Another Pro-Life Value to Consider in the 2020 Election

Laura Peralta-Schulte
October 20, 2020

Pope Francis has urged Catholics like me to, “meddle in politics” and vote my conscience. The Catholic Church, in turn, is charged with helping me form a moral conscience, “in accordance with God’s truth”.[1] Under the auspice of pro-life teaching, however, many in the Church would make me believe that the only way I can vote in this Presidential election is for Donald Trump because of his stance on abortion, an, “intrinsic evil”.[2] As an immigration advocate, I have learned just how much intrinsic evil there is in the United States’ immigration policy, especially on our Southern border.

For decades, people have been crossing through the U.S. Southern border to seek a better life for themselves and their families. In 2019, U.S. apprehensions of migrants crossing at places other than legal points of entry reached a 13-year high. After the U.S. threatened sanctions, Mexico created stricter policies at its own Southern border and expanded the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) which allowed U.S. asylum seekers to be “returned” to Mexico to wait for their court date in the U.S.

As of November 2019, 56,000 asylum seekers, 16,000 of them children, have been sent back to Mexico. Since March, citing public health concerns from COVID-19, the U.S. has shut down the border with Mexico to everything except critical services, of which seeking asylum is apparently not, leaving people stranded often in makeshift camps. These precarious living situations leave migrants especially vulnerable to the spread of the virus. Children, who already lack adequate medical care and whose parents have reported issues from respiratory infections to communicable diseases, are particularly at-risk. Public health experts have also raised the alarm that these children could be at risk for long-term health effects from elevated, long-term stress.

Willfully sending people, including vulnerable groups like women and children into dangerous places without consistent access to safe spaces, sanitation, health, education, or food, is absolutely not in line with what it means to be pro-life.

Even though Catholics vote about a 50/50 split between Republican and Democratic candidates, there is growing pressure from church leaders, including numerous Bishops on Twitter and a nun who spoke at the Republican National Convention, that the only way to vote as a Catholic is for Donald Trump because he upholds pro-life values by not supporting abortion.[3] As a Catholic who works to advocate for federal policies in alignment with Catholic Social Justice, I know that there is no political party that perfectly encompasses pro-life values. However, those values should not be co-opted by people actively creating and enforcing policies that are against women’s and children’s health and safety.

Catholics should consider the intrinsic evil of the MPP as an urgent call of what it means to be pro-life in the upcoming election. Not only does Pope Francis call Catholics to view the poor and vulnerable among us as equally sacred to the unborn, but I believe we must honor the common good by valuing Black and brown lives, especially those of women and children, in our federal policies.[4]

There are many ways you can learn more about the Presidential candidates and their stance on the various pro-life issues. Take a look at NETWORK’s Equally Sacred Priorities for 2020 Voters. I, for one, have been talking with friends and family about what I’ve learned and the real impact we can make towards bettering people’s lives with our vote this November. I hope you’ll join me.


[1]  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. (2020). (p. 13). United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf

[2] Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. (2020). (p. 19). https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf

[3] Smith, G. (2020, September 15). 8 facts about Catholics and politics in the U.S. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/15/8-facts-about-catholics-and-politics-in-the-u-s/; Strickland, J. [@Bishopoftyler]. (2020, September 5). Tweets [Bishop J. Strickland]. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://twitter.com/Bishopoftyler/status/1302293048659935232.; Full Text: Sister Dede Byrne’s Speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention. (2020, August 27). National Catholic Register. https://www.ncregister.com/news/full-text-sister-dede-byrne-s-speech-at-the-2020-republican-national-convention-r4y14k2p

[4] Bergoglio, J. (2018, March 19). Gaudete et exsultate: Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world. The Vatican. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20180319_gaudete-et-exsultate.html

Republican National Convention. (2020, August 27). National Catholic Register. https://www.ncregister.com/news/full-text-sister-dede-byrne-s-speech-at-the-2020-republican-national-convention-r4y14k2p

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