Texas Senate race sparks debate in pro-life community  

Beto O'Rourke campaigns in Texas. Credit: 1082492116 via Shutterstock.
Beto O'Rourke campaigns in Texas. Credit: 1082492116 via Shutterstock.

.- After a pro-life leader said she is voting for a pro-choice Senate candidate because she believes he will best advance the cause of life, another pro-life advocate rejected this approach to fighting abortion.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, said in an Oct. 31 column for the Dallas Morning News that she is voting this year for Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is challenging incumbent Republican Ted Cruz for his seat in the Senate. O’Rourke has gained traction in the normally red state, and polls show a tight race ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Currently a U.S. Representative, O’Rourke has said that he opposes efforts to limit abortion access. He is endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, which gave him a “100% pro-choice” rating last year, noting his opposition to more than a dozen pro-life measures during that time.

Herndon-De La Rosa said that despite his voting record, she believes O’Rourke’s cooperative approach in seeking common-ground solutions will do the most to advance the pro-life cause.

She described O’Rourke as a “different” kind of candidate who “talked about working with Republicans and independents alike.”

Dr. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said that he believes this line of thinking is “deeply flawed and very unfortunate.”

He told CNA that it is a “fallacy” to believe that voting for candidates who favor legal abortion will bring about an end to abortions.

In her Dallas Morning News column, Herndon-De La Rosa explained that she had long accepted the belief that being pro-life meant voting Republican.

“[F]or years I reluctantly supported candidates who talked about making the sand glow in other countries with bombs and who advocated taking children away from their mothers, simply because unlike us, they hadn't won the geographic lottery,” she said.

These votes often felt difficult for her as an independent who does not completely agree with either major political party, and as a “consistent life ethicist,” who opposes “all forms of violence against other human beings, including war, torture, the death penalty and abortion.” But she believed that compromise was necessary, because the right to life was so foundational.

However, Herndon-De La Rosa said the 2016 presidential election was eye-opening for her, showing her “just how deep the GOP had its hooks in the pro-life movement.” She stressed that “while I am 100 percent pro-life, I'm also 100 percent feminist, and I saw the way Trump treated women as an absolute deal-breaker.”

“I saw the way these politicians used unborn children's lives to get out the vote but then oftentimes forgot about those lives soon after,” she said. “I saw the way pro-lifers compromised so many of their own upstanding ethics and morals to elect a man thrice married, who bragged about his infidelities and predatory behavior. And why? So they could get their Supreme Court seats.”

She said the final straw was watching Republican Senator Susan Collins agree to vote in favor of confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh only when he said that Roe v. Wade was “settled law.”

This convinced Herndon-De La Rosa that abortion must be eradicated on a cultural, rather than legal, level – “by creating a post-Roe culture while Roe still stands.”

O’Rourke’s proposed policies and willingness to work across party lines, she said, will help address the factors that lead women to feel that they must choose abortion.

“Abortion becomes unnecessary when women have so much support from within their community that the one violent choice never even becomes an option in their minds,” Herndon-De La Rosa said. “Abortion becomes unthinkable when women of color realize that having their children will not cost them their own lives because we have men like O'Rourke actually addressing the disproportionate number of minorities and children dying during childbirth.”

However, Pojman countered that Texas already “provides a tremendous amount of help for pregnant women” and does much to offer alternatives to abortion.

The state has more than 200 pregnancy resource centers that offer free to help to women in need, he said, and some half of these centers receive state funding. In addition, the state’s social service network provides health care for more than half of the minors in Texas, and the majority of childbirths in Texas are funded by Medicaid.

Rather than advancing the pro-life movement, Pojman argued, “O’Rourke would be a disaster.”

“He has shown himself to be entirely hostile to protecting unborn children from abortion. He has voted to allow late abortions, he has voted to support tax funding for abortions. If he became senator and had his way, he would eliminate the Hyde Amendment, which has been demonstrated to have saved some 2 million babies from abortion since it was first implemented in the ‘70s.”

Texas Alliance for Life has enthusiastically endorsed Ted Cruz for Senate. Pojman pointed to Cruz’s consistent record of voting for pro-life measures, including a ban on late-term abortions and an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. bishops’ guide to political engagement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, stresses the importance of examining issues rather than voting automatically for any political party. The bishops emphasize the right to life as a foundational human right in evaluating candidates and issues.

“As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate's position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter's support,” the document says. “Yet if a candidate's position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”
 

Tags: Abortion, Pro-life, Catholic News, Senate, Ted Cruz, Beto O'Rourke