Monday, September 27, 2004

Side note: Abortion and Voting

If we were voting on whether to outlaw abortion, I would vote to outlaw it.

It is utterly incomprehensible to me that anyone could think it is appropriate to abort a third trimester “fetus” simply as a matter of choice. Don’t they know that this child could survive outside the womb? And how could anyone abort even a second trimester fetus after seeing how far along it is in its development at this point? Even a first trimester fetus looks human and can feel pain in the third month.

So I would vote to abolish abortion if it came to a vote.

But I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to vote on this issue. I never have thus far, and I’ve voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since I was eighteen. I voted for Reagan, and he was against abortion. I voted for Bush senior, and he at least claimed to be anti-abortion by the time he was the Republican candidate (he had earlier been pro-choice). I voted for Bush senior when he lost and for Dole when he lost. Finally, I voted for Bush junior in the 2000 election.

I’ve voted pro-life in every election and even stood on the side of the road with an anti-abortion sign in Lexington, Kentucky.

But no matter who’s elected this year, abortion will still be legal in 2008. The president does not decide this issue, although he or she does have great influence. It’s true… if a president can find Supreme Court appointees who at least look moderate enough for Congress to approve them and if the right legal case comes up and if the Supreme Court votes differently maybe the issue will go back to the states and maybe some of those will prohibit abortions, forcing those wishing to have one to drive to a different state.

Now I’m not defeatist. We should not give up just because it’s a really, really unlikely long shot.

But I do have two other thoughts:

1. You don’t convince people by force—“a man convinced against his will is of the same mind still.” Outlawing abortion at this point of history would probably have about the same success as prohibition had in the 20’s. Alcohol came back with a vengeance and the issue has never come up again. Let’s keep working through Washington, but we better have a pretty good back up plan.

Where we should really apply our greatest efforts is in wooing people to our position rather than shooting them. Our culture is more sensitive to children than probably any culture has ever been in history. That is the door we need to get them to walk through. We will prevail when we win their hearts and minds, not when we shove the angry animal into a corner (P.S. this tactic works better with foreign countries too).

2. It makes sense to have a pro-life person in office regularly because of the behind the scenes influence such a person has. It is good to have Supreme Court justices who lean our way. But it doesn’t make any sense to vote only on this issue or even primarily on this issue. Abortion will be legal in the United States for a very, very long time no matter who we elect for the next twenty or thirty years. There are far too many other issues that the President does directly impact to let this be the deciding issue.

I believe Bush has done a lot to help the pro-life cause these last four years, so I’m not feeling like this is the issue I need to cast my vote over this time. I’m far more worried about the international instability Bush has brought through his vast miscalculations and ultimately irresponsible foreign policies. The anger of vast portions of the world toward us will not even begin to subside until he is no longer in office.

There is no objective measure by which anyone could seriously claim that the world is a safer place after the Iraq war. I can hear it in Bush’s voice when he makes this claim—he hopes but deep down knows it’s not true. I do truly hope that Bush’s shot in the dark, his fanciful long shot, turns out for the greater good of the world and the Middle East. I’m praying for this, because I think it will take God’s intervention. My hunch is that our history books will look back on him in puzzlement—the history books of other nations will be less positive.

I cannot help but feel that we have given just the spark some future madman or dictator needed to emerge as the nemesis of ten or twenty years from now. Need I remind anyone that the Reagan administration innocently and inadvertently played a significant role in the formation of bin Laden in the 1980’s in Afghanistan? And Reagan’s involvement in that region wasn’t preemptive!

Ironically, I’m worried about the economy with Bush in office. I say ironically because we Republicans are usually the ones to control wild spending. I understand that 9-11 and other catastrophes have hit our economy hard. But Bush’s involvement with Iraq is also having a negative impact on the economy, and Bush doesn’t seem too worried about how high the deficit is going—and how quickly.

There are other issues I’m concerned with that we Republicans are not very good at. I’m not dismissive about environmental issues. And I just don’t have confidence that a man with his pockets deep in oil is going to work hard to free us from oil dependence. I want to see more incentives for alternate fuels and technological improvements to rid us of the need for foreign oil.

And the world is going global, period. There is no stopping this process. It is happening and will happen no matter what. An administration can resist it. It can be isolationist for eight years. But the wiser course of action is to be there with maximal impact on the formation of global structures. There will be a world court that will have greater and greater authority, and I pray we have a lot to do with what it looks like.

The deaths in Haiti after Jeanne show that concerns over repopulating trees are not the talk of overly sensitive moron “tree huggers.” And I don’t know enough about science to have an informed opinion on global warming, whether it’s a legitimate concern or not. But you can bet I’m not going to dismiss it just because it’s a more “Democratic” issue. WOW! I am aghast at the stupidity of deciding an issue of such potentially catastrophic consequences on the basis of the “clique” I belong to. This is the kind of stupidity that religion and politics are often made of--and that I refuse to be a part of.

