Every presidential election, abortion becomes a tense issue and I suspect that will never change. Let me first say I respect those whose commitment to the unborn extends beyond the election rhetoric. I have a friend whose life long calling and job is to fight for the unborn. Unlike her, I confess that while I am Pro-Life and against abortion, I am more talk than walk, more preach than do, more blog than [can't find a good word here]. But I still struggle with it. While I was genuine in my quote in Sojourners that
“I don’t want to be defined by one or two issues”
I still care much about those one or two issues. While I can’t honestly come to agree that abortion is the greatest moral issue of our day as some are proned to say, I know that God cares immensely for the unborn and thus, we must care as well. God also cares for the born and thus my “womb to tomb” ethic of pro-life.
Couple people [I know of] left our church because they disagreed with my view on abortion and I suspect that it may be possible that couple more may leave after they read this. Like most Christians I know, I am against abortion. However, I just do not believe we can legislate it. Without going into all the details, the layers over abortion is so complex that even after extensive research, I can’t understand how a country like the United States can enforce abortion and pay for the enforcement – if it were to be turned illegal. Furthermore, I think we are fooling ourselves if we think abortion rates will be reduced significantly if Roe v. Wade was overturned. I can certainly be wrong. Rather than legislating it, I wonder how abortions can be reduced by speaking and appealing to the Heart and Soul of a person and to make all necessary provisions if a person decides to have that baby. In short, can we maintain choice but do all that we can to preserve and ensure the life of an unborn? This is where most of us fall short.
I want to share with my readers three posts that I’ve read in recent weeks that speak on the topic of life, abortion, and pro-life. This is going to be a long post because I am simply re-posting these three entries from three different people with three different views: Melissa [from Quest Church], Randy Alcorn [Eternal Perspectives] and Frank Schaeffer [author, speaker, and son of Francis Schaeffer]. I’ve chosen to post all their entries rather than only links in hopes that it would encourage you to read all three without clicking anything. Anyone that reads the entire post gets a prize.
Here’s Melissa with the quote that I won’t soon forget: “I have yet to find a political party that cares about all dead babies, rather than just the dead babies in their partisan count. Until I do, I’m stuck reading the voters’ pamphlet, looking online, and trying to chose the least death-filled candidate I can find.” Here are her thoughts:
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me he votes party-line republican because democrats don’t care about “moral issues” like dead babies. He equates being pro-life with being republican, and sees abortion as the only “pro-life” issue.
It made me mad. It made me so mad, I wanted to start throwing dead babies at him. I decided to go on the internet and find some dead babies to throw.
In 2005, the US infant mortality was 6.86 deaths per 1,000 births. The rate for non-Hispanic black mothers was 13.63. The rate for white mothers was 5.73. That’s pretty bad for an industrialized nation. It also shows some nasty nasty racial differences.
In the 2008 UNICEF “State of the Children” report, the United States ranked 151st out of 189 in under-five mortality rankings. For the richest nation in the world, that’s awful! You might even say it’s immoral.
Ways to prevent infant mortality: (btw – all of these solutions cost $$$)
- provide prenatal and childhood healthcare through government programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP (democrats win)
- promote healthy choices for pregnant women and mothers (public awareness campaigns, reducing mother-child HIV transmission, etc)
- reduce teen pregnancies (birth control, sex ed, fund public education) (democrats win)
- promote research to reduce infant mortality (more education funding… dems, obviously).
To clumsily sum-up: live-born babies in the US are dying because they don’t have access to healthcare and their mothers are poor and under-educated. They are also dying because our country still suffers from racism. There are dead babies in every politician’s closet.
Now we have republicans throwing unborn dead babies at the democrats, and democrats throwing live-born dead babies at republicans.
Do we credit republicans with “standing against abortion”, even though the stand costs only words (as opposed to spending real money) and doesn’t prevent babies from dying? Talk is cheap, and I hold no hope for Roe vs. Wade being reversed in my lifetime. It’s a battle of “the principle of the thing” at this point, rather than fighting for babies we can actually save. How many points for effect-less principles? (And how many points deducted for pointless wars?)
