Last week, I had the pleasure of being on a conference call with a few other Christian leaders and some of the religious outreach staffers from the Obama campaign.  I wrote about my support for Obama long ago, and I’ve been relatively active in my support of him ever since.  I’ve been contacted by the campaign a couple times, but this was my first actual interaction.

(For those who argue that those of us in emergentland who support Obama (or any candidate, for that matter) are just a new version of the Religious Right…puh-leeze.  It’s nothing of the sort.  For one, we are a lot more cynical about the political process than righties were thirty years ago.  Don’t you get it, Bob?  The Obamessiah talk is ironic.  Second, I really have nothing to gain from an Obama presidency, except maybe a more just and civil country.  And I could go on about the differences…)

I think there were about eight pastorish people on the call, and three or four Obama staffers came and went.  For obvious reasons, I won’t disclose who was on the call, but I did notice something interesting.  I’d say that the group broke down as 5 older leaders, and 3 of us I’d call “youngish.”  I’ll refer to us as The Three and them as The Five.

The call began with some serious hand-wringing from The Five.  They were quite upset by the Palin Pick, and they strongly encouraged the O staffers to have BO go hard after her, exposing her lies and distortions about climate change, earmarks, etc.

The Three were almost completely unconcerned with Palin and suggested that O focus exclusively on McCain.

Then, the sparks started to fly.  One of The Three suggested that if O wants to peel off a segment of evangelicals under 40 who already share his concern for the environment, fighting poverty, and foreign diplomacy, that he must talk forthrightly about abortion. (Most of us will admit that O fumbled the ball at the Saddleback Forum when he told Rick that the decision about when life begins was above his pay grade.  He later admitted as much to George Stephanopolous.)

To this, The Five became quite upset.  They said that if O talks about abortion on the stump, he’s allowing the Religious Right to set the agenda.  One of The Three countered that, among his friends, abortion is the one thing holding younger evangelicals back from full-throated support of O.  One of O’s staffers said that O does very much want to reduce abortions, and he went on to say that abortions decreased during the Clinton administration and increased during W’s term.  The Republicans, quite simply, use abortion as a wedge issue during election years and then do NOTHING (yes, I’m shouting) to reduce abortions.

The Five continued to protest, saying that abortion is not an issue that O should deal with much.  To which I replied, “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”

And this, it seems to me, is the most common stumbling block for progressives and liberals (I consider the former to be more centrist, and the latter to be more leftist).  Too often, they’ll stand on principle until it’s too late.

For my part, I encouraged BO to talk openly and candidly.  He thinks abortions are bad, and he wants to reduce them.  He doesn’t think that criminalizing doctors or mothers is the answer.  He thinks we need a more fully-orbed response to the problems of promiscuity and poverty that too often lead to abortions.

I think he needs to talk about this in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Florida and Ohio, and he needs to not look so uncomfortable when the subject comes up.  In fact, I really hope that BO is ready to address this issue head-on in the debates, because I think he can win over a lot of younger evangelicals who are currently on the fence.

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  • Thanks for sharing this Tony.

  • Nice post Tony – fascinating break on the 5 vs. 3.

    Your question seems like a classic frame from the last 30 years in American politics:

    “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”

    The consistent answer – from Reagan to Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 – has been that winning always trumps principles. Winners can nominate people to the court, winners can withhold funding, winners can legislate.

    What continues to trouble me is how much institutional churchianity seem to be invested in winners. Watching “America’s Pastor” – Rick Warren – navigate these minefields has been really demoralizing.

  • “[abortions] increased during W’s term. This is just plain false.

    And don’t you have to have a child (not kill it) to be a Mother?

    Bush has failed here and elsewhere miserably, I didn’t vote for him, but the lies have to stop. Obama cares nothing for the unborn (and post born) as evidenced by his voting record (when he actually voted) and will do nothing to help cultivate a culture of life; only death.

  • i personally didn’t mind his ‘above my pay grade response. i share similar feelings and questions about where life begins.

    overall, i agree with your stated view of abortions (a more rounded response needs to be taken on promiscuity, etc… that leads to unwanted pregnancy.

  • The distortions actually go both ways, Brian:


  • Tony,

    I’m curious as to your thoughts on Obama’s support of the Freedom of Choice Act, and how that would be consistent with the desire to reduce abortions.


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  • A couple of questions that need to be addressed in this debate about abortion:

    1. If abortion is not wrong, why should we want to reduce it? Should it not be a constitutional right if it’s not wrong? Why in the world would we want to limit our freedoms on this issue if it’s not wrong?

    2. If we don’t know when life begins don’t you think we should err on the side of life? Consider this example. Let’s say my job is to be the dynamite specialist for blowing up old buildings. Let’s say on my current job I am about to push the plunger down when someone asks me, “Do you know if there is anyone still in the building?” I answer, “No, I honestly am not sure if anyone is in there”. What should I do? Should I risk it? Certainly not, you stop and check the building to make sure no one is in there. Same goes for abortion. If you say you don’t know what it is in the womb, then should you not err on the side of caution? The burden of proof is on the pro-abortionist to have a non-arbitrary reason for decided to kill “whatever it is” in the womb. Should we not err on the side of life if we don’t know?

    3. If there any meaningful ontological difference between a five month old baby in the womb and my son when he was 5 weeks old out of the womb that gives me the right to kill it in the womb, but not out of it? If so, what is it? Size, level of development, change in environment, level of dependency? Is there any fundamental difference between infanticide and abortion? I would say no, thus in order to be consistent I could never vote for BO because I would never vote for a pro-infanticide president (no matter what the other issues are) because abortion and infanticide are essentially the same thing in my mind. But for those of you who do vote for BO (I would assume you would never vote for a pro-infanticide president) what do you think is the difference between abortion and infanticide?

    If you are going to vote for BO, then I think these questions need to be dealt with head on.


  • Thanks for the link for the Obama Messiah stuff.

    He does kind of try and present himself in messianic terms when he gets too full of himself.

    like when he says if you vote for him

    we will remember this as the time when we turned back the waters etc. etc.

    You are right about talking about the abortion issue though. Especially if he wants to win over younger evangelicals who are itching to vote for him.

    Many of us, even if we have given ourselves permission to not be one issue voters, have been trained that way since childhood. And we need to be given a reason by Obama to think differently.

  • bob

    1. I actually buy Obama’s explanation on the Born Alive act: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Skq5M1Ksp_c

    I don’t dig the overt pro-choice stand, but appreciate his stated objective to reduce abortions.

    2. Yes, Tony- I get it. But…
    they aren’t all, are they?
    Do you seriously think this is ironic?
    Or this?
    Or this?
    Or this?
    Or this?
    Or this?

    No- those aren’t ironic. They’re just nuts.

  • Kenton

    So, am I to assume the Dems are genuinely more interested in reducing abortion??? Are you kidding me??? They’ve had both houses of congress for the last session. Just what exactly have THEY done to reduce abortion, Tony?

    If it’s the Republicans using it as a wedge issue, why don’t the Democrats just take it away from them by ditching the abortion lobby and adopting a pro-life stance?

  • I enjoyed this post.

    I hope that you are invited to more events like this and post the results on your blog.

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  • Tony,

    I think you probably have it right to suggest Obama take on the abortion issue head on, with less of apprehension. But take a look at your comments so far — even bringing it up invites a lot of heat.

    I’d love to have a wider discussion with you and others about how, as so-called ‘new Christians’, we can best respond to these kinds of questions.

    For instance, I don’t think it matters if McCain’s campaign has lied about Obama, we still shouldn’t encourage Obama to use false stats in his campaign. I’d like to thank Brian for pointing that out as it makes us all better informed. Even though I strongly disagree that you can go from “this statistic is false” to “Obama doesn’t care for the unborn”.


    Lots of things are wrong that aren’t illegal. If there was a way to “run in and check” to see if life begins at conception or birth, I’m sure someone would have done it. But the real meat of your issue is in #3. I agree with you, there’s no difference. So what is your desired outcome?

    You seem like you’re saying, “Vote for McCain, he wants to make abortion illegal” but do you think he will? Bush said the same and didn’t even try. So, if you and I agree that abortion is not a good option, could we work together to decrease the number of abortions in this country and work on a more comprehensive solution to the problem? I think we can.

    That’s why this isn’t a problem issue for Obama voters.

  • Jason,

    “Bush didn’t even try” to make abortion illegal? What would you have had him do? He did appoint two excellent justices to the SCOTUS. (And of course you know that overturning Roe v Wade doesn’t make abortion illegal or “criminalize” it.)

    If you support the reduction of abortion, why support a candidate who would seek to pass FOCA? Isn’t that a virtual guarantee that abortions would increase?


  • Zach,

    I hope you take your “err on the side of life” argument all the way because I agree with it.

    The problem is, as I see it, the current administration AND the promises of McCain do not take that notion to its fullest extent.

    We have no way of knowing whether staying in Iraq will cause fewer deaths, but we do know that if we stay there will continue to be insurgents and death. Shouldn’t we err on the side of life then and pull out of Iraq so as not to be a party to the absolute assurance of death, but hope in the unknown of possible life?

    Shouldn’t we completely abolish the death penalty since we can NEVER be sure of the guilt of someone and therefore might execute an innocent person? Further, shouldn’t we just always side with not killing… even in retribution?

    Shouldn’t we adopt policies that would guarantee (to as much of an extent as that is possible) that everyone will be able to get the health care they need to survive as opposed to relying on a system that can give no such guarantee (again… I do use “guarantee” loosely but one system offers the attempt while the other one leaves people on their own)?

    I agree with your premise of erring on the side of possible life and I hope that you also incorporate that into all of the issues dealing with life such as war, poverty, health care, death penalty, etc. and not just value one life (or one form of life… or one form of possible “life”) over another which is not, in my understanding, consistent with a God who desires “none to perish.”

    *SIDENOTE* There really isn’t a debate about whether a fetus is “life.” It obviously is alive. There also isn’t debate about whether it is human life. It obviously is human and alive. The debate is about “personhood” and when does a human life become a person. Thomas Aquinas put that moment at the stirring of the fetus. That was when he said ensoulment took place and that prior to the stirring… abortion was permitted. Others put it at conception. Others put it at birth. Still others put it at the point when the fetus could survive outside the womb. This is the actual debate. But again, my personal view is to err on the side of life, but that comes from my religious point of view which I cannot impose on someone else in a pluralistic, Liberal Democracy that values highly its freedom of religion for all of its citizens. I can simply try to change their hearts and minds on the issue… but I cannot and should not try to legislate my non-universally held religious view. I say “universally held” because murder is pretty much a universally held wrong while abortion is not.

  • Justin,

    It is not a guarantee that abortions would increase, just a guarantee that they would not be criminalized (although it would allow for restrictions).

    The “guarantee” that abortions would increase would be to allow more people to slip into poverty and to cut education regarding sex and reproduction as well as to continue to hold onto a system that does not provide universal health-care so that women without the means to pay can still receive pre-natal care as well as having the birthing costs covered. That will guarantee increase in abortions.

    Many other countries have something similar to a freedom of choice act and they have (per capita) far lower abortion rates than the U.S.

  • Jason,

    Good questions. I’ll attempt a response.

    1. To be frank, I don’t know jack about McCain, but I have no other choice but to vote for him or not vote I guess. I don’t pay attention to politics that much, but do pay attention to the holocaust on the unborn in the US and beyond. It’s not so much that I think McCain will make it illegal, but Bush appointing two supreme court judges that are pro-life is a rather significant step I would say. If McCain can do the same then that would be great as well. I wouldn’t say that Bush did nothing. Here is an interesting write up on why pro-life presidents matter:


    But even if pro-life presidents didn’t matter at all, I could still never vote for a guy who was pro-abortion (I don’t use the world “pro-choice” because it just masks the horror of killing in the the name of “choice”), since abortion and infanticide are the same thing. You see how I want to be consistent with this? Can you ever imagine voting for a president who actually believed that you should have the right to kill your kid as long at it was before 28 days? I can’t. But if you agree (like you said above) that abortion and infanticide are synonymous then BO is excluded right out of the gate since he is pro-abortion which also equates to being pro-infanticide. I guess that leaves me with McCain or don’t vote. I choose McCain since I think it’s important to exercise our freedom to vote.

