Monday, October 20, 2008

What's at Stake

"Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals - even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

What is going on here?"

So begins a recent article by Professor Robert George which seeks to lay out in plain terms Senator Obama's stance on a whole host of life-related issues. And lest there are pro-life, pro-Obama Catholics and Evangelicals who are reading this post and cringing at George's blunt language, here is a link that shows what Senator Obama says in his own words, and here is a link to a Reproductive Health site in which Obama's campaign staff answer questions about his reproductive health rights policy.

The purpose of this post is not to attack Senator Obama or to tell anyone how they should vote on November 4th. That is a matter of personal conscience. Rather, the purpose of this post is to set the facts straight on what Senator Obama believes when it comes to life issues; it has been as much a personal search for real answers to my own questions as it has been a post to inform our readers. I have done my best to post links so that you can see where I have found my information, and have tried to leave any personal opinions out of the discussion. 

All of us must vote with fully formed consciences on election day, and in addition to prayer, this involves making sure that we understand as fully as possible the stance of the candidates on important issues. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago reminds us that some issues are more fundamental than others; namely, in order for a society to be just, it must protect by law the most innocent of its members, especially those who are incapable of defending themselves. One cannot attempt to advance the common good when this basic first principle is not met. Yet there are some pro-life Catholics who are willing to overlook Senator Obama's strongly pro-abortion stance, and they use the following line of reasoning:

It is unlikely that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court, therefore:
A pro-life president wouldn't be able to affect real change on the abortion issue anyway, therefore:
It is okay to vote for a pro-abortion president, because he can't do anything to make things worse than they already are, and there are other social justice issues that he will stand up for.

Here are my observations:

According to a recent Newsweek Op-Ed article by George Weigel, the legal argument surrounding Roe vs. Wade is not over. The Supreme Court has shown a willingness to uphold laws that regulate abortion clinics or ban certain forms of abortion, and a vote for Obama would essentially be a vote to undo all of the hard work that has been done over the past 35 years since Roe vs. Wade.

Here is Senator Obama's record:
  • He believes that abortion is a fundamental right essential for women's equality, meaning that government must guarantee access to abortion in law and by financial assistance.
  • He has said that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would eliminate all federal and state regulation of abortion, allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Parental notification for minors would be gone. FOCA would also eliminate state laws that allow a "conscience clause" for pro-life doctors who do not want to perform abortions.
  • He supports federal funding for abortion and opposes the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of taxpayer money for abortion. In the words of his campaign, Obama "believes that the federal government should not use its dollars to intrude on a poor woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy..."
  • He opposes continued funding for crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-based education
  • He condemned the ban on partial-birth abortions because it did not include an exception for the "health" of the mother. However, the evidence indicates that there is no obstetrical situation in which a partial birth abortion is the only way to protect the health of the mother.
  • As IL state senator, Obama opposed the 2003 "Infant Born Alive Protection Act," which would require immediate medical attention for infants born alive after a failed abortion procedure, even though it contained language identical to the federal act that was unanimously passed by Congress. According to the Annenberg Political Fact Check, "earlier versions of the bill, in 2001 and 2002, had met with opposition from abortion-rights groups, which contended that they would be used to challenge Roe v. Wade. Because the bills accorded human rights to pre-viable fetuses (that is, fetuses that could not live outside the womb) as long as they showed some vital signs outside the mother, abortion-rights groups saw them as the thin edge of a wedge that could be used to pry apart legal rights to abortion." 
Many people believe that Senator Obama is likely to win the presidential election in November, and Senator McCain even recently poked fun at himself at the Alfred E. Smith Catholic dinner in New York. However, Obama's popular vote hovers at just below 48%, putting him practically neck-to-neck with McCain. Why the discrepancy? In a recent article, Father Raymond J. DeSouza asks, "Given the number of factors in his (Obama's) favor, and his explicit desire to make room for Catholic voters, religious voters and pro-life voters in his campaign, the substance of his abortion policy is extreme and counter-productive...So why does he adopt it?" He answers: "Voters can only conclude that Mr. Obama believes in his policy sincerely." 

In summary: By gathering evidence from Senator Obama's record, his own words, and the words of his campaign staff, it seems that he is proud to be strongly pro-abortion. He believes that reproductive health rights are fundamental rights that should be funded by the government without restriction, and the evidence suggests that several things would change if he becomes president. I only outlined a few of them here. First, all of the restrictions on abortion would be lifted, allowing abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. Federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-based education would be discontinued. The partial birth abortion ban and other similar limits to abortion would likely be overturned. The list goes on and on. 

Some people would point to Obama's social policies, such as healthcare for all, and say that these will actually reduce the number of abortions by reducing social pressures on downtrodden women. However, countries with socialized medicine (such as Sweden) have abortion rates identical to those in the United States, and only 23% of abortions in the US are reportedly performed for financial reasons (see here). And Obama would discontinue funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which seek to materially and emotionally assist women who want to consider the option of carrying their babies to term. The facts don't add up in Senator Obama's favor.

So, this is what I have discovered in my research.  Please feel free to comment, but please remember to keep your comments civil and for the sake of productive and lively debate. 

Mary, Mother of Humility, pray for us!


Lori said...

Thank you so much for your informative article. I knew all of this information, but I feel like no one else does. I passed by 3 Christian churches yesterday, all with Obama signs. How can people look pass his disgusting record and feel okay to vote for him? Even more how can they call themselves Christians?

Right Said Red said...


Thank you for this informative post. I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. I think this sums up my position well:

"In order for a society to be just, it must protect by law the most innocent of its members, especially those who are incapable of defending themselves. One cannot attempt to advance the common good when this basic first principle is not met."

When we talk about abortion, we are talking about the destruction of millions of lives each year! I think when people look past this issue, it is primarily because they don't see these babies as having lives worthy of protection. If these are really babies, human beings, how can we possibly support a candidate that favors their destruction.

