Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 7: Abortion

This is the seventh of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday. The schedule and comment policy are available here.

Well, this last week we’ve been having a very interesting discussion regarding McCain and Obama on the economy (mostly between Ryan and Leo — thanks for all your contributions). There is a lot of good information there, for those who are interested.

I’ve been looking forward to this week’s forum on abortion. This is one area where uniquely LDS values will certainly come into play. I hope that whoever wants to is not afraid to share their perspective — and I encourage all commenters to be respectful of others’ views.

Historically, Obama and McCain have been very much pro-choice and pro-life, respectively. And McCain has been talking this up a lot more than Obama lately. Whenever McCain brings up his pro-life stance at his town hall meetings, he receives a standing ovation. Obama has been quiet on this issue, but he’s going to have to address it head on, I think, before long (including his historical support for partial-birth abortion). If Obama is not careful, this could turn into a major wedge issue. But should it be? What do you think?

McCain is certainly more in line with most LDS views on abortion — this is so obvious that it hardly deserves much debate, in my opinion (although some worry that McCain might become supportive of an abortion stance that is far more conservative than the Church’s official position). But the question still remains how much this matters. How much does it matter for the President to be pro-life? For this President?

One crucial issue, of course, is the Supreme Court. The judges who McCain and Obama say they will appoint just happen to be (big surprise!) the types of judges who will be for or against reversing Roe v. Wade (respectively). On the Freedom forum (round 5), I left the following comment that applies here:

One thing to keep in mind is that the two oldest judges are liberal ones: Stevens is 88 and Ginsburg is 75. So, if McCain is elected, we will almost certainly see Stevens resign or die within McCain’s 4 or 8 years in office, and he will almost certainly be replaced by a very conservative judge (depending on how much of a majority the Democrats will have in the Senate and how hard they are willing to fight). This would make the court a truly conservative court — right now it is 4-4 with one swinger. This could have enormous ramifications for something like the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

On the other hand, I don’t think there’s much room to worry about the Court getting more liberal during an Obama presidency. But a replacement of old liberal judges with young liberal judges certainly will keep the court from turning conservative any time soon.

So, if the most important thing in the world for you is to overturn Roe v. Wade, then McCain is your man.

Apart from a possible Roe v. Wade reversal, it is questionable how much a conservative president will make a difference regarding the problem of abortion. Indeed, some have made the argument that someone like Obama might actually be a better candidate in terms of reducing unwanted abortions.

One question I’d like to hear answers to: If you dislike where one of the candidates stands on abortion — what could he say or do that would make you more likely to support him?

Looking forward to a lively (and respectful) discussion …

Next week: Relationship with LDS Church

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44 Responses

  1. Abortion has become a subject of negotiation because neither Democrats nor Republicans can or should have their way in the matter. Both have the potential to be too extreme: Liberals making abortion out to be a virtual non-issue, where a pregnant woman is the only one who has any authority to make any decisions about the child she is carrying up to the moment it has left the womb from head to toe. Conservatives perhaps going as far as trying to implement an all-out ban on abortion, even in the cases where we as Mormons deem abortion to be acceptable. McCain has been under pressure to support such a ban, even though he personally has views much more in line with the LDS Church.

    Due to time and space constraints, I won’t write a complete personal view on abortion. If you’re interested in what I think about the matter, you can read what I wrote about abortion in my blog here: http://thefaithfuldissident.blogspot.com/2008/04/moral-dilemmas-who-stays-and-who-goes.html

    To sum it up, I’m honestly troubled by Obama’s support for partial-birth abortion. But as troubling as it is to me, it’s not enough to be a deal-breaker. Part of the reason for this is because I feel that Obama himself is more pro-life than pro-abortion, even though his politics indicate otherwise. And to be fair, I don’t believe that McCain really wants an all-out ban on abortion any more than Obama wants doctors to puncture the skull of a newborn baby with scissors. I would venture to guess that McCain and Obama themselves perhaps hold a more similar opinion on the matter than we think, but both feel constrained by the ideals of their respective political parties.

    I believe that the day of possible overturning of Roe vs. Wade has passed. In a way we can mourn this, but at the same time we should be glad that victims of rape aren’t resorting to botched abortions. It’s sad that that freedom has to come at the cost of the millions of babies that are aborted for no good reason. It’s a huge price to pay, but I reluctantly have to say that it’s worth it.

