Abortion: Different Moral Positions

By William Ellis Hill

Cross posted from Faithful Democrats' discussion on abortion

"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the great pumpkin." These are the wise words of the great philosopher Linus, in Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.  The issue of abortion involves two out of the three and in most cases should be excluded from the norms of conversation. And, as a male, who can neither get pregnant nor attempt birth, I am hesitant to wade into these forbidding waters as I cannot possibly understand what the female gender must endure with this particular choice. However, as a Christian and as a Democrat, I am compelled to draw the distinctions between the moral and political.

On the Faithful Democrats website there have been several well-written articles about this particular issue from many vantage points and all should be read and then re-read and then digested far from the ACLU, churches, or politicians. Abortion is probably the most hotly contested issues in all of American culture and politics.  Many who are religious and pro-life believe that abortion is simply murder and those who are pro-choice believe that abortion is a woman's personal choice - to be made without interference.  Roe v Wade seems to be the only court decision directed at human gender - basically protecting freedom of choice for women.  Men do not have this same dilemma - only centuries of gender and cultural dominance. Roe v Wade essentially establishes gender equality through personal freedom. For some, there is little room for compromise between the differing positions on abortion even though both arguments are essentially arguments for differing moral views - one morality espousing the importance of life and the other morality espousing equality. I believe it is time to find some middle ground on the issue by supporting choice and gender equality while espousing the virtues of life by giving women better choices when dealing with the abortion decision by offering family assistance and economic protection.

Here are just a few quick thoughts on the matter.

As a Democrat and a Christian, I am both pro-choice and pro-life.  I know - it is an oxymoron. I have come to grips with the fact that Roe v Wade has been settled law since the 1970s and there is no going back. Although I find the arguments of the 14th amendment and the implied right to privacy in the Constitution interesting, I do not find them relevant to the overall reason why abortion is so widely accepted, which is the culture shift. If two terms of the Reagan Revolution, Rush Limbaugh, two terms of Dubya, Focus on the Family, Pope John Paul, Evangelicals, and Catholics combined cannot dissuade the political or cultural establishment to abandon Roe v Wade or convince the courts to allow abortion to be decided by the states then the issue is lost for religious conservatives and they just need to come to grips with the fact abortion is here to stay. Religious conservative are fighting a lost cause in the political sense because never, till the end of America, will abortion be thrown back to the states or overturned or curbed in any substantial fashion.  If any politician tells the public anything different then they are simply delusional and if the public buys what he is selling on the matter then they should ask the government for a bailout. Both pro-choice and pro-life groups use the abortion issue as a tool to fight political and other ideological battles rather than honestly come to any consensus or compromise.

I also feel that those who oppose Roe v Wade or want the courts to swing the debate back to the states have not offered significant arguments or alternatives to the issue. What would happen if abortion were outlawed in any state or even nationally?  What are the criminal punishments for abortion - if it were outlawed? Would the state or federal authorities have the stomach to lock up some poor rape victim for aborting a fetus she finds shameful? Moreover, the American public has stated it doesn't have the stomach to deal with criminal charges for women who choose abortion.  No one wants these women prosecuted or locked up. What about the poor mother who lives off of food stamps or is a drug addict? What will the authorities do about fathers who abandon their wives, girlfriends, and mothers to fend for themselves in a very unforgiving world? What about the culpability of the fathers? The cultural establishment punishes the woman more for the choice she makes in regard to family far more than the man. How is this justice? If the state or federal government tried to enforce any laws surrounding the issue of abortion then there would be massive protest and riots. Conservatives should think this issue out completely before wading into its cultural and political waters. Simply put: accept the law of the land.

But, just because I accept the law of the land and feel it is a politically lost cause does not mean that I shouldn't speak out for LIFE.

Pro-life individuals and Christians have created one of the hardest arguments to counter in the abortion debate: Thou shall not kill.  Well, at least for Christians it is phenomenally hard to counter this argument.  The Bible is clear - Life, both physically and spiritually, is to be chosen above any alternative. When I stand before God and account for all of my failings I will not have the luxury of answering my God with the excuse that Roe v Wade was settled argument or that the 14th amendment and Constitution gives the implied right to privacy and equal rights. I will have to account for my personal stance on the matter. So I have decided that my personal stance will be for life.