    In terms of your first question…
    All people already know that life obviously begins at conception. It’s a scientific fact. Our laws shows us this by the fact that we have fetal homicide laws. This points to the arbitrary nature of all the killing of the unborn. I wonder if BO would say that when his wife was pregnant that the essential nature of the “thing” in his wife’s womb was unclear. Probably not. We all know “what” it is, but we suppress the truth in the name of “choice” ie. autonomy.

    You want to know why abortion stays legal? It’s private. I guarantee that if we all could watch a partial birth abortion or any other abortion on youtube we would all be running to our state senators as fast as you could say “choice” (right after we threw up from the horror of it all). Check out abort73.com if you want to see first hand what BO is all in favor of.

    Do you really think BO wants to limit it? That is certainly not what he said to a big Planned Parenthood meeting. Watch the footage here:


    There are many of these discussions going on at my blog. Just search “Obama abortion” and you’ll see a ton of stuff to consider.

    Let me know what you think. Thanks!


  • Rhetorically, he needs to re-set the terms of the debate. “pro-life” as it stands is window dressing for “anti-abortion.” I think that he has an opportunity here to argue that he supports a better pro-life position that takes things like healthcare, education, and poverty seriously. It’s not just about the moral status of the fetus, it is about all who have life and breath and we need to create a society that supports life in general rather than continue to live in a world that glorifies death and fear.

    I would also like to see the word peace used once in a while. It’s not about “winning” a way as if there is a score in a football game. It’s about cultivating a society of peace and equal protection for people who do not have it. You can’t “win a war” and be pro-life at the same time. Makes no sense at all. But people by it because of how the term is defined.

    Time to redefine the term pro-life and reclaim it as something that only the Obama platform truly supports.

  • @JT Excellent point about Bush. Makes you wonder why anyone thinks McCain will do any better.

    FOCA is a political football. It may or may not lead to more abortions — my impression is that those who want them simply travel to states where they can get them. I believe Obama will work to reduce abortions and, more importantly, the wider causes of abortion, even if he simultaneously signs acts that he believes uphold the decisions of the Supreme Court.

    What has McCain said he’ll do?

  • Dave,

    Good points. I agree that you raise some very important issues, but are you going to say that they are on the same level as 45 millions human beings pulled apart, had their brains sucked out with a vacuum, or burned alive? I don’t place those other issues on the same level, though they are very important.

    In terms of your logic on the “imposition of my religious beliefs”, do you think that same logic would apply or should apply to my religious commitment that black people should not be slaves? Should I seek to impose that legally? I would hope so.

    Check out these comments from Greg Koukl and Al Mohler on this issue:

    Greg Koukl:
    But if Biden actually believes abortion truly takes the life of an innocent human being before birth in a way that is not morally distinct from killing a newborn immediately after birth, why would he not vote against such a thing? Would it make any sense to say that as a matter of religious conviction I believe that all men are endowed with inalienable rights, but I could never impose such a personal belief on slave owners?

    I once had a discussion with a man who offered this nonsense to me at a conference. He said he was personally opposed to abortion, but didn’t think it was right to force his views on others. I asked him the question I always pose when I encounter such a feeble notion: “Why are you personally against abortion?”

    He responded with the answer I always get. “I believe abortion kills a baby,” he said, “That is why I am against it. But that’s just my own personal view.”

    “Let me see if I understand you,” I said. “You are convinced abortion kills an innocent child, yet you think the law should allow women to do that to their own babies. Did I get that right?”

    He objected to my wording, but when I asked him what part of his view I misunderstood, he was silent. I hadn’t misunderstood it. That was his view.

    The logic of the modified pro-choice position reduces to, “I think it’s wrong to kill my own children, but I don’t think we should stop other people from killing theirs.”

    Notice that this critique has nothing to do with whether abortion is right or wrong. That’s a different question. I am simply pointing out that the modified pro-choice view deals itself a fatal blow. That is Biden’s blunder, and the blunder of anyone else advancing such a foolish notion.

    Al Mohler:

    Sen. Biden may have been attempting to “walk the line” politically, but a closer look at his actual argument is truly horrifying.

    Sen. Biden says, and we must take him at his word, that he accepts as a matter of faith that human life begins at conception. But, he argues, he is perfectly willing to support a woman’s right to choose to end that human life.

    The killing of human life is called homicide. Murder is the willful taking of a human life. The senator has here stated that he believes abortion to be homicide, but he defends a woman’s right to kill the unborn human life within her because he would not impose his beliefs about human life (and thus about homicide) on others.

    In other words, if we take Sen. Biden seriously, he would defer to others who believe otherwise when it comes to the law.

    How can he live with this? There are significant questions about the extent to which some matters can properly be legislated. But there is no question that the government — any government — must take a stand on the question of human life. This is why the abortion issue simply will not and cannot go away. The government takes a side on this question, like it or not.

    I believe Sen. Biden to be a serious man, and that is what is most frightening about this. Can a morally serious man really say that he believes that unborn babies are human beings, but that it should be a protected right to kill them?

  • Why is the abortion issue not considered from the “potential for life” point of view?

  • @ Zach —

    Here’s a good article you should read (not from my blog, fyi) about “levels” of violence and moral equivalence:


  • Brandon,

    That is a good link, but again think of it in terms of abortion vs. infanticide. For me, when I do that the issue gains much clarity.


  • @Zach — for me that’s where the issue is the most cloudy. Is abortion = infanticide? Or put another, simpler way, is abortion murder?

    Killing is wrong, but it’s not always illegal. Lots of people kill other people in a perfectly legal fashion. Murder is a subset of killing, still wrong (as all killing is) but also illegal.

    So while abortion is killing, and therefore wrong, we have to answer “Is it murder?” before we can answer “Should it be illegal?”

  • I am increasingly becoming one of those to whom you say…”puh-leeze”. You say that you and others within the emergent circles aren’t a new version of the Religious Right and then you substantiate that claim by some pretty weak arguments…that you are more cynical than the other group and that you have nothing to gain if Obama is elected.

    Neither of those areas have anything to do with why I think you are a new version of the Religious Right. I see you as the same old song with a new verse because you are doing some of the exact things your predecessors did…

    One such example is that you continue to ignore facts on both sides if those facts don’t substantiate your position. The religious right was and is great at that. Abortion is a great example…republicans say christians should vote for them because of the abortion issue yet do nothing when they are in office. The religious right continues to ignore that fact. However, claiming false stats about abortions increasing in number during the Bush years and saying that Obama wants the number to decrease is equally as absurd.

    To me the most salient issue that puts you in the same boat as the religious right is that through becoming overly concerned with politics and endorsing a candidate because that man, be it McCain or Obama or Bush or Clinton, will bring about a “more just and civil country” seems to be putting too much weight and faith in the political system. The religious right and now well-meaning people like you attempt to “get things accomplished” through the government. To me, this detracts from the power of God living in us and within His community at large.

    I hate to see either political party benefit from pandering to people of faith. IMO, Obama is using you and others on the phone call just like the republican party has used the religious right for so long now.

  • Bentley


    Framing abortion as infanticide is one sure way to make it a wedge issue and stop dialogue. At least it is for me, I was following your impassioned logic until you equated them.

    You say that it brings you “clarity” to frame the issue this way. On one hand, I agree with you. If I accept your framing and allow myself to be wedged away from you as a person, I get angry and arrogantly deem you as “clearly” a religious fanatic.

    In order to refrain from demeaning our shared humanity, I must reject your framing of this issue.

    I imagine it is not by accident that you chose to compare a child of five months gestational age to a five week old baby (that I presume to be full term). To skip ahead to my conclusion and answer your question, there is a huge difference between these two children.

    A child who is of a gestational age of five months translates into about 23.5 weeks (presuming that everyone is correct about the mother’s last menstrual cycle). Twenty-three weeks is at the low end of viability. Most neonatologists will not make any medical interventions for a child less than 23 weeks of gestational age. Why? It is futile care; statistically there are no good outcomes. Of course, there are exceptions, (which are usually explained miscalculations of gestational age). Quite simply, the lungs of 22 week-ers have not developed enough. Even with all the drugs and ventilator support, these children are not yet ready to breathe. Despite all of our medical advances, we have not come up with something that replaces the wombs of our mothers in which God knits us together. (Wombs are much more than buildings about to be demolished that we need to check to see if life is inside).

    Of the 23 week-ers, sadly, less than 10 percent survive. It is impossible to know which baby will survive and so medical teams make every effort for all children. They are put on ventilators and occasionally heart and lung bypass machines. Because their brains can not regulate their bodies yet, they are given blood pressers and medications to limit their seizures, due to the shock of being outside the womb too early. They are given blood products and IVs of fluids. The possibility of life is given every opportunity.

    On the other hand, to my knowledge, there are only two states in the union that legally perform abortions over 24 weeks.

    So in choosing 5 months gestational age, you chose a wedge hypothetical to accompany your wedge framing.

    If your desire is to be “clearly” right, than continue with your line and style of argumentation. However, there are many of us who do not see it as clearly as you do, but do want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. Would you like to prayerfully work with us or to continue to wedge us apart?

  • Bentley,

    Sorry that this rhetoric is a means for you to not want to engage with me. But just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean it should not be spoken. Am I accusing people of infanticide? Perhaps. But if I am right, then do we not have a moral obligation to deal with it?

    Why would you deem me a religious fanatic? Have I said anything here about my religious views? You must be assuming some things about me. I’m sure you would not like me doing the same to you.

    To be honest my choosing of 5 months in the womb was totally random.

    You are making it sound like I am somehow playing intellectual games and “framing” things a certain way to make people believe my point. Not the case. I am just trying to follow out the logic as far as we can and see if it stands. The BO and pro-abortion logic in my mind just doesn’t follow in the least.

    So if I am hearing you right you would say that the main difference between killing a 5 month old in the womb and a 28 day old infant is the level of development. We should have the right to kill it since it is far less developed? Am I hearing you right? Just want to make sure that I am hearing you right before I respond.


  • My two copper coins…

    There is no argument to be made against abortion of a fetus in the first trimester which does not boil down to a moral/religious/philosophical argument. After the start of the second trimester, consideration must be given to viability out side the womb. Potential for life is not life, in my opinion.

    It is more a consideration of government interference in the private lives of citizens than anything else.



  • Nowaytess

    Don’t think either candidate has a strong stance on making abortion illegal. If you are passionate about getting rid of abortion; work on getting rid of the reason why a woman turns to an abortion doctor.

    Like prohibition on alcohol in the 1920, you can make abortion illegal, but you will make abortion more profitable. Look at those who profited off prohibition of alcohol! If there are large sums of cash to be made some one will always set up shop! The only way to really stop abortion is to get rid customer base!

    I am too uncomfortable with many of Obama stand on issues to vote for him. He voting record is far on the left.

    I was a Democrat with most of my life before I moved From Boston Area. When I came to Florida I am a Registered Republican and most on social issues.
    When it come to voting day in general election I vote independent for I vote my values.

    I was not going to vote at all this election first time in over 15 years. I am not in love with John Mc Cain and don’t like Obama.

    I do like Sarah Palin and that gets me out to vote.

    Sad part is if the Obama campaign has now turn to the doom and gloom and attack against Palin.

    Now that the economy is the issue on forefront, I hear that Obama Bush’s policies that got us into this mess.