    If abortion was the only issue at hand, it would be very hard to for me to vote Republican because of what I suspect is their real agenda: a total ban on abortion. Also, while I like the idea of abstinence education, I don’t think it should come at the expense of birth control education. Let’s face it, folks. Sexual activity is not on a downturn, so the least we can do is minimize the unwanted result that will be easily discarded. And even for those of us in a monogamous marriage relationship, knowing a bit about birth control and sexual health doesn’t hurt anyone.

    So does abortion even matter for this next president? Not really, because it’s too late to go back to before Roe vs. Wade. However, regardless of who becomes president, the problem of unwanted pregnancy and means to solve it is the same: education about BOTH abstinence AND birth control. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Teaching one and not the other is depriving kids of knowing that they have the freedom to choose, which they are going to do anyways. By arming them with more knowledge, maybe more of them will make the right choice.

  2. Just to recap some things said on an earlier post about abortion (from Round 1 on “Character”):

    Ryan said:

    While serving in the Chicago Senate, Obama came out in support of allowing babies to be killed after birth. While the abortion debate usually centers on the time when life begins, after a baby is born, it is a life. This is murder, and it’s really disturbing. This isn’t abortion.

    And:

    From the Washington Post:

    “Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” because of a crisis pregnancy — hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.”

    [Opposition to] The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was shot down in the Senate by the likes of Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton – certainly not softies when it comes to abortion rights. This was a very disturbing piece of legislation. Obama didn’t want to offend his liberal constituency. I’m not a far-right pro-life litmus tester – indeed, I think the Right approaches this issue completely wrong – but this kind of stuff should turn on warning lights; this guy is willing to let living babies be killed because of a botched abortion. Wouldn’t want to punish anyone with a baby. It’s disgusting.

    I responded (to some of what Ryan had said):

    I will say one word pertaining to Obama’s character, regarding the “punished with a baby” comment. I don’t agree with Obama’s language here, nor what it might reflect. However, I think that Ryan *might* be overblowing things. Obama certainly wasn’t saying that babies are inherent punishments. Unfortunately, we live in a very messed up world, and the truth is that when a baby is unwanted and/or a mother is unprepared to take care of him/her, combined with a father who is out of the picture, going through a pregnancy sure can seem like a “punishment,” even if it is given up for adoption. Probably “ordeal” is a better word. That doesn’t mean it is nothing more than that, though. I see Obama’s comment as reflecting a poor way of expressing a fairly standard pro-choice position, which I disagree with. I think it does reflect on Obama’s character — but I’m unsure exactly how and to what extent.

    Although I am pro-life, I don’t see whether someone is pro-choice as that big of a character issue. I do think it is one, but one of the big problems with all of this is that the two sides have been so polarized that often more extreme positions are taken on each side. To Obama’s credit, he has expressed much more openness to working with those of both sides in this issue — as well as stating that abortion is a moral decision. This is more than many more moderate voting pro-choice politicians will say. A lot of the debate on abortion would be considerably less important, if only both sides of the aisle would work together.

    TheFaithfulDissident responded (comment held until now):

    I don’t support abortion in general, except in the instances in which the Church permits it: rape, incest, when the mother’s life is in danger or the fetus has severe defects that will not allow it to live. I definitely don’t support partial-birth abortion and while I agree that this should set off big red flags about Obama, or anyone else who supports it, I think I know what Dennis is talking about in regards to this not being a deal breaker for Obama and why his abortion stance can actually be better in practice than McCain’s, who last I heard was under pressure from the GOP to support a total ban an abortion (correct me if I’m wrong). I’m sure we will get more into the abortion debate later.

    Ryan, you said, “Babies aren’t punishments; they can be prevented with contraception or adoption.” You are 100% right on that and I absolutely agree. In an ideal world, contraception or adoption would erase the problem totally. But there are 2 problems:

    1. Bush (and most Conservatives in general) have taken the abstinence-only stance. I support abstinence 100%, but not ONLY abstinence. And even those who practice abstinence until they get married need to know how to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy!

