Last week marked the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, possibly the most divisive and harmful of all the US Supreme Court’s majority opinions. A few places gave the moment its due recognition, but most news sites and blogs skimmed right over it, instead covering the juicier and more galvanizing drama between presidential hopefuls. That is a woeful indictment of both the American conscience and the priorities of public servants.

Abortion represents one of the most dramatic social revolutions in the history of the modern age. To those on the pro-life side, abortion is nothing less than legalized genocide, a symbol of moral decadence and self-obsession. Pro-choicers see abortion as having no less impact; very few other causes have inspired such a vocal and aggressive following and provided more rhetoric and quasi-religious fervency for the cause of “privacy” and “woman’s rights.” Abortion has been unifying if only in the sense that it has brought together citizens of equal emotion.

The legalization of abortion is the saddest, most aggressively inhumane principle that the United States has accepted. It is now common knowledge, to both pro-life and pro-choice advocates, that the Roe decision was saturated in poor science. Technology that is novel even in the 21st century has given the world unprecedented access to the life inside of a mother. Many women have testified that the sight of the clearly recognizable child (as early as 10 weeks) was a defining moment in a decision to choose life over abortion. Though some have callously and ridiculously referred to it as “emotional blackmail,” (the vitriol being a tad indicative of just how the word “choice” is defined within the abortion movement), it has led women with just as legitimate claim to audience as those who had abortions to re-evaluate what they believe about life.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Modern polling data leads to little clarity and a lot of confusion when taking the American pulse on abortion. While some polls show pro-choice mindsets, others suggest pro-life trends. Newer data suggests somewhere around a 55%-45% split on the issue. While this may seem disheartening to pro-life crusaders, it is actually a relatively encouraging statistic when compared to the overwhelmingly pro-abortion factions in Europe. And pro-lifers have wielded considerable political presence of late, as seen in the “moral values” facet of the 2004 presidential election.

Actually, when 35 years of legalized abortion are considered, it is not surprising to see a slight majority favoring it. Moralizing legislation is something of an auspicious trend in America, with more Americans supporting a national smoking ban proportional to the amount of states that have enacted such laws. And abortion is a far more emotional and socially intrusive issue than possibly any other topic in today’s public debate.

Several analysts see definite pro-life trends, and sometimes in the most unexpected of places. Hollywood, specifically, has been an interesting source of pro-life statements of late. Films like Juno and even Knocked Up [on which National Review wrote an essay exploring this theme] feature characters whose life is made significantly more inconvenient through unforeseen pregnancy, yet make pointed decisions to keep the child, with dramatically positive results.

Nevertheless, abortion remains a key, if not the key, to the modern feminist agenda. As such, the dishonest sloganeering that proclaims an end to women’s rights if just one abortion is prevented reaches hundreds of ears every week. Trends suggest perhaps a pro-life surge in the next few years, but much remains to be done and taught to an American people who, since 1973, have continually been fed bad science, slippery-slope rhetoric and far-left feminism.

CANDIDATES FOR LIFE

It is frankly infuriating how little abortion has come into play this election cycle. Yes, the author realizes it is still primary season and the debates and interviews (and in the case of the Democrats, mud-slinging) happen inner-party under a national platform on this and other issues. But that does not, for one minute, minimize the importance, morally or politically, of the cause of life. This is true especially in a particularly frustrating GOP pool, where leading contender Mitt Romney was pro-choice, only to change his views (conveniently) after getting elected governor of his state. Then there is Rudy Guliani, an avowed abortion-rights activist who, to his credit, has been honest and upfront his entire campaign. The honesty is appreciated, as it makes it just a little easier who not to vote for this year.

The Republican Party needs, if for nothing else than to preserve its identity, to recognize how much, as the party which chose life and constitutional authority, the pro-life cause means to their ideology. One could make a very compelling case that abortion epitomizes disparity between the modern liberal and conservative: Liberals have embraced the welfare state’s emphasis on personal autonomous victimization and the government’s supposed obligation to accommodate it. Conservatives, on the other hand, see greater principles (such as liberty, religion, and capitalism) governing the population towards mutual benefit. Legalized abortion is a milestone in the life of the ego-centric welfare state, and conservatives oppose both the symptom and the cause as inevitably leading to chaos and enslavement.

Abortion has such forceful social relevance and political potential that one could rightly expect it to be a forefront issue. But unfortunately, this year at least, it has not been. An economic focus is certainly understandable, but to forget even for a moment the fight over life is a serious mistake, and real conservatives should not be shy in holding the Republican party accountable. A pro-life conservative is a given. Nothing less should be expected.

The Democrats typically would not merit another (pointless) rebuke on the subject, but the candidacy of Barack Obama raises some new points. Obama is an undeniably gifted politician and quite possibly a great leader. His rhetoric is optimistic without being utopian, and the emotional presence he brings is like a breath of fresh air for those stifling in the arid climate of establishment politics. His recent dismantling of the competition in South Carolina gives one even more reason to suspect that the Democratic nomination is his to lose.

Part of the reason Obama is so successful (well, actually, a very large part of the reason) is due to his apparent desire to connect conservatives with liberals. As such, he has spoken moderately on same-sex marriage (he supports it but says he thinks the states have the final say), education (irritating hard-line feminists by emphasizing the role of the father in the family), and other issues. One issue that Obama is trying to appear moderate on is abortion, but his record leaves little to the imagination as to where the Senator stands.