    I disagree. I work in collection in the financial industry. Sad thing is many people got loan that had credit report and income statement I would never rent an apartment to, never mind hand them a mortgage, credit cards or car loan. If the bank or financial institution lends high risk person money and they default it, the loss goes to the bank! If goverment bails out the banks and loan still default, then all taxpayers will loose!

  • Nowaytess

    Nobody ever talks about predatory professional debtors! Or the many people mismanage their funds or max themselves out! Who pay you will those who have good credit and pay their bills on time.

    The people whom I see make 50- 100K a year have mortgage on home 2 brand new car school loans and deep in credit card debt!

    I want to see both candidates speak about corporate and personal responsibility! I don’t want to hear of a government bail out either for the banks or for those who default on the mortgage payments!

  • Interesting that men have such strong opinions about this issue. Let me ask you a question guys. Let’s say your wife is pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy. You and she will have to make a choice about who gets to live, your wife or the baby (and really, the baby doesn’t have much of a shot but if you don’t terminate the pregnancy, the growing baby will rupture the fallopian tubes and both your wife and your baby will die). The question here isn’t who’s life is more valuable. It’s who gets to make the decision: you and your wife, or the federal government. (And don’t go with that “abortion is justifiable when the mother’s life is in danger” line. I’ll get to that in a moment.)

    I am pro-choice and that does not mean I am not pro-life. I wish no woman ever had to have an abortion. I wish that every man who ever got a woman (or a girl) pregnant had to spend an eighth as much time thinking about how his life was about to change as she does. I wish that everyone who believes that abortion should be illegal would head to the nearest department of child services and beg to adopt a child who is living in the foster care system. I am pro-choice because I don’t believe the government gets to decide when I have a child. I believe that is a deeply personal issue, one women deal with on a level that–I hate to say it–men truly can’t understand.

    The abortion issue is far more complex than many of you would like to make it. I wish that someone who is pro-life could explain what exactly they believe the federal government ought to do to put an end to abortion. And I wish someone here could explain who they would convict of murder if abortion is illegal. The mother? The doctor? The guy who got her pregnant? The person who drove her to the clinic? The person who pays for the abortion?

    Then there’s this little bit of irony. I am willing to bet that nearly every one of you who is opposed to abortion believes there should be exceptions–rape, incest, life of the mother in danger. If you allow for exceptions, then you are essentially deciding that at some point and in some circumstances, it’s okay to murder that baby.

    The legal system doesn’t simply convict people of murder. There are a thousand shades of grey, which is why we have jury trials and enormous law books filled with all the various ways a person can kill someone without it being “murder.” If the circumstances matter once a child is out of the womb, why don’t they matter when he or she is in the womb?

    For me, Obama represents an effort to address the full scope of the abortion issue–poverty, lack of childcare resources, etc. etc. He wants to work to eliminate the reasons women choose abortion. Now I think he needs to do a much better job of standing up and talking about this. But honestly, the man is a father. Do you truly believe he likes the idea of abortion? Do you honestly think he wants it to happen more often? I don’t know a single human being who thinks that way. Not one. Not even a Democrat.

  • Tony, I am with you on this issue. I was actually in the camp that you described (being a young evangelical with reservations about Obama’s stance on abortion). I wish that he had a consistent ethic of life (from conception to the grave).

    In my opinion, his views on how to greatly reduce the so-called need for abortions, if implemented, will help greatly in this area. In a speech he gave at a conference held by Sojourners Magazine (I think), he called evangelical Christians to begin using ‘universal language’ if they really want their voices to be heard. Here is my attempt on this issue.

    I think that if a baby is old enough to survive outside of the womb [this includes the possibility via modern tech.], then we should not kill the child while it is in the womb. I personally do not like abortions at any time during pregnancy, but at least this would help find some kind of middle ground.

    Finally, I have to admit that it is very difficult for me (as an emergent Christian) to discuss my support for Obama because of this one issue, especially with family members. If he were a bit more moderate or ‘conservative’ on this issue, I would have an open door to my conservative family members and friends without coming across as a ‘crazy liberal.’ Not only so, but it would open a door for many evangelicals to reconsider their narrative (to borrow language from Brian McLaren).

  • Zach says, “pro-abortion logic”.

    How can you expect to have a real conversation with anyone?

  • Oh, and Kurt, when you say this:

    “I think that if a baby is old enough to survive outside of the womb [this includes the possibility via modern tech.], then we should not kill the child while it is in the womb.”

    That’s what the law IS. That’s what the word “viable” means in this context — can the baby survive on its own outside of the womb. At least, that’s what FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) is about.

  • Jason, Kurt, and Bentley:

    You know, right, that Roe effectively allows for abortion at any point in a pregnancy–even in the third trimester? As you read Roe v Wade, make sure to read it, as intended by Justice Blackmun, in conjunction with Doe v Bolton (which was handed down on the same day). The “health exception” was to “be exercised in the light of all factors–physical, emotional, psychological, familial….” In other words, for any conceivable problem that might arise. This effectively means abortion on demand is legal in the US even in the third trimester. I think all who have studied the rulings agree on that point. Obama told Planned Parenthood that signing FOCA–which would codify Roe, at taxpayers’ expense–would be his first order of business in the White House.

    I think it’s also important to remember that Obama has never once voted for a restriction of any kind for abortion. Not many politicians can claim that sort of record. If I’m mistaken on his voting record, I’m open to correction. As far as I know, Obama is the most pro-abortion-rights major presidential candidate in US history.


  • If Obama is interested in reaching out to Evangelicals (which he has said numerous times) he should talk about the biggest issue for most people in this demographic – abortion. I think level-headed Evangelicals will find his take to be reasonable and livable…especially since Obama is right-on in many other issues that Christians should care about. I believe it is possible to be anti-abortion and still stop short of outlawing it.

  • Jason,

    If abortion is not wrong, why is using the term “pro-abortion” that inflammatory? Honest question.

    Carlo Jo,

    “And I wish someone here could explain who they would convict of murder if abortion is illegal.” Why do we have fetal homicide laws? If my wife was pregnant and someone killed her and the baby it would be a double murder trial, right? There are many cases on the books like this. But if she chose to kill it herself it’s legal. This points to the completely arbitrary nature of abortion.


  • MTR

    Obama’s rhetoric on “decreasing abortions” is just that … rhetoric. He has not one single piece of hard evidence (a vote or sponsorship of legislation) to suggest that he’s serious about eliminating abortions.

    He’s talking about this issue with over-general platitudes for the express purpose of picking up votes from non-critical, so-called Christians. And he won’t speak more candidly and openly about the plight of abortion, because:

    A) It’s not really an important issue for him, and

    B) The leftist puppeteers for whom Obama is the mouthpiece would not ever let him be perceived as going any closer to the middle on this issue than he has already gone (or rather, than he has already been perceived to have gone).

  • MTR


    Above you wrote, “There is no argument to be made against abortion of a fetus in the first trimester which does not boil down to a moral/religious/philosophical argument.”

    I absolutely disagree. All you need is science and our nation’s founding documents (which, I guess you could argue are moral/religious/philosophical documents, but not in the sense that you intended above).

    Scientifically, the clearest place to pinpoint when life begins is at conception. Pinpointing the beginning of life at any other time is impossible and thwarted by too many developmental ambiguities and inconsistencies.

    Once we’ve established that life clearly begins at conception – which hoardes of pagan doctors/scientists/philosophers agree to – we’re left with the mandate of our nation’s founding documents: everyone is created equal and endowed by God with inalienable rights – LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Regardless of anyone’s religious perspective, sound empirical science and the parameters that every citizen of this nation submits himself/herself to demand that abortion be illegal.

  • John

    I’ve gone several rounds with friends and colleagues over the issue, and I’ve noticed that it’s usually white men who hold court on the debate. Well, I’m a half-white dude with four cents in my pocket, so here’s my opinion in a nutshell:

    It’s the mother’s moral obligation to carry a baby to term – not the church’s, and certainly not the government’s. Whether she does, and where the responsibility of society lies, has less to do with the womb and more to do with the environment that supports the mother/child – are they loved, supported, given opportunities for health and security? It’s this framework that leads me to support Obama, as a pro-choice AND pro-life progressive Democrat.

  • Zach, you didn’t answer my question. Who gets the murder conviction? Are you really prepared to say that a 16-year-old girl who’s boyfriend abandons her should go to jail for 30 years after she has an abortion? Should the doctor? And why doesn’t the boyfriend factor in? What’s his responsibility for the life he helped create? His abandonment is perhaps the primary reason she would choose an abortion. So maybe he should be the criminal here.

    And, if the mother and her unborn child are killed in, say, self-defense, then that “double murder” trial will be handled quite differently by both the defense and the prosecution than it would be if someone just guns them down for no reason. My point is that it’s reductionistic to say abortion is murder when the courts don’t treat murder as a single category. If you want abortion to be considered murder, then you have to allow for all the shades of grey the law affords murder–homicide, manslaughter, capital murder, etc. Then there are the degrees involved, motives, etc. It’s not as simple as you want it to be.

  • @Justin Taylor — Unfortunately you’re wrong on this. FOCA explicitly lays out the definition of viability and allows for abortion only before viability. If Roe v. Wade says what you say it does, then FOCA is a limit on the Roe v. Wade decision.

    @Zach — You haven’t really answered some of my more serious questions above, which further shows that you’re not interested in a real discussion.

    To answer your question, if you’d read earlier I said that abortion can be wrong without being made illegal. “Pro-abortion” is inflammatory because you know that Obama is not pro-abortion (I doubt many people are). He’s anti-abortion, demonstrably. That he doesn’t come to the same conclusion as you on how to best reduce abortions is the real issue.

    Extremists always want to frame this question as “Do you like babies?” or “Do you like freedom?” It’s unhelpful, inflammatory, and ridiculous.

  • Jason,

    No, FOCA is not a limit on Roe, as NOW explains:


    Note that post-viability abortions are allowed with the “health” exception.


  • Jason,

    Do you honestly think Obama is anti-abortion? Have you looked into his voting record? He stands out like a sore thumb even among his democratic peers? I would love to have a conversation with you about it, but not sure what you mean by me not answering your questions. Perhaps I have not given answers that you deem satisfactory, but I think I have addressed them. If you want to restate I would love to give it another go.

    Carla Jo,

    “Zach, you didn’t answer my question. Who gets the murder conviction? Are you really prepared to say that a 16-year-old girl who’s boyfriend abandons her should go to jail for 30 years after she has an abortion? Should the doctor?”

    Just because it could be complicated, should we just go forward with the current policy? What is sadly missing from your argument is, what about the baby? Power to the strong and those with the loudest voice. If you choose to have sex then we are obligated to deal with the consequences of those choices (yes, rape is not a “choice to have sex”). If it is a human life (I think we are agreed) and you choose to kill it then yes you are responsible for that murder. Not sure how the courts would deal with it, I am not a lawyer or legislator, but again, since we have fetal homicide laws against anyone other than the mother killing the baby, I would think that we should try to be consistent. The mother being excluded seems horribly inconsistent to me. Yes the Father should be involved as well. We could go round and round about how all this could play out legally, but to be honest I have no clue how that would work. It would be up to the lawmakers, but don’t we have to say at least that if it’s wrong to kill a baby in the womb then we at least have to try and figure out what the punishment for that crime would be?

    Just read this article, you don’t even need to read the commentary. Just read the excerpt from BO’s comments on the floor of the senate. If this does not turn your stomach and make you want to not vote for BO, then there is sadly probably nothing more I can say.

    You said” If you want abortion to be considered murder, then you have to allow for all the shades of grey the law affords murder–homicide, manslaughter, capital murder, etc. Then there are the degrees involved, motives, etc. It’s not as simple as you want it to be.”

    I never claimed it was simple but what is simple is that abortion is basically the same as infanticide. Infanticide cases could be found on a range criminally, sure, I grant that. Maybe is was not 1st degree murder, perhaps is was negligence. I get that. But at least let’s have laws on the books protecting the unborn from being murdered in the womb.

