Recently there has been much controversy and misunderstanding in the United States about the position of certain Catholic politicians who profess to be believing Christians and yet defend the right of others to abortion within the limits of the law. Unfortunately there is too little awareness of the rights and responsibilities of all individuals to follow their consciences, even when they are in error on such profound ethical issues as life and death. This essay explores the theological and philosophical tradition, which affirms the binding force of conscience in error, indeed before God. It also examines many of the formal pronouncements of the Church on the sacredness of life while it considers in detail several instances in history and in the current situations where the failure to respect the legitimate claims of conscience has rendered less effective the Catholic Church’s defense of life at its earliest manifestations. Proclaiming and condemning, necessary as the might be, are no substitute for effective teaching. This failure also impedes the efforts of those who would work diligently to save the lives of the unborn in cooperation with others who, in good conscience, do not agree totally with the teaching of the Church and who reserve the individual right to form their own consciences according to their better judgment and their actual experience.