But the single issue charge is usually leveled against those who will vote for a candidate solely because he or she is pro-life. I believe there are some issues which are so fundamental and underlie a deeper moral and philosophical worldview that they should be viewed as nonnegotiables. That's the case with the life issue.
In 1998 the American Catholic bishops came out with a statement, Living the Gospel of Life, which articulates why abortion is so fundamental.
Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues "seeking to protect human life and promote human dignity from the inception of life to its final moment."9 Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the "temple of the Holy Spirit" -- the living house of God -- then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person's most fundamental right -- the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights.As they say, "All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundation."
Frankly, a candidate's view of life usually reflects on other positions they hold on a wide variety of issues from other moral issues, parental rights, education, family to the role of the state.
So knowing where a candidate is on abortion is good starting point for understanding where the candidate will be on other issues.
An issue closely related to abortion is marriage. It too is a "life" issue because from the institution of marriage issues life, the next generation. It too in my mind is a nonnegotiable.
It's encouraging to see Catholic bishops speaking out more forcefully on the importance of abortion in the public square.