  • Zach, I appreciate you taking the time to give more serious thought to my question. And I think you see the point of what I’m getting at: this issue of whether abortion should be legal or not is far more complicated that either side often makes it out to be.

    What often strikes me about the abortion debate is that people who are pro-life tend to use the examples of wealthy women using abortion as a form of birth control or the very rare third term abortion as examples of the recklessness of abortion. And I agree, those are reckless. Pro-choicers often use examples of poor 13-year-olds who have so few options that abortion is a necessary choice. And I believe she should be allowed to make that choice. But the thing is that we can’t legislate morality, as much as we’d like to. You can’t take away a woman’s right to decide when she has a baby just because some women make that decision for reasons you don’t like.

    There are people who make terrible, heart-wrenching decisions with their guns, yet we protect the right of people to have them because we believe that the rights of the many ought not be restricted by the horrific decisions of the few. Guns kill a whole lot more people than abortion ever will and yet we as a country have allowed ordinary citizens to purchase and carry potentially deadly weapons without the debate that surrounds abortion. Do you know where McCain and Obama stand on gun control? It seems like that is at least as important a “pro-life” issue as abortion.

  • @Justin Taylor — Post-viability abortions would only be allowed in cases where the woman’s life or health were in danger. I assume you think the health part of that clause can refer to the woman having a cold?

    @Zach Nielsen — I apologize to you. I actually missed one of your earlier responses to me and so thought you’d ignored me. Sorry about that.

    But in answer to your most recent questions, yes, I honestly think that Obama is anti-abortion. His voting record shows that he has not moved to make abortion illegal. That is not sufficient to prove that he is pro-abortion, as you insist.

    Like I said earlier, if you start with the premise that killing is wrong, you have to admit that not all killing is illegal. Murder is illegal, and abortion is not currently classed as murder. Changing the laws about abortion isn’t the only way to decrease abortions, and I don’t even think it’s the best way.

    It’s not about how private it is. Lord knows we’ve all driven past the people with the gruesome signs in the medians. It’s the fact that it is an enormously complicated and complex issue. The extremists who continue to pretend like it’s simple, clear, and obvious only push us further along the path AWAY from resolution.

  • @Zach — about the last link you left…

    I want very much to be as fair as possible in these kind of discussions. But the amount of twisting and pulling and spinning that the author of that article does is staggering! It’s mind-numbing! At the end it says he’s the author of a book called “Willful Blindness” and it couldn’t have been written by a better expert in the subject.

    The article certainly turned my stomach but for a different reason than you probably expected.

  • Jason,

    Like I said, bypass the commentary and just read the words straight from Obama’s mouth from the floor of the senate. After you do, ask yourself, whose best interest he has in mind, that of the strong, powerful and those with a voice, or those that are weak, silent and powerless. If you are Christian, we have to fight for justice for those in the latter category. It’s a really big deal in God’s mind. Also, again, ask yourself why all his other democratic peers disagreed with him on this one. That has to point to something very strange, don’t you think?


  • @Zach — Don’t be too impressed by Democrats disagreeing with him. Most politicians don’t want to do anything that will make them unelectable, and most democrats know about people like you and Andrew C. McCarthy who will try to use a vote like that to the maximum degree of controversy.

    You simply cannot make a judgment about who’s best interest Barack Obama has in mind based on a snip of a conversation from the state Senate floor about a specific issue they’d been arguing over for weeks. You can’t. It’s not possible.

    From what I can gather of that exchange (and I admit that it was hard to gather much), Obama was seemed to be attempting to clarify what a bill was for. When he said it’s about abortion and not live-births, he was implying that the bill-writers had made it about abortion, but were now claiming it was about live births. It’s not up to state senates to subvert a Supreme Court decision, and if that’s what the bill was trying to covertly do, it needed to be addressed before a vote.

    Again, trying to boil things down to clear-cut simplicity doesn’t work.

  • So Jason, what do you suggest as a solution then?

    Your other points:
    So perhaps being pro-abortion is a just a natural outflow from BO’s stance that women should have the right to kill their baby at any point deemed necessary even if that baby survived a failed abortion attempt? He is pro-women’s right to choose to kill? I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what it is right? Killing, right? Can we at least call it what it is? If it’s not wrong to kill in the womb, then we might as well name it right? Not trying to be provocative. Seriously. Just trying to be consistent.

    You said “Like I said earlier, if you start with the premise that killing is wrong, you have to admit that not all killing is illegal. Murder is illegal, and abortion is not currently classed as murder. Changing the laws about abortion isn’t the only way to decrease abortions, and I don’t even think it’s the best way.”

    I am not totally sure I am following you on all this, but my only point is that abortion should be seen as murder since we would say that it is when the baby travels a mere six inches outside the woman’s body. Does the ontology of a person change when it leaves the body to the point where we can say before it comes out, yes to killing, but after it comes out, no to killing? It’s straight murder just like infanticide is, thus should be make illegal. Here is the big thing. We don’t have all these crazy discussions about it being complicated and not a black and white issue when the mother kills the kid at 28 days outside of the womb after it’s born. So then we are forced to ask, what has changed in the ontology of the child? When in the womb, it’s complicated and messy and we can’t legislate morality, etc, etc, etc and abortion should be legal as a result all the abortion advocates would say, but when it travels down the birth canal six inchs and is outside the womb and if the mother kills the kid then the issue all of a sudden is pretty black and white. You can’t kill your kids! She is a murderer, right? Can you help me with this one? What is the difference between abortion and infanticide? Is it the size, degree of dependency, change in environment, or level of development? Please help me understand.

  • @Zach —

    Yes, all those things you listed at the end play a part. Which is why “viability” as a concept is pretty important to the whole discussion.

    Q: Why don’t we have our 1 year old birthday 3 months after being born?

    Someone already mentioned Thomas Aquinas’s belief about ensoulment happening well after conception.

    Birth control kills eggs that, if fertilized, would become human beings. Why does fertilization get to be the moment of supreme importance? Why not say that all eggs a woman drops must be given a chance to live? That’s what they’re for, after all. How many unfertilized eggs are brutally flushed down toilets in a bloody mass of tampon? It’s obviously ridiculous to suggest, but why?

    The issue is complex. Please, please admit that.

  • Carla Jo,

    You said: “this issue of whether abortion should be legal or not is far more complicated that either side often makes it out to be.”

    I don’t doubt that it’s complicated for a 13 year old dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. She needs compassion and help in huge ways. As a pastor, I want to provide this for the girls in our church that get pregnant. I hope and pray that we do. But again, if this gal were to choose to kill her baby two weeks after it was born the issue would not be complicated. We would just call it what it is: murder or infanticide. Now maybe as a 13 year old she would not go to prison, but there would be serious consequences for her right? Way more consequences than if she walked into Planned Parenthood and had the baby killed then.

    Consider it like this: What if a 13 year old girl decides to keep the baby when she finds out that she is pregnant. She has no help, no money, and no education, but still decides to keep it. What if after the baby is born she recognizes that she made a horrible decision and this having a baby thing is SUPER complicated and hard and messy. Should she have the right to kill it at say 6 days or so? Why not? Things being complicated doesn’t give us the right to kill the defenseless and voiceless.

    You said “You can’t take away a woman’s right to decide when she has a baby just because some women make that decision for reasons you don’t like.”

    But we take away that right after it’s born and everyone agrees that we should. So again, what is the difference? If a woman has the right to kill it before it leaves her body, should she not have the right to kill it after it leaves her body? If not, why not?

    You said: “But the thing is that we can’t legislate morality, as much as we’d like to.”

    Carla Jo, I would humbly ask you to rethink this one. Consider the very current example of the presidential discussions between BO And JM about all the corporate greed from white collar guys who have ripped people off and sent our economy down the drain. Both guys say that the gov needs to come in and put a stop to this with laws, right? Have you been seeing this news coverage? Ok, greed is a moral issue right? Greed needs to be stopped and thus we will legislate against it. There you have it, legislated morality.

    On a more simple note, ever got a speeding ticket? Safety of others is a moral issue, right? You speed and you put others in danger right? You speed and you get fined. Morality legislated. We legislate morality everyday. All our laws are moral claims essentially. The question becomes which morals are we going to legislate. I can’t change peoples hearts in regard to those laws, they might hate them, but at least those laws will be (usually) enforced. That is the point.

    So we can legislate the morality of killing the unborn, we do it with all our other laws.

  • Jason,

    I certainly admit that the issue is complicated. I don’t doubt it in the least. Pregnancy is scary and raising kids is VERY hard. I have three under the age of 5 and one on the way through adoption.

    Let me see if I can help you understand my point of view on why those categories at the end don’t make a lick of difference as to our right to kill. Consider these examples from Scott Klusendorf:

    Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

    Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

    Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

    Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

    As a Dad of three little ones, I promise you that my little child of is not “viable” without intervention from me or someone else. Left to himself he will die. Should I have the right to kill him? Our friends just had a ton of complications with their child when he was born. He was not “viable” without machines hooked up to him. Should they have had the right to kill him then? What about all the people in hospitals that are not “viable” apart from machines? Should they have the right to be killed? What about the mentally ill? Many many people are not “viable” without the help of others to feed them etc. Should we have the right to kill them? Viability doesn’t seem to have any ground in this discussion, right?

    Your tampon example was a new one for me. Wow. I would say that the unfertilized egg is not how God has chosen to give life, thus it’s in a different category.

  • Here’s a fair question in light of this. Zach, as a pastor, how many funerals have you performed for miscarried babies? How is a miscarriage handled by the church? As the death of a child? Does it bring the same degree of heartache to anyone outside of the child’s family?

    A woman gets the right to choose whether or not she wants to spend nine months creating and carrying a child. She gets to decide if she wants to spend the next 18 years caring for that child. Men get to make that decision with their legs and their money–they can walk away at any time and there are rarely consequences. Certainly not serious jail time. But women have to make that choice with their bodies.

    As far as legislating morality, I don’t think the Fed is concerned about the morality of Wall Street as much as the economic fallout involved. Speeding tickets are not a legislation of morality–you don’t get the ticket because you had evil in your heart. You get the ticket because you broke a law that is there to maintain public safety. Are people who drive the Autobahn less moral because they drive at a higher speed? Is an ambulance driver making a moral decision when she goes faster than the speed limit? No, we allow for exceptions based on the situation. The speed limit is a random number based on what’s considered the safest for the most people. Our government is based on a social contract–we all do what’s best for the majority of the citizenry.

  • Hags

    ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matt. 25:40

  • Jason,

    I’ll be blunt (but hopefully polite): what I’m saying is not controversial except for those not informed about the meaning of Roe. FOCA codifies Roe; Roe v Wade is to be read with Doe v Bolton. The “health exception” is to be exercised “in the light of all factors.” Those factors listed include (1) physical; (2) emotional; (3) psychological; (4) familial. I.e., virtually any aspect of stress. That’s why there’s talk of “abortion on demand.” Your physical health does not need to be at stake in any way to have any abortion in the US at any stage in the pregnancy.

    If you think abortions should only be performed if the life/physical health of the mother is at risk, you then disagree with Roe and FOCA (and Obama).


  • Carla Jo,

    Please interact with my discussion of infanticide vs. abortion.

    What about the babies’ body? Who is concerned about that?

    Again, I think you might want to not use the word, legislating morality. More examples: Murder? Laws are against it. Stealing, moral issue right? Laws are against it. Child abuse, moral issue right? Laws are against it. Do I need to continue? Keep in mind this has nothing to say about my heart attitude towards those laws, I can’t force anyone to like the laws we have against stealing, but those should be enforced and legislated as moral claims.


