Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama and Notre Dame

“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually. It has both moral and spiritual dimension…So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.”

This was a portion of President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame yesterday. And, of course, I have a comment or two.

First, it’s hard for me to take any words of his on this particular subject seriously, given his prior support for partial-birth abortion. This procedure involves cutting open the skull and suctioning out the brain of a child who is capable of feeling pain and, in less than 10 seconds, would be an American citizen. There is no medical reason for doing it, theoretical or otherwise. It is done only to kill the baby because the mother decides she doesn’t want it. He votes to keep this legal, but tells us that dumping a bucket of water on the head of a terrorist is “torture”. I wonder what Obama would think if we interrogated the prisoners with a method similar to partial-birth abortion? So I write this with some obvious bias and disdain for his conflicting positions.

I disagree with the protestors who interrupted his speech. That is something the Left does. It is NOT appropriate behavior. People should be allowed to speak and attempting to shout them down is un-American. Protesting is fine, but let’s not try to suppress the free speech of another human being.

Notre Dame made a mistake. Quite simply, they shouldn’t have invited him. It looks like a sell-out in order to gain prestige, and it confirms what many of us have thought all along: That Notre Dame is just another secular university that doesn’t really stand on any strong principles. However, I am glad that once they invited him they stood by it. The office of the President should be honored, and disinviting him would have failed in that regard.

Now, to Obama’s words. He calls for dialogue and, to some extent, compromise. I agree with the words I quoted above. We should reduce unwanted pregnancies. We should help teenage mothers who give birth. We should make adoption more available. But all of those things miss the point of the argument and doesn’t really equate to compromise.

Everyone who is anti-abortion agrees with these things, so compromise in those areas isn’t necessary. It’s not like we want a bunch of illegitimate children running around. But that misses the point of whether abortion should be legal, and this is where the anti-abortion crowd will never budge in the name of finding common ground. You see, in our minds a human fetus is a human life. If it’s not a human life, then what is it? And since it is a human life – innocent of a crime and not engaged in war – then it should be against the law to kill it. Period.

Obama’s words allude to the old “safe, legal and rare” argument that pro-abortion folks love to parrot. Well, if it’s NOT a human being, then why should abortion be rare? If it’s NOT a human being, then why would killing it have both “moral and spiritual dimension”? If it’s NOT a living thing, then why would killing it be a “heart-wrenching” decision? It’s this kind of double-speak that tells me that the pro-abortion crowd most likely understands that a human fetus is a living creature, but simply doesn’t care because the mother’s convenience takes higher priority. It’s this kind of “one life is more valuable than another” thinking that threatens our moral foundations.

When we start deciding that one person should die so another isn’t burdened, then we’re walking a very dangerous line. Redefining “life” in order to justify killing that other person doesn’t solve the problem, it only complicates it, which is why people say that the abortion issue is a complicated one. No, it’s not! Saying that it’s okay to kill a fetus because a fetus isn’t human doesn’t hide the fact that we are killing one person so another isn’t burdened. Once we justify that – by redefining life or any other method – then we open the door to a lot of horrible things. Are we prepared to actually say that we are all endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but we are not endowed with them until we fully emerge from the birth canal? Therefore, an unborn baby has ZERO rights? Except in cases when the pregnancy is wanted, then the baby should have rights, which contradicts the entire meaning of the term “unalienable rights”, since the presence of those rights would be dependent on whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted. Well, that’s not unalienable, it’s prerequisite. Can you imagine Jefferson saying that we are endowed with “prerequisite rights”? The double-speak makes no sense!

That’s why compromise is out of the question, because if we compromise on it we essentially compromise our values. If a fetus is a human life in the second or third trimester, then it MUST also be a human life in the first trimester. Nothing changes between 13 weeks, 6 days and fourteen weeks. And if a fetus is a human life, then the method of conception doesn’t change that, and neither does the desirability of the pregnancy. So, yes, EVEN in cases of rape or incest, a human fetus is STILL a human life. The fact that such a life came about via a crime doesn’t redefine its status as a human life.

These inconsistencies are part of the reason why I changed from pro-abortion to anti-abortion. The other side of the argument just doesn’t make sense, and logic is totally absent from their claim. Either it IS a human life or it is NOT a human life. If it IS, then the law should protect it. If it is NOT, then there should be no regulations and abortion should be available on demand, without restriction, “safe, legal and rare” should not be necessary, and there should be no laws against harming an unborn child; yet those are the things that make us a bit squeamish.

So is it a human life or not? The fact that so many people are wishy-washy in answering that question tells me that they have obvious moral conflicts about it. Chances are, deep down they know what the answer is however inconvenient that may be. As a result, we get this typical fence-riding like: first-trimester only, or only in the case of rape or incest. People don’t want to declare one side or the other because to say that it IS a human life is to say that it should be illegal in any circumstance to kill it; and to say that it is NOT a human life is to say that it can be killed under any circumstances, without reason, without restriction, without repercussions. Most people won’t commit either way because one side is inconvenient and the other is grotesque. Instead, they choose the safe route. And leading their efforts is our President, who once said that such a decision is above his pay grade.

That’s not true, Mr. President. It is well within your pay grade as a human being, just as it is with all of us. It’s a simple yes or no question with a simple answer. Is a fetus a human life? The answer is simple, even though the consequences of the answer may be difficult.


allison said...