I'm not saying everyone should vote for McCain, just that I do not understand how a Christian can in good conscience vote for Obama? It comes back to numbers--millions and millions of women and children...

Anonymous said...

Right on.

Anonymous said...

Just for devil's advocate sake.

Abortion may be about the millions and millions of women and children, but think about this. The estimated number of babies that have been aborted since Roe is less than the number of people who are living without health insurance. That's one of the many issues even good Christians are faced with. And some, as Kat said, do believe that Obama's social plans will do more to diminish the need for abortion than simply overturning Roe.

Again, just the devil's advocate.

I advocate writing to your Congressman/Senator explaining why FOCA is not a sound legislative act. You can focus on the fact that the 14th Amendment, which Roe v. Wade (and consequently FOCA) is based on clearly states nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.(my emphasis) Sec 1, last phrase, 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

And continue to approach abortion as the social problem that it is; until we change the law we can work to change the hearts and minds of the people. Then changing the law will be easier. That means: pray, pray, pray; show off those awesomely large families :); preach with love and charity about the importance of taking responsibility for our actions; and have faith, God will provide.

Molly said...

Thanks for this, Kat. I've actually been emailing about the George articles with a friend, so if you all don't mind, I'll post some of what I wrote to him here--my apologies for length:

...What I do think, though, is that an extremely great deal of hope in the abortion war is placed on the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and that worries me. I don't like Roe--I think it was wrongly decided, and that the Court has continued to build sad precedent upon that case, which is a shaky foundation. John McCain is likely (at least, more likely than Obama) to place a conservative justice on the Court, but that's a murky road to start down: first, it's going to be hard for the Court to reverse Roe, given the cases that have come since it, somewhat building on the principles created in Roe. Second, John McCain has a shaky history of promising to reverse Roe (in 1999, perhaps feeling an election coming on, he said that he wouldn't want it reversed because women would resort to back-alley abortions); he changed that position after seeing how the conservative base feels about reversing the law. Third, we can never know how a judge will approach abortion until he's on the Court. Finally, and perhaps most important to me, is the fact that reversing Roe isn't going to end abortion. It's going to create state divisions over which ones allow abortion and which ones don't.

Mind you, I'm not saying that reversing Roe isn't going to reduce abortion--but I think the combination of the facts that a) it will be hard to reverse Roe, and b) Roe isn't going to dramatically reduce abortion, means that when I'm thinking and praying about how to vote, I need to consider other issues that I would put in the "pro-life" umbrella.

When I consider a pro-life agenda when voting, I also take into account whether I think a candidate will engage only in just wars, whether he'll help outlaw torture again, whether he will champion social causes that support the poorest and neediest and show women that abortion is a dismal choice that should never be exercised, etc. Based on McCain votes on torture, cuts to children's Medicaid and other such social programs, the fact that he plans to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and his position on the war, I find him to be lacking in these areas. He's also no better than Obama on stem cells. I could go on about this, but I think the basic idea is that I consider this another part of my pro-life beliefs, and Obama better meets these principles, in my view.

And finally, let me say, I think the George articles are incomplete in some respect. The second one--which I hadn't read until now--appears to take Obama's words on the Senate floor somewhat out of context. Now, let me say again, I don't believe in abortion. I don't believe in it in cases of rape or incest, and the only circumstance in which I could imagine it being morally acceptable is in a circumstance in which the mother will die if she has the baby--and that would take a lot of hard decision-making on her part. However, if we're looking at Obama as a pro-choice/abortion/whatever-semantics-you-want-to-use candidate, he's not radical in comparison with other pro-choice candidates. For instance, if you read the rest of the Illinois State Senate transcript from that day, Obama makes clear that he's trying to understand the bill's goals, because he thinks that it is seeking to achieve something that is already required of doctors: "If these are children who are being born alive, I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in the room is going to make sure that they're looked after." (there's more to this effect, but he's a halting speaker, and I didn't want to type it all--it can be found at

So actually, to me, to take this to mean that Obama is going to be the most radical pro-abortion president ever is misrepresenting what he was trying to say on the Senate floor. I don't the's a radical secretly hiding behind a moderate mantle who plans to launch an extremist abortion plan as soon as he gets into office. Similarly, I think that in the first article, George doesn't take seriously or address the umbrella issues that I mentioned above, which I consider a valid and important aspect of why I and pro-lifers like me might vote for Obama. Because I believe that it immoral to cut necessary social programs for the poor, to enter into unjust wars, to torture, etc.--and in balancing these concerns of mine against the reservations I have about using abortion as a single-issue reason to vote, I have, for now, decided to vote for Obama.

Lisa said...

"Even more how can they call themselves Christians?"

"I do not understand how a Christian can in good conscience vote for Obama?"

I'd be cautious about the tone of these prior two comments. I don't think you can question someone's faith in, and *personal* relationship with Christ because they support a different politician than you do. Who are you to question and/or judge? Isn't that Christ's role?

I think Kat's post is valid and good, as she lays out information she's researched hoping to compel readers to adopt her stance. I do *not* think that questioning my and/or millions of Christians' personal relationship with Christ because they have different political views than you do is valid, and I certainly don't think it will have the (presumably desired) effect of getting us to switch our votes.

Kat said...

Molly, thanks so much for your comments. I was surprised to read the comment on torture since I was under the impression that McCain has always been a staunch fighter against the use of torture by American forces...So, I did a little bit of investigating, and it does seem that McCain is strong when it comes to his opposition to torture techniques used by the military. He believes that the military must abide by the Army Field Manual. I think that the most recent uproar came earlier in 2008, when McCain would not sign an intelligence authorization bill that included the Feinstein Amendment, which states that all US government agencies - even non-military agencies - would also be under the Army Field Manual. McCain believes that the CIA should not be strictly bound by the Army Field Manual and that they may need to employ other interrogation techniques. I would like to know what exactly McCain would allow, but I feel confident that he would not be in favor of extreme or unnecessary techniques. He continually stands against inflicting mental harm, he is staunchly against waterboarding in ALL circumstances and for ALL agencies...And he himself was a torture victim and has seen this grave evil face to face. Again, I would like to know exactly what McCain would allow for CIA agents and how he would make sure that the rules were followed, but I feel confident that he has not changed his long-standing stance on torture. He just didn't believe that it is appropriate to apply a military field manual to non-military intelligence activities.

