Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Why do you focus so much on abortion? We’re Catholics, and Catholics aren’t single-issue voters. Catholic social teaching is very complex and it can’t be broken down into one or two issues, and don’t you think you’re being cynical by focusing on issues that favor the Republican Party? The Church teaches that society should have a preferential option for the poor. Not only does the Church teach it, but this is the one social issue that Jesus himself spoke most strongly about. Respect for life is like a seamless garment, and that seamless garment includes respect for the poor.
Of course those who raise these criticisms are right, to some extent. The real problem lies in their failure to realize that the right to life is the foundation of all other rights. Any quest for a more just society that does not first and very strongly demand the right to life is doomed to failure because it lacks foundation. What happens if you build without a strong foundation? Jesus knew a little something about carpentry, and he concluded that when the rain falls, and the floods come, and the winds blow, that which lacks foundation will collapse completely (cf. Matthew 7:24-27).
So what happens to the poor while their advocates — many of whom are very well-meaning — ignore abortion? A form of cleansing, like ethnic cleansing. But since the poor cross ethnic lines, what should we call it? Class cleansing?