Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Shifting Abortion Debate

Today, I wrote a guest column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled "Reducing abortions: priority promise should not be broken." One of the most divisive and polarizing issues in the United States is abortion, but in the last year or so the debate has taken on a new angle with the inclusion of abortion reduction as a common ground platform. In my article, I basically state that while Obama has made promises to reduce the number of abortions actually occurring, his record doesn't seem promising to that end. In the end, I call on Obama to keep his word and "add another mark on the checklist under 'unprecedented and historical.'"

Running opposite my column is another guest column entitled, "Reducing abortions: The time is right to break old stalemate," written by the Executive Director of Catholics in AllianceAlexia Kelly. Her article seems to be more optimistic about the possibility of Obama making good on his promise to champion abortion reduction. "President-elect Barack Obama is well positioned to help push this effort as a leader focused on pragmatic solutions and finding common ground," she writes. 

Whether you like it or not, the abortion debate will shift during the next four or more years, and abortion reduction is going to be the primary catalyst. While those of us who are pro-life must never sacrifice our commitment to the sanctity of human life and the belief that life begins at conception, we can still work with others to achieve a moral victory through reducing the number of abortions presently occurring. The ocean of partisanship must stop at the shore of the common good.

Check out both articles to gain an understanding of the nuances, and then let me know your thoughts.


Jonathan Moss said...

Abortion, such a touchy issue with so many people. I'm interested to see how people will react to abortion reduction, especially those who are pro-choice.

The idea of our government working to educate people and promote life through this abortion reduction gives me hope that people will truly see the damage abortion does to the woman, not only in cases where she is physically injured from it, but emotionally scarred as well.

Hopefully President-elect Obama will get behind a solution that decreases the number of abortions, because I personally believe that abortions will always be legal in a democracy like America.

Anonymous said...

My position on this issue probably won't make much sense to many people - especially pro-lifers...

I am pro-life. But I am not in favor of the reduction of the number of abortions.

I am in favor of judicially opposed abortions. There is prophetic and scriptural implications of a people condoning abortion even if the "number" practiced is reduced.

I would rather the country say that it is not OK and have more happen than to say it is OK while "reducing" them...

However - from what I can see with Obama - he has no intention of reducing the overall number of abortions. He may have plans that will reduce the number of medically educed abortions (such as an "unwanted" pregnancy - but he also has plans to federally fund the manufacturing of millions+ of embryos for the sole purpose of manipulating them for scientific research and destroying them - that is also abortion.

I would rather call what is evil, evil while it may still happen than to say that it is not evil while trying to regulate it.

This may not make sense to some people - but this is my "position".

Condoning what the Lord says is evil is not the same.

If we say "it's OK" but reduce the number - our heart is still wrong...

Jonathan Merritt said...


What you argument essentially boils down to is: When given the choice between less murder and more murder, you will pick more murder. It is not only confusing, it flies in the face of scripture. I can't imagine Jesus saying his opposes reducing the number of Roman crucifixions, but only the abolition of the practice.

As pro-life Christians, we must not simply oppose a culture of death, we must promote a culture of life wherever we find it. May we all be gently reminded to never let the passionate convictions flowing from our ideology to wash away our sense of what is right.


Anonymous said...


I would love to see less abortion in this country...and the world. There is no question.

But - I also want it to be understood by people that it is evil.

By reduction - there is not a change of heart....it's still OK to do.

Picture this. The governmental judicial powers say that it is certainly alright to murder,and in fact - it's your choice if the one you decide to murder will cause you issues of distress or possible health or any other myriad of personal issues.

But, in hopes that we reduce the number of murders across the nation - we offer federally "funded" programs and other means to educate and aid those of us who are in a position where murdering someone might help us. The decision is still up to us - but whatever we decide is alright in the eyes of the courts...

Or, the judicial powers say that murder is evil and wrong and should not happen (knowing full well that it will) - that when it does those who perform such an act must be held accountable for their decision.

The reduction of abortion plan is the same thing (IMO). It says to the citizen that abortion is alright and if you think you need to do so, that's fine by us and no one will be held accountable for your decisions....it's relativism at its worst.

I may have mis-stated myself by saying "rather the country say that it is not OK and have more"...I would be happy to see less...But, I want to see less because people know that it is wrong...

Does this make any more sense?

Katie Corbett said...

Even though I hate abortion, in my opinion is a ridiculous thought to think that there is anyway this country will ever vote to take that option away from people. With every day that passes, this great nation becomes more chaotic and sinful...

So of course we would like to see the hearts of people changed to value the sanctity of life, but I doubt it will happen. I think the goal of reducing abortions is a great start. Life is so precious that if even one baby is saved by these initiatives, then it is worth the push. As Jonathan says in his article, this is definately something that we need to stay on the president-elect about. Make him be a man of his word. Unfortunately, the all or nothing approach seems all but impossible.

Katie said...

* my last sentence should say all but possible. :)

Jonathan Merritt said...


I would like to say that it makes sense, but it doesn't. Imagine if you applied that same logic to everything else. If I opposed capital punishment, would it not be counter-productive to not support measures to restrict its use while still lobbying to abolish it?


dave said...

The Pro-Life position relies heavily on the personhood of the infant lives involved in decisions to abort--a fact that should indeed have immeasurable bearing on the conversation.

Keep that in mind when thinking about abortion reduction.

I think I quite understand what you're saying in terms of morality and not appearing to condone immorality... but apply the personhood of the unborn lives to this case. If abortion reduction means that Jack and Sven and Elsa would live to see this side of the womb, can we as pro-lifers oppose that? I think that when (if) pro-lifers do support abortion reduction policies/platforms, they should certainly do it with a bit of noise and fuss, reminding people throughout of the ultimate goal--but until then, it's still about defending life, and there might well be a life to be preserved through abortion reduction.

Shane "George" Lambert said...

As one who is strongly pro-life, I believe we should try to limit the number of abortions as much as possible. That, at least, is one area where Obama and I can find agreement.

My question for the president-elect, and all pro-choice people who say that abortion should be rare, is: "Why should we seek to reduce the number of abortions?" If they really believe that it's OK to keep abortion legal, then why bother trying to limit it?

If we can get them to honestly answer this question, we might start getting to the heart of the matter.

Anonymous said...

That's the thing...Jonathan you said "would it not be counter-productive to not support measures to restrict..."

The key to realize is that Obama has no intentions of restricting the practice of abortion. Certainly he wants to reduce - but not my means of restriction...

I am all for support of legislation that will restrict abortion. I am not in favor of legislation that says abortion is alright.

One thing that I have trouble with in regard to much of the pro-life movement now-a-days is their exception clauses.

There is never any time with abortion should be considered a viable or reasonable option. No, not even in the cases of rape, incest, or the case of the mother's health and life - twin to twin pregnancies either..

There is no case where the baby must die.

The mother doesn't have to carry the baby. If there is health risk - we have the technology to remove the baby from the mother and place the baby in an artificial womb or even in a surrogate mother. There are a number of procedures and technologies in place today that will and do preserve the lives of both baby and mother.

I am not saying I will not settle for abortion restrictions. I will fight for restrictions - but I will not stand with legislation that would suggest that abortion is alright...and it should be someone's 'choice'....no one has that right.

The problem is that Obama has no intentions of restricting abortion...at least right now.

I appreciate and 'second' what Lambert said - inquire why we need to reduce abortions...to motivate the people to reason with themselves in their hearts to why...and we will be getting somewhere.