    2. Adoption is a noble cause, but how many of us, you and me, are ready and willing to adopt a baby who is otherwise going to be aborted by its mother? How many of you want children of your own? How many are open-hearted enough and in the financial situation that would allow such an adoption? Are you willing to sacrifice having your own biological children in order to save a baby from being aborted? A few years ago I was given a pregant cat who was going to be put down unless I took her. I already had 4 cats and 2 dogs, but I took her anyways. I took her to the vet and the vet spayed her, which meant she had to remove the 4 fetuses. I felt horrible about it and yet I felt trapped. I couldn’t take 5 more cats plus the vet bills who came with them to get them all neutered and vaccinated. The Humane Society is already overrun with unwanted kittens and giving them away usually results in them being abused and neglected, IF you can even find someone to take them. This experience taught me compassion for some of those who feel forced to have an abortion. I’m not saying that this justifies abortion; it only makes it understandable.

  3. Dissident,

    Might there not be a possible situation where rape victims can have abortions while recreational abortions are prohibited? I don’t see how the “freedom” for a rape abortion has to be tied to the “freedom” of every other kind. As such, saying that the sufferings of abortions are worth the freedom of rape victims doesn’t make sense.

    Futhermore, saying such a thing is dangerous. For in doing so you’re reducing suffering to something understandable: a commodity. Might it not be that suffering is truly incomprehensible to all except Christ?

  4. 1. I must admit that I don’t really understand partial birth abortion. On the surface it seems very disturbing. Dennis argues that it is not as simple as I assume, and I am inclined to believe him, so I will leave the partial birth abortion issue alone.

    2. Dissident: I agree with you completely (in the post Dennis quotes I wasn’t trying to elaborate my views on abortion – only as it related to character). In a post on my own blog several months ago, I discussed the WHO study of last year indicating that availability of and education about contraception has more effect on reducing abortions than does law. Of course I am personally pro-life, but I feel that the Republican fetish with abortion law has taken attention away from policies that could actually reduce the practice. Further, Conservative tendencies to promote abstinence-only education are clearly not helping.

    I am disappointed that this is such a litmus test issue for the GOP. As long as a candidate says he/she is pro-life, they get the stamp of approval regardless of whether they have a plan to really combat the problem. I felt that Giuliani was particularly mistreated on this subject, since he was the only GOP candidate who proposed ways to reduce abortions despite his being politically pro-choice. I hope McCain doesn’t fold to the Right as he is doing on many other issues.

    In the end, this is a non-issue for me. I doubt the next president will have much effect on abortion legislation. Further, I am more interested in hearing a candidate’s ideas about actually decreasing the demand for abortion instead of simply arguing about legislation.

  5. Clayton, you asked:
    “Might there not be a possible situation where rape victims can have abortions while recreational abortions are prohibited?”

    If there was, I think I’d be all for it. I just can’t think of how it would work. Most of the time we just have to take a woman’s word for it that she’s been raped, especially if physical evidence isn’t gathered right away. Do you have any suggestions? As well, if all recreational abortions were prohibited, what would society do with all the abandoned babies? (Not trying to say this justifies abortion, but it’s potentiall a huge problem and how many of us are willing to adopt such a baby? Or several?)

    You said:
    “I don’t see how the “freedom” for a rape abortion has to be tied to the “freedom” of every other kind. As such, saying that the sufferings of abortions are worth the freedom of rape victims doesn’t make sense.”

    In an ideal world where there are no unwanted pregnancies, you are right. But once again, how can we have one without the other?

    You said:
    “Futhermore, saying such a thing is dangerous. For in doing so you’re reducing suffering to something understandable: a commodity. Might it not be that suffering is truly incomprehensible to all except Christ?”

    I don’t mean to trivialize the suffering or the death of a baby. In all cases of abortion, including justifiable cases, the end result is a dead baby. It’s sad and it’s tragic no matter how you look at it. And even still, you’re right, Christ comprehends it on a level that we can’t.

  6. Check out ontheissues.org, a non-partisan site. Senator Obama is quoted as saying:

    On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I’ve said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn’t have that.

    Elsewhere he has recently said that “mental distress” (a typical legal loophole) shouldn’t count as a qualifying health issue. Granted, the health and life issues protecting the mother get us into a gray area, but if the mother’s life is really, truly in danger, then the state may have to balance one life against another. This is unfortunate, but not criminal or insensitive. And the decision on a case by case basis shouldn’t be a presidential decision.

    You may disagree with Obama on this, I might even disagree (I would need more medical background to be more definitive), but I don’t think his position puts him beyond the pale.

    In any event, we need to be thinking about ways of improving health care, economic opportunity, and education so fewer women will feel they need to terminate their pregnancies. The goal should be reducing the number of abortions. There is a group called Democrats for Life that is focused on this.

