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Obama on Abortion Rights and His Christian Faith


If Obama’s position on abortion rights is the main reason you’ve decided you can’t vote for him, you should at least give this excerpt from Audacity of Hope a fair reading. It suggests a degree of soul-searching and a willingness to bend on the issue that offers a glimmer of hope to those of us who are probably going to vote for Obama while harboring serious misgivings about his — and the Democratic Party’s — refusal to impose legal restrictions to reduce the number of fetuses that are brutally killed and consigned to U.S. dumpsters (3,700 per day, according to one source). Cf. also Sojourners‘ Jim Wallis: A New Conversation on Abortion.

Comments

  1. Quin Finnegan says

    With his hands placed thus, Obama himself looks almost fetal. Caption: “Don’t abort an Obama presidency!”

    On the other side of the issue, I offer an article by Robert George.

  2. Much as I love Obama, I didn’t much like the phrase, ‘dirty little secrets’.

    I support a woman’s right to choose, even though it’s a choice I probably wouldn’t make if I were in that position now. A fetus is a potential human life, but it is, only, that, I think.

  3. From Pro-Life Answers:

    Only through mind-numbing stupidity could someone suggest that when human sperm and human eggs unite they produce something that is only “potential human life.”

    If the word “potential” is suggesting that the unborn is only potentially alive, that is easily disproved. Even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, sonograms show movements and heartbeats that do not belong to the woman. Whatever else the fetus is, it is impossible to logically argue that it is not, at least, alive.

    On the other hand, for “potential” to be referring to the word human, a fetus would have to have the potential of becoming either a human being or some other form of life. Perhaps a parrot or a spider. Of course, the problem is that there is no record of such a thing having ever occurred.

    So while it may be reasonable to say that a fetus is a potential major league baseball star or a potential school teacher, it is idiotic to say that a fetus is a potential human being. If for no other reason, the fetus is a living human being because that is the only thing it can be.

    Also, if the issue is “development,” let’s not forget that human beings develop for their entire lives. A fetus is less developed than a newborn just as a child is less developed than an adult. But being less developed than an adult does not mean that a child is any less a human being. That’s also true of the unborn.

  4. Christopher says

    It suggests a degree of soul-searching and a willingness to bend on the issue

    Sorry, but I just can’t square this with Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (with all its implications) if given the opportunity to do so. Here’s a man who out of one side of his mouth promises to work with those who disagree with him on this issue — and out of the other reaffirms to NARAL his intent to repeal any and every restriction on abortion and protect Roe v. Wade in perpetuity.

  5. ‘Mind numbing stupidity’. No doubt, your ‘celibate’ friend in the confessional has something more intelligent to say on the matter. I thought I was quoting the moral philosopher and medical ethicist, Mary Warnock, herself the mother of five children and an advocate of choice, but after a little research see that she considers a foetus an ‘abstract’ human life – sure you’ll much prefer the word.

  6. Would you be in favour of life imprisonment for those who carried out an abortion and ‘hired’ an abortionist? (Not sure of the Catholic church’s stand on capital punishment.) If not, why not?

  7. That should read ‘carried out an abortion OR ‘hired’ an abortionist’.

  8. Rufus McCain says

    Anon:

    I believe “mind-numbing stupidity” cuts across all boundaries. Celibates and mothers of five are equally prone to it. Moral philosophers and medical ethicists are not exempt from it. Half-assed bloggers practically live and breathe it.

    That being said, there are certain uses of terminology that are so blatantly fallacious that even a mind as numb as mine often is can easily recognize that the pro-choice emperor of medical ethics has no clothes. There are many stages and conditions of human life that you could tag with “potential” or “abstract”. A newborn baby, for instance, is far from being a fully-formed human being and yet for the very fact of its vulnerability most of us would find the act of killing a baby even more heinous than the murder of an adult. The question is where do you draw the line? Who do you think it’s OK to kill?

  9. The concept that the soul enters the body at the time of conception is a relatively modern concept in Judeo/Christian history. Many of the ancient Jews thought the soul entered the body at the time of quickening—others opined that it happened when the baby took its first breath—the breath of life.
    I’m appreciative of anyone who is willing to look at the modern abortion issue outside of the hysterical rhetoric and seek real practical solutions to the problem.

  10. Rufus McCain says

    How about this: reduce poverty and the number of abortions will go down. So, yes, we can work on that together.

    But I can also work for and argue for making it illegal. And, no, I wouldn’t necessarily be in favor of criminal penalties.

    Cf. this.

  11. The Ironic Catholic says

    Ahem.

    If you want to focus on something else, NaPraGoMo is about to start again….

    and I’m writing in Ron Paul. or my husband. haven’t decided yet.

  12. Rufus McCain says

    Maybe I’ll write in: Ironic Catholic.

  13. Ok, I’ll answer my question, then.

    If you think an unborn foetus is a human life, not abstract or potential but human, then surely the terminating of a pregnancy is murder and should be punished as such?

    In fact, wouldn’t a premeditated abortion be ‘worse’ than, say, a crime of passion against somebody who had already been born?

  14. Quin Finnegan says

    In response to Anonymous:

    You wrote: If you think an unborn foetus is a human life, not abstract or potential but human, then surely the terminating of a pregnancy is murder and should be punished as such?

    Yes, an unborn foetus is a human life, not abstract or potential. Yes, terminating a pregnancy is murder, or if “murder” is a term reserved for a purely legal definition, it certainly involves killing. I don’t know to what extent it should be punished or even how it should be prosecuted legally. We do make distinictions between 1st degree Murder, 2nd Degree, Manslaughter, negligent homicide, etc. Perhaps the way distinctions such as these are made might eventually help provide some insight as to how to untangle (or maybe tangle) the moral and perhaps criminal dimension of abortion.

