When a candidate for public office is wrong on abortion, he or she cannot be right on the other issues.
"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" (US Bishops, 1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n.23).
"Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (Pope John Paul II, 1988, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici), n.38).
Those are clear and strong words.
Why do the bishops say that when a public servant cannot stand up for the right to life, his stand for other human rights is "suspect?" When one says that people have a "right" to be safe, free, educated, and economically secure, on what basis do these rights exist? Are they human rights, that belong to the person simply because he or she is human, and are therefore beyond the authority of anyone to take away? Or are they "rights" granted by those in power?
These rights cannot possibly be human rights if life itself isn't a human right. And the public official who says abortion can be legal is saying that life itself is not a human right. This is because he or she is saying that some human beings (those in the womb) can be deprived of that right to life.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Vice-President of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, stated, "Without respect for life, society simply does not exist…all [other] rights presuppose the right to life. If the right to life is not defended, the defense of all these other rights is useless. It becomes a lie, because it would mean that the defense to the right to work, to society, etc. applies only to some, and not to all" (May 2004 interview with Priests for Life).
This is also why the Pope can call the outcry for human rights "false and illusory" without the right to life.
Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said "The Holy Father speaks of the protection of life as the fundamental realization and respect for human rights. Without that respect for the right to life, no other discussion of human rights can continue; it must be based upon the foundation of human dignity and the right to life" (May 2004 interview with Priests for Life).
In short, to allow legalized abortion is an attack on the entire moral order. If abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If it is wrong, civilization will not survive unless it is set right.