When it comes to healthcare, I just want to point out that there are many uninsured people in the US who have chosen to be uninsured, either because 1) they want to use their money in other ways, or 2) because they haven't taken the time to become insured. The first group are probably young, fairly healthy Americans who figure they will spend less money paying out of pocket per year than they would for insurance premiums. The second group might qualify for public aid, but they haven't taken the time to apply for whatever reason. Having been "part of the system" myself for 2 years, let me tell you that the Medicaid documents are not easy to document. I lived in a state with a very good Medicaid system, and it was still a beaureacratic mess! So I don't think that we can just take the number of uninsured Americans and assume that they're all uninsured because they can't afford healthcare but have too much money to qualify for Medicaid. I know that our healthcare system needs reform, but I don't think that socialized medicine is the way to go. Yes, we do need to ensure that children have insurance and that pregnant mothers have good coverage. But we do not need to ensure that Medicaid covers abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy. Much more to say on that topic...

With regards to creating a more just society, yes, I totally agree that we need to change our culture in order to reduce the number of abortions. But this is exactly what McCain said that he would focus on as president when he gave his answer in the last debate. And Obama says that he would not fund crisis pregnancy centers or abstinence-based education. Those two facts don't add up for me.

I am disappointed in McCain's stance on stem cells, but Obama does take his position a step further and says that he would fund the creation of embryos that are created for the sole purpose of research that would destroy them.

The only reason that I'm going into such detail is that I do think that McCain is a better pro-life candidate on many issues other than abortion.

Kat said...

Lisa, I agree...We need to be careful in our language and I believe that we should give each other the benefit of the doubt, assuming that others are attempting to inform their consciences as fully as we are...Which is why I placed such a strong emphasis on the fact that we must all vote in good conscience, after much prayer and an attempt to get as much information as we can on the candidates' positions.

texas mommy said...

Thanks, Kat, for such a well researched and well presented post!

I agree with Molly that health care is a huge issue, but it is not on the same moral plane as the intrinsic evil of abortion, which actively and literally takes the lives of millions of babies.

I only want to add that for Catholics, John Paul II wrote: "Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good... It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop."

Right Said Red said...

Devils Advocate--

If you don't have a right to life, who really cares about health care. Let's be clear here, we must put first things first. The right to existence is by far more important than the right to health care. Health care is important, but I'm not sure I'd want to tell all the dead babies in heaven that if they had lived, they would have had a good health care plan.

Molly and Lisa-

The explanations all sound like rationalizations to me. There are millions of children slaughtered each year because of legalized abortion. If you truly see these lives as babies, how can you vote for man who would do almost anything in his power to keep abortion legal, cheap and easy? Let's be clear here, abortion is a mass genocide. In our time there is no issue that can morally compare. I'm sure there were "Christians" in Nazi Germany who supported the Nazi party because they were doing good things for Germany, AND after all Germany was falling on difficult economic times...

Molly, the reversal of Roe v. Wade is essential to make any real legal headway in the abortion wars. At present, we are completely handcuffed to provide ANY legal protection for the unborn because of Roe. While you may see it as a small step, the reversal of Roe is essential to gain any ground. Sure there will remain work to be done after its reversal, but little can be done before it is reversed. The ONLY way to reverse Roe is through the appointment of supreme court justices (or constitutional amendment). For all the negative things I could say about President Bush, and believe me there are plenty, he appointed VERY solid justices. We are literally one vote away from overturning Roe. It can and will happen if we elect the right president.

The only way to vote for Obama is to tell yourself that the millions of innocent children dying are somehow less than human, and that health care and foreign policy for the rest of us is somehow more important than their very right to life. If you were walking down the road and looking at their dead bodies lying in the street it would be hard to argue that issues such as medicaid and medicare are as important as the pro-life issue. You can rationalize all you want, but at the end of the day, all your arguments rest of the premise that these lives are NOT as important as ours. If I lived in Nazi Germany, I would NOT be worried about my health care plan, I would be worried about the mass slaughter of human life. I'm sure you would too. Somehow though, when it comes to abortion, we rationalize.

I think when it comes down to it, many just don't see these babies as real lives. If the babies are somehow less than human, all your reasoning makes sense. If babies are dying by the millions, and make no mistake about it, they are, if there was any chance to change that at all, I think we have a moral obligation to help.

This isn't about politics. It is about the very right to life. We have a class of human beings in this nation that we have decided can be murdered at will--and you are worried about health care reform.

Yes, I am a single issue voter. When a category of human beings are denied the basic right to life, how can I in good conscience not be a single issue voter? When abortion is no longer legal, I will quickly lose my single issue voting ways. Until then, I MUST protect the most basic and important of all human rights--the very right to life.

ca_catholic said...

Can you please post a reference for your assertion that Obama is in support of laws that would allow abortion "in all nine months of pregnancy"? I'd be very interested in seeing the direct source for this, and the language of the law itself, as I really doubt it is intended as your post implies.

As someone who supports reproductive rights, we obviously have a fundamental difference of opinion here that I won't bother to debate, but I worry about assertions like these, which I think are needlessly inflammatory. While I think we can all probably agree that Obama's beliefs/policies clearly favor rights of the mother over those of the unborn child, I do not think it is fair to characterize him as "in favor of abortion at any time" or "trying to kill babies who have survived abortions" (as people have mis-understood his vote on Illinos law). He is NOT in any way in favor of needless abortions (and as I understand his policies, would do everything in his power to decrease the numbers through social means), but he certainly does think that reproduction is a personal decision that we should not legislate. It is an extreme mischaracterization to describe him as pro-abortion - I hope people will remember that what he is is pro-CHOICE (which I know may be seen as just as bad to many of you, but is an entirely different thing).