Do we credit democrats with the fewer, and un-tally-able live-born babies who stay alive due to socially-conscious policies? At least those babies are here. What about the babies who weren’t conceived, due to increased access to birth control? Do those babies outweigh the 1,287,000 babies who won’t even be born this year?
Can’t we agree that ALL dead babies are bad? Don’t be silly, Melissa. That wouldn’t leave any dead babies to throw at political opponents. We prefer to squabble over which dead babies are worst.
Yes, I care about dead babies. I care about the unborn dead babies, and the still-born dead babies, and the live-born dead babies. I have yet to find a political party that cares about all dead babies, rather than just the dead babies in their partisan count. Until I do, I’m stuck reading the voters’ pamphlet, looking online, and trying to chose the least death-filled candidate I can find.
Neither of our political parties have a monopoly on morality. I can tell because there are too many dead babies lying around. [original post]
Randy Alcorn – author, blogger, and teacher – on Not Cool: Obama’s Pro-Abortion Stance, and Christians Enabling him.
A year and a half ago, when I first heard about Barack Obama, I got excited. I really wanted to support him. An evangelical Christian told me Obama was prolife. I didn’t care that Obama was a Democrat. I wanted a pro-life, pro-environment, pro-racial equality president who took seriously our need to care for the poor and defend the needy.
Granted, I also wanted someone who wasn’t a New Age anti-industry activist with a “Meat is Murder” bumper sticker. I wanted someone who is committed to national defense, but knows when not to go on offense. I wanted someone who doesn’t hear every Douglas fir screaming when it’s cut down.
But, frankly, I relished the opportunity to show I wasn’t a lockstep Republican. I was, and still am, tired of the Pat Robertson sort of Republicanism that supported proabortion-Republican-who-publicly-cheated-on-his-wife Rudy Giuliani because he’s the only guy who could beat Hillary. (This was a non-prophetic endorsement on too many levels to count.)
That Barack Obama is an African-American was a real plus to me, and not for superficial reasons. I believed it could help further the vision of Martin Luther King in my favorite speech of the modern era, in which he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I get tears in my eyes just hearing that speech in my head.
I knew from the first time I heard him speak that Obama was cool. And if the candidate I supported, for reasons of substance, also happened to be cool, that would be a nice plus. I coach high school tennis, and I like it when the kids like me. And hey, my generation invented the word cool! (Of course it also invented the word groovy, but….).
Then the sad day came. I checked out Obama’s actual position on abortion and I was demoralized. I found that in every single vote related to the issue he’s favored abortion, its legality and even the killing of children who survive abortion.
But Obama is savvy. He wants to attract young voters, including young evangelical Christians who are sort-of-prolife. He knows to say that he favors reducing or limiting abortions. Which is like limiting rather than criminalizing murder and rape and kidnapping and slavery. A candidate could say “I’m personally opposed to rape,” while he has a 100% voting record favoring the legality of rape. And he could say he favors limiting or reducing the number of rapes. But if he actually supports the legality of the hideous crime of rape, discerning people would see through his rhetoric of rape-reduction.
When I discovered Obama was an all-out defender of legalized child-killing, I was disappointed beyond words. And I knew that in the next election, I was not going to get to be cool.
Well, here we are, and I have been asked what I think about the evangelical brothers and sisters who support Obama despite his uncompromising pro-choice stance. I have specifically been asked about Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, because Don prayed at the Democratic Convention and has been widely quoted as a supporter of Obama.
On a previous blog I wrote about Obama and McCain, Leanne left in her comment a link to an interview with Don Miller, concerning his support for Barack Obama. (I’m glad she did.) I recommend that you hear directly from Don, who is prolife. Perhaps you should read that interview now so you really hear what he’s saying.
I have hesitated to say anything publicly, but there’s so much conversation that has been generated by Don’s endorsement of Obama, I think I need to. By the way, as soon as I post this, I’m going to send a link to this blog to Don to tell him if he wants to respond I’ll publish anything he has to say in a follow-up blog. (This is the same morning I posted this blog, and I just got an email response from Don; I’ve just deleted a few things that he thought were unfair, though my overall thoughts remain the same.)
