Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obama: Pro-Choice, Anti-Abortion, or Anti-Life?

I don't like to comment on politics...but this is important, so I am;) Everyone voting in the upcoming election and with an opinion regarding the "abortion debate" really should read this article, "Obama's Abortion Extremism", by Robert P. George. He earned a law degree and a theology degree from Harvard, and a doctorate from Oxford. He is currently the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and as the director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He also serves on The President's Council on Bioethics and previously served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

George lists the case for his claim that, "Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress," in the following points.
1. Senator Obama has, "promised to seek repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which has for many years protected pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest."

2. Senator Obama has promised, “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. ( FOCA)" This makes abortion a federally guaranteed right through all nine months of pregancy for any reason. Virtually every state and federal limitation on abortion that is currently on the books would be abolished (e.g., parental consent and notification laws for minors).

3. Senator Obama opposes the ban on the heinous practice of partial-birth abortion and strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the ban.

4. Senator Obama wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need.

5. Senator Obama refused to support the pro-life Democrats' “95-10” legislation (designed to reduce the number of abortions by 95% in 10 years by strengthening the social safety net for poor women). This would not have made abortion illegal; it would seek to reduce abortion.

6. Senator Obama, "opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability." The bill contained a specific provision that ensured that the bill would not affect abortion laws (Obama and his campaign misled/lied about this fact until it was proven in the records [A co-worker of mine pulled together this fact sheet]).

7. Senator Obama has co-sponsored a bill authorizing the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research in which they would be killed. It would require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning, and would make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be brought to term.

8. Senator Obama was one of the few senators to oppose a bill that would have put a modest amount of federal money into research that would develop methods to produce the exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos. "From any rational vantage point, this is unconscionable. . . . Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos."

George then ends the article by writing that, "in the end, the efforts of Obama’s apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn’t even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies."

What do you think of all of this?

[HT: Justin Taylor]


Anonymous said...

I think it's offensive to label Obama and NARAL as "pro-abortion." Who on earth wants there to be more abortions? What I believe Obama has shown in his career is that he is a staunch supporter of abortion rights for women--rights that need perpetual support because of the constant presence of the active religious right in this country. A woman's control of her own body is at stake here.

I can't say for sure if a fetus is a person or not. I tend to say it's not, but I'll grant that it's subjective. But even if it is a person, that should not prevent its mother from doing what is necessary to abort it if she chooses. A mother's right over her own body is at stake here.

To the extent that religious people use their religion to inform their political opinions, I urge them to remember that we live in an explicitly secular society. If you base your anti-abortion rights arguments on assumptions that go something like "the fetus has a soul" or "abortion defies God's plan," then the U.S. might not be the best place for you to live. I tend to see that self-described "pro-life" people are often openly religious, and I sincerely hope that their political influence is informed more by their reason than their religion.

Geoff said...

I believe the statement that a woman has a right to choose is offensive. You don't need religious arguments to conclude that. What about the baby's rights? Is it really so important for a mother to have a right to choose to abort a baby that it outweighs the importance of the right of the baby to be born? Why are the rights of some so important and the rights of others nonexistent in your view?

Stating it as a woman's right to choose is another way of saying a woman has a right to be selfish to the point of killing her own helpless baby. Even if legally you have a right to do something, it does not make it right to do it.

For the most part, it is the woman's fault that she got pregnant in the first place, as only a very small percentage of abortions are done by women who are pregnant because of rape. So, a woman's right to choose could also be stated as a woman's right to not accept the consequences of her own actions. No one has this right.

If you had stated it differently, saying a woman who is raped may not want to be constantly reminded of that horrible time, there is a situation where I can have compassion, though I still am against abortion in that case. Two wrongs, as it has been said, do not make a right. But, if you state it as a woman's right to choose, it mostly involves women who choose to have sex but do not want to "suffer" the consequences of their own actions.

If you do not know if it is a person, is it not better to assume it is? Is it better to kill something that might be a person or to not kill something that might not be? If a woman does not want to be inconvenienced by a baby, is it really that important that she be allowed to kill it for this reason? Would it not be better to give it up for adoption just in case it is not okay for her to abort it? Is her "right" so important that we should not even think about the baby and its rights?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Noah Braymen said...

Dear Anonymous,

I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but if you could make strong points without cussing I would appreciate it.

I deleted your second comment because of this. I have saved the text and would be happy to email it to you if you would edit it and then resubmit it. Thanks again, and I hope to have time to write a pithy response sometime today or tomorrow.

Noah Braymen

Anonymous said...

