Friday, September 19, 2008

Politics and abortion

A good article by Tony Campolo on 'Moving the Abortion Debate Beyond Partisan Purists.' You should read the whole thing, but here's a good chunk of it:

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven. The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

The good news is that, with help from Jim Wallis and others, the party platform now calls for these needs to be met. It also calls for educational programs to reduce unwanted pregnancies, with room for the teaching of abstinence, and asks for government agencies to make adoptions easier.

These achievements were lauded by Democrats for Life and by the Catholic Alliance for Life. While at the Democratic National Convention, religious leaders of other faith traditions personally thanked me for my efforts. Even leaders of some pro-choice organizations hailed this compromise, claiming that at last they could find some common ground with pro-life advocates.

Purists, on the other hand, have had hard words for me, claiming that I should not have been involved in any way with a political party that is pro-choice. While I understand their desire to settle for nothing less than the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, I nevertheless believe that my decision to work for abortion reduction was a good one.

Consider these questions: If 10 children are drowning in a swimming pool, and you can only save six of them, should you save the six? Or, should you wait until help arrives that can save them all, even if you know that the six you could save will be lost in the meantime?

To my Christian brothers and sisters who are part of the party that has a pro-life platform, I have to ask whether they are willing to hold the Republican Party to its pro-life commitments. For several years, the Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, and had a Supreme Court wherein seven of its nine judges were Republican appointees. Yet no effort was made to overturn Roe vs. Wade -- and very little pressure to do something about this was put on Republican leaders by evangelicals who had given them 82 percent of their votes in 2004. And, are they willing to demand that provisions such as I worked for in the Democratic platform become policies of their party? To fail to do so would be to protect the unborn child and then abandon that child and the mother in the delivery room.

This, to me, is the problem I have with people who claim they can't support Obama solely because he is not an anti-abortion purist. So, would it be better if he just SAID he was against all abortions for any reason, but DID NOTHING ABOUT IT? It seems to me trying to do something about some abortions is better than doing nothing about all abortions. But that's just me.

ht - Jordon Cooper


MR said...

I hate to be the one to point this out, because it's a knee-jerk answer to the problem of unwanted pregnancy, but education isn't the solution. To say that the economically challenged people getting pregnant don't UNDERSTAND how they arrive in that condition is really treating them like animals. It's not like they're on the table at the clinic saying "but I thought it had something to do with a STORK!" They KNOW, it's something else, something cultural.

dan h. said...

As someone who works in an education-related field I don't think I can agree with the assessment that education isn't a solution. Unless it's seen as nothing more than the giving of information. I think that's kind of the underlying issue of the article.

MR said...

It may be "a" solution, certainly you can remind them of the facts, but from what I hear it's about self-esteem. Using contraception in some cultures makes you less of a man, getting pregnant makes you more of a woman. Just for the staggering numbers I have to mention that in the poorer black communities, education was not "the" answer. As revered Principal Joe Clark (from "Lean on Me") said: "you girls are havin' babies just to prove you can do something!" I think if education were the problem, we'd see more change when programs are applied. I think it's something harder to change, like how much these people value themselves.

dan h. said...

I see what you mean, and that's why I'm saying that we can't think of education as merely "presenting the facts." You are right, it IS something harder to change, and it needs to encompass helping people see that they, in fact, can change.

To use an older program as an example, we can tell people to "just say no" all we want, but until we've helped people (educated them) in ways where they discover that they, in fact, really CAN do that, then we're not going to accomplish anything.

So Sarah Palin can make fun of community organizers all she wants - and I think she has done a huge disservice by doing so - but I think what we need are more of these type of people who do actually give a damn about people, rather than just politicians making laws and programs and expecting people to change with no motivation to do so. Just because someone is "able" to do something doesn't mean they are "capable" - and oftentimes it's because of how they perceive things.

I've always been taught that there is a difference between someone employed to "give information" and someone who is actually a "teacher." The true teachers are those who help people to L-E-A-R-N. Granted, some people aren't going to learn no matter what one does, but it's also true that there are a lot of people who describe themselves as teachers, but they don't really care whether anyone learns anything or not. They just want their paycheck, or their resume padded, or whatever. And I am referring to teachers not just in the school teacher sense, but any endeavor at educating people.

So I would agree with you that simply establishing programs isn't much help, but I believe an underlying intent with Campolo is that it depends on the 'types' of programs. People need to learn that cycles of poverty can be broken; that women are not 'play-things' for men; that all people do have value; that money does not buy privilege; etc., etc., etc.

We may be saying the same thing, just looking at it from different angles. Plus, my dad was a high school principal for 30+ years, and a truant officer after that... so education is kind of in my blood. :)

MR said...

Yes, I concur. I just mentioned it because it's the first, and usually the only thing people offer as a solution to a very complex problem. Like they can just throw money at it and it'll go away. I think they've thrown the money with very little return on investment.

A lot of people freaked when Geo. W. Bush said that he was going to filter goverment resources through the churches in a faith-based initiative to help communities, but it made a lot of sense to me. Empowering the churchs sent a very clear message of what he thought the answer was.

As for all people having value--there's a great quote carved in stone out in California that says: "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life." On Ronald Reagan's grave.

Illinois boy, dontchaknow.