It’s a shame the right to life didn’t make an appearance in last night’s presidential debate, because there’s a lot of light that needs to be shed – particularly on President Barack Obama’s support for taxpayer abortion funding, partial-birth abortion, and even post-birth abortion, none of which would sit well with the American people. But even a discussion limited to the general subject of abortion rights would be highly illuminating, especially in light of a newly uncovered video clip of then-Senator Obama discussing abortion in 2004. Let’s dissect it, shall we?
My basic view is that abortion is an extraordinarily difficult moral issue. As a Christian, I think that a fetus is not just a collection of cells. It is a potential life.
Mr. President, have you cracked open a biology textbook recently? The fetus’s status as something more than a clump of cells isn’t just a Christian tenet, but a factual matter that’s the same for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Zoroastrians, Scientologists, atheists, and agnostics. And what that something is happens to be an actual life, not potential. He or she is alive, and is a human being, during his or her time as an embryo or fetus.
And I think that after viability it is legitimate for the state to prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is an exception for the mother’s life and health.
A prohibition that’s so legitimate you didn’t support it when you voted against late-term abortion bans using the same “I trust women” rationalization you apply to early-term abortions, resisted cracking down on doctors killing babies after birth, and fell back on “health exceptions” so broad and ill-defined as to be meaningless.
Prior to viability, the problem is that this potential life is inside someone else’s body. It’s inside a woman’s body. And I don’t feel that it is appropriate for me to simply dictate to that person, to that woman what she should do with her body. I leave that up to her, and her conscience, and her minister or rabbi. I leave that up to her family and her doctor to make those decisions.
Why isn’t that appropriate, if what Person A wants to do “with her body” is to destroy Person B’s body? The whole point of the legal system you once taught and are now sworn to uphold can be summed up as keeping people from using their bodies against others’ bodies. The audacious claim that a baby’s location inside his or her mother gives the mother absolute dominion over him or her is far from self-evident or self-validating.
Now, one can hold that position and still suggest that this is a difficult moral issue and that people of goodwill can be on both sides of the issue.
My, how generous. But if you believe we pro-lifers are acting in good faith, Mr. President, then why has your re-election bid relied upon viciously mischaracterizing our views as part of a “war” on America’s women?
Obviously Mr. [Alan] Keyes [Obama’s Republican Senate opponent] believes that life begins at conception, although I have not examined this closely I think he has concerns about in vitro fertilization and contraception and a whole host of other issues, but we don’t – I may share that belief. But if someone else doesn’t, that essentially is a religious argument. And one of the things about this country is that we don’t impose our religious views on others, particularly in a situation in which we would then seek to restrict how other people deal with their own bodies.
You do like your straw men, don’t you, Mr. President? Do you really pay so little attention to the abortion debate that you still think its central question is a theological one, and don’t know that science settled it years ago? Or do you simply not care about whether your position extinguishes known human lives because it’s politically advantageous to hide behind the First Amendment?
Obviously it’s [viability] been a moving target because science is continually advancing, and that’s something that the law has had to adapt to over time. What was viable 30 years ago is obviously not the same as what is viable today. But the point is that if we as a society make a decision, or if science and technology have determined that this child can live outside the womb, then that changes the moral equation in ways that are not true if the fetus lives inside the womb.
But why does viability make a difference? What is it about my organs’ inability to sustain me that makes me less worthy of life or protection – especially if, at that point, you yourself describe me as something that “lives”? Indeed, if improving medicine “changes the moral equation,” are you saying that technology defines the value and humanity of children?
I really believe that these are questions Obama has never been forced to seriously grapple with. Throughout his entire career he’s been able to coast entirely on deflective bumper-sticker rhetoric when it comes to abortion, thus leaving himself utterly unprepared for a real one-on-one with a pro-lifer.
Granted, future debate moderators may not bring up abortion, and Mitt Romney’s handlers might feed him bad advice about softening his social-issues presentation for the undecided voters, but there’s no need for fear, as such a debate would clear up much of the issue’s public confusion and resonate with the nation’s pro-life disposition. If audiences and liberal commentators alike thought the president’s Wednesday night performance was a bust, speaking truth to power on abortion would be a complete derailment.