Juris Mater said...

Things like economic opportunity and the availability of health care will always wax and wane, and there will always be debates about how we can best provide for our physical and economic needs. But we live in a regime where our laws--the rules by which we have agreed to live--allow us to slaughter innocent human life in its first stages. Abortion should not be an option, whether or not you have health care, regardless of your income level. Giving people healthcare does not affect whether or not they have the option to abort in the first place. The laws do. Law has a teaching power--saying something is legal says that we as a human community think it is a permissible action. The law also has a practical impact. The abortion lobby has confirmed this. Planned Parenthood's own statistics show that in each of the seven states that have Obama-type legislation on the books that tries to severely cut back restraints on abortion, "abortion rates have increased while the national rate has decreased." In Maryland, where a liberal abortion bill similar to the one favored by Obama was enacted in 1991, abortion rates have increased by 8 percent while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9 percent. As George says, "No one is really surprised. After all, the message clearly conveyed by policies such as those Obama favors is that abortion is a legitimate solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies - so clearly legitimate that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it." That's why we fight to CHANGE THE LAW PARTICULAR TO ABORTION, even more than we fight to change the policies that may incidentally affect abortion rates, and this is why we vote for the candidate who will do the most to fight those laws as well.

Sometimes when we understand abortion as a fact of life in America, and when the pro-abortion crew works so hard to keep facts secret and intimidate those who would dissent, it's easy for us to forget what actually goes on in this procedure. The evil of abortion cannot possibly be overstated--there's nothing more horrible this side of hell. We are talking about a small, delicate, warm, soft baby, peaceful inside his mother's womb, with a flourishing brain and a beating heart... slicing him apart, and removing the pieces of his dead body; or piercing his skull, sucking out his brains, then ripping his body from his mom's womb. We're going to say this is a necessary evil? A necessary evil in the name of what greater good?

Juris Mater said...


Obama has promised, "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act" (known as FOCA), which is a proposed legislation that would create a federally guaranteed "fundamental right" to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

Also, we may be splitting hairs here, but a presidential candidate who opposes continued federal funding for crisis pregnancies centers sounds more "pro-abortion" and less "pro-choice" to me.

Anonymous said...

Frequently in the abortion debate, and in the dialogue here, people talk about overturning Roe v. Wade. Such commentary ignores the most basic principle of our common law judicial system: stare decisis. A new combination of justices can’t just take a revote on an issue that has already been decided (Brown v. Bd. is a very limited and distinguishable exception). Constitutional interpretation does not change with the political tide. That is the basic premise of an independent judiciary and a fundamental reason why justices are appointed for life. The constitutionality of reproductive choice in the Roe context is settled (the cornerstone being an inherent right to privacy in the 14th Amendment, which interestingly Sarah Palin said she believed existed). It is naïve to think that a pro-life president may overturn Roe v. Wade by simply appointing pro-life justices. Twenty-four years of Republican presidential rule since Roe has not done it. Even Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative jurist appointed by Bush, has said he must respect the precedent of the Roe decision and its progeny, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Ignoring the precedent of these decisions would be real legislating from the bench (a practice abhorred by true conservative jurists). The only method of changing the law of Roe is a constitutional amendment. So I don’t believe the law of Roe v. Wade is really at stake in this presidential contest.

Similarly, despite the post’s suggestion otherwise, separation of powers would prevent a president Obama from signing a bill into law that has not yet been passed by Congress. So the suggestion that Obama could unilaterally change abortion law in his first few days in office is disingenuous.

Just curious, for those who want status quo abortion law changed, how do you propose those laws be enforced? Stripping doctors of their licenses? Throwing pregnant women and/or doctors in jail? Would it be a capital crime to get an abortion? Fines? Just curious. From a public policy standpoint, is this the most effective way of reducing abortions? Is there not a better way to achieve the outcome that I truly believe all Americans (including both candidates genuinely want – fewer abortions?

Bethany said...

Several years ago, as I worked in a preschool, there was a family where the mother got pregnant with her 2nd child. Her first little boy was a shy, very sweet, very sensitive child. About 4 months into her pregnancy she discovered she had stage four breast cancer. As a strong Catholic and pro-life activate, abortion never entered into her head. She carried the child to 35 weeks as the aggressive cancer invaded her body, increased by the elevated hormone levels. The doctors took the child early so as to begin chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She has a healthy baby girl. 8 months later she passed away, the cancer had infected to much of her body by the time they started treatment, there was nothing anyone could do. Leaving her husband, her son, and her new baby daughter without their mother.

While I greatly admire, her strength and courage to bring the baby to term. I often wonder (and do not think, at this point in my life) would I have the strength to do the same thing. Maybe my faith is not as strong as other people's. After all I came into the church only 10 years ago, and I'm still reflecting on what this new found faith has in store for me. But, as I sit and write this through the tears in my eyes, could I look at my three children, my husband and say "I love you, but I love this child inside me more. It's more important that this child be brought to life than for the three of you to have a mother and you my husband have a wife. Instead, you my husband will have to raise 4 children on your own." Some would say trust in God, He will take care of everything. But again, I say, my faith isn't strong enough to do that- yet.

An honest reflection.

Amy said...

Unfortunately, I am not very scholarly, and am not a good debator, so I apologize for what probably some people will think is a very basic post: It is a crime to kill someone. We can not walk out into the street and shoot someone, stab someone, beat someone up until they die. So why does our society think it is ok to end the life of a baby???

When I read people's posts trying to justify pro-choice or voting for Obama, it really makes me sick inside...from the moment of conception, there is life. We are NOT meant to take that life away.

And when it comes to politics, we have a moral obligation ( is an obligation) to vote for the candidate that is pro-life. I know this can get grey depending on their stance on stem cell research and capital punishment, but we much look at all of these when deciding who to vote for.

