Is it sinful to shop at places that support abortion?

In recent years, companies have become more and more vocal about politics and social justice issues, taking vocal stances on things like abortion and gay marriage. Rather than simply serving customers, these corporations are getting involved in lawsuits or political campaigns and donating to organizations that support their political views. So, what are we to do when the places we shop are so vocal about their support for causes that contradict our Catholic Faith and morals?

Marie from Arizona was concerned after she learned that many of the stores she frequents directly or indirectly (through other charitable organizations) support Planned Parenthood. She asked Patrick Madrid what he thought about shopping at those stores.

“There are things that we, by necessity, cooperate with or in that … there’s some negative act, some immoral act that’s taking place that we can’t help participating in simply because when you buy a product from a company that may donate overtly or covertly to Planned Parenthood, as an example, in some cases you just can’t help it. You certainly don’t intend it, so your intention is important. You’re not intending to assist or aid and abet this type of immoral behavior. And your participation is so remote that you’re not really participating in any substantial way, you’re just kind of helpless. You have to buy food; you have to get on airplanes to go places; you have to shop; you have to buy clothing and all the other things. So many companies are tied in with this that you’re not doing anything immoral—that’s the key—if you’re buying groceries or getting gasoline,” explained Madrid.

That’s not to say that you can’t do anything about it. “On the other hand, if you see an opportunity where you know the place where you buy your coffee or the airline that you fly on, if you realize that you can do something—you can send a message by not patronizing that company—that’s always a good thing to do. But you’re not obliged to do it under pain of sin because you’re not doing anything immoral yourself by that remote participation.”

Even with Patrick’s advice, Marie couldn’t shake that feeling of guilt about spending a lot of money on groceries at these stores.

“Look at it this way—if you find that you don’t have much of a choice or because of how busy you are you need to stop into the grocery store and you’re going to buy something, the fact that that grocery store company might donate money down the pipeline a ways to Planned Parenthood does not involve you personally in their sin,” said Madrid. He says that if Marie chooses not to shop there because of the company’s immoral behavior, that might be good to do, but she wouldn’t be committing a sin for buying groceries.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.