First, Don is a friend of mine, and a good brother. He is sharp, kind-hearted, interesting and genuinely funny. He is also sincere. I enjoy hanging out with him, though I don’t get to as much as I’d like, four times I think in the last couple of years. By the way, I was one of the pastors at (and am still part of) the church in the suburbs he went to, which he says in Blue Like Jazz was like “going to church at The GAP.” I got a good laugh out of that and many other things he said.
A while ago, Don and I had coffee (something we’re one on) and talked about things mostly that we agreed about, and some on which we disagreed. You can disagree and still be friends and brothers and Christ-followers, you know.
Don and I agreed that day at Starbucks that many Republican Christians have been used by the Republican Party. We agree that there are other important issues besides abortion and homosexual marriage. (Again, I repeat, Don is not proabortion, he is prolife; he says he has stated his disagreement with Obama on this issue, and I believe him.) Among those common concerns we have are racial justice and concern for the poor, and stewarding the environment. Of course, not all with the same concerns agree on which programs and policies are, in the long run, most helpful in furthering these righteous causes.
Don and I agreed that day that Christians should be first and foremost followers of Jesus, not political parties.
I went on record long ago as being unwilling to vote for a Republican nominee if he was not willing to stand up for the right to life of innocent children. (Don tells me that he too doesn’t always vote with his party.) The prolife statement in the Republican platform is probably the most God-honoring thing it says, and if there’s a Republican politician who doesn’t hold to it, as Senator Bob Packwood didn’t here in Oregon, there is no way I’ll ever vote for him. Packwood never got my vote even though some Christian Republicans told me I should support him because he was conservative, at least until he was exposed for his sexual conduct. (Click here to compare what the Republican and Democratic Party platforms have to say about abortion.)
John McCain wasn’t my first choice for president. But at least McCain’s a hero, he suffered for his country and fellow soldiers. And at least he thinks innocent children shouldn’t be slaughtered, and has consistently voted that way. And he’s chosen a running mate who not only professes to be prolife but lived it out by valuing a precious Down Syndrome child that 80% of people would have aborted. McCain and Palin are far from perfect. But I believe they would honestly stick up for the most oppressed and violated people group in this nation, unborn children.
Of course, these days it’s especially not cool to support a Republican, even if he would defend innocent children, because Republicans are part of the party of George Bush, someone who is hated by cool people. (Nobody mentions that the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, that opposed slavery; they were hated for that too.)
I am deeply concerned about the one, two or possibly three Supreme Court justices to be appointed in the next presidential term. If you listen to the candidates, it’s obvious that McCain/Palin would make a concerted effort to choose justices likely to reverse Roe v. Wade and it is equally obvious that Obama/Biden would choose justices most likely to uphold Roe v. Wade.
So, does God care about who his children vote for? In many cases, with not much difference between them, I doubt it. But here’s what he says about the needy and afflicted who have no one to help them and are on the brink of death:
“For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” (Psalm 72:12-14)
The blood of weak and needy unborn children is precious in God’s sight. Please don’t tell me abortion isn’t the only issue. Of course it isn’t. Treatment of the Jews wasn’t the only issue in 1940 Germany. Buying, selling and owning black people wasn’t the only issue in the United States of 1850. Nonetheless, both were the dominant moral issues of their day. Make no mistake about it. In our own day if we support a candidate who defends abortion, who is dedicated to that cause, we are supporting the killing of children. Yes, even if he’s the coolest candidate to come along in decades.
We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ for our decisions, and a vote is a decision in which we assume responsibility for the known beliefs and moral positions of the candidate.
This is not speculation, it is not a spin, it is demonstrable fact: Barack Obama IS committed to continuing the legalized killing of unborn children in this country.
