abortion matters

Two nights ago my nine year old son asked me who I was going to vote for in this election.  In the process of telling him why I wasn’t terribly pleased with either choice, I told him that one of the drawbacks to Barak Obama is that he has voted to allow abortion.  My son responded in shock, how could anyone vote for someone who allows unborn babies to be killed?

Good question.  I understand that there are many other issues in this election and that Republican candidates often seem more interested in stopping abortion before elections than after.  They have long used abortion as a useful wedge issue to keep their conservative base in line.  After 20 years of Reagan, Bush, and Bush, not much has changed.

Still, it is hard to understand how a candidate who cares so much for the poor and helpless has so far not stuck up for the unborn.  I can’t accept Obama’s statement that knowing when life begins lies “above his pay grade.”  Maybe he doesn’t know the exact moment, but presumably it’s long before the third trimester, when the partial birth abortions that he did not oppose occur.  I am disturbed by Obama’s speech at the Democratic national convention, when he said that we can find middle ground on the abortion debate by agreeing that we should have less unwanted pregnancies.  If that is his idea of middle ground, I don’t want to know where his default position lies!

I like the idea of having our first black president with a foreign name and the hope that brings of something new.  I like Michelle, the return of Camelot, and all that.  But my vote will ultimately be decided by the question my son will ask me on election night.  Who did you vote for, daddy?

7 Comments

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  1. Michael Wittmer has a blog…

    MICHAEL WITTMER HAS A BLOG!!!!!!

    FINALLY!!!!

    I mean, sure, that means one more thing keeping me away from working on my sermon, but it’s worth it…

    Welcome to blogging, Dr. Wittmer. It’s a long time coming.

  2. Hey Professor Wittmer,

    An eloquent and tasteful post. I have one question for you regarding this issue. Certainly we can all agree that even if abortion were to become illegal that they would still occur, and perhaps at a similar level.

    My question: should the issue be more about which candidate can indirectly lower the number of abortions occurring every day in America?

  3. Tyler:

    I agree with you. My frustration though is this: while the right is currently compromising on this issue (i.e., an increasing number of conservative evangelicals are rightly recognizing that abortion is not the only issue in this election), I haven’t seen any corresponding movement from Obama. It’d be easier for me to expand my gaze beyond abortion if he would truly move at least a bit toward the middle. Anyway, the point behind my post was that even if I voted for Obama for other issues, how would I be able to explain that to my 9 year old so that he wouldn’t lose faith in me?

  4. Great post,

    I felt the same tension this election year. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to vote for Obama, but when it came down to it I couldn’t cast my vote for someone who not only is pro-choice, but whose voting record shows he’s willing to make abortions even more convenient.

    That said, part of me is still glad that he won. I know it sounds hypocritical that in a sense I was pulling for him even though I couldn’t justify voting for him. But at the same time I now feel free to applaud what I like about him while also being able to critique what I don’t like and not feeling like I supported those negative aspects.

  5. How about you tell your 9 year old son that it is far more important to alleviate the conditions within our society that contribute to people being put in the position to make the difficult choice than to try and pass a law that would do little to end the travesty in the first place.

    How about you tell your 9 year old son that the point for Christians should be to make abortion UNTHINKABLE, not ILLEGAL.

    How about you talk to your 9 year old son about prohibition. About how the Church got its way by outlawing the production, sale, and use of alcohol because of the ‘social ills’ that came from it. But did alcoholic consumption or those social ills cease? Not a chance. Maybe you could talk about how trickle down morality from the top down simply does not transform societies. Rather, individual Christians embedded within communities and connected to real lives who testify to and live out the values of the Kingdom is what brings about transformation.

    I could think of a lot of things to say to your 9 year old son that would help him understand the complexities of this single voting issue, let alone this important Kingdom issue. I hardly think responding with “McCain” is sufficient…

    -jeremy

  6. Steve:

    I completely agree with the sentiments expressed in your post.

    Jeremy:

    Please work harder at being fair. I didn’t say that I “responded with McCain.” My only point, which I think you missed, was that while I agree with all of your arguments about preventing unwanted pregnancies and caring for the poor who are born, why do the Democrats who say such good and helpful things not also concede that abortion is wrong? Why can’t Obama express the same care for the unborn child as he professes for the one who is born? Is that really too much to ask? I grant that human rights and social justice includes much more than the issue of abortion, but it does not contain less.

  7. You’re right: that comment wasn’t entirely fair and too snarky. Sorry about that. Please forgive me, Dr. W.

    You do make a good point about Democrats: they should be able to say it is wrong while also asserting ways to bring change in this area. I do know that President (elect) Obama has said that he wishes abortion would be no more and has said the American community needs to do everything it can to reduce abortion in this country. My only point is that there is a broader conversation about this issue than simply passing a law to make it illegal.

    I guess the reason I responded is because it seemed like you became the single-voting issue person that I thought you have denounced. Maybe not.

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