Again, I apologize for my basic and not well worded post, but I just can't sit back and not say anything. Abortions kill innocent babies. They have a right to life.

Anonymous said...

To all those who equate abortion and health care, think of it this way: There are at least 1.3 MILLION abortions in the U.S. every year. So what the health care adovcates are saying is, it's OK to kill 1.3 MILLION people each year in order to receive healthcare. Think about that for a second. All we have to do is kill a million people each year, and then the rest of us can have free health insurance. Or, all we have to do is kill a million people each year, and then we can have more homeless shelters/prescription drug programs/Medicaid funding, etc.. It's just a million people every year, and then we can have all of the REAL pro-life programs. How should we decide which million should be killed? Should it be the elderly, the sick, the poor, the homeless? Maybe it could be a random lottery. Sure, a million people will lose their lives, but think how much better off the rest of us will be!

Juris Mater said...

12:52am anonymous and others:

Am I missing something? How can someone say abortion is wrong but it should be legal? I've never understood this. You say you think abortion is bad and you say everyone agrees that we should try to reduce abortions, yet our LAWS enshrine the right to have one, and Obama wants our taxes, the money that we work for, to pay for people's abortions. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

It is my American right to vote. I live in Florida. I ALREADY VOTED. You have no legal or canonical right to know how I voted.

One thing though: until yuou all take a collection and pay our health insurance bill I will not do what you say to do. It is ridiculous to ask any person in the USA to vote for a man who lies about what he says he is going to do.

Call the McCain office, ask for a supervisor and ask them if they are going to get rid of abortion in the first 200 days. If they are indecisive, no go, no votey.

And you all went to where for school? Research is needed.

Vote early where you can.

Don't complain to me when your mother gets her medicare cut.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - Yes, you have every right to vote. No, I don't think anyone was asking you to tell anyone who you voted for. Can you honestly say that it is more important for my mother to get Medicare than for an unborn baby's rights to be upheld? To me, that's just not right. It's just not right to kill an innocent human versus healthcare issues. I'm astonished that someone (and I'm sure there are many) feels that healthcare is more important than LIFE.

Anonymous said...

FOCA as it has been proposed in the past would not give women the unrestricted right to have an abortion in all nine months of pregnancy. That law stated: "It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman."

Regardless of how we feel about this issue, we should construe the law in the way in which it was written so that our inaccuracies cannot be used against us. This law (as well as Roe and Casey) would still prohibit abortions in the third trimester (and possibly in the second in some cases) except to protect the life and health of the mother.

Juris Mater said...

Anon, it's old news that "life and health" has been stretched to encompass pretty much anything--such as a woman's determination that keeping her baby would affect her psychological health by making her kind of unhappy. The "life and health" thing isn't any limitation in practice, unfortunately. The only thing it does anymore is soothe the consciences of the pro-"choicers".

Anonymous said...

As a Roman Catholic, there is no justification ever for voting for a pro-abortion candidate. That's it. It doesn't get any more simple than that. Life trumps all.

Florentius said...

Excellent article. Also, don't forget that Obama received a 100% rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League.

It's mind boggling that anyone even reasonably pro-life could vote for this guy. That supposedly pro-life Catholics are aggressively promoting his candidacy says more about them than about him, frankly.

"Obama is pro-life" is one of the biggest of the big lies currently out there.

Margaret,JDMom said...

Any health exception, like the one in FOCA, essentially allows abortion for any reason thanks to Roe's companion case Doe vs. Bolton. In that case, the court defined health as encompassing any number of things- including a woman's emotional health. Thus, when the pro-abortion side advocates a health exception- it essentially gives a woman the ability to choose abortion for any reason she and her doctor decide is ok. So, the assertion that Obama supports abortion for any reason for all nine months of pregnancy is totally true. Look it up!!

Anonymous said...

And another thing- just a thought. Health care is huge concern- but do you really want someone who is ok with killing innocent children to be calling the shots on who gets medical care and how much? Yikes. If I were a baby boomer I would be very afraid as I approach my twilight years- the elderly "consume" much more health care than younger people and any government program is going to have to do some sort of rationing. Look at Europe- Great Britain etc.

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

First, JM, there are plenty of examples of things that may be considered "bad" for society, but the choice to do them is not - and I would argue, should not be - prescribed by law (e.g. the use of alcohol and tobacco, not immunizing children, etc).

Second, and more importantly, I often find that most discussions on this topic digress into colloquial, bumpersticker-slogan- type arguments (it's a child not a choice, abortion is murder, if you can't trust a woman with a choice how can you trust her with a child). It may feel good to espouse your position for choice or life and make moralistic judgments about other people's positions, but that is not really productive. Afterall, I don't know a single person who is "undecided" on this issue. It is not difficult to merely have an opinion on this topic.

What I do think is productive and requires more thought is a dialogue on what policies would incentivize the desired end of fewer or no abortions. I have heard some people here suggest that various social policies may incentivize people to choose life when they might otherwise resort to an abortion. I have not heard anyone on the other side of the debate discuss the practical consequences of outlawing abortion or "overturning Roe" (let's assume there aren't constitutional limitations on making that happen). For example, should punishment vary by gestational age of the fetus? If abortion is criminalized, should a woman who makes an appointment for an abortion be prosecuted for attempted abortion? How would you handle a situation where parents of a minor or the baby's father coerces or forces a woman to get an abortion?

These policy questions, and the more basic ones I posed yesterday, require a higher level of discourse. I am genuinely curious how outlawing abortions, which is what it seems many here are advocating, would function at a practical level and how that would achieve the desired end.

For a truly fruitful discussion, let's abandon the bumpersticker rhetoric and talk policy nuts and bolts. I wish the candidates would do the same so the electorate can be clear what is really at stake on this issue. So if you are serious about your desire to reduce or eliminate abortions, let's hear how you suggest it would work.

Right Said Red said...