Some Christians claim otherwise. But in his July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Obama said,
“We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when— without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country. . . . I have worked on this issue for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. . . So, you know where I stand. . . The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
If you don’t know about the Freedom of Choice Act, it was written by the most radical proabortion activists because they saw informed consent and parental consent laws being passed at the state level. They wanted something powerful that would dismantle anything that could serve to reduce abortions through requiring that people be told the truth before an abortion or before their sixteen year old, who can’t be given an aspirin without their permission, can have an abortion.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. Obama standing in front of them and promising he’s 100% on their side is the equivalent of a presidential candidate 160 years ago addressing an assembly of the owners of the slave ships, and saying, “If you elect me, the first thing I will do is sign an act that will insure slaves won’t be freed, and that nullifies any and all voter-approved state legislation that restricts slavery.” (And sadly, yes, even hearing this, some Christians would have campaigned for and voted for him.)
Now, “first thing” means first thing, right? So before helping the poor and protecting the environment and addressing the economy and national defense, what is President Obama going do? He’s going to assure that abortion stays legal and that the numbers are NOT reduced, by signing an act that will devastate decades of work at the state level by the prolife movement. Requirements of parental notification and informed consent and bans on partial birth abortions? History, if Obama has his way.
When Obama made this promise, he was either lying or telling the truth. If he was lying, he has a serious character problem. If we can’t trust him to do this, why trust him to follow through on any other promise, including those for which evangelicals are supporting him?
Ironically, however, if Obama was not lying, then he has a far worse character problem. Why? Because he is committing himself to oppose the rights of unborn children to live. I would rather he be a liar than that he be the defender of the killing of weak and vulnerable children, the orphans and fatherless.
I think he is sincere and likable, but on this matter, a matter of enormous significance, it is no exaggeration to say he is standing in defiance of the Creator. (A Creator whose blessing we should not dare ask if we defend the legalized killing of the children He creates.)
It is certainly a bad thing to promise something good, then not carry out your promise, as some Republican politicians have done in the prolife arena. (But though I don’t always agree with him, George Bush—dare I even bring up his name?—did appoint two Supreme Court judges who have shown a respect for prolife issues.)
But it is even worse to promise something bad, something that is in fact evil—the furthering of the shedding of innocent blood—and then keep your promise.
We may want to show the world that we Christians are cool enough to support the coolest political candidate who’s come along in decades. I really wanted to. But I just can’t get past child-killing. That’s a price for coolness that’s just too high.
Frank Schaeffer’s post on Huffington Post:
Dear Republican and Pro-Life Friends,
Thanks for the spittle-flecked emails as well as for the polite queries. Yes, I am aware Obama is pro-choice. Yes, I’m still pro-life. I also believe that with Obama in the White House that there will be less abortions in America than with the Republicans in power.
As you know I was a lifelong Republican until I reregistered as an Independent in 2006, after I just couldn’t take the Rove brigade’s dirty tricks, lies and slime any longer. When I worked to get John McCain nominated in 2000 I went on many conservative and religious radio shows to plead his cause. I started edging away from the party after seeing the filth the Bush crew got away with.
I know rather a lot about the politics of the “life issues.” And I know you know that is true because you are calling me a traitor for supporting Senator Obama because of my leadership in the early stages of the pro-life movement.
You also know that without my late Evangelical leader father Francis Schaeffer’s and my work (teamed up with C. Everett Koop) there would have been no Evangelical/Republican pro-life movement as it emerged in the mid 1970s. And on a personal note, having gotten my girlfriend pregnant when we were teens, I also know a little about the heartache that goes along with a very unplanned pregnancy. Fortunately we received the sort of support that made keeping our daughter Jessica possible. It could have gone another way.
That said…I know (as you pro-lifers do if you’re honest) that the Republicans have milked the abortion issue, as have the Evangelical and Roman Catholic leadership, for every dime it’s worth for fundraising, votes, power and empire-building, without changing much if anything. As I said, I also am fully aware that Senator Obama is pro-choice. I think his pro-choice views are out of character with his otherwise generous and enlightened world view.
The pro-life cause poisoned many of us who were part of it. Me included. It led to self-righteous hubris that extended to a general attitude of hate toward the “other.” For instance power hungry strivers such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson took the passion generated by the pro-life cause and fueled their wholly illegitimate war against gay Americans with it, not to mention their multi million dollar empires. Our cause became all about power over other people, money and the muscle to win elections, not about the good of unborn babies and women.