  • Oh yeah, in terms of funeral. We just had one a few months ago for a baby that died in the womb. It was very very sad. The parents are still having a very hard time. My wife had a miscarriage a few years ago. That was very very hard for us as a family as well. Miscarriages are handled in very same ways. We do consider it a death.


  • Carla Jo –

    Forgot to address this one… in terms of baby funeral. We just had one a few months ago for a baby that died in the womb. It was very very sad. The parents are still having a very hard time. My wife had a miscarriage a few years ago. That was very very hard for us as a family as well. Miscarriages are handled in very same ways. We do consider it a death.


  • And as I’ve said several times, each of those laws is nuanced to take into account the circumstances under which those crimes were committed. The circumstances matter in every area of law, but when it comes to abortion, there is no room for them in most pro-life discussions. And if you say that there are the exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, then you are saying that there are some circumstances in which the life and well-being of the mother trumps the life and well-being of the child. But what if carrying that child to term is traumatic for other reasons? Why are rape and incest the only allowable excecption? Who gets to decide that?

    And I have three children of my own, so believe me, I care about the body of the child. I have sacrificed myself for my children more times than I can count and I will gladly do it again and again and again. But that is my choice. I have said several times here that I don’t like abortion any more than you do. I wish it never had to happen. But I don’t think that making it illegal is the way to put an end to it. That’s why I vote for candidates who recognize that abortion is a systemic issue, one that needs to be dealt with from a number of sides, not just one.

    One last thought here: Because abortion is legal, it is possible for women who have had them to open up about the pain it has caused them. These women are able to find healing because they can be honest about their experience. If you criminalize it, they won’t talk about it. And I promise you, there are women in your church who have had abortions. I;m not sure that telling them they are murderers will be the best means of helping them deal with their past.

  • @Justin Taylor —

    You misunderstand me. I said FOCA grants abortions to viable fetuses only in the case that the mother’s life or health are at risk. If you want to argue with an earlier precedent about what “health” should mean, that’s fine, but it’s not included in the text of the FOCA bill. You’re conflating the two.

  • Jason,

    Well…I’m not sure what else to say. I suspect you have a unique understanding of FOCA that is not shared by any pro-choice or pro-life experts. If you have quotes from legal scholars supporting the idea that FOCA is a limitation on Roe, I’m all ears.


  • Carla Jo,

    Sure, I would perhaps be willing to grant different levels of criminalization on abortion like we have with other murder laws, but at least make it crime to kill a baby if you do it for the sake of convenience.

    “But what if carrying that child to term is traumatic for other reasons?” – But what about the “trauma” of a baby having to endure partial birth abortion where it’s brain get sucked out with a vacuum? It’s just flat our wrong, just like slavery, child abuse, stealing and rape. Same category. Wrong. We can’t allow people to do it. Have you ever seen pictures of abortion? Partial-birth abortion? Anyone who can look at that and go, “Yeah that should be legal” is beyond me.

    You still have not addressed why the 13 year old girl should not have the right to kill her 6 day old baby.


  • @Zach — thank you for admitting how complicated the issue is.

    Come on, though. Just because something is irrelevant in one case doesn’t make it irrelevant in all cases, you know that. If there’s nothing different about being in the womb vs. being out of it, then why didn’t you answer this question:

    Q: Why don’t we celebrate our first birthday 3 months after being born? Or put another way, shouldn’t we all actually be about 9 months older than we say we are?

    Viable, in this context, doesn’t mean “won’t survive without help”. It means “won’t survive without aid of the womb”.

    The interesting part about all of this is that I probably agree with you more than you know, but I don’t think any of your arguments are the right ones. And at this point in time, I think your strategy is the absolute wrong one.

    Bush tricked you, and now you’ll let McCain do the same. How are Roberts and Alito doing at overturning Roe v. Wade? Last I checked I think there’s only 2 liberal judges left on the court — why isn’t it overturned yet? Why isn’t Bush demanding it? Requesting it?

    If the only issue is “I will onlyvote for the person who will make abortion illegal” then you’ll have to write someone in because neither candidate will do that.

    For me, I’m going to vote for the person who I believe will do the most to reduce the number of abortions by addressing the wider problems that cause them in the first place.

  • @Justin Taylor — Just read the FOCA bill. That’s all.

    If you can show me the quote in the bill itself where it says that health means any of the things you said it can mean, then I’ll apologize and concede.

  • Zach:

    You said, “But what about the ‘trauma’ of a baby having to endure partial birth abortion where it’s brain get sucked out with a vacuum? It’s just flat our wrong, just like slavery, child abuse, stealing and rape. Same category. Wrong. We can’t allow people to do it. Have you ever seen pictures of abortion? Partial-birth abortion? Anyone who can look at that and go, ‘Yeah that should be legal’ is beyond me.”

    Why will you allow for a partial birth abortion if the mother’s life is in danger? It’s the same procedure, right? Why would it be okay if the baby was conceived during an act of violence or incest? Same procedure, yes? If you think it’s murder, then it is murder all the time, in every situation.

    I think abortion is terrible and sad and tragic. I even think it’s wrong. I think it ends the life of an unborn child. But the term “murder” is meaningless in a legal sense, as I have noted several times. There isn’t one legal definition of murder.

    I would like to see abortion come to an end. I don’t think it’s good or optimal or right. But making it illegal will not change the reasons women seek abortions.

    And the reason a 13-year-old shouldn’t kill her 6-day-old baby is that she chose to carry that child to term and that choice demands that she then care for that child as best she can. Why don’t the pro-life protesters visit her house when that baby is 6-days-old and see how she’s doing?

    Zach, I really do appreciate your passion on this issue and I haven’t meant to sound like I’m not taking you seriously. I do understand your position and your reasoning. I disagree on the best way to end abortion, but I agree completely that the best choice is life.

  • Hags

    Jason –

    There’s a lot of stuff here that doesn’t make sense:

    “Bush tricked you, and now you’ll let McCain do the same. How are Roberts and Alito doing at overturning Roe v. Wade? Last I checked I think there’s only 2 liberal judges left on the court — why isn’t it overturned yet? Why isn’t Bush demanding it? Requesting it?”

    1. “Bush tricked you” isn’t constructive in this debate. Bush is not up for re-election and if you introduce “more of the same”, you’ll only be regurgitating Obama talking points. This conversation deserves more.

    2. Roberts and Alito have yet to rule on anything that would strike at Roe. By all indications, they will be solidly Pro-life. To say they have been ineffective is simply incorrect.

    3. There are more than 2 liberal judges on the court. Moreoever, the justices of the court are not so easily categorized. This isn’t helpful.

    4. Roe isn’t overturned, because we don’t have the votes. With Obama in office, we certainly won’t get there anytime soon. I’m not saying McCain will either, but it’s obvious what we get with Obama.

    5. “Bush demanding it?” That’s not within his constitutional authority. He can do no more to “demand” action from the SCOTUS than you or I.

    Most importantly, this argument just doesn’t work. To argue that since we’re not making progress in the Supreme Court, we should just give up trying is really, really weak.

  • Jason,

    This will have to be my last post, I believe. The discussion doesn’t seem to be progressing.

    The point of FOCA (see par. 12) is to provide Federal legislation “To guarantee the protections of Roe v. Wade.” I’m not the one saying that the health exemption clause includes things like stress on the family and emotional stress–Doe v Bolton does that. Again, Roe and Doe are meant to be read together. FOCA guarantees the protections of Roe. That’s what the Act itself calls for.

    Seriously, this isn’t that difficult.


  • Carla Jo:

    This post might help your views on what to do with people who have abortions if it become illegal again:


  • Carla Jo:

    You said: “Why will you allow for a partial birth abortion if the mother’s life is in danger? It’s the same procedure, right? Why would it be okay if the baby was conceived during an act of violence or incest? Same procedure, yes? If you think it’s murder, then it is murder all the time, in every situation.”

    I don’t think I ever said these things.

    You said: “And the reason a 13-year-old shouldn’t kill her 6-day-old baby is that she chose to carry that child to term and that choice demands that she then care for that child as best she can. Why don’t the pro-life protesters visit her house when that baby is 6-days-old and see how she’s doing?”

    Really? Are you serious? The fact that she delivers the kid should make the child more valuable in the sight of the law? Does not the first 4 months (or any other time period) have any affect? Does not the choice to have sex account for anything?

    You said: “But making it illegal will not change the reasons women seek abortions.”

    I have been hearing this over and over from BO supporters, but the logic simply does not work. People will always lie, steal, rape and kill, but we HAVE to have laws against those things right?

  • Jason,

    If you really hate abortion and think that BO is going to do anything about reducing abortions, I fear you are horribly mistaken based on his past record and what he has said many times in public. But I guess time will tell. I’m pretty sure I can’t convince you at this point if what I have already said does not move you.


  • @Justin Taylor —

    I think we’ve probably reached the limit of what a hypothetical argument can get at on someone else’s blog comments, anyway…

    Thanks for discussing — best wishes.

  • Zach,

    I’m sorry for misunderstanding you. I thought you held the view that abortion legislation should still make provisions for legal abortions in cases of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is at stake. My mistake.

    I appreciate the link. It’s well thought-out and clearly an effort to find some reasonable understanding of the ramifications of illegal abortion. It still lets men who get women and girls pregnant completely off the hook, but I guess it’s still too much to ask that a man bear as much responsibility for a child he conceives as a woman.

    I do need to let this dialogue go for now. As I said, I appreciate and respect your passion on the issue and I hope you can do the same for me.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  • Nowaytess

    I was listening to Glenn Beck in on the way to work. I found this hard to belive but Barack voting recrod speak volumes.

    Whether you are pro-life or Pro-choice most agree when the baby is born outside of the womb, it viable and should be allowed and considered a live birth.

    Sad Barack Obama was the only Senator to vote if batched abortion and the baby lives he only one who voted the baby should die. Even the most senetor who voted pro-chice would not vote the live baby should die, on Barack Obama.

    here is the article

    Glenn Beck: Strong case against Obama
    Audio Available:

    September 17, 2008 – 13:10 ET

    The Case Against Barack Obama

    GLENN: We have David Freddoso on. He is the author of a book, The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. He is a reporter for the National Review Online. WGN in Chicago getting heat for having him on. The Obama campaign does not want this man on. There’s another guest that they had on that they also went through the roof and just did everything they could to scare WGN into not having these guests on. Why? What is it that the Obama campaign doesn’t want? They say smears. David Freddoso is somebody that, believe me, I have had on my program and on my program, to get it on CNN, it better be right. If you’re a conservative, it better be right. David Freddoso is somebody that we have checked out ourself to make sure what he’s saying is right, and let’s go to the abortion thing. I played the ad. It’s a 527 now against Barack Obama that says please, Barack Obama, please don’t allow babies to die from botched abortions. That’s a pretty outrageous claim.

    David, where does that claim come from? What is this story?

    FREDDOSO: Well, this is the story of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and it goes back to a hospital in the southwest suburbs of Chicago called Christ Hospital where they were performing on a regular basis induced labor abortions and these are late second, early third trimester abortions in which the drugs are given to the mother to induce violent labor and the baby is usually killed in the contractions and comes out. But about 15 to 20% of the time this produces a a live baby is born, I should say. And sometimes the babies will live just for a few minutes, sometimes for several hours. But this hospital was not giving any thought to medical treatment for them when they survived and could have potentially lived on and saved in incubator under whatever sort of medical technology we have to keep premature babies alive. They were simply shelving them and

    GLENN: Hang on just a second. I just, I don’t care how you feel about abortion. If you think abortion is a right, you know, a woman’s right to choose, et cetera, et cetera, fine. I disagree with you. We’re going now to a step of partial birth abortion. Now people are not for partial birth abortion. The vast majority of people. They are pro choice but they are saying you can’t take the baby and have them birthed all the way except for the head and then suck the brains out while the head is still in the mother. That is a that is a step way beyond. And Republicans and Democrats agree on that. This is something further than that. This is a baby that survives an abortion and is living outside of the mother, is now just neglected and dies from neglect. Right or wrong, David?

