Does Pro-Life Make A Difference?

I know quite a few people who are opposed to abortion, but whose voting decisions aren’t actually affected by those beliefs.

After all, electing pro-life politicians doesn’t actually have any effect on abortion in America, right? Well, actually, according to this article, it does:

“Most of these authors attempt to make one of two points: either a) that there is little that elected officials can do to curb abortion through legislation, or b) that the pro-life movement has not reaped any real benefits from supporting candidates who oppose abortion. Voters should, therefore, they argue, place greater emphasis on other issues. However, an examination of the history of the pro-life movement and a careful analysis of abortion trends demonstrate that these arguments are deeply flawed. In fact, the success of pro-life political candidates has resulted in substantial reductions in the abortion rate.”
The article then goes on to describe all the ways in which pro-life politicians and anti-abortion legislation have decreased the number of abortions in the United States.

So what does that have to do with the impending election? Well, one of the candidates opposes abortion, while the other, according to another article, is “the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.”

If you’re opposed to abortion, it should be something to think about. I understand that there are other moral issues as well that we have to deal with, but I always come back to Jesus’ words about “the least of these” in Matthew 25.

Who better qualifies as “the least of these” than an unborn child?


Will 10/28/08, 9:06 PM  

I am not a legal scholar but from what I understand and what I read in the article states have the right to place limits on abortions. The supreme court has upheld this view several times as long as there is no "undue burden". The SC has upheld this view in at least four cases since 1989.

That means that while abortion is a civil right it is also a state right not a federal one. Therefore, the President/Congress has no authority to pass laws regarding it. (However the same is true of education and we still have "No child left behind laws.")

That means that the only instance in which the President could affect the outcome would be in whom he appoints to the Supreme Court. However, I am willing to bet that even the most "conservative" courts of the future would be cautious to overturn Roe v. Wade because of "undue burden" i.e. to save the mother's life. They might reinterpret the ruling of the case or "overturn it" but still leave a narrow situation of options to be left open for abortion.

So really whomever is elected President has very little to do with abortion (just like the economy). In reality, it is my state representatives and government.

Just my two cents.

p.s. I would like to say that I am against abortion except in the most extreme cases.

Luke 10/29/08, 9:11 AM  


I understand where you’re coming from and I partially agree with you, but I think you’re partially wrong as well.

(1) “The only instance in which the President could affect the outcome would be in whom he appoints to the Supreme Court.”

That’s incorrect.

While there’s nothing the President could do to overturn Roe v. Wade himself, he can (and has) signed acts into law which limit it.

Consider the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

I realize these might not have a great numeric effect on abortions, but I’m somewhat of a pragmatist and will take any reduction I can get. That doesn’t take into account the effect that legislation has on the values of American people (the saying, “you can’t legislate morality” is stupid—we do it all the time). The more restriction you have, the better.

Those are restrictions that Barrack Obama never would’ve signed (he actually voted against a very similar Born Alive act in the Illinois State Senate).

Furthermore, while a “conservative” court may be cautious to overturn Roe v. Wade, a “liberal” court could easily go out of it’s way to protect it by removing restrictions like those mentioned above.

President Bush may be unpopular with a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but he’s fought harder against abortion than any other president since Roe v. Wade.

(2) From a very practical standpoint, if Obama is in office, we will have a president who thinks it’s perfectly okay for infants who survive failed abortions to be left alone in a soiled utility room until they die.

Why would I trust the judgment of a person who feels this way to make any important decision on any issue?

Justin and Heather Bland 10/29/08, 11:02 AM  


just wow.

solid points Luke.

Will 10/29/08, 3:22 PM  

1. President Bush signed those laws, he did not make them. Even if he vetoed them, like President Clinton in 1995, this last time there were enough votes to overturn a veto. So my state representatives do have MUCH more say in determining what becomes law. But your point is true, the President can sign laws limiting abortions.

2. You do bring up some good points in that the Supreme Court has upheld some federal restrictions. Especially the two laws you referenced.

3. The US operates under a civil law system and not a common law system. That means things are often legal or illegal because of past precedent. (Notice I didn't say right or wrong.) That generally means the Supreme Court doesn't go out of its way to rule on certain issues unless there is a lot of confusion/disagreement at the lower levels of the judicial system.

4. The members of the court who are likely to retire are John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two of the most liberal judges on the court. The composition of the court is unlikely to change much even if Obama is elected.

5. "Why would I trust the judgment of a person who feels this way to make any important decision on any issue?"

This is a logical fallacy -- of the Ad Hominem Abusive flavor I believe. Under this reasoning you can't trust John McCain to make any good decisions either because he cheated on his wife while she was being treated for cancer and later divorced her.

*. Both of the popular candidates do not share the same morals as you -- this is obvious by their actions and their words versus your actions and words. So I guess what I am trying to say in a very round about way and in not so many words is, "What makes abortion a deal breaker as opposed to the other moral issues?"

Luke 10/29/08, 3:46 PM  


Thanks. I don't specifically know what you're "wowing", but if was Obama's perspective on abortion, I was pretty blown away as well.

Luke 10/29/08, 4:24 PM  


Good response. I'll try to respond to your points one by one.

1. We pretty much agree here.

In my original post, the first article talked about how pro-life candidates and legislation in general help to limit abortions. I oversimplified that somewhat in my post by linking it to the presidency, but my real intention was just to draw attention to the second article on Obama.

State reps certainly have more say in determining what becomes law; I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

2. Agreement.

3. I agree with what you're saying here, and if you're implying that the Supreme Court is unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade, I tend to agree. I hope for a lot of things that are unlikely though.

4. Some other guys are gettin' on up there too though, including Scalia and Thomas, right? I’ve read that as many as four members are likely to retire within the next few years.

All that being said, let’s say that you’re right, and Obama replace two liberal judges with two more. From my perspective, how much better would it be to replace them with two more conservative judges and have an overwhelming majority?

As a side note, the “conservative/liberal” labels with Supreme Court justices confuse me. As in, sometimes “conservative” means “strict constructionist” and sometimes it means “politically conservative.”

From a “strict constructionist” perspective, Roe v. Wade never should have happened in the first place, which I think gives some indication as to the importance of the make-up of the court. But really, I’m out of my depth here.

5. Saying “any important decision on any issue” was an exaggeration—I thought you of all people would allow a little hyperbole.

What I should've said would be something along the lines of:

"The primary responsibility of the President should be to value the lives of the people of his country and protect them accordingly. Barack Obama thinks it's perfectly okay for infants who survive failed abortions to be left alone in a soiled utility room until they die. Considering this viewpoint, and that Obama doesn't protect the lives of people in this case, why would I trust him to do so in other cases?”

I don't think that's a logical fallacy at all. It's logical to assume that the viewpoints someone holds will cause them to act similarly in similar instances.

Hopefully that makes sense, and if not, let me know and I'll explain why that’s different than the example you used.

6. (which was actually an asterisk) I’ve written before that, while I more generally agree with the policies of McCain, I can’t bring myself to vote for him because of his character issues. The fact that Arkansas should go handily to McCain helps me on that front.

Nevertheless, if the deciding vote in the election came down to me, I would likely choose McCain (though I'd be sad to do so) because to me, abortion trumps other issues.

Which obviously leads to your very good question, "What makes abortion a deal breaker as opposed to the other moral issues?"

I would love to answer that, but I think it would be better to do so as a separate post, rather than as an afterthought to this long comment—I will answer your question though.

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