Robert P. George recently published a compelling, and somewhat lengthy, essay on Sen. Barack Obama’s “abortion extremism” at The Witherspoon Institute for Public Discourse.
He begins saying, “Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States,” and, “Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.” But there are Catholics and evangelicals who are Pro-Life and willing to vote for Obama. Many are even claiming that a vote for Obama is better for the pro-life point of view. So, “What’s going on here?”
The following three vignettes (see def. 3b) offer background for the following commentary. Take them as a setting for an answer of sorts. Each vignette has been proposed by folks I know from varying views on the issue. My intent in answering each one is to help give a consistent thrust of what I think is a biblical pro-life stance.
As Drew mentioned in his scathing rant about the idiotic Obama emails floating around the internet, we are not here to endorse candidates. However, we do find it helpful to critique what they are saying and to analyze their records on different issues. This is an effort to analyze the implications of abortion in view of Obama’s “abortion extremism.” Its topics are actually ranging but center on the issue on abortion. With that introductory matter taken care of, let’s turn to the vignettes.
It seems many Pro-Life Americans, including evangelicals and Catholics, are putting aside the abortion issue in order to focus more on economic and foreign policy issues. Issues like Roe v. Wade weren’t overturned with conservatives in office and it is likewise unlikely that it would be overturned if McCain were in office. Is this a bother?
Is the economy our end-all issue? Is health care?
I agree with that assessment of the current situation. That is really what concerns me. The issue at stake is whether those who say they are pro-life actually consider it an issue that takes some sort of precedence over other issues.
Is the economy our end-all issue? Is health care? These are definitely important issues. But I happen to think the issue of the dignity of human life is one of, if not the, top issue we should be concerned about–above our checking accounts, above our health care coverage. That of course is tempered by a comparison I make of abortion to slavery. It trumps slavery as the greatest assault to human dignity and life in American history–at the very least, in terms of those killed.
So that is my angle. Roe v. Wade is a court decision that will take longer to overturn but there are certain measures in place right now that help limit the number of abortions in America that Obama would like to erase.
The troubling thing remaining is a sense of cutting-our-losses-cutting-our-gains to put moral issues on the back burner as if they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I think George points this out convincingly in his essay.
Abortion should be a non-issue in this election. If you look at the 23 years of pro-life leaders in office since 1973, very little has been done to change things. So, conservatives should be blamed just as much as the liberals. The key to the issue is sex education to lower pregnancy rates. If you think about it, abortion rates are the same where abortions are legal and illegal. The only difference is less people die.
Is abortion a non-issue?
I first admit that the abortion topic is something that I believe is important and a fairly complicated issue when analyzing evidence and putting it in political clothing.
So how should your comment be answered? Is it a non-issue? This is something that shows whether it is a moral issue. If it is a moral issue, then yes, it is definitely an issue. If it is an issue which tax-payer dollars may be given to fund abortions when many would vehemently oppose it, then it is an issue. All of that may be at stake if the Hyde legislation (1976) were repealed and FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) passed. I think it is a big-leap for any evangelical to say that it is a non-issue. I also think it is for one to relegate it to a minor issue, but that seems to be something that is at stake with so many evangelicals and Catholics turning their support to Obama.
I think George convincingly answers the last statement:
“They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn. This is delusional.”
I do agree with you that neither party has done enough.
Sure, Christians should not turn a blind eye to the problem, but other issues should take precedence over abortion. Really, what has Bush done to change anything on the issue? Why make it a big deal in this election if nothing happens?
Priority for abortion among other issues?
I agree that Bush did not do enough. But to say that and then say that it should not take any sort of precedence over other issues is a non-sequitur response.
It does not necessarily follow that abortion rates have gone up due to any one thing. Planned Parenthood has shut down clinics over the past couple of years while selling more abortions (cf. 2004: 17 clinics closed and 20% more abortions). How? They have focused on urban communities for one. Why? That’s where the demand is.
I get that. But why are the abortion clinics still complaining that legislations like the Hyde Amendment are costing them money? Because they are. So just because abortion rates have gone up does not mean that they have gone up as high as they could. Obama’s position is extreme–there is no getting around that.
That does not mean that other issues don’t matter. They do. They are important and I expect the new President to take care to deal with them. Still it leaves a sick taste in my mouth to think that we could sit around twittling our thumbs in a country where it is legal to kill a baby in the womb.
Hopefully that helps clarify where I am coming from. I do care about the economy and our foreign policy. I agree that Bush did not do enough. McCain probably won’t either. He seems to think choosing Palin covers that, though Palin does seem to have a good stance on abortion (see Gov. Sarah Palin and her Son, Trig). But it does not follow to say that abortion should not be an issue because Bush failed.
Thanks for reading. More will follow shortly.