  7. Dennis,
    Just wanted to say that I appreciate the thought and moderation you are putting into this series. Kudos.

  8. Thanks Ronan. Thanks also for the sidebar link at By Common Consent.

  9. It’s also worth pointing out that Doug Kmiec, a leading right-to-life legal theorist and the former courts director of Romney’s campaign, has endorsed Obama over McCain.

  10. ““Might there not be a possible situation where rape victims can have abortions while recreational abortions are prohibited?”

    If there was, I think I’d be all for it. I just can’t think of how it would work.”

    Require a police report with a rape or incest complaint prior to performing any abortion.

    “It’s also worth pointing out that Doug Kmiec, a leading right-to-life legal theorist and the former courts director of Romney’s campaign, has endorsed Obama over McCain.”

    And by so doing causing many a conservative pro-lifer to wonder if he has lost his mind:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/03/24/romney-judicial-advisor-obamas-a-nice-smart-guy-so-lets-let-him-make-supreme-court-appointments/
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/03/020109.php

  11. Leo makes solid points. Abortions are probably correlated with educational and economic circumstances. There is an old metaphor: you can waste your time fighting alligators, or you can just drain the swamp. GOP litmus tests and futile attempts at repealing Roe-Wade are just not dealing with the root cause of the problem. We need to address the conditions that can lead to abortions: failed sexual education, failed other education, difficult economic circumstances, family breakdown, etc.

  12. I don’t necessarily support abortion, but I don’t support a government ban on it either. Trying to restrict safe, legal abortions will just turn women to unsafe, illegal outlets to have an abortion. In cases of rape, how many women are too scared to report it to the police so that a medical examination can take place? I don’t think this is an issue anyone takes lightly. I would find it a problem if a candidate out-and-out said they wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade. I don’t see how government involvement will benefit such a personal/scary/intimate decision, besides the fact that I think the government should stay out of a lot of things.

  13. Good points Kelsy. The data support your claims.

    Dennis! I’m waiting for you to weigh in.

  14. Aluwid, you said:
    “Require a police report with a rape or incest complaint prior to performing any abortion.”

    Would this be fair to all rape victims? Remember that some are just children. Think about an incest victim who is 11, 12 years old. How often does the mother not even know what’s going on? How many 12 year-olds have the maturity to say to themselves, “OK, I know I’ve been raped, so I better go to the hospital and police right away just in case it results in an unwanted pregnancy, that way I can get an abortion.” And then we have the problem of false accusations. Maybe that 12 year-old was actually fooling around with her 16 year-old boyfriend.

    I wish it were that easy, but in reality it’s not.

    I don’t think it should be “easy” to get an abortion. In fact, I don’t think anyone should be able to get an abortion virtually on-the-spot, no questions asked. Even in a rape case, the victim needs to be prepared psychologically and physically for the trauma of an abortion. That’s going to take a little time. The only instance where it may be necessary immediately is when the mother’s life is in danger, and then it’s up to the doctors to determine that.

    There’s another thing about abortion that bothers me. It’s a way of discarding “imperfect” human beings. Recently in the news I read in Norway that virtually 100% of women who discover they are carrying a child with Down’s Syndrome choose to abort. One politician even controversially suggested it would be crazy to carry such a fetus to term because of the cost to society (true, such a child would be an enormous financial burden to the state because the child would be entitled to a lot of care, we’re talking millions of dollars.). This doesn’t sit well with me. Not only are we putting a price on a baby’s head, but it reminds me of Hitler sending handicapped people to the gas chambers. To me, it seems like basically the same thing, except that the handicapped are being exterminated earlier.

    But I try my best to see things from their perspective. Having a handicapped child, some of whom have much worse problems than Down’s, is a burden. No question. And not all countries have the social system to help out like they do in Norway. It’s easy to say how terrible it is to abort such a fetus when it isn’t yours. So I do at least have empathy for those who feel overwhelmed emotionally, physically and financially to be able to care for such a child. I think it’s more than just being disappointed over having an “imperfect” child.

  15. Ryan,

    Thanks for your comment above.

    FaithfulDissident,

    This is a serious issue, but not only for the handicapped. I have a friend who tells me in Britain physicians are often reluctant to perform ultrasounds with certain foreign families because of their tendency to abort females purely for reasons of sexual selection.