As a Democrat, being pro-life in a decidedly pro-choice party is difficult. Pro-life members of the Democratic Party are ridiculed and ostracized as anti-women's rights and patriarchal. I do not feel that I should be demonized for a personal belief that all life is precious and I am not here to criticize or tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Just the opposite - I believe that what a woman does with her body or her decisions on the matter of abortion are between her, her fetus, and God almighty. I am not going to judge anyone because it is not my position as a weak and equally fallible human being to judge. Only a just and omnipotent God has that right. However, I would like to see the Democratic Party be more open to life. Why not support a woman's right to choose but also support her right to choose life? Why not offer support groups and incentives for women who want children but cannot economically afford them? Why can't the Party support life and choice as two equally viable options? Why not place an emphasis on family and demonize the neglectful fathers who are the cause of placing this decision on the mother? It seems that the Party is so beholden to its special interest that abortion is almost championed over the alternative... this is simply not right.  If the Democratic Party really wants to be a big tent they will find a way to champion both causes.  In the end, the Party may find supporters and a new base of support from those who support privacy, women's rights, and equality but who are also religiously, strongly supportive of the pro-life cause.On the Faithful Democrats website there have been several well-written articles about this particular issue from many vantage points and all should be read and then re-read and then digested far from the ACLU, churches, or politicians. Abortion is probably the most hotly contested issues in all of American culture and politics.  Many who are religious and pro-life believe that abortion is simply murder and those who are pro-choice believe that abortion is a woman's personal choice - to be made without interference.  Roe v Wade seems to be the only court decision directed at human gender - basically protecting freedom of choice for women.  Men do not have this same dilemma - only centuries of gender and cultural dominance. Roe v Wade essentially establishes gender equality through personal freedom. For some, there is little room for compromise between the differing positions on abortion even though both arguments are essentially arguments for differing moral views - one morality espousing the importance of life and the other morality espousing equality. I believe it is time to find some middle ground on the issue by supporting choice and gender equality while espousing the virtues of life by giving women better choices when dealing with the abortion decision by offering family assistance and economic protection.

Here are just a few quick thoughts on the matter.

As a Democrat and a Christian, I am both pro-choice and pro-life.  I know - it is an oxymoron. I have come to grips with the fact that Roe v Wade has been settled law since the 1970s and there is no going back. Although I find the arguments of the 14th amendment and the implied right to privacy in the Constitution interesting, I do not find them relevant to the overall reason why abortion is so widely accepted, which is the culture shift. If two terms of the Reagan Revolution, Rush Limbaugh, two terms of Dubya, Focus on the Family, Pope John Paul, Evangelicals, and Catholics combined cannot dissuade the political or cultural establishment to abandon Roe v Wade or convince the courts to allow abortion to be decided by the states then the issue is lost for religious conservatives and they just need to come to grips with the fact abortion is here to stay. Religious conservative are fighting a lost cause in the political sense because never, till the end of America, will abortion be thrown back to the states or overturned or curbed in any substantial fashion.  If any politician tells the public anything different then they are simply delusional and if the public buys what he is selling on the matter then they should ask the government for a bailout. Both pro-choice and pro-life groups use the abortion issue as a tool to fight political and other ideological battles rather than honestly come to any consensus or compromise.

I also feel that those who oppose Roe v Wade or want the courts to swing the debate back to the states have not offered significant arguments or alternatives to the issue. What would happen if abortion were outlawed in any state or even nationally?  What are the criminal punishments for abortion - if it were outlawed? Would the state or federal authorities have the stomach to lock up some poor rape victim for aborting a fetus she finds shameful? Moreover, the American public has stated it doesn't have the stomach to deal with criminal charges for women who choose abortion.  No one wants these women prosecuted or locked up. What about the poor mother who lives off of food stamps or is a drug addict? What will the authorities do about fathers who abandon their wives, girlfriends, and mothers to fend for themselves in a very unforgiving world? What about the culpability of the fathers? The cultural establishment punishes the woman more for the choice she makes in regard to family far more than the man. How is this justice? If the state or federal government tried to enforce any laws surrounding the issue of abortion then there would be massive protest and riots. Conservatives should think this issue out completely before wading into its cultural and political waters. Simply put: accept the law of the land.

But, just because I accept the law of the land and feel it is a politically lost cause does not mean that I shouldn't speak out for LIFE.

