Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The A-word and the current US Presidential campaign

Well, I'm shocked. James Dobson has publicly urged his listening audience to vote for McCain. I never saw this coming.

He specifically gives 4 reasons for this choice (which he insists is not an endorsement):

1. McCain & Obama's Saddleback forum comments about life
2. Pro life & general conservative positions of the republican party
3. Sen. McCain selected pro life/pro family VP Palin
4. Obama’s liberal views. His record is more liberal than any other senator.

Let's focus on #1. Some points to consider are below. But first, a disclaimer: I lean right of center, and am unashamedly pro-life. I also haven't decided who I should support. Abortion is one topic I have recently put a lot of thought on, much of which is below:

1. One of Dobson's reasons for voting for McCain is that he wants someone in the White house that will appoint conservative judges who will consider the "protection of life in the womb".

Is that right? Consider these statistics: (source)

What Supreme Court Justices did the pro-life folk put on the court? Seven of the nine Justices were appointed by Republicans. Does that startle anyone? Further, Justices appointed by Ronald Reagan (Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy) participated in voting down challenges to Roe v. Wade -- two such cases being Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services.

George Herbert Walker Bush appointee David Souter also participated in defending Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, writing that to overturn Roe would have been "a surrender to political pressure... So to overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reason to re-examine a watershed decision would subvert the Court's legitimacy beyond any serious question."

Secondly, from Dobson's himself: (source)

"I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings..."

So is it a slam dunk that McCain will appoint those judges that Dobson wants? Not really. Even if it is, I think it may be more likely that if McCain were president, he'd get gunshy about the approval process and appoint a moderate.

2. If one says he/she is pro-life, does that only apply to the womb? What about prevention of unwanted pregnancies? Christians are good at crisis pregancy centers, where they counsel pregnant women not to get abortions. But what about career advice/Job training to help moms take care of their families? Child care to help moms provide for their families? What about parental training? We Christians are so preoccupied with keeping babies alive, we forget about keeping them alive.

3. How have pro-life republicans rewarded Christians' support? Not much. Why will it change with McCain? If abortion is one of the most important reasons for going with McCain, will he deliver?

4. Is Obama really that bad in his support of late term abortion? We know he is pro-choice, but what about the horrific late-term and live birth situations? See below for excerpts from his interview with Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant Magazine:

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.

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

The conclusion: Abortion is always wrong. But should abortion be a litmus test in selecting our leaders? No. Should it be a consideration? Sure. But why is it the only issue that many Christians consider?


mrutterson said...

I gotta say that to me it seems natural and fitting for Obama to try to explain away his actions. he's had to do so on several issues thus far, and the live birth abortion issue is a serious one that he has to try and diffuse. I just straight up don't believe his excuse. As far as abortion being the only issue relevant to voting, certainly it isn't. It's a major one, but not the only one. Finally, i have to say that i don't really care about the american election. i'm not pro-mccain, i'm not pro-obama. i'm pro-bob barr... ha ha ha.

one thing i thought was amusing though, is that you're presenting dobson in a negative light for telling people to vote mccain, but you put the guy in the above article in a positive light for doing the same thing for obama.

JMJ said...

I'm not trying to portray Dobson negatively, although I suppose my dislike of him shows through.

Similarly, I wasn't trying to make anyone look positive (which guy were you referring to, anyway?)

If I could vote Ron Paul, I would, but them's the breaks.

Interestingly enough, have you read the other post i put up?

mrutterson said...

yeah i read the other post you put up, and that's the guy i was referring to. it's obvious that you like that post, which unabashedly promotes Obama, but in this post you've cast Dobson in a negative light for doing the same thing for Mccain. I know it was unintentional, but there is an inconsistency there that i find repeated in much of politically liberal Christian media these days (not saying your blog is this, but it does seem to reflect that). there seems to be a tendency to blast the politically conservative christians for making their endorsements, while (often in the same article/essay/blog) doing the very same thing themselves for the politically liberal candidate.
i know this blog was supposed to be about abortion, and i don't really have any comment as to how one should vote, myself not really being an active voter. what i am trying to draw out is the hypocrisy of the politically liberal christian sector who write such vitriolic compositions against politically conservative Christian figures, while doing the very same thing themselves. it's just shameful.

again, i'm not saying you've done this in your blog, but you seem to be buying into the rhetoric.

SV75 said...

"But why is it the only issue that many Christians consider?"

Just responding to that line alone, I think it's because ..(I think ..) the candidates--both parties-- always have good things to say... "change this in ten years, do this, do that".. But none of that is ever GUARANTEED..(and even if they do it, doesn't mean it will work). Once they get into office, is when we REALLY see what's going to be changed and what's not...So, people (especially and mainly, Christians) tend to give importance to their "principles". In hopes that if the principles are in tune, everything else might fall into place. I think that's why to Christians -- "gay marriage", and "abortion", are the MOST important issues, that end up being the deciding factor on who they vote for.

I'm not saying that that's the right thing to do, or that I agree with it.. I'm just saying..

(We had a conversation of this sometime, with my cousin or at church or something..and that's something that we talked about).

And "mrutterson", I don't know who you are, but if you are an American citizen, I encourage you to BECOME an active voter.

=] Every vote counts.