  16. If Obama really said “punished by a baby” that makes me really sad. There is nothing more precious than life, and I see that every time I look at my own baby. Having gone through pregnancy and giving birth, I can tell you that it is not that bad, and certainly worth doing for the life of a baby. I think that if young women knew more about adoption and how there are tons of couples unable to have children who would love to adopt, abortions would not be as common.

  17. Jana,

    I actually have to disagree with you on your assertion that if young women knew more about adoption they’d be more willing to maintain the pregnancy. Finding out I was pregnant, even though my husband and I were trying to conceive, have a stable relationship, and are both well-educated and financially stable, was one of the scariest moments of my life. I actually spent the next couple of days wondering if I could really go through with the pregnancy, especially once the morning sickness settled in. While an abortion was never a real option for me in any way, I did learn a lot of compassion for those women who, living in less ideal circumstances than mine, choose to not go through with the pregnancy.

    Abortion has been a part of the landscape for a long, long time. The Wikipedia article on abortion has a reasonable overview, and descriptions of some methods that sound like they could be highly entertaining to watch, if probably ineffective (jumping up and down in such a way that the heels touch the buttocks with every jump being one example). I don’t honestly believe that women approach abortion with a “recreational” attitude–rather, I suspect most feel they are doing what is best for the child by preventing it from coming into the world into a bad situation. Choosing to have an abortion–or not–is something, from every account I’ve ever heard, is deeply considered.

  18. Jana,

    I wonder about the context of Obama’s comment, referring to a baby as a “punishment.” If he meant it the way you understand it, I would agree with you. However, if he meant that his daughter had been the victim of sexual abuse, then I would understand why he wouldn’t want his daughter to be “punished with a baby.” I’ve heard the quote often, but am unsure of its context because I never heard the original discussion he was having.

  19. Jana (and others):

    In case you missed it (it is easy to miss in the very long comment above), here’s what I have to say about Obama’s “punishment” comment:

    I don’t agree with Obama’s language here, nor what it might reflect… Obama certainly wasn’t saying that babies are inherent punishments. Unfortunately, we live in a very messed up world, and the truth is that when a baby is unwanted and/or a mother is unprepared to take care of him/her, combined with a father who is out of the picture, going through a pregnancy sure can seem like a “punishment,” even if it is given up for adoption. Probably “ordeal” is a better word. That doesn’t mean it is nothing more than that, though. I see Obama’s comment as reflecting a poor way of expressing a fairly standard pro-choice position, which I disagree with.

  20. I really like the conversation so far. Thanks everyone for your comments. A few things I have to add:

    Back in February, I linked to this opinion piece from Frank McGuiness entitled “Pro-Life, Pro-Obama.”

    McGuiness quotes from this Ross Douthat article on Atlantic.com, entitled “Imagining a Pro-Life America”:

    It would almost certainly require large-scale (and expensive) experimentation with the American welfare state, to address the needs of the hundreds of thousands of pregnant women each year who would suddenly no longer have the option of aborting their unborn – and the hundreds of thousands of children who would come into the world as a result.

    What exact form this sort of experimentation would take I’m not sure; it’s a thorny enough subject to make a topic for a long essay or even a book. But over the short term, there’s no question that it would require conservatives to temporarily table many of their longstanding policy goals – from cutting illegitimacy rates to reducing welfare dependency to limiting the size of government – in the name of the pro-life cause.

    I think this is a very important thing to consider. I am actually very much pro-life. And I think that it would have been best for Roe v. Wade to not have been passed (it did so on very questionable constitutional grounds) and for Republicans and Democrats to have worked together to reduce abortions through education (abstinence and birth control), health care reform, and moderate laws.

    I actually think that a moderate birth control legal system could have been worked out, in which third trimester abortions were outlawed in all cases except for the health of the mother or in cases where the fetus is certain to not survive. Third trimester abortions would be allowed for rape victims only when there has been a police report prior to the third trimester. As a member of the rape crisis team, I definitely have compassion on rape victims and realize the stress that they have after a rape. (And I realize that many do not report or seek treatment.) However, it is not unreasonable for rape victims to seek abortions prior to the third trimester. There must be some accountability here — it simply is not worth allowing third trimester elective abortions for anyone. I would really like to hear someone justify this — focusing only on the third trimester. I am open to being wrong here, but this is how I feel right now. Concerning the health of the mother, there would have to be clear indications of what counts and what doesn’t. “Mental duress,” in my opinion, should not count — although severe mental illness might.