Pro-life individuals and Christians have created one of the hardest arguments to counter in the abortion debate: Thou shall not kill.  Well, at least for Christians it is phenomenally hard to counter this argument.  The Bible is clear - Life, both physically and spiritually, is to be chosen above any alternative. When I stand before God and account for all of my failings I will not have the luxury of answering my God with the excuse that Roe v Wade was settled argument or that the 14th amendment and Constitution gives the implied right to privacy and equal rights. I will have to account for my personal stance on the matter. So I have decided that my personal stance will be for life.

As a Democrat, being pro-life in a decidedly pro-choice party is difficult. Pro-life members of the Democratic Party are ridiculed and ostracized as anti-women's rights and patriarchal. I do not feel that I should be demonized for a personal belief that all life is precious and I am not here to criticize or tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Just the opposite - I believe that what a woman does with her body or her decisions on the matter of abortion are between her, her fetus, and God almighty. I am not going to judge anyone because it is not my position as a weak and equally fallible human being to judge. Only a just and omnipotent God has that right. However, I would like to see the Democratic Party be more open to life. Why not support a woman's right to choose but also support her right to choose life? Why not offer support groups and incentives for women who want children but cannot economically afford them? Why can't the Party support life and choice as two equally viable options? Why not place an emphasis on family and demonize the neglectful fathers who are the cause of placing this decision on the mother? It seems that the Party is so beholden to its special interest that abortion is almost championed over the alternative... this is simply not right.  If the Democratic Party really wants to be a big tent they will find a way to champion both causes.  In the end, the Party may find supporters and a new base of support from those who support privacy, women's rights, and equality but who are also religiously, strongly supportive of the pro-life cause.

Tags: abortion, christianity, Culture, faith, Morality, Pro-Choice, pro-life (all tags)

Comments

25 Comments

Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

There is one argument you make that always dumbfounds me. The thou shall not kill. Yet many on the pro-life side believe very strongly in an eye for an eye and support the death penalty.

Do you see the inconsistency here?

FYI the right to choose has always meant just that the right to choose. I would say most here believe it is not an either or. If you chose to have a child we support that decision if you chose not to we will support that decision.

To my mind it is the vast majority on the right to life side who don't understand and say there is only one way.... our way.

by jsfox 2009-04-03 08:09AM | 0 recs
One of my biggest complaints with the Catholics

Heiarchy is, they have conservative old white men running around telling their faithful "Don't vote for candidate X because he supports abortion" yet, where were they when GW Bush, who set records for executing people when Gov of Texas was running?

OH, they were SUPPORTING him!

Clean up your own house first, plenty of work to do at home, before you come lecture us about morality.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-03 08:18AM | 0 recs
Also...

To say nothing of the Catholic Bishops who run around condemning Democrats for supporting choice while saying nothing about Republicans who support the death penalty and war... both are against Catholic doctrine.

by JenKinFLA 2009-04-03 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Also...

and to say nothing about the high percentage of pedophiles the church created and ultimately condoned as they got away with it for YEARS.

by nikkid 2009-04-04 06:53AM | 0 recs
Excellent point

but it's not just the death penalty.

As a society, indeed as a species, "Thou shall not kill" is not our core belief. Our core belief is "Thou shall not kill unless thou hast a good reason".

We recognize the sanctity of human life, but we do not treat it as an absolute. We send our troops to war, and spend hundreds of billions on more effective ways of killing humans. Not only do we use the death penalty, our police have the right to use deadly force. Our courts recognize the concept of self-defense killings. If we truly valued life above all else, treatment for life-threatening illnesses would be free of charge.

There is simply very little evidence that the sanctity of life supersedes such concepts as national sovereignty, personal freedom, and property rights.

by Neef 2009-04-03 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent point

I agree, one of my main arguments against the death penality is it costs too much?

And, particularly in this country, it is not administered equally just.

Your chances of getting the death penality in Texas if you are white and rich are monumentally lower then if you are poor and black.

I don't have a basic religious argument with it, more of a pragmatic and fairness issue.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-03 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

They also think that murdering abortion doctors is self-defense.

by spirowasright 2009-04-03 10:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

I suspect that the diarist does not fall into this category.  Just a hunch.

by the mollusk 2009-04-03 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

Granted and I should have been clear  that I was not accusing him or her of this position.

by jsfox 2009-04-03 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

I know you weren't.  It just bothers me that this person is obviously struggling with this issue and is being met with a lot of unhelpful comments.  I can sympathize a lot with his point of view because I struggle with it as well.

by the mollusk 2009-04-03 12:54PM | 0 recs
I disagree with you only in this regard

As a "recovering Catholic" this guy is part of a core of folks who want to give intellectual cover for the Church's retrograde behavior IMHO.