To anonymous (it would be nice if you picked a name, even a made up one!),

The nitty gritty policy discussion you are after is a bit abstract. If Roe is overturned, it would be up to each state to legislate this issue. Some states would legalize abortion with restrictions, others would ban it entirely. People would feel like they had more "control" over the law on this issue, and I actually think things would be less divisive because different sorts of compromises would be reached in different states.

I have thought about this somewhat, and I'm supportive of criminal punishments for the doctors and others involved in performing the abortion. I don't think the women should be criminally punished as most women are following the advice of somebody, and feel tremendous pressure and emotional instability when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Again, if there were criminal sanctions, it would be a state by state decision as to how these are carried out.

I also think we should have adoption systems in place, along with health care and other social services available to women in a difficult pregnancy. If these social services are present, AND abortion is illegal, it will make abortion VERY, VERY rare.

Women don't choose an abortion like they choose an ice cream cone. Women choose abortion because they feel like they don't have any other choices. Our laws need to send the message that abortion is never a good choice, and we as a society will do everything in our power to help them give their baby life. Adoption is a loving and necessary component of this discussion.

As for life/health of the mother exceptions to the abortion laws, I think a situation where the mothers life is in jeapordy AND an abortion is the only way to save the mother is VERY rare. The double effect morally justifies treating the mother for various health issues, even if such treatment results in the death of the baby. This could easily be written into the law. The point here is that we are not aborting a baby, but treating the mother for an illness that might result in the death of a baby (like giving a pregnant woman chemo). Likewise, in many cases where the mothers life is at risk, doctors may choose to deliver a baby early (too early to survive perhaps?). These sorts of situations could have some general legislative guidelines and then states could rely upon hospital boards to make decisions about borderline cases (again these are rare).

Each state would work out the specifics differently. People would feel very involved and able to control the political process in their respective state. It would really change the whole nature of the debate. Having the court decide very divisive political issues usually only make the situation more volatile. For those familiar with the history of jurisprudence in this country, just look at Dred Scott and Brown v. Board of Education....

Molly said...

I commend you ladies for sponsoring such a lively and respectful debate.

I was going to write a post responding issue-by-issue to each of the responses to my previous post, but then I realized that doing so would actually cloud what I'm really trying to say and what I unsuccessfully tried to express previously.

In its "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops writes the following:

"Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil."

I wanted to post this because I think the whole USCCB document (found at is very useful and thought-provoking when considering the candidates this election season. The document also goes into more detail about specific areas of Catholic social teaching, and I highly recommend it.

Red, I respect and understand why you are a one-issue voter. I also think the USCCB document explains that it is acceptable to consider other issues if undertaken with serious and conscientious weighing of the gravity of all of the issues.

Jennifer in MN said...

One has to question what could be MORE grave or serious than the slaughtering of innocent babies in their mother's wombs? Does healthcare rise to the level of grave? Does defending our nation? Does economic issues? I think it's very difficult to get more grave than abortion and I think the USCCB is very clear about this.

Jeanne in Tampa said...

Anonymous was me, Jeanne inTampa. I was in a hurry when I wrote that last one.

But I wasn't all of the anonymous. I wrote the one about I have a right to vote and you do not have a right to know how I voted.

Don't come to Florida and coerce people in the voting line or near a voting booth: it is a crime in this state.

Gay Marriage? One man one woman is already in the state law. 712.212 in the Florida stats.

The Republicans started this abortion thing in the beginning when I was 10 in 1973. I was there. You all weren't even born yet.

Joanne said...

This is a very interesting post, thanks. I was considering voting for Obama but changed my mind for two reasons. One was his comment about how he didn't want his daughters to be "punished" with a baby if they came up pregnant and didn't want to be. To speak of your own children having a "punishment" of children seems like a paradox to me. The second comment was after the ridiculous Nancy Pelosi discussion on when life begins. A reporter asked Obama when he thought life began, when a human being started to have rights and Obama said that it was "above his pay grade" to figure something like that out.

That is just not someone I can vote for. We have fundamental differences as human beings, and I just can't support someone who feels that other, helpless humans do not have the right to live.

Elestethane said...

Red said- (ooh that rhymes)

"Women don't choose an abortion like they choose an ice cream cone. Women choose abortion because they feel like they don't have any other choices. Our laws need to send the message that abortion is never a good choice, and we as a society will do everything in our power to help them give their baby life. Adoption is a loving and necessary component of this discussion."(my emphasis)

This is the most important idea. Not that we just tell women that abortion is never a good choice, but we, as a society, need to come up with better choices for these young women, and make sure they know about them.

And here is the difference, pro-lifers want to do this after Roe has been over-turned, Catholic's who intend to vote for Obama (let's call them temporary pro-choice Catholics) want to do this before Roe is over-turned.

There has GOT to be a middle ground.

Florentius said...

Molly writes: "Based on McCain votes on torture, cuts to children's Medicaid and other such social programs, the fact that he plans to cut Medicare and Medicaid, and his position on the war, I find him to be lacking in these areas."

Dear Molly,

With all due respect, you're actually wrong on a lot of these issues. I should remind you that Senator McCain was one of the foremost voices against torture--even the comparatively mild form known as "waterboarding". You may recall that Senator McCain was actually tortured himself in a Vietnamese prison camp. He speaks with the ultimate authority on this issue, in my opinion.

Also, the so-called cuts in Medicare and Medicaid are actually just cuts in the percentage of growth--in other words, they're not really cuts at all. I personally think that a government healthcare system in this country would be a disaster. Having known many folks who work in the Netherlands, UK, and Canada, I would NEVER in a million years want a system like those countries have here in the US. It only results in poorer quality of care for everyone, the flight of excellent professionals out of the medical field, and healthcare rationing.

As for the war, McCain has been through war and paid for it with his own body. I would trust his jugdment on this issue far beyond Obama. And if you listen to Obama's own running mate, America's enemies are much more likely to test an inexperenced president like Obama than a tough guy like McCain.

Just my $0.02.

