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Pro-life and Pro-Obama
This week my six year old daughter came home from school and said that a boy in her class told her that Barack Obama wants to kill babies. We explained to Emma that this was not true. No one wants to see more abortions being performed.
For too long, the Republican Party has used this issue to divide America and convince millions of people that they can never vote for a candidate who disagrees with them on this one issue. Many people have already made the case that it is possible to be pro-life and pro-Obama. Here are a few:
Frank Schaeffer - His father, Francis Schaeffer, played a big role in turning this into one of the central political and religious issues of the last three decades. Frank is still pro-life, but he supports Obama.
Douglas W. Kmiec - Kmiec worked in the Ronald Reagan White House, is a prominent Catholic and supports Barack Obama. His site lists some very important facts about abortion and the best ways to prevent it.
Nicholas P. Cafardi - A pro-life Catholic scholar who supports Obama.
Kyle Sterup - Kyle is a friend of mine from college and he is one of the most insightful Christians I know. He is pro-life and supports Obama.
So, if you like Obama but are not sure if you can vote for a candidate who wants to preserve the legality of abortion, the people I listed above (and many more) think you can. Read their words and see if you agree with them.
Here are a few observations that are shaping the way I think about this issue:
Abortion is just one issue. Even if it is a very important issue, should it override your agreement with Obama on several other issues?
I voted for George Bush in 2000 based mostly on my desire to see abortion outlawed. After eight years, two wars, a crippled economy, the erosion of our civil liberties and a drastic reduction in the public's trust of their government, abortion is still legal. How long will the Republican Party be given carte blanche by single issue voters?
The goal of the pro-life movement is to have Roe v. Wade overturned. Would that the end abortions in the United States? It would not. The issue would be left up to the states. By one estimate, only 16 states would outlaw abortion. Legal abortions would still be available to people who live in the other 34 states or who are able to travel. Let me say that again: Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion in America.
Even when abortion was illegal, women still had them. These illegal back alley abortions were often unsafe and led to fatal infections.
If you really want to prevent abortions, outlawing them is not the best method. The best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unintended pregnancies. Accurate sex education and available contraceptives do more to prevent abortions than the Supreme Court ever could.
Another way to prevent abortions is to reduce poverty. Study after study has shown that economic support significantly reduces the abortion rate. Obama's plan to help our nation's uninsured get health care will do more to prevent abortions than any of George Bush's policies have.
Much is made of the late-term procedure known as the partial birth abortion. This is a very rare procedure which accounts for 0.17% of the abortions performed in the United States. As he said in the last debate, Obama is in favor of banning the procedure as long as the law includes an exception for the life and health of the mother. A ban that did not include that exception would in some cases amount to a death sentence for both mother and child.
I understand that many people on both sides of the abortion issue feel very strongly about their opinion. Both sides should bear in mind that this is a very difficult issue. There is no clear answer to the question of when life begins. Science has not provided the answer. The Bible gives no clear teaching on the question. Religious leaders are divided. Ethicists are divided. The public is divided. We should all be careful of becoming so convinced that our position is right that we are willing to demonize those who disagree with us and ignore all other issues.
I do not agree with Barack Obama on every issue, but I do believe that he is the best person to lead our nation in these difficult times. Even if you disagree with his stance on the legality of abortion, I hope you will think about the best way to reduce abortions and about all the other issues that are facing our nation.
The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that – look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to – to reconcile the two views.
But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, “We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.”
Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation.
Barack Obama - 3rd Debate
Thank you for putting it better than I ever could.
I think of Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees: “You lay heavy burdens on the people, but you yourselves don’t lift a finger to help them.” Obama plus a Democratic Congress does make me a little nervous (nervous enough to vote for McCain, though? …that’s a tough one). But I think his stance on abortion is very good–better than most Republicans’.
Speaking of new studies, here’s a recent one by a Catholic group: http://go.sojo.net/ct/J1XV2v91oYuz/.
Danny, are you still pro-life? Why/why not? Did becoming an atheist change that, or change the reason for being pro-life?
I agree I don’t think Obama wants abortion anymore McCain does but there is different things to think about Okay rape I couldn’t say somebody should not get one I have no right, What about the quality of life later. Obama thinks about this to. Is that not also important.
Certainly Obama is pro-choice, and many pro-lifers are supporting him. However, the question of abortion still looms in American society. We can all agree that abortions are not good, and we should work to reduce them in any way that we can. Unfortunately, this is all we can agree on.
Therein lies the problem. It’s the philosophical difference between pro-life and pro-choice folks. Both believe that abortions are not good. Both Obama and McCain have both said that abortions are not good. However, pro-lifers go a step further and believe that abortion is not just “not good,” but a terrible evil.
Thus, the divide:
Pro-choice=Abortion is not good, but necessary
Pro-life=Abortion is evil, and never acceptable.
Now, where and when in American history can we find an issue that is so polarizing, that people on both sides are SO passionate about? Let’s see. Ahh…yes! A question that has been discussed on this site quite a bit. Slavery!