Don't confuse your stuggles with these issues for him being an apoligist for the Church.

You hardly ever hear them challenge the orthodoxy, mostly they are out trying to "repackage it" for lefy consumption.

The problem is, they end up supporting the status quo, they are not agents of compromise, or change, or even healing.

They are water-carriers in acceptable clothing.

Where were these same characters for THE YEARS everyone knew the church was covering up sexual abuse by priests, AT THE SAME TIME condeming all adult consentual Homosexual behavior.

And, when I was growing up, the Catholic church was almost left wing Revolutionary, Priest literally took up arms to help the poor and oppressed.

Now, the hierarchy is old conserative middle European men, Hell, they have gone from lefty democrats to NeoCons in two or three generations.

If I saw these folks WORKING to change the Church instead of being propgandists for it, THEN I would have some sympathy for them.

The difference between their social positions and the Southern Babtist positions are nil, just the Catholics are better at presenting a romantic face to theirs.

Now, I will give them props for not denying Evolution, though even there this Pope backtracked and gave shelter to the term Intelligent Design.

How about the BS about Condems in Africa?

And trying to rehabilitate that holocaust denying priest?

FEH, this Pope is the worst in my life-time hands-down.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-03 02:24PM | 0 recs
I actually liked...

...more than I disliked about John-Paul II (I'd elaborate but you know what happens when I elaborate) and certainly in the array of historic Popes he ranks among the better of them IMHO.

Eggs Benedict is another story. Absolute wrong direction every time he makes a move. I'm praying that it won't be too long before we have a Pope that's not old enough to have known Peter personally.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-03 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

Your opening sentence is rather nonsensical given the careful and introspective nature of this diary.  I don't believe the diarist broaches the subject of capital punishment at all.  Although I suspect that he is against it.

But people that I know who are more staunchly conservative on these issues would respond that the number of people killed by capital punishment is hardly a whisper compared to those killed by abortion.  The numbers are different by three or four orders of magnitude.  So, if you're arguing simply from a "greatest good" standpoint, reducing abortions by even a few percent way more than offsets deaths from capital punishment.  So, if someone believes that abortion is murder, the calculation is quite simple.

For the record, I am very much against capital punishment, but I can very much sympathize with the diarist that abortion makes me extremely uncomfortable.

by the mollusk 2009-04-03 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

Christians who are against abortion as a right often manage to support an individual woman, if they know her and know her story.  This makes me think that there is room for understanding, and room for a woman to make that choice on her own.  Judge not?

by anna shane 2009-04-03 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

1) Amen, Anna! In any context, it's one thing to condemn some perceived faceless amoral mob onto which we can project the qualities of everything we hate (especially those we find in ourselves).

2) However, it is quite another to condemn someone who made a decision you disagree with when given the story of that life, all its ambiguous color and shades of gray, and in particular the situation and context in which the decision was made, especially when it contains some combination of disagreeable, desperate, and dangerous.

The most disgusting parties in this whole issue are the ones who take advantage of (1) above to propagate their beliefs when they have personal experience with (2) whether themselves or someone close to them.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-03 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

what bothers me most about anti-abortion activists is those men who are so angry with women, and use this issue as a means to express themselves.  One has the impression they have their own issues that have nothing to do with issue born of union.  

by anna shane 2009-04-03 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

I'd have to agree with your take, and distaste. We'll have to do a rock/paper/scissors at some point to decide which of our pet outrages (above) is truly THE most outrageous, my rank hypocrisy or your aggressive anti-social rage.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-03 11:09AM | 0 recs
what bothers me are the filthy rapists

who live in positions of power, take girls at will, and then marry them off to little cuckolded husbands. And those are the preachers who preach pro-life.

They are ethically compromised individuals, trying to ensure that they are allowed to procreate at will, without having to take any responsibility for their actions.
Despicable.

by RisingTide 2009-04-03 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: what bothers me are the filthy rapists

To be fair, most of the preachers vehemently pushing staunch pro-life positions aren't like that... but also to be fair, enough of them have been that way (or similarly sleazy and hypocritical) to taint their ranks and seriously damage their credibility.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-03 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: what bothers me are the filthy rapists

it's psychoanalytic truth that those who have a big issue with something have a personal stake.  Being sanctimoniously against something is a way to hide what excites, like those anti-porn people who must watch it to protect the rest of us, or the anti-vivisectionists who used, as children, to torture animals. I'm sure there can be some good personal reasons, but in general it's a cover. there are many things to be for and against, why one over another, and why so very vehemently, and why with violence?  It's all very suspect.  

by anna shane 2009-04-05 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: what bothers me are the filthy rapists

Agreed. Generally the people who take what they believe to be a principled position against abortion rights aren't the ones that are radical, violent, and loud. Methinks they dost protest too much.