Senator Obama has a 0% career rating from the National Right To Life Committee, indicating a staunch pro-choice voting record. He has voted against the partial birth abortion ban, a bill which garnered some considerable Democratic support. He supports the Roe decision and his record backs it up.

Such a solidly pro-choice resume may give the Senator some serious hurdles in his attempt to convince non-liberals to elect him. But he is trying. An interview granted to Christianity Today found Obama talking about just this issue, in response to a well-worded question from the evangelical magazine:

CT: For many evangelicals, abortion is a key, if not the key factor in their vote. You voted against banning partial birth abortion and voted against notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. What role do you think the President should play in creating national abortion policies?

OBAMA: I don’t know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it’s very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren’t expressing the full reality of it. But what I believe is that women do not make these decisions casually, and that they struggle with it fervently with their pastors, with their spouses, with their doctors.

Our goal should be to make abortion less common, that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible. There is a range of ways that we can educate our young people about the sacredness of sex and we should not be promoting the sort of casual activities that end up resulting in so many unwanted pregnancies.

A few issues need addressing. First, the Senator talks of the seriousness of the decision to abort and the graveness of it. A good question would be if the decision is so serious and mature, why did Obama vote against parental notification laws for minors seeking abortions, even out of state ones? The parents of a minor would seem best able to give gravity and wisdom to such a difficult issue. Why did the Senator undermine their influence?

The greater issue behind that, though, comes out in the second paragraph. It’s not what Obama says that is really the problem, it’s the lack of understanding his comments indicate. The question in abortion, THE question, is whether or not the fetus is a human being with “inalienable rights.” Making abortions less common is useless if it is legalized murder. That is the real issue here; Obama’s rhetoric sidesteps it in favor of more opaque “moderation.” Does the Senator believe the fetus is a human being, and that abortion is a violation of that child’s civil and human rights? If he does, and he still favors simply “making abortions less common,” he is not fit for ANY public office.

Abortion is an issue which touches on human rights more than any other topic on the political smorgasbord today. Human beings, born as United States citizens, are being denied their God-given right to life by selfishness administered via judicial fiat. I can’t think of a more important task for the government than to protect her citizenry. Anyone, no matter political party or label, no matter how inspiring or eloquent, who believes it is justifiable to terminate a human life for the comfort and convenience of a parent or society, is simply unfit for office.

This essay originally appeared on Blogcritics.org

3 Responses to “Life Issues: Abortion, The Election, and Obama”

  1. Jason said

    As an evangelical who interacts frequently with other evangelicals and non-evangelicals and non-Christians, I am sympathetic to your thoughts and feelings. However, like many I interact with, I feel the time has come to broaden the meaning of the term “pro-life” to include all life, not just un-born life. That nuance creates some problems for social/political conservatives. It raises questions such as how can we support Bush’s war and the death-penalty, but not abortion. Some of those problems are relatively easy to refute, but others are much more difficult.

    I also think the trend, and I see this in myself, is that the American public is becoming increasingly tired of the perpetual focus on the abortion issue by conservative evangelicals. There’s a sense that abortion is here to stay and that’s just the way it is. Faithful Christians can in fact live, move, and function in American society (as secular as it may be) in much the same way Christ himself was able to live, move, and function in the largely pagan Roman society that he did.

    Reality is that America (as a political entity) is not God’s country; nor was first century Rome God’s empire. Christ set an example of the separation between the church and government when he said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” One can argue that through Isaiah God commands his people to seek justice in all of society. But there comes a point in which people are expected to take responsibility for their own actions – and no one else is held accountable for them.

    Perhaps we disagree here, but I don’t think the Church will held responsible for the moral failure of American politicians and the laws they pass. Within the political arena, the top concern is what is best for the well-being and operation of this government. As Christians, our decisions on who to vote for should certainly be influenced by our faith and understanding of Scripture, but we need to be able to separate the two.

    And again our emphasize the importance of not taking responsibility for every decision made by our government. Before sending out the apostles, he told them to enter a town, preach the Gospel, and if they accept it…great! If not, shake the dust off your cloak/sandals and leave them to experience the wrath of God by their own choosing. God’s people are not held responsible for the sin of those who do not believe; nor are God’s people held responsible for the sins of fellow brothers and sisters.

  2. Jason said

    I’m sorry, one more thing…

    Because of my final point, that is why I for one feel that I can, in good conscience, vote for Obama. I’m voting for whom I believe to be the best person to lead this country into the future, bringing a bi-partisan solution to some of the problems brought about by Bush’s policies and decisions (for the record, I did in fact vote for Bush both times around, but it had nothing to do with his position on abortion – which he has done absolutely nothing about during his 8 years in office).

  3. Sam James said

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    I certainly can see your logic. Where I would diverge is in my belief that abortion is not just a moral/religious issue, but that it grossly challenges (Roe V. Wade particularly) constitutional guarantees of protection for American citizens. To that end, I think the idea of saying “abortion is just here to say” is tantamount to “well, Bush’s wiretapping is just the way it is, we have to learn to live with it.” But most people reject that, because they sense that something seriously wrong is being done.

    Also, I would say that abortion is much different from the Iraq war in that you can only believe that the war is murder if you also believe Bush/Cheney lied and are responsible for the deaths. No serious proof of that has ever been produced, and to that end, even if you disapprove of the war (which I actually do), you can’t really compare it to murder.

    I might disagree with you on your opinion of Obama (his policies on taxes and gun control are just more issues I would criticize him for), but actually my intellectual opinion of him is high, quite higher than any other leading Democrat. I may be unreasonable in this, but for me, abortion is significant enough to be a one issue deal for me.

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