    You wrote: In fact, wouldn’t a premeditated abortion be ‘worse’ than, say, a crime of passion against somebody who had already been born?

    Yes, it just might be. “God only knows”, as the saying goes, but I don’t think it’s going too far out on a limb to say that it might be worse. Both are certainly awful.

    Whether you are the other Anonymous or not, where do you seek “real practical solutions to the problem”?

  15. On the one hand, you say, ‘God only knows’. On the other hand, you say anyone who does not know that an unborn foetus is as much a human as someone born is mind numbingly stupid.

    Surely then there is no question but that abortion should be punishable by life imprisonment both for the person carrying out the abortion and the female having it.

    Yet apart from the sort of extremists who are thankfully banned from entering countries such as the United Kingdom nobody is seriously suggesting those sort of penalties.

    Which means that they do not seriously believe that the life of an unborn foetus has the same value as someone after birth.

    No, I’m not the other anonymous, as you know full well.

  16. Quin Finnegan says

    Anonymous,

    Where did I write “anyone who does not know that an unborn foetus is as much a human as someone born is mind numbingly stupid”?

    How does it follow that “there is no question but that abortion should be punishable by life imprisonment both for the person carrying out the abortion and the female having it”?

    I actually find that appalling, and I don’t understand why you suggest this.

    I wrote “God only knows” as a way of admitting my ignorance. Do you find this troubling?

    And I most definitely did not know full well that you were not the other Anonymous. That’s why I wrote “whether or not …”; Why do think I should know this? How should I know this?

  17. Only through mind-numbing stupidity could someone suggest that when human sperm and human eggs unite they produce something that is only “potential human life.”

    Well, somebody said this. And whoever said this must, logically, believe that the penality for terminating a foetus should be the same as for murdering a person.

    Unless they are mind numbingly stupid.

  18. Rufus McCain says

    Anonymous:

    When we’re talking about crimes and punishments, I’m not sure there is always the sort of cut-and-dried logic you’re accusing me of violating. Just because I’m ambivalent, or willing to allow for mercy, regarding criminal penalties for women who have (hypothetically) illegal abortions doesn’t necessarily contradict my view that it abortion is a horrendous act and a real destruction of a real human life. I’m really not sure what the penalties should be, but it is the doctors who perform the procedure that bear the largest share of the guilt, in my opinion. I think outlawing abortion, with civil rather than criminal penalties, would be a step in the right direction, though, and would be the most palatable to the widest number of people in society who feel that abortion is a horrible act but also feel ambivalent about criminally punishing women who out of desperation choose to have an abortion.

    On the other hand, for us as a society to impose no legal restrictions on abortion — as NARAL and Planned Parenthood would have it — or to come up with fallacious constructs about unborn children being merely potential or abstract human lives — is to perpetuate the lie that it’s OK to kill members of this particular class of persons.

    [N.B. Sorry about the confusion I caused by bringing in another anonymous (and offensive, sorry again) comment. I posted the comment that starts “From Pro-Life Answers” and it is a cut-and-paste from that website. I still think it makes a valid argument about your terminology, but I’m sorry about the arrogant tone it takes. Also sorry that it caused some confusion and a minor scuffle to break out between Quin the main Anonymous (who I think is our British lady friend and frequent anomolous commenter). Suggestion: Anonymous, why not sign your comments with either your real name or a nom de plume so we can more readily identify you? I picture you as a feisty Emma Thompson sort of British lady with whom it would be entertaining to enjoy tea and lively conversation on a dreary English afternoon. How close to the mark am I?]

  19. Rufus McCain says

    Anonymous — suggested pseudonym: Lady Gadfly.

  20. The Scapegoat says

    I find it interesting that Senator Obama and I both used the phrase dirty little secrets — great minds think alike!

  21. almostgotit says

    Because of the monstrous head-size of the human fetus, it is born much earlier in its development than other mammals. In every way, a newborn human is still a “fetus” Moreover, it is remarkably slow to develop, taking an average of a year before it can even stand up (as compared to a horse, for instance.)

    Viability is a moving target, too, of course. What mewling newborn human can be termed “viable” in any way, either?

    And actually, “fetus” just means “young one” in Latin, so presumably a Roman child remains fetal until he or she reaches the age of at least 21.

    Plus there’s the whole personality/compatibility thing takes a while to figure out. And what with the danger of unexpected postnatal depression, not to mention the total inability any of us have to prepare for the major invasion of such a helpless creature, a burden totally unacceptable had most of us only known.

    Therefore, I think we should allow abortion up to a gestational age of 36 months. And we can certainly tweak this number upwards once we get the basic law passed.

    GoBama.

  22. Quin Finnegan says

    Yeesh.

    At some point I think we who consider ourselves pro-life are only left with the Yuck Principle: killing an infant would make me vomit, therefore I oppose it. Not the most principled of arguments, I readily admit. I’ll need to develop a stronger stomach, I suppose, and in the meantime I promise to clean up my own mess.

  23. almostgotit says

    Indeed, Quin! It’s so much easier to do vile things when they don’t make us vomit. (my dad was pro-choice until he was in med school and had to help a doc perform an abortion … The Thing’s very human hand waved at him while it died on the table.)

  24. almostgotit says

    My 18-y-o son, still definitely working on the “potential” part of his own life, asked me yesterday please not to abort him.

    I promised to think it over very seriously.

  25. Quin Finnegan says

    Thanks Agit! I just pissed my pants. My dignity has now left completely.

  26. My biggest problem with Mr Obama is the faulty logic in his wanting to make abortions less necessary by removing all restriction from them throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Which is exactly what his signning FOCA would do if he is elected.

    Please someone, explain to me how that will make abortions less necessary in any way?

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