The months leading up to the last presidential election brought with them no shortage of discussion about whether a Catholic could, in good conscience, vote for a candidate who supported abortion. Among the arguments I heard in favor of voting for a “pro-choice” presidential candidate was the claim that the president has very little effect in the realm of abortion.  After all, abortion has been legal in the United States for well over 30 years, with both Republican and Democratic presidents in office. Recent pro-life presidents have not managed to overturn Roe v. Wade; in fact, the president’s views on abortion seem to have made very little real difference in past years. Ultimately, the president’s personal beliefs on abortion do not matter, so candidates who support abortion should not be disqualified for Catholic voters.

At first glance, this may seem to be true, but we must remember that Roe v. Wade is not a decision that will be overturned in a day. Rather than a mere court ruling, it has become an entire culture. Steps must be taken to erode this culture, and the president can make important progress in taking these steps.

After two years, what progress has President Obama made? What steps has he taken? Is he fostering a culture of life or a culture of death? An examination of his record over the last two years reveals just how much of a difference his presidency has made. In addition to the recent controversy surrounding the new health care bill and its potential to fund abortion, Obama has taken numerous concrete steps to further the abortion culture in America:

•    Within days of taking office, he issued a statement reaffirming his commitment to supporting “a woman’s right to choose” abortion.

•    During his first week, he announced an executive order to overturn the Mexico City Policy that had prevented taxpayer money from being used to perform or promote abortions overseas.

•    He has worked to overturn legal protections for medical workers who object to cooperating in abortions.

•    In his proposed 2010 budget, he eliminated all funding for abstinence-only education programs, a move so extreme that the Senate Finance Committee later voted to reinstate some of the funding.

•    He signed a bill ending a 13-year ban on taxpayer funding of abortion in Washington D.C.

•    He signed an executive order forcing taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research, lifting the ban on such funding that had previously been in place. He also rescinded a previous executive order to give taxpayer funding to the morally-acceptable alternative of adult stem cell research.

•    His administration has openly endorsed and even spent millions of dollars to support the adoption of a new constitution in Kenya that would legalize abortion.

•    He has appointed two pro-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. This is particularly important because Supreme Court appointments are not for a four or six year term, but for life. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will potentially serve as members of the highest court in the United States for decades to come, making many decisions that will bind an entire nation. The role of Supreme Court Justice today is an incredibly powerful role, one that can have a great impact in deciding the fate of controversial policies. Therefore, it is essential to have justices on the court who respect the dignity of human life.

The record shows that Obama has taken steps to move America further into a culture of death. His presidency truly has made an impact in the abortion debate. I say this not to point fingers at those who voted for Obama, but to inform readers, because there is another extremely important election coming up this year. More than 460 seats of Congress, in both the House of Representatives and Senate, are up for election this November. Furthermore, this election is the midterm election for Obama’s presidency. Midterm elections are sometimes considered a referendum on the current president’s performance, providing feedback and critiquing presidential policies and progress after two years.

Voters this fall will send a powerful message to the current administration – a message of either approval or disapproval. Voting for a strong array of pro-life candidates will proclaim to our nation’s politicians that America does not want a culture of abortion. Failing to do so will send the opposite message.

I strongly encourage you to vote this November. Let your voice be heard. We cannot be silent, and we cannot be passive. Vote pro-life this November and help show that Americans support life.