Catholic social ethic.

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Obama may have also been helped by earning the endorsement of several Catholic "pro-life" leaders with a promise to work with those who would make abortion illegal to reduce abortion through social support policies for struggling families and single mothers, better sex education for students and improved access to contraception.  Perhaps the election of Obama will also prove to be the beginning of a new, more pragmatic, less divisive, discussion about a woman’s right to choose. Stephen Waldman of and a Wall Street Journal blogger has more on Obama’s success with religious voters and agrees that Obama’s emphasis on reducing abortion played an important role in garnering their support:

As the campaign went on it became clear that many moderate
evangelicals and Catholics agreed with Sen. Obama on the economy and
the Iraq war but couldn’t get past his consistently pro-choice views.
As conservatives hammered Sen. Obama on his opposition to the born
alive bill, he could see moderate evangelicals and possibly Catholics
slipping away. At the urging of progressive pro-life activists, the
campaign began talking about an “abortion reduction” agenda — helping
reduce unintended pregnancies through education and birth control, and
providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers to make it easier
for them to carry a baby to term. They included language in the Democratic platform suggesting as such, and Sen. Obama touted the idea in a few comments during debates. Dial-ometers soared when, during the third debate, he emphasized common ground on abortion and “sacred sex.”

As the election approached, antiabortion progressives ran radio and
TV ads pushing the idea that one could be pro-life and pro-Obama.



Women Gain Seats in Congress, Strong Advocate in White House

Women picked up seats in statehouses and on Capitol Hill in a sweeping election victory for Democrats that included a major upset in North Carolina. Advocates for women say they anticipate a new era for domestic programs in an Obama administration:

After eight years on the political sidelines, women’s rights
advocates cheered Tuesday as it became clear they will have a new ally
in the White House and more friends in Congress and the governors’
mansions next year.

In his historic quest for the presidency, Democrat Sen. Barack
Obama–the first African American to win a major-party presidential
nomination–prevailed over Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He
did so with 56 percent of the women’s vote and 49 percent of the men’s

"It’s a historic victory for women," said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner,
co-founder and executive director of MomsRising, an Internet-based
advocacy group that lobbies on behalf of mothers.

A staunch supporter of women’s rights, Obama will succeed President
George W. Bush, who has pushed policies promoted by fiscal and
religious conservatives such as tax cuts and opposition to same-sex
marriage, abortion and most methods of birth control. Pushed to the
side during Bush’s tenure were policies backed by groups that lobby on
behalf of women such as access to abortion and contraceptives, Title IX
and funds for federal programs that aid the poor, most of whom are

Obama will not be the only advocate for women in the White House, Joe Biden, creator and defender of the Violence Against Women Act, will also be a strong supporter of women.  

Female candidates also had a good night, picking up seats in such
states as North Carolina, where Democrat Bev Perdue will become the
state’s first female governor; in New Hampshire, where former
Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen ousted GOP Sen. John Sununu; and in
Maine, where GOP Sen. Susan Collins beat back a challenge from
Democratic Rep. Tom Allen.

The 2008 Election could also signal a bright future for women in American politics as two females made significant progress toward putting the first woman in the White House.  Senator Hillary Clinton narrowly lost the Democratic nomination contest to Obama and Governor Sarah Palin was the first woman nominated for Vice President in the long history of the Republican party.


Filipinos Back Family Planning Lessons

Filipinos have been fighting for legislation providing better access to family planning services and better sex education and now a new poll shows broad support for legislation that would add family planning practices to the sex education curriculum in the Philippines:

Three quarters of Filipino adults think the country’s younger
generation should learn about family planning, according to a poll by
Social Weather Stations. 76 per cent of respondents agree with a law
that would require the government to teach family planning to the

Currently, a Reproductive Health Bill is being debated in Congress. The
proposed legislation would promote information about family planning,
offer counseling, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted
diseases and treatment and prevention of infertility, education for the
youth and access to both natural and modern family planning methods—as
long as they are medically safe and legally permissible.