Bush vs. Kerry: The Conscience Issues

Using Church documents, Catholic Answers has written a guide citing “Five Non-Negotiable Issues” for Catholic voters.

“These five current issues concern actions that are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted by the law,” says the guide. We used the guide as a starting point to compare each candidate's positions.

1. Abortion

The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is “never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it” (Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life, No. 73).

President Bush signed into law the partial-birth abortion ban and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and nominated several pro-life judges to the federal bench. He mentioned the importance of protecting the unborn in his convention speech.

Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has voted at least six times to keep partial-birth abortion legal. He voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. He voted at least 25 times in favor of using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. Kerry has vowed to keep pro-lifers out of judgeships — and the Supreme Court.

2. Euthanasia

“In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person” (Evangelium Vitae, No. 73).

President Bush's justice department challenged Oregon's assisted-suicide law in court.

John Kerry says he is personally opposed to assisted suicide but won't challenge Oregon or any other state's assisted-suicide laws.

3. Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

Human embryos are new lives from conception to eight weeks, with their own DNA, sex, life-expectancy — and right to life. “Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo” (Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family, No. 4). Recent scientific advances show that medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells backfire in frightening ways. At the same time, effective treatments have been developed by using morally obtained adult stem cells instead.

President Bush's embryonic stem-cell decision in August 2001 was criticized by many pro-life groups and praised by others. First Lady Laura Bush spoke at the GOP convention about the importance of respecting human life in stem-cell research.

John Kerry says he will end Bush's block on funding embryonic stem-cell research. Ron Reagan Jr. spoke at the Democratic convention in favor of embryonic stem-cell research.

4. Human Cloning

“Attempts … for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union” (Charter of the Rights of the Family, No. I:6). Human cloning also involves abortion because the “rejected” or “unsuccessful” embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.

President Bush has called human cloning “morally wrong” and called for a ban on all human cloning.

John Kerry voted against a ban on human cloning, and in 2004, he sponsored his own bill to make human cloning legal.

5. Homosexual “Marriage”

“When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, No. 10).

President Bush supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

President Kerry voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in the Senate and wouldn't vote to even allow a debate on the federal marriage amendment.