    However, this possibility is essentially out the window. Liberals know that legislation could be passed that effectively eliminates third trimester “elective abortions,” but they’ll never budge because of Roe v. Wade. Conservatives, on the other hand, could work to make this a reality — but only if Roe v. Wade is repealed. However, I highly doubt that anything like a reasonable moderate reform would be put in place after Roe v. Wade is repealed. The possible consequences could be disastrous and very costly to the nation.

    In this respect, my position is probably similar to many conservatives concerning the war in Iraq. It was a mistake to go in, but we can’t simply pull out. I worry that a repeal of Roe v. Wade would, in practice, be akin to a reckless pull out from Iraq. Actually, much, much worse.

    But I am open to my mind being changed about this — if I start to hear from the GOP a more comprehensive anti-abortion plan.

  21. Dennis – that’s a fantastic argument. I am persuaded.

  22. Dennis,

    I whole-heartedly agree with you on third-trimester abortions for rape victims. I also sympathize with their plight, but once it gets into third trimester I would only find abortion acceptable the grounds which you already stated.

  23. Abortion is a complete smoke screen issue. Neither side will ever do anything to change the current abortion laws, it’s just a hot topic that politicians use to motivate certain demographics of people.

  24. Kind of like Katz, I’ll admit that I take little heed of what politicians say during an election year regarding abortion. My own opinions on the subject are quite mixed and as I cannot relate them to what the candidates are saying, so I’ll not bother addressing that tangent.

    Just for balance, can someone provide a summary of what McCain’s side of all this is? How did McCain follow up or respond to Obama’s “punishment” quotation?

  25. ABC did an interesting article about McCain and abortion. You can read it here:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/Story?id=4824779&page=1

  26. TheFaithfulDissident:

    Thanks for that link. I encourage anyone interested in this issue to look at it (not a very long article).

    I’ll give a summary here, though, with a couple good quotes:

    McCain has expressed that he would like to revise the party-line GOP position of banning all abortions, no exceptions. McCain has spoken out in favor of exceptions for rape and incest and the life of the mother (essentially the Church’s position).

    Insiders are saying, however, that it is unlikely that McCain will challenge the common GOP view because it would alienate the party base. (News flash to Latter-day Saints — most of our GOP friends have radical views on abortion that are not in keeping with the Church’s position.) At the same time, McCain could receive flack for not standing up to the GOP, especially considering he criticized Bush for the same thing in the 2000 GOP primaries.

    “If he doesn’t change the platform, then he’s being the same kind of hypocrite that he accused Bush of being in 2000,” said Jennifer Blei Stockman, the co-chairwoman of Republican Majority for Choice. “To not accept abortion in cases of rape and incest, give me a break. That’s sick. That’s inhumane.”

    “And the life of the mother?” she added. “These are things that we can’t even put our arms around because they are so inhumane.”

    Another worry, of course, is that if this gets out in the open and McCain doesn’t convincingly repudiate it, he could alienate a lot of moderates he is trying to court.

    “If McCain chooses not to revise the platform, I think he will say it’s ‘the system’ and he will try to distance himself from it,” said Stockman. “But he absolutely has the power to change it.”

    “Many people think of him as a moderate,” she said. “But when it comes out that he doesn’t want to change this extreme, right-wing Republican platform, the word ‘moderate’ is going to disappear from any description of McCain.”

  27. […] Obama vs. McCain: Round 8: Relationship with LDS ChurchA few politically/socially relevant filmsObama vs. McCain: Round 7: AbortionWhy More of Us Should Walk to ChurchObama vs. McCain 2008: Round 6: EconomyObama vs. McCain 2008: […]

  28. “(News flash to Latter-day Saints — most of our GOP friends have radical views on abortion that are not in keeping with the Church’s position.)”

    The churches position on abortion has a broad opposition to elective abortion (including encouraging or actively supporting it) and a narrow set of *rare* exceptions. I find it hard to accept that a pro-choice position is more in line with this than even a hardcore pro-life position. On one hand you have the millions of elective abortions. On the other you have the small number of rape pregnancies for which an abortion would have been divinely approved along with a small number of medical emergencies. There is a whole lot more evil down the first door in my opinion.