Objections to gun control are similarly dumbfounding. Let’s see, what reason could anyone give for not having a waiting period before we sell someone a gun? So I can run out and get one quickly while someone is robbing my house? In case some President declares martial law and brainwashes the National Guard and I need to get a gun really quickly? My jaw drops open in complete speechlessness that I am even having this (admittedly one blog-sided) conversation!.

Both the Republicans and Democrats have strengths and weaknesses. The nature of the beast makes it almost impossible for any one party to have the best position, let alone the Christian position, on every issue. The best we seem to be able to do is to bounce between them, soaking up as much good as we can before giving the other party a chance to correct the mistakes of the previous one the next go around. Bush has given us a good four years of one-sidedness on many issues. He has done it with such gusto that it might not be a bad time to balance him out a little.

I want to change the world’s position on abortion if I can. I am infinitely thankful that these lost babies go directly to heaven (at least in my theology). But a vote for Bush will not change the law on this one, I promise you. In the end, I don’t see how we can reasonably say abortion comes anywhere near being the issue to vote by in this election year.


Anonymous said...

I could never vote to elect a democrat as long as their position is to continue to kill babies and call it abortion and an option or choice.

Abortion is always the issue - especially when their could be judges appointed during this next four year term.

Ken Schenck said...

I agree with your convictions.

My question is this: what is the difference between voting for a Democrat who will not change anything and voting for a Republican who won't change anything? If the effect is the same (regardless of each candidate's intention), what have I lost on the issues where voting for one or the other will change something? Haven't I just squandered my vote on an issue the President and Supreme Court ultimately cannot change anyway?

Even if the Supreme Court reversed Rowe vs. Wade, it would only send the issue back to the States. It would take a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion altogether, and over half of America favors abortion rights. In other words, that's not happening unless we can "win the hearts and minds."

The Supreme Court issue may be more significant this time around than any other time in the last 50 years, I agree. I consider this factor the strongest argument in favor of Bush.

In the meantime I'm afraid he'll get us all blown up and our economy down the tube because of his foreign policies. I accept that no matter who is elected we will probably lose another 1000 soldiers in Iraq before we leave the building.

::athada:: said...

THANK YOU Dr. Schenck. First, for the way you handle criticism. Secondly, for articulating exactly what I have been wrestling with in the abortion issue. This became a hot topic in Bowman House since I posted Drury's recent article (Could a Christian Vote Democrat?) on my door (hehe). Thanks for your insight... I am still looking for input as I decide who to vote for this November.

Ken Schenck said...

Thanks for the affirmation. I figure it's more productive to do my therapy in a blog than while I'm driving in heavy traffic :)

I hope you reach a place of peace on who to vote for.

Aaron said...

Here's my two cents on Abortion. First of all, realize that just because someone is 'pro-life' doesn't make the other side 'pro-death'. These terms like pro-life and pro-choice are politically loaded terms that were invented by people trying to bias thought. Be aware of political framing in language, as it is very powerful.

Given a choice, would you choose:
1. A system where-by women were legally not allowed to have an abortion, but chose to have them anyways where rich women fly to mexico on vacation and have them or where poor women find a back-alley abortion doctor to do it?
2. Promote a system where abortion continues to be legal, but policies and support systems are put in place that reduce the number of abortions in the US?

This isn't a sly, whatif comment.

I believe that outlawing abortion is immoral unless we have fully supported all women in every way imaginable to the point where a women, if she chooses to carry a baby to term, knows she will have full support of the system with nurses, doctors, psychological support, financial support during and after her pregnancy till her kids are 18 years old. If we do anything less than this, we are telling society that we don't value human life enough to want that child alive.

FYI, Its an exercise for the reader to check out abortion statistics on abortions during various presidential terms.

Pop Quiz : Under which President, Clinton or Reagan, were LESS abortions done?

Answer: (slick willy)

Ken Schenck said...

What I would personally like to see is a climate develop in which Americans are as upset over a third trimester (and certainly a "partial birth") abortion as over the death of a newborn. I personally can picture a time in the not too distant future when even secular culture will gladly pass laws against these and be repulsed by the late twentieth century allowances for it, much as our culture now feels about eighteenth and nineteenth century slavery.

If our culture comes to feel this way about third trimester abortions, the feeling could soon spread to second trimester ones, especially as technology makes it increasingly possible for such a child to survive outside the womb. I agree with you that we Christians had better be willing to adopt these children and support them if we are going to take this position.

I think God would have to convince the world to abandon first trimester abortions. Our rationale for these seems more theological and abstract, less concrete. But all things are possible with Him.

Some idle thoughts in the early evening...