I pray that you will reconsider your vote for Obama, a candidate who, in my opinion, may be the least experienced and most pro-abortion candidate ever to achieve a major party's nomination.

Susan said...

I respect your faith ladies. I really do. You live honorable lives and are all clearly intelligent. But I disagree.

Please read what I've pasted below. This woman was pregnant with twins and lost one at 22 weeks. She ended up delivering the other twin at 25 weeks mere hours before developing a life threatening infection from the first twin. If the infection had come sooner and abortion was illegal you would have sentenced her to death.

Just an bit of an alternate view point is all I'm offering here. That there are smart, loving, compassionate women who sometimes need to make painful choices. It is easy to sit surrounded by beautiful bubbly children and lose site that not everyone is so healthy.

Kat said...

Elestethane, respectfully, I disagree with your comment that pro-lifers would wait until after Roe is overturned to help change society to help women...We're trying to do that right now, as we have been for years and years with pregnancy help centers, Project Gabriel, homes for pregnant women and new moms to stay, adoption, etc. There is always more to be done, I will be the first to say that...But there are so many people who are working very hard right now!

Right Said Red said...

Dear Elestethane,

You said, "And here is the difference, pro-lifers want to do this after Roe has been over-turned, Catholic's who intend to vote for Obama (let's call them temporary pro-choice Catholics) want to do this before Roe is over-turned. There has GOT to be a middle ground."

I don't see it quite this way. Most pro-lifers I know are trying to do this while simultaneously working to overturn Roe. Pro-life activists are praying outside of abortion clinics (the 40-days for life is going on as we speak), manning the desk at pregnancy counseling centers, offering their homes to pregnant women in need, etc. They are literally working so hard to help these women. I have yet to see someone who will vote for Obama praying outside an abortion clinic, OR helping at a pregnancy counseling center. It seems that the "Catholics" planning to vote for Obama are not really active in the pro-life movement. Sure they want more government social services...but they are not really working in the private grassroots sphere (which most would argue is very effective at reducing the number of abortions), to help women in need. The only 'work' they do is to vote for and support expanded government run social programs.

To me, the middle ground seems to be the pregnancy counseling centers, prayer outside of abortion clinics, housing pregnant women, raising money to offer free ultrasounds to pregnant women, etc, but, in my experience, these sorts of activities are not usually attended/performed by "pro-Obama" Catholics. As a result, I come to the conclusion that most Catholics voting for Obama just don't think abortion is really that big of an issue. Maybe they just don't realize the scope of the problem, which is part of the reason behind Kat's original post.

Right Said Red said...

Dear Susan,

I read your link and thank you for posting it. I was very sad to read that story. It is obvious from that woman's post that she is suffering greatly from the death of her children. I lost a baby at full-term, so I understand, to some extent, the heartache and grief she must be feeling.

While I never support the direct killing of anyone, I don't think legislation in this area would prohibit offering the mother life-saving medical treatment. Life and health issues are distinguishable and legislated in other areas (such as Euthanasia or family law). I think it is important that we don't take one or two "hard" cases like the one you posted about and then make rules that leave millions upon millions of healthy women and babies at risk. There will always be hard cases in any area of the law (just look at family law!), but would anyone honestly suggest that no regulation or legislation is a good solution?

Elestethane said...

But once again, it's not just about convincing them not to have an abortion and providing them with the prenatal care needed to carry a child to term. All of the examples you sited are wonderful ways that people help women make the decision to have have the child rather than abort it.

But the question then becomes "Now what?" How do we provide them with the health care/insurance needed to take care of themselves and a child during pregnancy and after that child is born. How do we provide jobs (not rewarding companies for outsourcing jobs out of the country) for the single women who do end up in those situations and/or the men/husbands/fathers to be able to take care of their children and families. How do we provide a decent, high quality education, for these women AND their children (let's face it most of these women are not going to be able to stay home and homeschool, noble of a profession as it is, they just can't afford to not be working). Incidentally these are all questions that pop into any woman's head who is pregnant, the one's who feel backed into the abortion corner are the ones who can't find the answers. I admit the Catholic Adoption Agencies are a great way to help, but there are too few of them, and not enough information about them getting out there as well as the expense. (keep up the good work if you help to market these services) Not to mention the emotional baggage created with adopting. Yes I know it's not nearly as much as having an abortion, that's not my point.

It often seems to me that many pro-life groups are so dedicated to the idea of preventing abortions (a very noble cause, to be sure), by working to over turn Roe, providing young women with alternate means to continue to carry a child, and providing support to these women that they forget that there is a life after the child is born, that needs to be taken care of too. I'm sure they really do not feel this way. But again, I say pro-life groups tend to focus on preventing an abortion from happening, which includes overturning Roe. The "temporary pro-choice Catholics" are focusing on the child and family after it's born.

My point still remains, if there could be common ground between the two groups and they start working together for the greater good, rather than play the guilt card, we'd be a lot closer to reducing the number of abortions.

Kelly said...


I have to disagree with you. Women don't have abortions because of a lack of daycare/heathcare/ maternity options. If that were true, then socialist countries like England would have virtually no abortions, and their birth rates would be climbing. Of course, the opposite is true. The governments of many European countries literally pay their women to have children--and they still refuse to. So to suggest that the real way to reduce abortions is to increase food stamp payments, for example, is silly.

And think about this, if Obama really is so pro-life, then why would the strongest of abortion defenders support him? Why would abortion agencies give him 100% ratings if he didn't agree 100%with their philosophies?

I'm sorry, but if you vote for Obama then you aren't pro-life.

Maria said...