    Either way, practically speaking the pro-life position is to get rid of Roe v Wade or to introduce whatever restrictions you can that work around that law like the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. None of these restrictions, which can be enforced while Roe is in effect, come close to getting in the way of the exceptions that the church proposes.

    Once we get rid of Roe v Wade then we can start digging into the intricacies of how to get as close to the church position as possible. But until that day Senator Obama remains an enemy to those that wish to see the law follow the church position as he will surely nominate Supreme Court Justices that would uphold Roe v Wade, while there is a good possibility that Senator McCain would nominate Justices that would at least be willing to chip away at it. All we need is one more.

  29. Hmm….”enemy” is probably too strong a term. Please replace with “opponent”.

  30. Aluwid,

    You are right to say that Obama’s view is also not in keeping with the Church’s position (as I have made very clear in my latest comments to FaithfulDissident on the Round 8 thread). My comment that you are responding to was merely geared towards Latter-day Saints who don’t realize that the majority GOP view is not in keeping with the Church’s position — which is true (everyone already knows the majority Democrat view is not).

    I basically agree with you when you compare all of the elective abortions versus those that might be permissible via rape or the health of the mother. However, you might be underestimating how many rape pregnancies there are — hard to tell, as “few” is such a relative term. I don’t have statistics (they would be hard to trust, anyway, in this case), but rape is a much bigger problem in the U.S. than a lot of people realize. Also, practically speaking, for the Church’s position to be able to be enacted, you would have to allow for abortions in all cases of rape and for the mother’s life — not just when it is divinely approved.

  31. Practically speaking the pro-life position is to get rid of Roe v Wade or to introduce whatever restrictions you can that work around that law like the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

    There are other pro-life positions, including one that does not see a repeal of Roe v. Wade as the best option (at least not right now). One of these positions might be to work towards reducing abortions. Another is working towards policies that are more friendly to poor parents. In these respects, I would say that it is Obama that is actually the best choice. It is one thing to simply have a law that is more accordance with Church policy, it is quite another to actually reduce abortions.

  32. […] vs. McCain: Round 8: Relationship with LDS ChurchA few politically/socially relevant filmsObama vs. McCain: Round 7: AbortionWhy More of Us Should Walk to ChurchObama vs. McCain 2008: Round 6: EconomyObama vs. McCain 2008: […]

  33. From TheFaithfulDissident:

    Aluwid said:

    On one hand you have the millions of elective abortions. On the other you have the small number of rape pregnancies for which an abortion would have been divinely approved along with a small number of medical emergencies. There is a whole lot more evil down the first door in my opinion.

    Like Dennis said, rape pregnancies may be a bigger problem than we think. Still, the real figure is probably much lower than elective non-rape abortions. While I support a limit in abortions, even in the case of rape — (meaning that a woman who was raped and is 8 months pregnant should not be able to terminate a pregnancy unless her life is in danger) — I feel that this loophole has to be available. (I don’t feel qualified to say what an acceptable time frame would be because I know so little about fetal development).

    When you say “there is a whole lot more evil down the first door in my opinion,” I partially agree with you. Terminating a pregnancy without a medical/criminal reason, even in week 1, is wrong (at least to us). However, when it comes down to terminating a fetus in very early development, which is not yet fully-developed and probably can’t feel pain (don’t get me wrong, I agree that this is MORALLY wrong), vs. forcing a 10-year old girl to give birth to her father’s baby, it’s not even close for me. To me, it’s all about mercy, just as terminating even a later-term pregnancy in order to save the mother’s life is about mercy. Yes, there is evil “down that first door” as you said, but I’m not sure that it’s worse than the example of the 10-year old girl — as long as the abortion is performed early enough.

    Even so, the practicalities of all this are a lot easier in print — carrying them out in reality is much more difficult. Taking the life of a young fetus in early development with a beating heart inside the womb of that 10-year old is a lot easier said than done. Calling it heartwrenching is a huge understatement and I pity the people who are faced with such situations in real life.

  34. […] vs. McCain: Round 8: Relationship with LDS ChurchA few politically/socially relevant filmsObama vs. McCain: Round 7: AbortionWhy More of Us Should Walk to ChurchObama vs. McCain 2008: Round 6: […]

  35. Partial Birth abortion (killing a baby) is somehow not disturbing enough for some to consider it a deal breaker? They deliver the full term baby alive, and there is a tool similar to scissors that is used to cut the live babie’s brain stem and kill it! That’s not a deal breaker? Let’s not compromise with evil.