Danny, you seem to make fun of single issue voters…particularly the millions of anti-abortion folks who vote based on abortion alone. However, going along that line of thinking, we should make fun of those who were single issue voters back in the 1830s and 1840s…i.e. the abolitionist voters, who believed that slavery was a bane upon this planet, and pushed everything else aside to vote for the most anti-slavery candidate…admittedly hard to find sometimes.
Now, there are a LOT more Pro-life folks today (real numbers and per capita) than there were abolitionist folks in the 1830s and 1840s. However, the goals of both are still the same. For this next section of my comment, just use the word abortion or slavery interchangeably.
________ is absolutely horrible. ________ is not a matter of politics/policy or even the Constitution. ________ is a matter of human life and human rights. In 100 years, people will look back and judge America because they allowed ________ to go on for that long.
This is how anti-slavery and anti-abortion folks view themselves.
In both cases, actually, the Republican Party has generally been against both slavery and abortion, so there’s another connection, for the non-history buffs out there. In both times, the Republicans counted on those who were anti-slavery and anti-abortion, respectively.
So, to sum up:
For an abolitionist, slavery= evil. For a pro-lifer, abortion=evil.
For a pro-slavery person, slavery= necessary evil. For a pro-choicer, abortion= necessary evil.
This is why the issue is not going away. Much like slavery didn’t go away, abortion will not go away either. Simply because anti-slavery and anti-abortion folks are similar in one way: They are passionate about their view on human life and its value, whether it be enslaving or destroying an innocent human.
The real question I have is this:
Which is worse? Abortion or Slavery? Which is more evil? Equally evil?
I was going for the philosophical nature of the discussion as a whole.
Per your question though, Barack Obama has done a fantastic job of framing this issue to his advantage. He is a very good politician…but Stephen Douglas was also.
Will an Obama administration lessen the number of abortions in this country? I’m sure that’s possible. You make some good points. I think they could very well decrease, which we can agree is a very good thing. I would hope that abortions would decrease either under him or McCain.
Regarding alcohol, the 18th amendment was a disaster, because no one wanted to enforce it. Regarding slavery, the 13th amendment was a success, because the US Army enforced it. But still, despite the 13th amendment, there is still an underground sex slave system in America.
The point I was trying to make is this: If genocide is the only issue you care about, you vote for the candidate most likely to declare it evil, condemn it, make it illegal, destroy it, and do anything in his power to stop it…even if it’s unrealistic. Anti-slavery folk felt the same way about slavery. It was unrealistic to get rid of it as a whole at the beginning of the abolition movement, but they still tried.
Hard-core pro-lifers also view it in this way. Appeasement will not work for them. I think what hard-core pro-lifers are REALLY worried about, is that Obama will nominate a Roger Taney to the Supreme Court…someone who will say that the “evil” of abortion isn’t evil enough to be illegal…or even further that it is a positive good. (By the way, I never claimed which side, if any, I was on)
However, from the utopian standpoint, I suppose we can all agree that the world would be much better off without drugs, abortion, alcohol, and slavery. At least we all, liberal and conservative alike, have that in common. Unrealistic, yes…but at least we can dream.
I’ve thought a lot about my position on the abortion issue this election cycle (because I’m pretty sure I’ll be voting for Obama, the first pro-choice candidate I’ve ever supported).
I think, as much as people try to reframe the question as one of choice, it really comes down to your degree of certainty that life begins at the moment of conception. If you are fairly convinced that it does, then abortion is murder, and the state must try to protect the unborn against it (even though, of course, murders will still occur). Maybe if murder wasn’t illegal, vigilantism would make murder so unattractive that the actual number of killings would go down, but most agree that it’s better to live in a more ordered society in which the rule of law dispenses justice and protection.
That said, I agree with Danny that there are other pro-life issues which we must consider. If an Obama administration would better protect life (as I currently believe it would), then he’s the best choice. Roe Vs Wade would probably not be overturned under McCain, I doubt McCain could (or even really wants to) enact a federal ban on abortion (a separate action as Danny points out). But Obama seems more passionate about working for peace and justice (in the Old Testament rather than conservative Baptist sense) than McCain. Obama seems to me less likely to engage in unjust warfare. When I imagine “Acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly,” I can more easily imagine Obama rather than McCain. So, though I am more willing to assign personhood to the unborn than Obama seems to be, I believe he is ultimately the more “pro-life” candidate.
Sadly, Frank is not his father, whose legacy is better found in these words:
“Faithfulness to the Lordship of Christ means using the constitutional processes while we still have them. …. The Lordship of Christ means using these processes to speak and to act on the basis of the principles set forth in the Bible. …. We implore those of you who are Christians to exert all your influence to fight against the increasing loss of humanness–through legislation, social action, and other means at your disposal, both privately and publicly, individually and collectively, in all areas of your lives. …. On the basis of an unweakened Bible, we must teach and act, in our individual lives and as citizens, on the fact that every individual has unique value as made in the image of God. This is so from a child just conceived in the womb to the old with their last gasping breath and beyond . . . .”
C. Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, pgs. 132-34.