What’s a Pro-Life Voter to Do?

The archbishop of Denver criticized Nancy Pelosi for misrepresenting catholic teaching on abortion (here).  She claimed that the church was ambiguous on the question of when life begins.  Archbishop Chaput answered that the church has never been ambiguous about abortion–it has always condemned the practice.  Archbishop Chaput even quotes the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said,

“the destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”  (From Bonhoeffer’s Ethics)

Candidate Obama has voted against restrictions on late-term abortions and even against a law protecting infants who survive unsuccessful abortion procedures.  A nurse from Chicago has testified under oath several times that she has witnessed this phenomenon several times.  Babies (that’s what everyone calls fetuses after they are born) have been left to die after surviving induced abortions (here).

We are not talking about subtle nuances here–whether a fertilized egg is a person–we are talking about near-term fetuses or even babies surviving outside the womb.

So how can a pro-life voter support a candidate who opposes any restrictions on late-term abortions?

But there is another life-issue–war.  The other candidate says he will keep us in Iraq for one hundred years, if necessary.

Looking back on these two issues, we are really talking about elective abortion and elective war.  No one on the pro-life side wishes to deny abortion when it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother. What bothers so many is when abortion is not necessary, but a choice, an elective option.

The same is true of George Bush’s war in Iraq.  It was an elective war.  We were not under attack, nor were we in imminent danger of attack from Iraq.  Even had it been true that Saddam Hussein was still trying to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction, no one believed he had a missile ready to launch.  So this was an optional war–not a war forced upon us but a war chosen to accomplish a good cause–eliminating a tyrant, bringing democracy to the Middle East–but not a war undertaken for immediate self-defense.

Only one candidate had the judgment or courage to vote against that war.

Help me out readers.  Am I being selfish to think of my own family? In sixteen years my grandson could be sent to Iraq.  Maybe he will be told that the Iraqi government is almost ready to stand on its own–they just need a little more time.  Right now we don’t have a draft–but the current system is unfair to those who enlisted, and there have been senators calling for a reinstatement of conscription.

I assume that all those who enlist for active duty or in the reserves are motivated by the desire to serve their country.  I assume they believe they will not been sent into optional or elective wars.  They will not be called upon to enter harm’s way unless it is absolutely necessary.  In that case we will want a president with a proven record of good judgment.

So here is my problem.  How can I vote for a candidate who supports elective, optional late-term abortion?  How can I vote for a candidate who supports elective, optional war?

You might say the answer is either don’t vote or vote for a third party candidate.

The problem with that for me is that it would be avoiding my responsibility.  Barack Obama or John McCain will be our next president (of course, barring unforseen tragedies or divine intervention).  I have a responsibility to choose one of these candidates.  Which pro-life issue is more important?  Or do I call it a draw and vote on the other issues?  In that case, the choice to me is clear enough.

4 Responses

  1. I am glad someone else (who is much smarter than me) is struggling with this, too.

  2. I am amazed at the faulty reasoning used by Dr. Alterman. He speaks as though only a few have been affected by the abortion issue. Over 25,000,000 lives have been ended by abortion and so we should not be concerned as Christians. And unless something is done, millions more will die. I do not agree with the war but I agree less with this silent massacre of the innocent.

    Abortion is but part of the program advocated by people like Barack Obama. Francis Schaeffer warned that the next step would be euthanasia. And it has already begun in America.

    The war is a separate issue and should be kept that way. We also have to ask the question, what solution do we have for the problem of terrorism in the world? I don’t have an answer, so I am reluctant to criticize those who are trying to do something about. Would Obama just sit back in his easy chair if we had another 9/11 or would he do something? I suspect in spite of all his presidential promises he would do something.

  3. Wes,
    I don’t think 45 million deaths from abortion is a trivial matter. Iraqi Body Count has documented about 90,000 Iraqi deaths since the invasion. These are cases where there is a body, a death certificate, and a legal opinion of violent death.

