Catholics Who Voted for Biden: Time to Make Reparation

Faithful pro-life Catholics, whether Republican or Democrat or whatever political stripe, were treated to a sad spectacle last week. A potentially monumental victory for the long-suffering pro-life movement—a Texas bill banning abortions upon hearing an unborn baby’s heartbeat, which received crucial support by a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices—was denounced by a Catholic president vowing to launch the “whole of government” against it. 

That lifelong Catholic promises to enlist everything from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Justice Department “to see what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions.” He has placed his “best lawyers at the Justice Department” on the issue.

How sick and sorry. If only Joe Biden had been this proactive in Afghanistan, where the whole of government there was ceded to the Taliban. But when it comes to a landmark effort to reduce abortions in America, Joe Biden is rapidly assembling the full force of the federal government. He is commander-in-chief: staunch, steadfast, alert, aggressive, undaunted, ready to mount an offensive. He will not be deterred.

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The pro-life movement has fought decades for a victory like this, and now a Catholic president promises to do all he can to reverse it. Breathtaking.

Particularly notable, of the five Supreme Court justices who allowed this breakthrough, three were appointed by President Donald Trump: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. It must be stated unequivocally: had Hillary Clinton been elected president rather than Donald Trump in 2016, this huge victory would not have happened. 

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2016 (I most certainly didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either) because I suspected he was conning the public when he claimed to be pro-life; the libertine, playboy, billionaire New Yorker had been pro-choice for decades prior. When Trump, on the campaign trail, vowed to appoint pro-life judges, I found it hard to swallow. Trump would get four years to prove me wrong as president, and he sure did. When it came to court picks and policy generally, he became our most pro-life president ever. Of this, there is no question.

In 2020, many pro-lifers, including many pro-life Republicans and many pro-life Catholics (Republican or Democrat) did not like Donald Trump for a myriad of reasons and thus voted for Joe Biden. They helped make the election of Biden possible. Biden, as a senator, had once been not terrible on the abortion issue. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t awful. At least he supported the Hyde Amendment, and had for 40 years. But by 2019, he flipped even on Hyde.

Biden staged his Hyde reversal in Atlanta in June 2019, hideously arguing the need to ensure that “women of color” get free abortions (imagine if Donald Trump had taken such a position). He cowardly buckled to pressure from radical feminists and particularly from two Democrat presidential candidates: a sobbing Elizabeth Warren and a scowling Kamala Harris. We had hoped his profile of cowardice was mere temporary political spinelessness. Perhaps he would grow a spine once elected, retreating to moderation. Not at all. 

Biden lurched leftward throughout 2019 and 2020 to the point that, by November 2020, a pro-life Catholic could not in good conscience justify voting for him. Sure, such a pro-life Catholic might not like Donald Trump and couldn’t muster the will to pull the lever for him either. But if the pro-life issue mattered to you and was genuinely the non-negotiable, top-priority issue that it should be for a faithful Catholic, then you could not defend casting a ballot for Biden. What he was intending to do for abortion, and the positions he had already adopted, was too much—morally unacceptable. Thereafter, you could hope and pray that as president he wouldn’t be as awful as his statements suggested.

Well, since placing his hand on that Bible and swearing the oath of office on January 20, 2021, Biden has been that awful and worse. And last week, he staked an especially egregious stance for a Catholic, least of all for the Catholic leader of the free world. To repeat: the “whole of government.” Wow.

We know where this leaves Joe Biden. It leaves him in a dark place. But where does it leave those pro-life Catholics (as well as committed pro-life Protestants) who voted for him? 

It leaves them with a serious responsibility. They need to make reparation for their vote that made possible Biden’s reprehensible positions on abortion. They cannot blithely sit back making excuses for what he’s doing, shrug, or say that at least Biden doesn’t send out mean Tweets like Trump did. They need to call the White House, write letters, contact Congress, go to social media, and simply do something. They need to help ameliorate a situation they helped make possible.

Do I think they’ll do this? No, I don’t. I say that, regrettably, from experience. I’ve advised this same response for decades to pro-life Catholic Democrats who reflexively voted for pro-choice Democrats strictly because they had a “D” in front of their party affiliation. I’ve seen it again and again, from Catholic grandmas to Catholic union workers. They were pro-life on Sunday, but voted for the pro-choicer on Tuesday. 

I had many a conversation pleading with them to use their voice to keep their beloved Democratic Party from shifting further to the extreme. They typically gave me a blank stare or barked something about “rich” Republicans. As they did, their party moved to a point where you can count on one hand the number of pro-life Democrats in Congress. They aided and abetted that. 

In the early 1970s, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were evenly split on abortion. Even Ted Kennedy was pro-life, as had been his brothers, Robert and John—that is, JFK, the only previous Catholic president. John F. Kennedy, as a Catholic president, did not disgrace the pro-life cause or humiliate his Roman Catholic Church on the life-and-death matter of abortion.

Joe Biden, to the contrary, has done just that. His pro-life witness is a humiliation to his Church. It is a scandal. His pledge to throw the entirety of the federal government against a heartbeat bill should make every pro-life Catholic cringe. It begs the bishops to deny him the Eucharist. Cardinal Wilton Gregory has been left no other option by Biden himself. 

(A student told me last week that politicians like Biden and the Church’s refusal to stop them is the reason his family left the Catholic Church.) But that’s another matter, for now.

My focus here is on the pro-life Catholics who voted for Joe Biden. You need to step up and hold your guy accountable. You need to make amends. You need to try to help fix this, for the good of your Church, your country, and first and foremost for the unborn. Silently accepting this affront is not an option. If you do nothing, you will only make the situation—and your Catholic president—worse.

And really, why wouldn’t you do something?

[Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]


  • Paul Kengor

    Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of the Center for Vision and Values. He is the author, most recently, of The Devil and Karl Marx (TAN Books, 2020).

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