It seems to me you expecting the pro-life movement to provide complete political platform. This is simply not the purpose of the pro-life movement. The movement began in reaction to the legalization of abortion and the accompanying rapid rise in abortion rates in our country. Therefore, the movement focuses on 1)making abortion illegal and 2) lower abortion rates by giving mothers the immediate resources they need to give birth to their babies and make it through the difficult first few years. It is a movement with a particular focus on a particular evil. Just because the pro-life movement focuses primarily on one issue, doesn't mean its members don't "care" about other issues. There are lots of organizations for particular causes - i.e., capital punishment, enviromental concerns, drunk driving, you name it. I don't expect these organizations to provide an answer for every ill in our country. They are devoted to a single cause and that it perfectly legitimate. If you have an issue with the goals of the pro-life movement, working towards making abortion illegal and working to lower abortion rates, then take issue with those ends. Don't take them to task for not addressing issues outside of their chosen cause.

Molly said...

Hey Florentius,

Thanks for your response.

First, I want to say--I was definitely not calling into question Senator McCain's fine and heroic service to this country.

And, as you say, he has condemned torture publicly, which was why I was disappointed when he voted not to impose on the CIA restrictions that are imposed on the military. For details on this, and Kat's take on it, which argues on McCain's behalf, see her post above.

As for the cuts--this WSJ article says McCain will cut, not just freeze:

Kat said...

Molly, thanks so much for posting the WSJ link, I appreciate it. My goodness, the healthcare issue is such a big one in our country, one that will require lots of great minds coming together to figure out a solution. Of course we must always have a "preferential option for the poor," and figuring out how best to tweak and improve the system is a large task indeed! One of the main challenges is that the system has to keep running while at the same time being reformed...I can't think of any country that has "gotten it right," but we have a lot of smart people in this country and I believe that with some coordination and compromise, it can happen.

I've been thinking a lot about the torture issue, and I do hope that if McCain becomes president, he will be very clear about what is appropriate for the CIA and what is not. He may have already outlined what his plan would be - if anyone has more information on this, please let us know. I do remember Senator Obama commending Senator McCain on his position on torture in the last debate, however, so maybe he has done something recently to warrant this compliment??

Elestethane said...

I guess will have to agree to disagree. I see many socialist countries as you call them, such as England, and most of Western Europe and they have much lower abortion rates than many other countries. Oddly enough, countries where abortion is heavily regulated such as Venezuela have extremely high abortion rates. The fact that many of the countries with both highly restrictive abortion laws and extremely high abortion rates are third world countries indicates that yes, child care, healthcare, the ability to provide for the child, do have an affect on whether a woman will choose to have an abortion.

the movement focuses on 1)making abortion illegal and 2) lower abortion rates by giving mothers the immediate resources they need to give birth to their babies and make it through the difficult first few years. Important as this job is, IMHO, a pro-life movement should indeed concentrate on the totality of life from conception to natural death. So when you say...If you have an issue with the goals of the pro-life movement, working towards making abortion illegal and working to lower abortion rates, then take issue with those ends. My concern becomes is pro-life or pro-existence. And they are two different things.

My point being with my previous posts, is that if these two previous groups of people that I have written about, could come together they could work on not a complete political platform but a truly pro-life political platform which is what is needed.

As you said Don't take them to task for not addressing issues outside of their chosen cause. But isn't that what many here have done, in criticizing those who are working from the opposite end of the spectrum to create a better quality of life for both the ones already living and those children that the pro-life side will save.

Joanne said...

Elestethane -

"But isn't that what many here have done, in criticizing those who are working from the opposite end of the spectrum to create a better quality of life for both the ones already living and those children that the pro-life side will save."

We would definitely have to agree to disagree on a statement like this. People who are "working" on the opposite end of the spectrum (meaning pro abortion?) to create a better quality of life for people who are already living? And for people that the pro-life side will save? This makes no sense - aren't the people on the opposite end of the spectrum working for women's rights to choose to end pregnancies in abortion? HOW in the world is that aiding people who haven't been born yet? Helpless people who don't have anyone else speaking for them?

It is impossible to have 'common ground' between people who are pro life and anti abortion and people who are pro choice and pro abortion - IMPOSSIBLE. The only thing that I could, as a Pro Life, Anti Abortion person, agree with a Pro Choice, Pro Abortion person is that there are too many abortions performed. But for me, one is too many and I don't know how many is too many for them.

elsie said...

I'm a bit confused by the assumption by "temporary pro-choice" advocates that health care *must* be legislated in order to help people. We all seem to agree that it's important to work in your own community to help women with crisis pregnancies, but wouldn't it make sense to take this same approach to health care for those who can't afford it?

My husband recently had an organ transplant and cancer, during which time I was doing health insurance actuarial work (I've since changed fields, and he's been cancer-free for a year). We're thankful that his student benefits and Medicare covered the costs, but from my job we knew how high the bills can run. This experience led us to find a good grassroots organization that helps out with catastrophic illness expenses for under- and uninsured patients, and we now contribute regularly for the same reason that we give to local crisis pregnancy groups. Yes, there are some major problems with our health care system that need to be addressed. But saying that pro-life values should take a back seat because health care must be legislated seems to be a double standard to me, and avoids the opportunity to help sick and uninsured people now rather than waiting around for the government.

One last thing. In spite of our personal experiences, I still don't advocate socialized health care, for a purely selfish reason: I like a system where the option exists for prompt medical care-- my husband wouldn't be alive otherwise-- and this has been a problem with some government-administered programs in place in other countries. I've met Canadian medical tourists who had to come to the US in order to get treatment (paid for out-of-pocket) for an active cancer, due to wait-time problems with their system, not lack of Canadian medical expertise. Then there are under-insured US families we know who were able to pay off enormous medical bills with local fund raising. At least the option for quality care exists here, and communities can do much to immediately help people. Frontline did a great introductory piece ("Sick Around the World") on health care systems found in other democracies, and it's a good starting point for a broader look at the health care issue.

Right Said Red said...


I think the discussion here has wound down a bit, but thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I really appreciate your perspective and I agree with you that socialized health care has its own set of difficulties on which reasonable minds may differ. I'm still working out my thoughts on that one. For now, I'm glad I don't have to base my vote on health care reform as other more pressing life issues are at stake. Thanks again for your comment.