Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Abortion and the American President

Recently I was presented with an argument regarding this year’s election in relationship to the issue of abortion. The person who presented this argument holds to a pro-life position but maintains that the issue should not be a determining factor who a person votes for. He believes the president’s influence on this issue is essentially insignificant. With respect I shared with him my points of disagreement and since this may be an issue some of you are unclear or indifferent on I think it is helpful to reprint some of what we exchanged. First, two things to say up front- 1) I mean this in no way to slander the one who I disagree with. We are family and both love and respect one another- we just disagree. 2) I am in no way telling you who to vote for today or endorsing a candidate. We need to pray for both candidates regarding this issue as one will be president and the other a serving senator.

The argument I was presented

“This rhetoric [regarding abortion] is getting us nowhere. Just to qualify, I was raised pro-life, and continue to be personally (as in, for myself) pro-life… My personal preference doesn't matter because the issue of abortion has already been decided in this country - once and for all. What's that you say - Roe v Wade might be overturned? No, it won't. Sorry to break it those who would like to legislate their personal philosophy of the origination of life onto this secular country, but that's NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. At various points in the previous 8 years, you had a conservative President, Congress, and Supreme Court - all at the same time - and you still couldn't close the deal… I'm not trying to minimize anyone's beliefs or the seriousness of what's going on in this country, but the government will not solve this problem for you, not ever. How about dialing the rhetoric down a notch, and working to reduce the number of abortions by reaching out to confused or desperate mothers and offering some alternatives?”

My Responses

First off, I agree 100% that as Christians we should invest time, money, and effort to “reduce the number of abortions by reaching out to confused or desperate mothers and offering some alternative”… Amen. There are a few points of disagreement regarding the statements on the abortion issue. He states, "The rhetoric is getting us nowhere... the issue of abortion has already been decided in this country- once and for all." Here are a few of the victories the rhetoric has helped with thus far (from the Knights of Columbus)…

1. The Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions;
2. The federal law banning partial birth abortions, which was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2007;
3. The "Mexico City Policy," which has barred the use of federal taxpayers' money to pay for abortions in other countries;
4. Laws in 44 states that preserve a parental role when children under 18 seek abortions;
5. Laws in 40 states that restrict late-term abortions;
6. Laws in 46 states that protect the right of conscience for individual health care providers;
7. Laws in 27 states that protect the right of conscience for institutions;
8. Laws in 38 states that ban partial birth abortions;
9. Laws in 33 states that require counseling before having an abortion;
10. And laws in 16 states that provide for ultrasounds before an abortion.


There is a lot more to this issue and a lot more at stake than just whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned. I am not as willing to so easily concede on that point however and this USA Today article agrees. Of course I understand electing a pro-life president can not automatically lead to overturning it. What cannot be disputed is that this election will have an definite impact on the abortion issue. For example, Senator Obama says that he intends to make the signing of the Freedom of Choice Act one of the first orders of business in his administration. This would effectively remove all restrictions on abortion procedures. Senator Obama himself, in his own words, agrees that the election is crucial to this issue, "With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election."

As a Christian, the prospect of our nation having its first African-American president is very exciting. Racism is abhorrent to God and is in direct conflict with Genesis 1:27. Electing an African-American president would be seen and would be a major victory in the assault against racism in this country. With that said, the prospect of electing the most pro-abortion president in history is terrifying. Though I don't see a candidate out there with William Wilberforce courage or conviction on this issue, Senator Obama is certainly the antithesis of this. If I agreed with a man in nine of ten issues but the one issue of disagreement was over something so immoral as slavery or abortion I could not support that man. My prayer is that both John McCain and Barack Obama would be filled with courage and conviction to stop the heinous practice of abortion in our country. We need to vote and yes, our Biblical convictions should shape our vote. As Christians, a Biblical worldview should shape every choice we make. Regardless of the outcome of the election both Obama and McCain have significant positions of influence in the government and in the minds of our citizens. Let’s pray for these men.

HT: Justin Taylor and John Piper

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