    The medical Journal Lancet in 2006 estimated the number far higher, at 600,000–that estimate is now over 1 million. This estimate is based on the total number of excess deaths in the population.

    Even the large number, 1 million, falls far short of the number of deaths by abortion.

    I don’t know how you calculate one unspeakable evil against another. Is it a simple matter of a body count? Can you include the degree and manner of suffering? I have no doubt that victims of late-term abortion suffer from the often gruesome procedures that are used. Of course, all are deprived of the life God intended for them–as Bonhoeffer argued.

    If the bellicose policies of the bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran candidate are pursued against the Russians–if the unthinkable happens–as it almost happened during the first cold war–the casualties in a nuclear war could easily, in a few hours, eclipse the numbers of 30 years of abortion.

    Senator McCain has a reputation for having a nasty temper–I don’t blame him, 5 years of torture would do that to anyone. I don’t really think he will make rash decisions, though, regarding Iran or Russia.

    I was just trying to raise the issue that this is an important election, and there are many complicated issues involved. The Washington Post had an interesting article showing that the abortion question in this year’s election is more complicated than it may seem.

    I hope people will get informed, get involved, and vote.

  4. I think it’s important to think of the feasibility of the common man’s ability to help tackle each issue. If a group of people have the power to say either way how they feel something should go (hey—let’s call it democracy), then let’s be careful to weigh the issues in light of how much we can affect their status without the aid of a certain president. For clarity, I point to the fact that the president holds ultimate power over our military forces (though, to degrees, he/she has a system of accountability for that). A president has a hand in issues such as abortion, though—and this is not me advocating any idea that the issue of fetus’ death are a point for comparison against military/civilian deaths—he or she is/will be (especially at this point in history) more consumed by the current war.


    “I do not agree with the war but I agree less with this silent massacre of the innocent.” -Wes

    To Wes (if I may now call you by your first name?), while I agree with that statement, in light of the issue which was first noted (that of Dr. Alterman ‘seeming’ to communicate that “only a few have been affected by the abortion issue” in comparison to the death tolls of the overall recent war—though I was not persuaded to think he was saying that), I cannot bring myself to believe that the war is any more agreeable than any other form of killing. I must, to keep a steady mind, stand firm in thinking of each life lost as an issue.

    That said, my main focus in this election is to try to cast a vote which will help to bring the most change for good. This is complicated and difficult. I wish there were an equation to use: I would simply enter every aspect that would affect my decision, and it would do the calculating for me, and I’d sleep at night. However, so many things are to be weighed before I vote: how much power on such issues is divided between which branches, and so forth? pro-life advocates vs. pro-choice advocates ways for lessening the use (or feel of need for) abortions? (—it is often interesting to see how some pro-life politicians contradict their efforts by not advocating for sexual education and how pro-choice politicians seem to be contradicting their strong ‘human rights’ stances by confusing the issue with details of ‘what makes a human’ and which human gets the choice).

    I generally try to not speak ‘politics’ with my family anymore, but anytime I speak of an issue near to my heart, politics often enter in. Often certain members of my family (and many Christian acquaintances) throw out these issues: homosexuality, abortion, immigration.
    There are certain issues which dominate the equation because they’re moral/ethical issues. So, the PROBLEM with this is that they control the equation which offers a solution for people’s voting (this candidate, while making a million times more money from big oil company’s, believes this way, and so does God, thus, so do I). This leaves many, MANY more human-rights issues ignored in the process.

    It seems to be an easy way out for me to vote for the candidate who matches up on the 2 or 3 issues which I’ve chosen to ‘care’ about, and I would do a disservice to myself, my future family, my current family and friends, and the world, by being so lazy and simple about it.

    Everything needs to be weighed out. Everything needs to be calculated. Votes need to be made with confidence that all issues have been weighed and calculated.

    On that note, I’m glad females are able to vote now. Thank ‘someone’ for caring enough to tackle that issue once upon a time.

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