I believe that no right is as fundamental as the one a person has over his/her own body. If I'm dying of kidney failure, and I run up to you and plug a cord into your torso and use your kidneys to help me live, you have every right to kick me off and let me die. Why? Because you have a right over your own body. If I'm kidnapped and someone
has imprisoned me, I have every right to kill that person to escape. Why? Because I have a right over my own body. A pregnant woman might see the fetus growing inside her as a parasite, putting a strain on her body and creating the potential to harm her person. Sometimes, women die unexpectedly in child birth. It's becoming rarer, but it still happens. A woman should not have to risk physical harm or death for the life of another.

Now, people might say, "Well, she shouldn't have had sex then. She now has a responsibility to carry the child." No. Taking away a woman's right to abortion is bondage. Unless she commits a crime, nothing a woman does in her life should allow the state to keep her in bondage. Even if a woman is in prison, she still has a right to her own body.

I don't think a woman "has the right to be selfish enough to kill her own baby," unless that baby is attached to her and creating physical strain and a risk of death. It's selfish to have control over your own body? Are you serious? Who should have control over your body, if not you? The state? A person who isn't born yet? A group of cells that could possibly be a person one day?

I agree that people should accept the consequences of their actions. Personally, if I were a woman, I don't think I could have an abortion. I'd spend the rest of my life wondering about the child I didn't have. I would probably give the child up for adoption, and I hope that all women who are pregnant with an unwanted child know that adoption is certainly an option for them. I'll agree that having an abortion could be a disastrous, agonizing, terrible choice for a person.

But it bears repeating: no right is as fundamental as the one a person has over his/her own body. This didn't occur to me until about the last two years of my life. I just don't believe that because a woman decided to have sexual intercourse, she has forfeited her right over her own body. Consensual sex is not a criminal or evil act, and a woman ought not suffer for it.

I think punishments should fit crimes. If a woman speeds, she pays a fine. If she steals, she goes to jail. If she kills, she goes to jail longer. There is a sort of balance there on the scale of justice. Now, if she has sex, she loses her right over own body? Wow, from my view, the scale of justice is tipped dramatically against her.

You write, "If a woman does not want to be inconvenienced by a baby, is it really that important that she be allowed to kill it for this reason?" YES! Although I am male, I'm astonished by your lack of empathy by saying a pregnancy is an "inconvenience." If I go to the grocery store and they're out of paper towels, THAT is an inconvenience. If I get a flat tire, it's an inconvenience. Being pregnant is BIG DEAL, something that a woman will remember the rest of her life.

And, it reminds me of an article I once read. Even if we say that being pregnant IS just an inconvenience, we as a society do allow people to die for the sake of inconvenience all the time. When we raise a speed limit, for example, statistically we are certain more people will die. Yet people want it, and we do it, and few people probably lose sleep over it. That made me stop in my tracks for a minute. But it's not terribly important here because being pregnant is much, much more than an inconvenience.

I also submit that a fetus is not a person. It has no working memory, it has no idea what "future" and "past" man, it has no hopes or dreams, it has no sense of being in a community of people, and it doesn't know what "death" is. If it feels pain, it doesn't feel pain as a person would--it has no anxiety or fear of pain, and it is not traumatized by pain. It has the potential to become a person of course, but so do sperm and egg cells. "Potential to be a person" is just not the same as "person."

Noah Braymen said...


Thanks for chiming in. Sorry for my delayed response.

I think that our government should uphold laws that maintain one's right over his or her body as well. But this is too simplistic. In the case of pregnancy we have two bodies, so that is no longer as clear cut as you are making it sound. It seems that there are plenty of voices speaking out in defense of the mother, but not many that are willing to speak in defense of the baby. And there may be even fewer considering defending both at the same time (maybe not).

The fundamental disagreement seems to be over when life actually begins. If you considered a baby to have life at conception how would that change your approach? At the very least you have to concede that you don't know when life begins, right? Doesn't that put the burden of proof on those who are in support of abortion as a legal form of birth control? If no proof from the "pro-abortion as a form of birth control" camp can be given for when life begins then shouldn't we err on the side of the pro-life camp with the view that life begins at conception? Life is the first of three guaranteed rights in the constitution.

One last comment and that's going to have to be it. Notice that while I am a Christian and believe that babies have souls and that all humans bear the image of God I used only secular and logical argumentation rooted from our constitution. I would be happy to talk about how the gospel comes into play regarding these issues if you would like, but please don't make the non-sequitur of connecting pro-life arguments as being dependent on faith apart from what was written in our founding documents. Pro-life arguments may come from a “memory” of a Judeo-Christian heritage, but they are only affirming the explication of that heritage as it is found in our constitution.

Again, thanks for the exchange.