  36. Mikel,

    I’ve already said how I feel, and you’ve simply chosen not to engage the nuances of my reasoning.

    Look, there is a difference between how a candidate feels about abortion (including partial-birth) and what that difference is going to mean. I’ve spelled out why it’s quite possible that Obama might actually be the better candidate at reducing the evil of abortion. I understand that others might feel differently, but it’s simply not enough to say it’s evil so it’s a deal breaker. If Hitler was against abortion, would you vote for him over Obama? (Not comparing McCain to Hitler, just showing that clearly there is more to consider.) What I’m challenging Latter-day Saints to do is not automatically count out Obama simply because of his views on abortion.

    It is not that the practice is not disturbing enough (as you say), it is that there are a lot of other disturbing things, as well as practical realities to consider. No doubt I could conjure up some disturbing image regarding one of McCain’s beliefs or policies, but that alone wouldn’t get us anywhere …

  37. Dennis,

    “What I’m challenging Latter-day Saints to do is not automatically count out Obama simply because of his views on abortion.”

    That’s fine, I agree that it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Factor his hardcore pro-choice position on abortion with the rest of your considerations before making your choice, I’m all for that.

    What I don’t support is delusion. If you are pro-life and you consider abortion a plus for Obama then you are either confused or misinformed. This is the guy that voted against the “Born Alive Infants bill”. The point behind the bill is that sometimes attempted abortions don’t work and infants are born alive. Obama was more concerned with the impact to Roe v Wade then he was with the potential for infanticide so he voted against it. Don’t kid yourself, if you are against abortion and want to see it outlawed then jot this down as a serious point against Obama in your candidate tally sheet. That doesn’t mean you have to vote against Obama, but at least give him an honest score on the subject.

    This goes both ways, if you are pro-choice then you probably shouldn’t give McCain points for his abortion views either. (Unless you have a beef with Roe v Wade I guess).

  38. Aluwid, who said we wanted abortion outlawed? I certainly don’t. As we’ve already discussed, most of us here support abortion in the few circumstances that the Church deems it appropriate.

  39. TFD, let me restate then, if your personal policy on abortion is that you want to see elective abortions outlawed then be aware that Obama is on the opposite side of the issue.

    Again, I’m not saying this means you have to decide to not vote for him, but be objective in your considerations. He’s not pro-life, if you are then at a minimum he isn’t a perfect match for you.

  40. Aluwid,

    I don’t think I’ve heard a single Latter-day Saint say that Obama (or McCain) is “a perfect match” for them.

  41. Neither of their policies is a perfect match for me. If it were up to me, I’d have the Dems re-vamp their abortion policy to match McCain’s personal abortion stance. However, since McCain will likely cave into GOP pressure to support a total ban, I would not support the stance that he will likely be running on. And, as we’ve discussed before, this is mostly an irrelevant issue because nothing is likely to change either way. So if I were eligible to vote, abortion would not be a deciding issue.

  42. I’ve just been reading the highlights of Rick Warren’s forum with McCain and Obama. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually see it. In regards to abortion, here’s what was reported by ABC:

    “Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain differed sharply on abortion Saturday, with McCain saying a baby’s human rights begin “at conception,” while Obama restated his support for legalized abortion.

    Obama said he would limit abortions in the late stages of pregnancy if there are exceptions for the mother’s health. He said he knew that people who consider themselves pro-life will find his stance “inadequate.”

    He said the government should do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to help struggling new mothers, such as providing needed resources to the poor, and better adoption services.

    McCain expressed his anti-abortion stand simply and quickly, saying human rights begin the instant a human egg is fertilized. McCain, who adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, also called for making adoption easier.”

    Those of you who saw it, did you get the impression that McCain has definitely adopted the GOP stance of a total ban on abortion? Or did he mention any exceptions, such as when the mother’s health is in jeopardy?

    Did anybody feel any differently about the candidates after watching the forum?

  43. […] October 2008Location Details for LDS Temples: Philadelphia, Kansas City, Rome, Calgary, and CórdobaObama vs. McCain 2008: Round 7: AbortionWhy Mormons Should Consider Backing ObamaMormons and Obama: Yes we can! No you can’t! Yes we can! No […]

  44. Check out my most recent comments on the Mormons for McCain post for some interesting things regarding abortion.

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