Because I was raised Catholic, I am well aware that many who are opposed to abortion are ALSO opposed to contraception. You are extremely mistaken in your claim that everyone who is anti-abortion agrees with reducing unwanted pregnancies. Their stance is that this should occur through abstinence and nothing else, which is simply unrealistic. There are some people who believe that sex is solely for pro-creation, but the majority of people believe that it is also an enjoyable activity for two consenting adults to partake in. Given that, a compromise DOES need to occur. The entire world is NOT solely composed of religious people, and this country is not and should not be governed by those who think that their religious believes are better than those who believe differently or not at all.
This is the same group of people who is extremely vocal about their opposition to abortion but generally support wars and the death penalty. If you're going to define life even as a fetus who is the size of a pea, then wouldn't living, breathing, grown members of society also be considered living beings...? Those which we are terminating for the benefit of another person or group of people's well-being...? THAT is what is backwards.

I am a female in my 20s and I typically consider myself pro-choice. I believe that in the case of rape or incest and the health of the mother, abortion should be an option. I acknowledge that a fetus is a living being, but if the mother is being forced to carry a baby that she did not choose to conceive, that is further victimizing for her. She should be allowed the choice between her own mental stability and raising a baby that she had no desire to carry, much less provide for. While it may be easy for a person outside of the situation to judge, there is nothing easy about it for the individual involved. As far as the health of the mother is concerned, she makes the choice between her own life and the baby's. If that isn't complicated and highly difficult and emotional, I don't know what it is.

Kristina said...

First, I want to say that raising a child is much different than giving it life. Victimizing someone else is not the way to provide mental health for someone.

I am generally pro-life. However, I do make exceptions. I make exceptions for women whose lives are in danger, and who have been raped (they really should be taking the "morning after pill" in this case-in my opinion).

I do believe that life begins at conception, however, I also believe in contraception. I think that the percentage of people who don't is actually relatively small, even among Catholics.

As far as war and the death penalty are concerned: I support both. How can I make this distinction? First, we are not going to war to put the innocent to death. We are at war to protect the innocent. There is a huge difference. I am actually a little wishy-washy on the death penalty thing. My main problem with is that innocent people do get convicted. I'm not against it because I believe that a penalty of death is unreasonable. Rather, I think it is hard to guarantee that we're not putting people to death who are innocent. However, my brother spent several years in prison starting at the age of 19. He was in a minimum security prison. But, he told me then that he would rather be put to death than stay in prison for the rest of his life. It is not a good life, to say the least. Would he have changed his mind if he had been on death row? I can't say. I can't even ask him his opinion on the matter now, 10 years later, because he drowned less than a year after getting out of prison. But, I do know that he hated it and was determined never to return.

John Washburn said...

Allison, you're the one who brought religion into the debate, not me. My argument has nothing to do with religion. It is a simple ideological truth, that ALL innocent life must be protected, and I ask a simple question. Is a human fetus a living being?

You believe it is, and yet you're okay with someone killing it for convenience. As Kristina said, giving birth to a child and raising a child are two different things. I'm not saying we should force people to raise their children.

You say we have an unrealistic argument. That's not true. If your religion forbids birth control, then you must practice abstinence. If not, then you must engage in responsible sexual activity. What's unrealistic about that? Yet, you say that since it is unrealistic, we must allow the killing of innocent babies. So our most basic of principles (protect the innocent) should be compromised since it is unrealistic to adhere to it. In that case, it's not a core principle but merely a suggestion. Protect the innocent ONLY if it is realistic to do so, or ONLY if it is convenient.

How about demanding that people behave responsibly one way or another, and not punish innocent life for the irresponsible behavior of others?

And are you seriously drawing a moral equivalent between an innocent unborn child and a group of people with whom we are at war? Or a criminal convicted of the most heinous of crimes?

By your words, I assume that you support the death penalty. If not, then please explain how you reconcile protecting the lives of convicted criminals with killing the innocent unborn.

And I admit that a woman who must carry a baby conceived in rape may increase her suffering, and she may feel "punished" for a crime she didn't commit. And who is punished when that baby is aborted? I submit that both of them are, and an innocent life is lost in the process.

But the rape issue is hardly a major factor. Let's not kid ourselves. The pro-abortion crowd, in general, is not fighting to protect themselves from babies conceived in rape. They are fighting for their "right" to have sex as often as they want, with whomever they want, whenever they want, and not have to deal with any consequences. Only a small fraction of abortions are carried out due to rape, this rest is just a matter of convenience.

If you think this is "judging" others then so be it. I am adhering firmly to a truth that you yourself admit - that a fetus IS a living innocent being. I adhere to that, you bend on it and make exceptions.


Allison, "Being raised a Catholic"
hardly qualifies as being an expert
on Catholic Doctine.

I would highly recommend to you a scholarly book, "American Freedom & Catholic Power, by Paul Blanchard. Although a critical one, it quotes Catholic Sources abundantly in the footnotes. In Chapter 6 - The Church & Medicine; Ch 7 - Sex, Birth Control And Eugenics; Ch 8 - Marriage, Divorce And Annulment, and also quotes from Osservatore Romano plus other Vatican sources.

Now out of print, but a genuine treasure; it is quite available through Amazon and B & N. - reb

allison said...

I did not claim to be an expert in Catholic doctrine, but I left the Catholic church because I am extremely familiar with their stances on homosexuality and contraception and do not agree with them. I do not need to read it in a book when I experienced it first hand for 18 years of my life.



The wisest mind has something yet to learn; the infallible mind has little need for a goodwill gesture,
or a positive suggestion.
I found that Holy Mother Church has an astounding position on - the subject of abortion & ectopic gestation or tubal pregnancy.

(Useful information for a friend or relative with this condition).