    FREDDOSO: This is what yeah, that is exactly what was happening and, in fact, that fact isn’t even in dispute. What is in dispute is exactly what condition that they were being left to die in. According to the nurse, Jill Stanek whom I interviewed for the kids against Barack Obama, they were one of the places they would put these babies to die while they were struggling is the utility closet where medical waste goes. According to the hospital they were putting them into comfort rooms where they would just simply leave them to die with a blanket or something. So that was the practice. And the attorney general of Illinois told Jill Stanek, this nurse, that this was not violating the law, that they couldn’t do anything about it and, you know, all protestations to the contrary, there wasn’t any law protecting these babies because the attorney general of Illinois wasn’t you know, he absolutely said, you know, no, you would need a new law if you wanted to do this.

    GLENN: David, why couldn’t you, why couldn’t the doctor just kill the baby once the baby was born?

    FREDDOSO: Well, I mean, I would say that’s murder. I mean, I’m also pro life.

    GLENN: Got it. No, I’m not talking about your opinion. I’m talking about the law. It would indeed be murder if they would have killed the baby once the baby was born.

    FREDDOSO: Well, of course, and even this practice itself strikes me as murder because you don’t actually have to stab someone through the heart to commit murder.

    GLENN: I understand that.

    FREDDOSO: You can certainly leave them, there’s such a thing as negligent homicide as well. But in any case, there wasn’t a law protecting them and that was what they went to the Illinois legislature to do was to pass a law that would define anyone who is already born and alive as a person. And that would have made the laws of the State of Illinois apply to these premature babies.

    GLENN: How did Barack Obama stop it?

    FREDDOSO: Barack Obama was the only state senator to speak against this law and

    GLENN: Sorry. Repeat that, please.

    FREDDOSO: He was the only state senator to speak against this law on the floor of the Illinois Senate.

    GLENN: Okay.

    FREDDOSO: In all the times it came up, in fact, he was the only one to speak against it. And his speech that he gave is very interesting, and I’ve given it in full in Chapter 10 of The Case Against Barack Obama because the argument is basically this, that if we go and recognize premature babies born alive in what some people call a previable condition, although they were clearly living for a while, if we do this, then it might down the road affect the right to abortion. It might cause it might create some kind of

    GLENN: Slippery slope that they always say doesn’t exist.

    FREDDOSO: I’m sorry?

    GLENN: A slippery slope that liberals always say doesn’t exist.

    FREDDOSO: Exactly.

    GLENN: He was using that argument.

    FREDDOSO: And that was his argument was essentially a slippery slope argument. His argument on the floor, it had a few contradictions in it, didn’t quite make sense. I mean, he used the word “Fetus” to describe a premature baby for a moment and then corrected himself.

    GLENN: All right.

    FREDDOSO: But, you know, by his argument you could also say that a premature baby who wasn’t born in an abortion, who was just simply born premature. I have a friend who recently gave birth to a premature baby and by his argument you would have to question or deny their personhood as well, as though they are somehow less persons than babies carried nine months.

    GLENN: So the first time did he sign the bill?

    FREDDOSO: The first time he voted present on the bill, which is in the Illinois legislature is equivalent to no. And it was part of a strategy that he had devised with Planned Parenthood lobbyists.

    GLENN: Stand by. Stand by. We’re going to come get the rest of the story in just a second.

    (OUT 11:42)

    GLENN: I can tell you why Barack Obama did not want David Freddoso on WGN, because these are the most powerful arguments I have ever heard against Barack Obama. Well stated, well documented and so unbelievably damning. David, we are quickly running out of time. May I invite you for another hour tomorrow?

    FREDDOSO: I would love to do it again tomorrow, absolutely.

    GLENN: Okay. So let’s finish the abortion story, please.

    FREDDOSO: Yes. Senator Obama voted he voted present on that bill. It was part of a strategy that he devised, that he and some Planned Parenthood lobbyists had devised that basically everyone would vote present instead of voting no. And just to you know, it came up the following year; he did it again. The bill, by the way, it passed the state senate and died in the state house committee. In 2003, though, Democrats had taken over the state senate and Obama was now the chairman of the Senate health committee. And as chairman he presided as they made the reason that Obama has ever since said he voted against this bill in committee is that it didn’t contain the same language that the federal board of live infants protection act contained. Sort of redundant protection against this law ever effecting the right to abortion. What he didn’t realize, didn’t or was misleading people about is that, in fact, in 2003 the bill that he voted against in his committee did contain that language, was exactly the same as the bill that had gone to the U.S. Senate floor, that Barbara Boxer had stood up and said, “I support this bill, everyone should vote for this bill.” Obama voted against it and that puts him on the very fringes when it comes to issues of human life at its very beginning.

    GLENN: So wait a minute. He is Barbara Boxer was on the other side of this issue?

    FREDDOSO: Yes, that’s right. Hillary Clinton was also on the other side. The vote was 98 0 and the two guys who weren’t there to vote were pro life Republicans. So basically every abortion proponent in the United States Senate is more protective of human life in its early stages than Senator Obama.

    GLENN: Say that again, please.

    FREDDOSO: Every single abortion proponent in the United States Senate at the time they voted on this the roll call vote was in 2001 every single one is more protective of human life in its early stages and more respectful of human life in its early stages than is Senator Obama based on his voting record.

    GLENN: Now, Barack Obama will say, no, that’s not true, I wasn’t I was of course for this. He seems to have an ever evolving but he does believe in evolution an ever evolving story on this.

    FREDDOSO: Yes. Because at first his story for the next three years or actually four years was that it didn’t contain the language if it had just contained the federal bill language, then he would have voted for it. In fact, it did contain that language and he voted against it. This year when National Right to Life found the records this is just a few weeks ago, found the records of the committee hearing and they found the bill was exactly the same and Obama voted against it in a party line vote in his committee, changed his explanation to say now the thing was there was already a law protecting these babies. And there is an old abortion statute on the books in Illinois and it’s a bill that Obama has repeatedly argued that every element of it is unconstitutional. It was enjoined from in most of its aspects it was enjoined from enforcement precisely because of the Roe versus Wade decision. And the decision they clinged it to last as each part of it is being knocked down is a provision that would require a second doctor to be present when such an abortion is performed in order to save the baby that the first doctor is trying to kill. And that’s something Obama has specifically argued is unconstitutional because it creates an undue burden on the woman and so that is basically, Senator Obama is grasping at straws when it comes to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. He’s making arguments now that don’t make sense and arguments, by the way, that he was never making at the time when he voted against it.

    GLENN: I would just like to point out to anybody who doesn’t understand the rhetoric of politicians, I’m a recovering alcoholic. So I speak bullcrap for most of my life. So I speak it fluently. I can translate political speak into English. When anybody says that they are worried about that they want the condition of the mother’s health, let’s make sure that we have an exception for the mother’s health, there has never once been a case where a doctor says, in the case of let’s say partial birth abortion or where they are performing the abortion late term and they would birth the child, that it is better for the mother if they kill the baby. What they’re talking about, there have been cases on mental health, yet her mental health matters if she has the baby, but they deny any kind of mental health stress if she has had the abortion. It doesn’t make any sense. It is a game that they play. You cannot tell me that mainstream America you know, I’m not even going to say that. You cannot tell me that 98% of America, pro choice, pro life believe that we should leave a baby to die through neglect. There is no way to make the mental hurdles in your own head to say that this child should die from neglect, this fetus should die from neglect. There is no person within the sound of my voice of 98% of the population of this country that thinks that that is reasonable. This is the kind of guy that you have to understand you’re dealing with. He’s not somebody who’s kind of on the left. He’s not somebody who’s kind of out of pace with the mainstream. This guy is as far left as you can get and this is just one example.

    David, on tomorrow’s program can you give us more examples of how incredibly out of step with the mainstream he is?

    FREDDOSO: Oh, absolutely. Just about every issue you can find Obama taking stands during his career that are, you know, whether it’s guns, babies, taxes and national security as well, stances that members of his own party think are completely wrong. He is the most liberal senator in the United States Senate for a reason, and I’m not the one saying it. That’s National Journal, which is a highly respected $2,000 a year publication here in Washington.

    GLENN: Tomorrow, tomorrow I would like to go a little bit into and I don’t even know if you did this, David, but his mom, he always is saying “My mom from Kansas, my mom from Kansas, my mom.” It’s like I see Auntie Em every time he says “My mom from Kansas.” His mom from Kansas was leftist as well. He’s not coming from a background of people that are Auntie Em and, oh, quick, get into the root cellar. There is the roots of Barack Obama are from the left. Tomorrow can you go into a little bit of “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” and just give me the absolutely best well documented cases that this guy’s judgment on friends, if you take him at his word that, “Well, these guys aren’t the people we know; well, I can’t really answer for my friends or my family or whatever,” that his judgment is off.

    FREDDOSO: Oh, absolutely.

    GLENN: And I don’t believe it’s his judgment. I believe he is choosing to surround himself with these people.

    FREDDOSO: Well, right. And that’s just the thing. You know, I have spoken with many people about this question of guilt by association. This isn’t about guilt by association. This is about looking at the actual choices that Barack Obama has made in his life. And that’s the best sort of gauge we can have. And if you give it the most charitable interpretation and we look at some of these relationships and that’s the only conclusion you can come to is that his judgment in picking friends is rather suspect.

    GLENN: Name of the book is The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate . The author is David Freddoso. He will join us again tomorrow and all of this will be available online at GlennBeck.com soon.

    Most Popular Stories:

  • Karl

    Justin v. Jason

    winner: Justin

  • @Zach —

    First, I simply don’t let this one issue become the sole issue that determines the way I vote, for starters. Second, I understand that there are only two ways of getting elected in this country – either you espouse all the conservative beliefs or you espouse all of the liberal beliefs. There’s no middle ground for a candidate. So you have to take these things with a grain of salt. And last, I see now the type of arguments that are accepted as valid from the likes of McCarthy and Beck, as if someone who writes a book called “The Case Against Barack Obama” is the kind of unbiased, journalistic source we want to listen to in a heated discussion such as this.

    Thanks for discussing things — all the best to you.

    @Karl —

    Thanks for your helpful contribution. If I had known there would be winnings involved, maybe I’d have tried harder.

  • The only real point I care to make, and make strongly, is this. If you want to reduce abortions, you don’t spend all of your energy trying to make them illegal. As eight years of a fervent pro-life President has shown us, it doesn’t exactly work, and as Prohibition proved in the 20s, it wouldn’t work even if it were made illegal.

    If you want to decrease abortions you have to fix the problems that cause unwanted pregnancies. I’m voting for a President who I believe understands that. And I agree with Tony that Obama should make that known to more people, although this comment thread might have shown why he’d be hesitant to do so.

  • Anonymous

    But Obama has been addressing the abortion issue:


    (I have personally heard this ad multiple times)

  • Daniel

    “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”

    Did you really say that? Man, winning at any cost? Throwing out principles and doctrines just so that someone can get elected?

    That is so low! What are you emergent leaders teaching people?

    If this is the way you do ministry as well, God have mercy on the souls of your sheep.

  • Jason, Re: FOCA,

    Though I haven’t read the entire bill, the language of the bill is immaterial re: “health” as SCOTUS has already defined what the health of the mother entails, and, yes, it does include a cold.

  • Patrick

    Abortion is largely a judicial issue (since Roe v Wade), so the best (if not only) thing that any president can do is appoint pro-life judges. I’m not a huge W fan, but he has appointed solidly pro-life judges… that’s a little more than “NOTHING”…

  • Please tell me I misread this sentence: Too often they’ll stand on principle until it’s too late.

    Tony, are you seriously saying that there is a point in time (that point being when it’s politically expedient) at which we should set aside our principles in order to win?