I describe this corruption in my book, CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. I explore what happened to us as we were lured by politics and money. So lots of folks who are in the Evangelical/Republican/Roman Catholic establishment and who are still earning a good living through the culture wars hate my book (and me) for spilling the beans.
Just for the record: my annual income was a lot bigger and more secure within the Evangelical fold than without. The big bucks in America are all about selling God, as Rick Warren, James Dobson or Joel Osteen can tell you, not earned blogging for lefty sites such as Huffington Post or writing novels as I do now.
That said… First, a nod to reality: even if Roe were reversed (it won’t be no matter who is president) the abortion pill and the acceptance of at least some types of legal abortion by most Americans guarantees there will be access to abortion. Besides, on a state-by-state basis abortion would remain legal in most states no matter what the court does. And as we have seen the Republicans haven’t really changed anything in thirty years.
So what do we who find abortion abhorrent do if we want to deal in reality rather than fantasies and slogans of winner-take-all propaganda? The reality is that we need to foster a climate in which we can reduce the number of abortions and also keep the moral — rather than legal — debate alive.
We can’t do this by concentrating on politics, or silver bullets such as trying for that one magic court appointment. It’s the “holistic” approach that is really what’s important if our goal is to reduce the number of abortions rather than just “win” political games.
The effort to reduce abortions will be more possible in the Obama era than in a continuation of the hardhearted Bush presidency with McCain. This is all about tone and moral leadership, not law.
At heart of the abortion reality is this: we are a consumerist society with a heart of stone when it comes to the poor, who account for four times the national average of people having abortions, mostly because of economic needs that Republicans don’t lift a finger to address. And we still denigrate women and female sexuality.
Meanwhile we face global catastrophe if we keep on the path we are on that the Republicans have put us on. And Obama promises real change on the environment, education, the economy, the military and foreign affairs, all of which need to change, not as a luxury or choice or option, but as a matter of national survival.
I guess that having had my Marine son John go to war for George W. Bush concentrated my mind on the seriousness of this election. McCain won’t do more than provide another four-to-eight years of Bush. Our planet and country can’t endure that. And our military is disintegrating under the Bush doctrine, which is: “You all go shopping while we ask a few Americans to go to war again and again and again and again…”
For all you sanctimonious Evangelicals out there, also note: when it comes to squeaky clean family values, Senator Obama — not Senator McCain — should be your role model. The Republican right wants us to draw back in horror from Obama because he is pro-choice, but this is the same group working to get a philanderer who abandoned his wife because she had a disfiguring accident, elected.
It isn’t just a matter of voting for Obama. Americans who want there to be a country left in which to argue our issues must vote against McCain. As his support for the Bush lies about Iraq shows McCain is hung up on his own version of post-Vietnam traumatic stress disorder. This is a man who would take our civilian culture down in flames and sacrifice it to his sense of death-or-glory military “honor.” How do you “win” a wrong war? McCain will make the world more dangerous. You think Bush was a cowboy? Just try McCain.
I say this as the proud father of United States Marine. I say this as someone who believes that we should be in Afghanistan where my son served, fought and risked his life for us all. I also say this as someone who believes that when it comes to pro-life issues in the most comprehensive sense, that President Bush, Dick Cheney and the neoconservative/Republican establishment have needlessly killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and over 4000 American servicemen and women.
I use the words “needlessly killed” advisedly. When you send men and women into an unnecessary and unprovoked war-of-choice for spurious reasons that then turn into outright lies, you’ve murdered them. And George W. Bush has sanctioned torture, contravened the Geneva conventions, and has lied to the American people about all of it.
Bush has destabilized the world. The latest evidence of this is the fact that Russia attacked Georgia. In the climate of Bush’s aggression, where is our moral standing to criticize Russia? McCain offers no alternative. These too are life issues.
There’s no point arguing about abortion, capital punishment, women’s rights, gender equality or any other issue — no matter how important — while the ship of state is being torpedoed by the Commander-in-Chief. We can’t afford more of this. Our honorable military can’t endure more of this. Our economy can’t endure more of this. Our Earth will not survive more of this. Bush and his look alike shill McCain have to go.
