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Conscience Magazine

Deeper Meaning: Catholics Voting their Conscience Across Generations

By Claire Romaine May 6, 2021

WITH EXIT POLLING Indicating 56% of Catholics support legalized abortion, “How Catholics Voted” (Dec. 18, 2020) was an energizing piece describing the decisions of American Catholics in the 2020 election.

Only a year ago, I would not have believed this statistic. Based on my reflections as a woman and a medical student, I became pro-choice. Seeing Catholics holding 40 Days for Life protests outside health care facilities, I avoided this taboo subject with my Catholic family and friends, assuming they too held the same beliefs.

But with this election, like many Americans, I felt it my responsibility to finally begin discussing difficult issues with the people I love.

One day this summer, as my grandmother and I were Face Timing while hundreds of miles apart, she asked me how my day had been.

I took a deep breath. “Well, I was actually volunteering at the abortion clinic today. I know that might upset you. I still consider myself to be Catholic, but I think there is space for me to be pro-choice, too. It’s really important to help people access the health care that they need.”

I was shocked to hear my grandmother giggle. “Oh sweets … you think I haven’t been thinking about this since the ’50s?”

Since that moment, our relationship has deepened immensely. My grandmother texts me prayers for social justice, yard signs that read “Trump hates Pierogis” and pictures of the blanket she’s sewing to send to Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb’s new baby (you really have to give Lamb credit for mobilizing Pennsylvania’s little old Polish ladies this November). In my grandmother I see a woman who has grown closer to God over a lifetime of questioning and really praying about the teachings of the church.

Frequently, decisions Catholics make about reproductive health care are determined in the quiet of personal conversations with God or in the privacy of the ballot box.

This year, I’ve come out as pro-choice to my Catholic friends, and I’ve come out as Catholic to my pro-choice friends. Doing so, I’ve found deeper meaning in both communities as a result. Only by being truthful to our conscience and visible to our neighbors will we be able to mold a better church.

Claire Romaine

Medical student at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and an abortion clinic escort.