And since we've drifted briefly into psychology... I learned a long time ago that whenever someone points a finger at someone else, there are 3 pointing back at them.

Jesus, in fact, was the one who instructed his disciples (paraphrasing)to take care of the plank in their own personal eye before worrying about the specks in anyone else's. Some people need to shut up and reflect on their failings before hurling condemnations at anyone else. Humility can break through all sorts of barriers.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-04-06 04:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

One sort of believes in balancing values and causes, thus supporting both freedom (being pro-choice) and life (by opposing the death penalty).  War falls somwhere in between-with respect to life, one should only use it as a last resort, but with respect to freedom, one should allow when one's freedoms will be destroyed otherwise.  It is a rough rule of thumb, but where there are many values, all equally important, someone sometimes has to cleave between positions.

by demjim 2009-04-03 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

However, I would like to see the Democratic Party be more open to life. Why not support a woman's right to choose but also support her right to choose life? Why not offer support groups and incentives for women who want children but cannot economically afford them? Why can't the Party support life and choice as two equally viable options? Why not place an emphasis on family and demonize the neglectful fathers who are the cause of placing this decision on the mother? It seems that the Party is so beholden to its special interest that abortion is almost championed over the alternative... this is simply not right.

I just don't get this.  The Democratic Party has been the traditional champion of issues like child care, family leave, deadbeat dads... where do you find this imaginary party that always advocates for abortion over the alternatives?  I agree with you on the issues, but to me what you spelled out here pretty much sounds like the standard pro-choice position.

by Steve M 2009-04-03 11:46AM | 0 recs
He's just packaging his right wing positions...

Remember his diary on Gay Marriage.

He went through this tortured dissertation, and ended up at the Republican talking points and positions anyway.

This is the problem for the Reagan Catholics.

They look over and see the crazies they are policy aligned with, and they are rightly repelled.

They also know that the crazies only tolerate them cause they are carrying common water. In their heart of hearts, they STILL think the Pope is the AntiChrist and the Church is the Whore of Babylon.

So, they try to come over to the Democrats and explain away their positions.

But the end game is the same?

They are just Republican positions and need to be rejected by the Democratic Party.

You can't be KIND of for Gay Rights.

They want to legislate THEIR morality into law, and they want to make a group of citizens into second class statusholders.

Guys like this just want to put a fancy bow on it, but there is no pony at the bottom of his horseshit.

BTW, I am speaking as a raised Catholic, Irish variety, schooled in Catholic Schools till Highscool.

So, if I am to be labelled Anti-Catholic, I have earned that status the hard way!

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-03 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Abortion: Different Moral Positions

As the diarist mentions, the question of abortion goes well beyond abortion and this part of the argument never gets fully talked about. Therefore you can't just say "I'm pro-life" or "I'm pro-choice" without going to the next part of what happens to a woman. The pro-choice part is easy. The woman decides, it's legal, done. But the Pro-Life part wants to make abortion illegal and then, as the diarist so rightly points out there are a ton of problems that attach to this law. Who oversees it? What do they do with the abortion doctors and women that have them? Pay a fine? Go to jail? clog up the legal system and jails with this? What if the woman has health problems and it may cause problems for her even bearing a child?

Then the unwanted child that may have serious health problems is not adopted, who pays for that? do they go after the boy/father/rapist/whoever that got the girl pregnant? if he doesn't pay will the fines be stiff? Will he go to jail? the problem goes on and on.

For me, as a woman, it is not a dilema - I have always believed and will continue to believe that the woman - who will bear the child and have the ultimate responsibility - must always have the right to choose. I personally, would not have an abortion, I would feel blessed to have a child - but that's me. If I was raped at the age of 15 - at that time - I would have chosen an abortion and be glad to live in a country that gave me that option.

I will always fight for a woman's right to choose - until I drop dead off the face of the planet - this will be a cause I give money to and speak out for - it is a fundamental right to allow women to make that very personal decision.

by nikkid 2009-04-04 07:09AM | 0 recs

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