When it comes to the issue of abortion there is another side besides legality/illegality: the nature of our country.
What kind of care do we provide to mothers and children? What is our educational system like? Is healthcare available to all? Do our preschool programs and everything from paternal and maternal leave to the economic well-being of our country come first? Or do we argue about abortion rights while we live lives of such supreme selfish decadence that the nature of our country means that no matter what we do with the laws about abortion life will not be valued?
The Republican leadership is not pro-life. They are simply against abortion for reasons of political expediency. They are also for torture and military aggression. And they chose a literal executioner for president; a former governor who has more blood on his hands than any other modern American governor; Mr. Texas-sized, Capital Punishment-with-no-mercy-no-pardons hang em’ high himself.
The Republicans have contributed to climate change by coddling oil companies and car companies and ducking the hard environmental and energy policy questions for thirty years. They have literally sold our country to the highest polluting bidders from the Saudis to the Chinese. Therefore the Republicans have literally risked the ability of our planet to sustain all human life born and unborn. So much for human life values.
Who will help us to become a nation that values life — abortion rhetoric aside? Obama.
The contrast could not have been more clear than on August 16 in the interview between pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church and Obama and McCain. Obama gave real and thoughtful answers, often trying to explore a moral question deeply. McCain offered nothing more than canned applause lines and anecdotes from his tired simplistic stump speech.
McCain fed pre-programed red meat to the Evangelical faithful who were packing the auditorium, but not much more. He parroted all the “right” lines about abortion, the same empty phrases Bush, parrots, Bush’s father parroted and Reagan and Ford parroted.
“When does life begin?” asked Warren. “At conception!” shot back McCain.
The Evangelical crowd goes wild! See?! That’s our guy!
And where do the tired canned pro-life “correct answers” get us? Nowhere.
I will be voting for the presidential candidate who seems most authentically exercised about our devastating problems and who is ready to not only address them but to provide the inspiring leadership that will move my fellow citizens and I to do something about our terminal situation. I’ll be voting for the man that has also inspired the world more than any national leader in my lifetime.
There are worse things than America being liked and therefore safer. Would you rather have non-Americans waving our flag or burning it?
In the best of all worlds we would be living in a country in which no one had an abortion. We would be living in a country in which there was never capital punishment. We would be living in a country that would have addressed the legacy of our racist past and racist present so that we would not have a disproportionate number of black men and women locked in our prisons. We would be living in a country where people calling themselves Christians would not hate gay people. We would be living in a country that never went to war except as last resort for self defense. We would be living in a country where education and opportunity was every American’s birthright. But we are not.
The question is: Who can best help us to the realization of the real American Dream?
The Republicans only offer consumerism as a debased sort of “freedom.” This is the freedom of “me” and “I.” This is the freedom of pigs rooting at a trough.
As a born-again Christ-centered believer Obama offers a spiritual vision of life founded on the Sermon On the Mount. It is the freedom of “we.” It is the same view of freedom that my Marine son learned in boot camp: that the person standing next to you is more important than you are. That concept of freedom is more in keeping with valuing all human life. It will create a climate more friendly to mothers and children.
As I listen to Senator Obama speak, as I see the selfless altruistic energy he has generated in a whole new generation of young people, as I think about the ethical, caring culture he would like to foster with healthcare for all, a revamped and reenergized educational system that includes the arts, history, poetry and all those things that make life worthwhile, as I think about the wars my son’s brothers-in-arms are still mired and dying in because of the hubris of the Republicans, as I think about the crying need to restore our standing in the world, as I think about the scandalous way in which the Republicans have manipulated people, including the most sincere Evangelicals, Orthodox and Roman Catholics, to get their votes, while not actually doing anything about the issues they care most about, yes, I am ready to for a change.
In Obama’s America arguments for compassion for the unborn and all the other “least of these” will resonate regardless of Obama’s stance on the legality of abortion. Roe is not the point. Our hearts are the point. The unborn like everyone else will do better in a country that puts people, the earth, and our future ahead of greed, oil company profits and jingoistic rule by fear.
I will be voting for Senator Obama and am fighting for his election because I am pro-life.
And if you’ve read this far: What do you think?