    Let me assure the readers here that the Obama campaign will always “say” he wants to reduce abortions. But his actions–even his own words in regard to his daughters and abortion–have proven precisely the opposite.

    I’m really at a loss to understand the blindness with which people who call themselves evangelicals can even consider supporting a candidate such as Obama. And don’t take my statements to mean I’m a fan of John McCain. I dislike him only slightly less than I do Obama.

    So this isn’t a partisan shot at Obama. It’s an encouragement for believers to think logically and, more importantly, Christologically about what an Obama presidency would bring: higher poverty (not less) and higher death rates by abortion (not reduced abortions).

  • BO’s stand on the issue of abortion sickens me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKj109ZST3g

    But if your take that issue out of the discussion I still can’t see why so-called evangelicals can support him. They say that you have to take into account issues of help for the poor, the environment, and war. Well, even in those issues he’s a dangerous man in my eyes.

    How about helping the poor? I agree that as Christians we’re commanded to help the poor. That’s a mandate from Christ to Christians and the Church. Not the government. I see nowhere in Scripture where the command is given for government to take MY money by force of law and give it to someone else. I think it’s immoral to take my resources against my will and redistribute them. This is communism at worst and socialism at best. Marxist ideology. Like it says in Proverbs, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Should we help the “widows and orphans” and the disabled? Of course. And I do through my Church and charities. Not by the force of government. Down here in Houston in the aftermath of hurricane Ike it’s the private charities and local governments that are doing the best job of distributing relief and that’s the way it should be. And after watching FEMA at work (And the Post Office for that matter.) I don’t want the federal government responsible for my healthcare.

    The environment? I don’t think either party is for dirty water or polluted air. To say the BO or the Dems have the moral high ground here is laughable. Again, most “solutions” to the “environment problem” are massive resource redistribution schemes. They move money and resources from the US and give them to third-world countries. Find me the scripture that mandates that. God gave man dominion over all the earth. Building a dam that provides water to millions of people in spite of a “snail darter” qualifies as dominion in my book.

    War? I’m not a big fan of the action in Iraq but I think there’s biblical justification for war. I would rather have those troops over here protecting our borders. Getting out of Iraq doesn’t trump the abortion issue for me.

    I’m sorry that I brought Scripture into the “conversation” but that’s my standard for life.

  • Tony Jones: The distortions actually go both ways, Brian

    For someone who is allegedly “cynical about the political process”, you sure cling hard to the political canard that LYING on the other side justifies LYING on your side.

    Please remind me of the Scripture that states that our actions are measured against those of others, rather than some weird moral standard. Is it in the book of Hezekiah?

  • David Bailey

    It has been said before, but isn’t reducing abortions the same as reducing lynchings? If a human life is at stake, it is wrong. Period. Should be stopped, yesterday, NOT reduced.

  • Matt

    One question: If slavery were still legal, would you as enthusiastically support a candidate who supported it in certain instances but wanted to enact legislation to limit its necessity or provide care for its victims?

  • tony arens

    The key argument seems to be that making abortion illegal would cause women to be severely injured or die in “back-alley” procvedures. I don’t believe this is the case if you look at statisticsprior to R.V.W.

    The year prior to R.V.W, there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind…(not including the aborted children). Second, and even more important, the conference [on abortion sponsored by Planned Parenthood] estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians…Whatever trouble arises usually arises from self-induced abortions, which comprise approximately 8 percent, or with the very small percentage that go to some kind of non-medical abortionist.

    If you were to make abortion illegal, the numbers of abortions would be slashed. Statistics show that when the procedure is illegal, they choose adoption most of the time.

    Sure, some would go the back-alley route, but this is historically the exception, not the rule.

    Making abortion illegal would lives – many lives, but politically, it would look bad for the advocate. Buck up, reverse R.V.W, save lives, and bless the thousands of Americans that are waiting patiently to adopt.

  • mac

    Abortion is the injustice of our day. 25,000,000 people around the world are killed each year by abortion and to have apologists in the Church for the practice is disgusting.

    “Second, I really have nothing to gain from an Obama presidency, except maybe a more just and civil country.”

    You do have something to gain. Praise that you and your allies have overtaken the religious right at the expense of justice and civility. Do not insult the average Christian that recognizes murder as injustice and the height of incivility.

  • Christian from Texas


    This is the first time I have been exposed to you and the emergent church movement.

    The only thing to really note in your post is the following:

    1. You have confirmed that emergent Christian’s stand on principles when convenient and that standing on principles should be thrown by the side when faced with political loss

    2. You think that an Obama presidency means a “…more just and civil country. And I could go on about the differences…”

    Come on.

    I won’t even address the first point but to say that such a statement from a “church leader” (I use quotes because I don’t understand what church you actually represent, if one at all) really amazes me. To set aside what you believe to achieve political gain says a lot about the emergent church movement, I believe.

    Regarding the second point I really wish you would elaborate on how a BO presidency would lead to a more just and civil country. I have been listening to BO and have read portions of his “Audacity of Hope” and don’t know what you are referring to. What I hear is very polished speaking with little substance. The guy does not have much of a voting record given his limited time in the Senate but just enough to expose his socialist leanings.

    What I hear is the following regarding his justice:

    1. We will bail you out if you have taken out more debt than you can afford and require those that have been responsible to pay for it

    2. We will pay for your education and take from the wealthy to do it

    3. We will provide you with retirement by increasing taxes on those with lots of money but not provide them with incremental benefit toward their retirement

    4. If you are poor I will take money from America’s corporations to provide you with a better existence costing millions of Americans their jobs

    5. I will penalize those that do their work well overseas and bring the jobs back on-shore so that you who don’t do the work as well can have a job, decrease America’s productivity, and cause mass unemployment for all due to America’s new lack of productivity

    6. If you don’t have enough of anything I will take from those that have plenty and ensure you have what you need

    7. If you are a small business owner I will require you to provide benefits that you cannot possibly afford to appease those too ignorant to know that in my doing so I will force you to fire your staff and close down your business

    This is not justice but pure socialism and is nothing new. To package it as “change” is absurd for those smart enough to peel back the vaneer to reveal the turd that Obama is polishing.

    Regarding civility BO blew his chances at convincing many of us when he picked the partisan Biden for his VP. Stupid move to pick a guy with 30+ years Washington experience when you are preaching a gospel of change.

    I would like to undertand what you mean by civil as I simply don’t understand what makes him more civil than his oponent. Perhaps it goes back to your misunderstanding of justice…


  • An Independent Christian Voter

    You are mostly correct about this:

    “The Republicans, quite simply, use abortion as a wedge issue during election years and then do NOTHING (yes, I’m shouting) to reduce abortions.”

    The Republicans (I am not one) who are guilty of this should be ashamed. Anyone who voted for them thinking they would effect change on the abortion issue should realize they were duped.

    However, I sense that you are shouting (angry much?) at Republicans not because you are passionate about stopping abortion, but because you are passionate about defeating Republicans.

    I do not believe for one single second that abortions will decrease under an Obama administration. You’re such a fool if you think this will actually happen while our nation is led by people who do not believe abortion is the murder of a human life.

    Here’s what I see after reading this article: you’re just another angry voice, grabbing for power (or supporting those who do) without true regard for the sovereignty of God in all things and the dignity of human life as created in the image of God.

    I am reluctantly voting for McCain because he is the “lesser of two evils”, so to speak.

    On this issue of abortion, as with so many other issues, I am much more passionate about voting against Obama than I am about voting for McCain.

    After all we have heard from Obama’s own mouth and looking at his scant political record, I have little left in me but contempt for anyone who votes for Obama/Biden.

    – An Independent Christian Voter

  • Wow, the Christians seem just as confused as the Republicans. You all were made for each other.

  • nearlynormalized

    You look like a born again was a faggot.

  • idahospud44

    Thank you for the good post. It is comforting to know that there are some thoughtful Christians out there rather than most of the ones I run into who are the most judgmental, anti-Jesus in actions- people I know.

  • Nowaytess

    I am still astonished no one here could comment on Obama sole Senator voting against, “Born Alive Infants Act.” These children are born after a botch abortion or born alive. Doctors and nurse won’t kill these botch abortion now they are live births of babies who are put heaps of medical waste. Many don’t die for hours screaming on the top of thier little lungs starving to death due the lack of norishment.

    Whether you are Pro-choice or Pro-life I am sure most would never vote for a canadate who passionatly defends infanticide. That is why I won’t vote for Obama because by voting record and own words he passionatly defent these infants to die on heaps of medical waste.

    Any botch abortion child that lives is an infant whom God helped survive after horrible way to enter the world.

  • victim of abortion

    I’m not as entrenched in this political rhetoric as the rest of you seem to be. I had an abortion. Let me tell you what I know.

    Most women who have had one regret it. It’s a decision made in a moment of crisis, without enough information, and without the right emotional care before hand.

    Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is a real medical condition, as much as PTSD. Mental health professionals train students in this area, however they won’t journal it, because of the money involved with organizations like planned parenthood and their political support. It’s about the money.

    When one speaks of viable life, who defines survival? Can a 1 year old survive on her own outside the womb?

    The number one reason women have abortions is money; they can’t afford a baby. Is Obama ready to discuss financial assistance to pregnant women? Is he ready to put out the effort required to really convey the FACTS of the choices available to women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy?

    I allowed myself to fall prey to the money hungry vipers who not only swooned me into abortion, but it was a decision that left me childless…forever. Will Obama address this??

  • Hmmm, 96 comments (which I just read/skimmed over pretty quickly), and I didn’t see a single one that made any reference or expressed any sort of care or concern for the millions of WOMEN who are faced with unwanted pregnancies every single day. Abortion is a very serious question they are faced with, when it looks like their lives are going to be forever altered, and this is how the abortion debate usually goes. The women just disappear because it’s all about the fertilized egg/fetus/baby.

    Other than Nowaytess and Carla Jo, I don’t see any other female voices in this discussion. This is typical. Men dominate the conversation and seek to make the decisions that will ultimately affect the lives of millions of WOMEN. (I don’t hear many pro-life activists raising hell to hold all the men accountable for impregnating these women.)

    Looking back over the comments just now, I did find some good comments from Carla Jo that actually addressed the real-life issues that women are faced with surrounding the abortion decision. This comment (#56), posted by Carla Jo, bears repeating and further reflection: “A woman gets the right to choose whether or not she wants to spend nine months creating and carrying a child. She gets to decide if she wants to spend the next 18 years caring for that child. Men get to make that decision with their legs and their money–they can walk away at any time and there are rarely consequences. Certainly not serious jail time. But women have to make that choice with their bodies.”

    I don’t mean to belittle or discount the great work that crisis pregnancy centers, churches, and other faith communities/groups are doing to reach out to pregnant women who are facing these difficult circumstances, BUT … it clearly isn’t enough. And pouring energy and money into a campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade seems misguided to me when there are so many practical needs that need to be met in order to help women in these situations actually choose life. Maybe it’s not either/or, but both/and. I’ll grant my “pro-life” friends that. But, in your fervor to overturn Roe v. Wade, please don’t forget about the women whose lives are ALSO hanging in the balance.

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  • Whether you are Pro-choice or Pro-life I am sure most would never vote for a canadate who passionatly defends infanticide. (#96)

    The transcript of that is here (at pp. 85-87):

    Obama’s reason? He is arguing that the bill under consideration in unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts as such. He expresses a willingness to compromise on a bill that would address the situation, but would also pass “constitutional muster.” Do you call that a “passionate defense of infanticide”?

  • discomidge

    First, do not speak for “most” women or claim that the “number one reason” women choose abortion is because of money. Just because you had one doesn’t mean you speak for all of us.

    Second, abortion providers are not “money hungry vipers” that render women “childless forever.” I am a mother of a beautiful daughter whom my husband and I adopted when she was 30 hours old. I am not childless. I have a child by choice.

