Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Help You Decide IV

On Abortion

First, let me possibly save you some time. If you believe that there’s only one way to stop women from having abortions and that that way is to elect a pro-life President who can appoint pro-life justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, you might as well stop reading now. I can’t help you.

If you think “I support a woman’s right to choose” means “I want to kill babies” or even “I don’t care if babies are killed,” I can save you time. There’s no sense reading what I have to say.

But if you’re pro-life, like I am, and you really want us to do whatever we can to stop women from aborting babies, we’re on the same page; read on.

Second, I’m ashamedly aware that one reason this abortion issue gets so thorny is that most of us who claim to be pro-life do absolutely NOTHING to stop women from aborting babies. So election day comes around and we think we’re DOING something by electing a pro-life President. See how effective we’ve been in the past eight years?

I am 100% pro-life/anti-abortion. So, what is our Christian pro-life obligation regarding a Presidential election? I think it is to elect the person with the best chance of stopping the most abortions. I KNOW we can do better than eight years of nothing.

Here’s the Obama argument as I see it. I base this argument on statements he has made consistently over the course of his campaign. I also hope it explains and reflects fairly his voting record. I’ll provide citations upon request, but for your one-stop shopping on this issue I recommend

1. Barack Obama says consistently “I don’t know anyone who is pro-abortion.” So he asks, “Since most Americans are against abortion, but choice is the law of the land, what can we do to make it easier for women to choose to bring their babies to term?” More below.

2. Obama says that liberals who gloss over the moral dimensions of abortion make a big mistake. Most women who have to make the moral, difficult, and personal abortion decision do not take it lightly. Obama himself talks of teaching his girls (in time) of the sacredness of sexuality, the morality of sexual decisions, the primacy of abstinence, and (eventually) the responsibility of birth control.

3. Because he believes this is a moral decision, he believes it should be left to a woman, her family, her pastoral advisors and her doctors. It should NOT be made by the government.

4. (Another way to say #3) He is supportive of a woman’s right to choose as reflected in Roe v. Wade.

Now my perspective:

1. I have to admit that I had to resolve the abortion issue before I could whole-heartedly support Sen. Obama for President. Obama’s voting record on abortion is indisputable and troubling. Too often the voting record is all we have to go on. So I understand that for many Americans who are trying to understand who Barack Obama is and where he stands, voting record is the most reliable indication.

But I am not most Americans. I have had a personal relationship with the man. I see my intelligent, good-hearted, Constitution-loving Christian brother voting in a way that I don’t agree with, and I have to ask “why?”

Thanks to the contentiousness of his opponents (and the process) and the conscientiousness of the press, both friend and foe, Obama has answered these questions over and over. That his opponents keep stirring the pot is no indication that he has provided inadequate answers. His answers ring true to the thoughtful, big-hearted, law-loving person I know. The clearest answers regarding abortion issues were given to the brave Cameron Strang at Relevant Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster.

Ever since that time, emails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.

2. I can’t make any sense out of Roe v. Wade. I will not lift a finger to support it. But neither will I generate any energy to try to elect a president who says he’s pro-life and who hopes to overturn Roe v. Wade.

First, I don’t believe this opportunity will come through the US President anytime soon. Consider the evidence not only of the past eight years, but of the past 28 years since abortion has been a factor in Presidential elections. Twenty of the years have been under Republican, pro-life Presidents. Seven of nine justices were appointed by Republican Presidents. Still, we have seen nary (did I say “nary”?) a crack in Roe v. Wade (thanks to Jon Trott for this observation). The Supreme Court is not ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. Neither is the nation.

Nor do I believe that that overturning would save babies. Certainly not very soon. Meanwhile, as by brothers and sisters note, babies are dying.

3. So does anyone have a plan to stop the killing? Barack Obama does. The fullest expression of that plan can be found (once again) at prolifeproobama.

A truncated version is reprinted here from the aforementioned Relevant Magazine article.

Strang: You’ve said you’re personally against abortion and would like to see a reduction in the number of abortions under your administration. So, as president, how would do you propose accomplishing that?

Obama: I think we know that abortions rise when unwanted pregnancies rise. So, if we are continuing what has been a promising trend in the reduction of teen pregnancies, through education and abstinence education giving good information to teenagers. That is important—emphasizing the sacredness of sexual behavior to our children. I think that’s something that we can encourage. I think encouraging adoptions in a significant way. I think the proper role of government. So there are ways that we can make a difference, and those are going to be things I focus on when I am president.

4. Finally I return to some of my opening comments: Saying I’m pro-choice does not kill babies any more than saying I’m pro-life saves babies. We act like we're picking our favorite sports team. Let's say I root for the Titans over the Colts. If the Titans win, I might feel like I did something, when my stance had absolutely nothing to do with the win!

We are used to politicians telling us their stances, and we vote accordingly. But Senator Obama seems more ready than others to tell us whatever we want to know about WHY he holds the stances he does or WHY he voted the way he did. You may not always agree with him, but you gotta love his transparency, his thoughtfulness, his compassion and his vision for using government to actually solve problems.

1 comment:

Mary Bernard said...

Oh, Tony. such a thoughtful, thoughtful post. I have said repeatedly that electing GWB for 8 years and two Supreme Court justice appointments has done NOTHING (that I know of) to overturn Roe v. Wade. I think you present and support your argument very well. Always enjoy your writing!!!