Abortion in Politics

As usual abortion is a hotly debated political issue among Christians, but also among non Christians. Hotly debated might be too kind, it is probably something beyond that. For many people this is THE issue, and rightfully so. I want to highlight something Tony Jones wrote a while ago. He came out many months ago in support of Obama, but has recently been a part of a panel (something like that) of pastors to lend insight to Obama’s team.

My biggest desire is that abortion wouldn’t be the elephant in the room that no one talks about. I see this time and time again, and it never helps show how Christians can be engaged with politics and yet loving at the same time. There are over a million abortions a year in the US alone and I would venture to say that many of those women think Christians hate them. I wish for Christians to be able to have conversations, rooted in love, that can look at both sides of this political issue while recognizing that abortion is much, much bigger than a just a political issue. Also, I’m not trying to lend support for or take a stand on one political candidate or the other. My point is that millions of Christians are going to vote for a candidate who supports pro-choice policies and yet Christians can rarely have a civil conversation about that.

Without trashing anybody in the process…I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Link to the post by Tony Jones HERE. He is describing a conference call between Obama’s team and this pastor panel.

“I think there were about eight pastorish people on the call, and three or four Obama staffers came and went.  For obvious reasons, I won’t disclose who was on the call, but I did notice something interesting.  I’d say that the group broke down as 5 older leaders, and 3 of us I’d call “youngish.”  I’ll refer to us as The Three and them as The Five.

The call began with some serious hand-wringing from The Five.  They were quite upset by the Palin Pick, and they strongly encouraged the O staffers to have BO go hard after her, exposing her lies and distortions about climate change, earmarks, etc.

The Three were almost completely unconcerned with Palin and suggested that O focus exclusively on McCain.

Then, the sparks started to fly.  One of The Three suggested that if O wants to peel off a segment of evangelicals under 40 who already share his concern for the environment, fighting poverty, and foreign diplomacy, that he must talk forthrightly about abortion. (Most of us will admit that O fumbled the ball at the Saddleback Forum when he told Rick that the decision about when life begins was above his pay grade.  He later admitted as much to George Stephanopolous.)

To this, The Five became quite upset.  They said that if O talks about abortion on the stump, he’s allowing the Religious Right to set the agenda.  One of The Three countered that, among his friends, abortion is the one thing holding younger evangelicals back from full-throated support of O.  One of O’s staffers said that O does very much want to reduce abortions, and he went on to say that abortions decreased during the Clinton administration and increased during W’s term.  The Republicans, quite simply, use abortion as a wedge issue during election years and then do NOTHING (yes, I’m shouting) to reduce abortions.

The Five continued to protest, saying that abortion is not an issue that O should deal with much.  To which I replied, “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”

And this, it seems to me, is the most common stumbling block for progressives and liberals (I consider the former to be more centrist, and the latter to be more leftist).  Too often, they’ll stand on principle until it’s too late.

For my part, I encouraged BO to talk openly and candidly.  He thinks abortions are bad, and he wants to reduce them.  He doesn’t think that criminalizing doctors or mothers is the answer.  He thinks we need a more fully-orbed response to the problems of promiscuity and poverty that too often lead to abortions.

I think he needs to talk about this in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Florida and Ohio, and he needs to not look so uncomfortable when the subject comes up.  In fact, I really hope that BO is ready to address this issue head-on in the debates, because I think he can win over a lot of younger evangelicals who are currently on the fence.”