    However, I did not get pregnant by choice.

    Yes, I also had an abortion. The reason I did had very little to do with economics and very much to do with logic. Logically, I could not raise a baby just out of high school with no job and no experience. My mother had raised me; it was unfair of her to raise another child. And she plainly, but lovingly, said she would not. Likewise, I was just beginning my own life; how could I possibly create another? It would have been unfair to both me and my child. Also, I could hardly take care of my emotional well-being. I had a tumultuous childhood and adolescence (for reasons that are too private to be discussed here). How would I ever be able to care for an infant? This is a very stressful job, and I was not prepared. I only became ready very recently. Finally, why on Earth would I want to carry a child of a young man who raped me? (Yes, date-rape is rape…and in the ’80s, no one talked about it.)

    In my case, it happened when the president of my high school’s National Honor Society (and captain of the football team; did I mention he was also the son of a very prominent surgeon in our town?) invited me to his sister’s wedding and proceeded to give me every type of alcohol available — with his family’s blessing — drive me home in his father’s car (so he could show me a great time), and leave me alone, naked, and (surprise!) pregnant while he left for college. The note he put by my bed — which I can’t even remember getting into, as the last clear thought I had before waking up was eating chips & queso at my kitchen table — said, “Thanks for a great time. Leaving for Austin tomorrow. Bye.”

    Go ahead — blame me. I should have known better. (I was barely 18, naive, and I trusted this “nice boy” who everyone in the community thought was golden.) Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have had anything to drink; after all, I was underage. (When the most popular guy in town — and the one with such a great pedigree — offers you chilled vodka shots and caviar for the first time in your life, you’d be flattered, too.)

    I know, maybe he should have worn a fucking condom!

    But I digress.

    You’re right that SOME (not “most”) women will come to regret their choice. However, I don’t. I would never have the life I do — I have a beautiful family (including a daughter I’m blessed to have adopted), a husband who treats me with the love and respect I deserve, and an incredible teaching career that allows me to enjoy the world that is “teenager.” (It’s a pretty cool place.)

    Had I carried to term rather than obtained a safe, legal abortion, I wouldn’t have been able to give my child the life he/she deserved. Had abortion been illegal at the time, I might not be alive right now.

    That is why we have choice. You and I are not incubators. We are women. We should be respected to make the right decisions for ourselves — and our families — with the support of our partners, our doctors, and our spiritual advisers. I respect your viewpoints, but please do not discount mine and millions of other women’s.

    BTW — When it comes to Obama, please read http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/womenissues. It’s a start on his and Biden’s stance on the issues that affect why many women can’t afford children — equal pay, high poverty rates, lack of health care, education…

  • discomidge

    @SteveK — Where were you in 1988? ; )

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  • Discomidge,

    It is interesting that your reasoning behind aborting a child revolved around your personal success and comfort. Luckily your mother didn’t think the same about you. You have no authority to deem anything right or wrong. You are calloused, selfish, and unrepentant.


  • Discomidge,

    I had some time to think. I sincerely apologize for the above comment. It was inappropriate and judgmental of me.


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  • beidson

    Put simply, the logical trajectory of abortion rights thinking will put us in a place we wish we were not, perhaps in 20, 50 or 100 years. There is no sense in “reducing” the number of abortions, anymore than it makes sense to reduce the number of rape or incest cases–the goal is zero. When choice trumps life, we’ve got a problem. Let the history books speak for themselves: when people with the power to kill also have the freedom to kill without threat of punishment, bad things happen.

    Rape and incest are not easy issues–there are real people involved who need real grace and help. But when individuals are given the power of the “sword” to kill by choice, they are acting as judges, determining for themselves who is worthy to live. This is not our choice to make. God has given the government alone the right to “bear the sword” and to do so justly and without partiality. Justice is a corporate matter, not an individual matter. People fight for each other, and no one is to seek vengeance on his own apart from the collective authority of a community (though even here evil intentions can be carried out).

    If a baby’s life isn’t valued enough to be protected over a woman’s “right” to choose, then what reason do we have for thinking that the “right” to choose will not ultimatley be taken by the government, leaving everybody vulnerable to the whim of “choice?”

    Read the stories of Pharaoh and Herod–here were 2 men who commanded abortion in order to protect their power, and no one questions the evil of these accounts. Why is it so hard to see the evil in our own “choices?”

    Obama does not value human life like Scripture does. Sure he is opposed to abortion, insofar as it is part of a larger social problem that he intends to correct. But herein lies the problem. It is a foundational issue, not a 2nd floor issue. Every other social injustice is rooted in a lack of respect for all peoples. Social causes are transcendant because they are life issues, and if we begin to deny the right to live to the smallest of people, it will eventually work its way to the poorest of people, the most helpless, the least normal, etc.

    If you want change, vote for it, but certainly dont’ throw the baby out with the bathwater. Do not repeat the folly of Esau, who gave up his life so that he might fill his belly.

  • Rick


    Thank you for taking this argument to a source other than emotionally-charged rhetoric. Scripture is clear. We are finite beings that can’t even begin to comprehend the right course of action apart from the Word of God. Thanks you for reminding us all of that fact.

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  • Tony,

    Interesting article. Not that I don’t believe you but can you provide the statistics and the reference for the # of abortions increasing under the Bush Administration and being reduced under the Clinton Administration? I just want to see them first hand.

    Also, it is not enough to reduce the number, abortions must be eliminated all together. I am not sure how we can say we are for abortion and at the same time for helping the poor & homeless, providing healthcare for everyone, protecting the environment…etc. If we do not value “The least of these” then how can we say we care about anyone at all? Certainly those babies in the womb are the least of all of us, are they not?

    Thanks again for the article. Have a great weekend!

  • nearlynormalized

    When men have the biological where with all to birth a child, then I might listen to the righteous crap you lay on women. Take your Christian ethics and pray to deliver a man child from a man.

  • Chris

    I am against abortion. I think it is evil. What bothers me in this debate about whether or not Christians should vote for a president that is pro-choice/pro-abortion is the self-righteous tone that crops up from time to time among those who can no see how a Christian could vote for someone like Obama. The last time I looked bearing false witness is in the same list as murder. It really is. God values truth telling as much as preventing murder.

    So my question is … How can a Christian support a bold-face liar like John McCain? Check out his ads. Listen to his or Palin’s speeches. We know they lie. They know they lie. Our culture accepts it just like our culture accepts abortion. Shouldn’t we expect that?

    Someone who lies and lives by the ethic of “the end justifies the means” is as detestable and unholy as someone who supports abortion.

    My point or maybe my question is, “Are we fooling ourselves in thinking that one vote is more righteous than another?” I think the answer is yes.


  • Diane

    “The Republicans, quite simply, use abortion as a wedge issue during election years and then do NOTHING (yes, I’m shouting) to reduce abortions.”

    Are you kidding me? You need to back such nonsense up and get off the rhetoric.

    Let’s see, who’s been responsible for passing or TRYING to pass Parental Notification Laws? Who’s been responsible for making it criminal for a guy over 21 who gets a minor pregnant, to be charged with rape? Who’s behind “born alive” legislation? Who’s been trying to pass legislation which would ban sex selection abortions in the US (which by the way is illegal in Canada and many other countries in the world). Who’s championed the plight of the disabled unborn who are being targeted for extermination because of pre natal genetic diagnosis (90% of women told they are pregnant with a downs syndrome child “choose” abortion)? All of these attempts, if and when they are successful have a direct effect on reducing abortions as they raise the “culture of life” banner for the least of these. Where’s the social injustice outrage. Folks on the left are so wedded to a “woman’s right to choose” that they’ve painted themselves into a corner they can’t get out of. Read any good Catholic Natural Law argument and you will see the nonsense in putting forth policies which “seek to reduce the number of abortions”. No one would stand for policies which “seek to reduce the number of people who die of starvation”. We must stand up for all of the injustices and have as our goal to stop them!

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  • billy v

    Dispatch number 2 states: Emergents reject the politics and theologies of left versus right. Seeing both sides as a remnant of modernity, they look forward to a more complex reality.
    This really seems like one of the leaders of emergent, not only having a political discussion, but involved in helping a political candidate get elected. At one point, Tony seemed to be saying that winning this election was more important than holding onto political principles. That sounds like the politics of left versus right.

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  • PB

    “He thinks abortions are bad, and he wants to reduce them.”

    I’m not sure that’s the case when he supports the Freedom of Choice Act. What action has he done to say that he thinks abortions are bad? Tony, Have you read or seen the speech Obama gave to planned parenthood? He said “I will not yield” and called an abortion a “fundamental right.”

    “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”

    Obama principles are that abortions are a fundamental right. How can you say that he believes abortions are bad and at the same time say they are a fundamental right? I just don’t get it.

    Tony, why can’t you say “Obama is wrong on abortion, but I must weight that with Obama’s other views such as……. , that is why I’m supporting Obama.

  • BO doubters, carve out 30 minutes and read this. Don’t skim it, READ IT:


  • nowaytess

    I read it Tony and will still stcik to my orginal postion on this issue.

    I am going to bring a different view here to light.

    I am female who never could have children. I am 46, never had a child. when I was 16, I knew in my heart I would never have kids. I been married 3 times and all three husband could have children.

    I had severe enomytriosis. I could not get preghent no matter how I tried. For 5 years, ext husband who was my first tried everything. Pain of fertility treatements. The doctors wanted me to try to have one child before they would give me a hysterecetmy.

    Sadly, my first husband got a close family memeber of myne preghent. I tried to reason with this family member not to abort then child but it was too late for she had the abortion. I found out not though my family member, but my ex husband who though his sick and sadictic abuse ( we were in the process of a divorce at the time) informed me he “lent” 400 dollars for the abortion. They both claimed it was another man’s child but I knew of the affair and it put a strain on our relationship for over 10 years. Today we are peace and now talk to each other. My family member does have a beautiful son with her current husband. I knew for years she tried to make up for the baby she lost.

    I had a neighbor about 5 years ago. She white woman who had 2 bi-raicial boys who are lovley. She did not grow up poor and came froma well to do family ( i met her parents)

    She got preghant while we lived in the same building while having an affair with a married man. Again I tried to reason with her not to abort then child. She informed me this was her 5th abortion and reason why she aborted the children, ” I did not want them to all have different fathers.” She was not with the father of the 2 children she already had.

    In hurts me. I have heriditary dieseases. When I was 29, my condition got so bad ( bleed was 2 times amonth very heavy and could not function) and doctor finanaly gave my a hysterectmy. If I did not have it I would have died with in a month.

    Most people when you are that young with no chidren have to shrink to sign off , I could not bring a child into the world with high risk of heriditary mental illess. I told that less than 15% not to have it. Plus I could not take care of the child. Living with my onw mother so ill growing up, I just felt my child was better off not born at all. I never wanted the issue come up ever to have to abort a child. My Skink signed off to let me have it. she told me it was the most informed decision and responsible decison ever made.

    I know God respected for this. I never had or raised a child. I just can never understand how someone could ever given the gift to have children just …I am sorry I can’t finish this sentance.

    Any woman who had been cheated on know the pain of adultry. Still

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  • MTW~

    You argue that it’s too hard to figure out where life begins so we put the beginning of life at conception. From that point, you build your case for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

    This is such foul logic, I don’t know where to begin.

    If you take the Creation account in Genesis as fact (which most people don’t), then Adam was fully formed by God before he was ever alive. Adam wasn’t alive until God breathed the breath of life into him. Maybe the act of breathing is the beginning of life…. in which case, it would be AFTER birth.

    Let me make myself perfectly clear. I don’t know when life begins. I assume we are defining “life” as the point at which a human being receives an eternal soul. You don’t know when that happens and neither do I. We have to talk about viability outside the womb because we can measure that.


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