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A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
Thu, Oct. 16th, 2008 09:47 pm
Why I am tempted to be a single-issue voter

Because it seems like most of the people who support the pro-choice candidate in any election don't get what the problem is. Mr./Ms. Casual Pro-choicer just seem so ignorant about what the abortion rights movement actually does and tries to do. And it feels like anyone who speaks up and tries to explain is dismissed as just some right-wing nut-job. Tonight I have seen two recent threads on LJ-land that are exemplary of this.

The first was some complaints about McCain's debate explanation of what is wrong with having an exception for the mother's "health" in a late-term abortion ban. Guys, I'm not a right-wing nut. I still haven't decided which "side" I'm on in this election, and as you'll know if you read my last political post, I'm pretty evenly split on the issues. Listen to me: McCain was right. Here's my C&P'd answer to the above complaints:

Doe v. Bolton, an important abortion case decided the same day as Roe v. Wade, says, "We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”

In practice, this means that writing a "health" exception into a late-term abortion ban would still allow a woman to have a late-term abortion for just about any reason that her doctor would approve--making the ban essentially useless. So McCain's statement that "health" has been misused by abortion rights supporters is 100% right on.

The second incident was a comment to an anti-Obama entry that recently appeared on my flist, posted by one of my staunchly anti-abortion friends, that basically recounted and commented upon Obama's extremism on abortion. (All of this stuff--the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, FOCA, etc.--is commonly discussed on corners of the web that are friendly to those who oppose abortion, and the documentation, arguments, and counterarguments about them are well-known to us). Anyway, the commenter basically said that he or she only hears about this from Evangelical sources, and implied that this would invalidate the complaints, as they are therefore probably not true.

I'm sorry, but this makes no sense. Yes, it's important to consider the source of any information you read. But it does not follow that because a source is biased to a particular point of view you must automatically reject anything they say. Here's the thing about the claims that Obama is an extremist on abortion: yes, almost the only sites that are talking about these things are right-wing and/or evangelical and/or pro-life. But that's just the problem: the "other side" isn't really bothering to defend itself. Okay, there have been some weak defenses of Obama's opposition to the IBAIPA, but that's about it. FOCA hasn't been addressed at all by Obama's supporters, as far as I can see. And I've got to say, from where I'm standing, the silence looks awfully damning.

So come on, Obama supporters. Answer these complaints if you can. Tell my why his opposition to the IBAIPA and the partial-birth abortion ban, and his promises to appeal the Hyde Amendment and enact FOCA if elected somehow don't add up to him being an extremist, partisan JERK, at least when it comes to this issue. Tell me how I can possibly, POSSIBLY give him my support in light of my feelings on this issue. Because as far as I can see right now it sure looks like an Obama presidency, especially if FOCA is enacted, would deliver a deep wound to the hearts and consciences of roughly 40-50% of all Americans. And the silence, ignorance, and casual dismissals of his supporters only make me feel more inclined to take a stand against his candidacy.

Joie, now with a mail-in ballot waiting and more torn than ever

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Current Mood: discontent discontent


Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)

I am emphatically not an Obama supporter, but I would assume that if you agree with him on every other issue--some of which are also matters of life and death--you'd support him if you think his policies and principles will ultimately have better results. Personally, while I'm not crazy about everything McCain's said, I think that his foreign and economic policies are more likely than Obama's to turn out well, though they won't make us as popular with people from countries where Obama is considered a bit right of center.

Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)

Not being staunchly in either the anti-abortion or pro-abortion camps, I didn't actually know anything about some of these things until I saw the one post you mention above and then yours.

Honestly, one of the things I've heard people around here say against Obama (and I'm pretty much undecided at the moment, too), is that they think he tends to say what he thinks the US people want to hear. So it's possible he's just doing what he thinks his party wants him to do. (Or it could be argued from the other side that he only told Planned Parenthood FOCA would be his first act as president because he thought they wanted to hear it.) Or it's possible that he just really doesn't think life begins until the baby is delivered at full term. Or...any other possible relieving or damning explanation you could come up with.

I consider myself very moderately pro-choice, and I am appalled that anyone even came up with the IBAIPA and that anyone could even consider legalizing partial birth abortions. Which I reckon makes me NOT a supporter of FOCA.

My personal opinion is that abortion should be illegal once a pregnancy passes a certain point, and to me, that point should be when the baby would be a viable being if it were delivered (i.e. survive without its mother). I don't see how anyone can argue that it's not a real human with a soul at that point. :P

All that said, I do REALLY like his stand on sex education and making pregnancy prevention more available to teens and women in general. Why can't we have a moderate? *sigh* Honestly, I think I may be voting Green again in this one. :P

Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy
Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
Part I

Not being Obama himself, I can't speak for why he hasn't said what would satisfy you and others about this topic. However, I can speculate about it based on his silence about other accusations against him, such as his being the AntiChrist, Muslim, a foreign-born and not native-born citizen, etc. To my knowledge, while others have debunked these things on his behalf, the campaign has not deigned to address all of these accusations, and those are also pretty much exclusively on right-wing websites and in propaganda emails. (Working in a church office, I get to see some pretty extremist right-wing emails slamming Obama.) So I do think that you have to consider the axes some folks have to grind when deciding whether a particular report has merit; if it's not picked up on by the mainstream news media (including Fox, which I doubt would miss the chance to jump on this sort of thing if they could dig up any real evidence at all--there is no shortage of right-wing-controlled media outlets) then you really do have to consider who's repeating it, what they say their sources are, and what they might stand to gain from telling the story in question (who they're trying to reach, for instance). I think many of these "issues" are things the campaign isn't addressing because to dignify them with any response at all, on an official level, would be to start to admit that they might have any merit at all, so the campaign just doesn't.

Now, when it comes to the actual issue, apart from anything you're worried about President Obama encouraging the House and Senate to enact, a little perspective helps. We were just discussing this issue after church on Sunday, in the adult education forum, and the vast majority of abortions (88%) are performed in the first trimester--well before the point at which any neonatal expert would consider the fetus to be viable even through the most extraordinary measures available today. Fewer than 2% occur after the 21-week mark--during the second half of the pregnancy, in other words, and an even smaller percentage would be considered late-term or partial-birth.

Now, maybe you'll think I'm naive, but I honestly don't think any doctor is jumping with joy at the idea of performing an abortion on a patient who is so far along in the pregnancy that there could be any chance at all of the child being born alive, and if a doctor recommends the termination of a pregnancy that is extremely advanced to preserve the health of the mother then I believe that the doctor is recommending a procedure that, in her professional opinion, is indeed necessary to safeguard the life of the mother.

Prehumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy
Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
Part II

That, I believe, could be why so many people are extremely offended that McCain used air quotes to talk about the mother's health as a reason for abortion in a tiny number of extreme cases; it is not only insulting to women who want to be able to have some measure of control over their own bodies, to have their health reduced to inherently sarcastic air-quotes, it is hugely insulting to the professionalism and judgment of their doctors. I am familiar with many, many doctors, having previously worked at the National Board, which creates the tests that doctors across the country must pass to be able to work; they are exceptionally hard-working and principled people who are constantly having to worry both about safeguarding their patients' health AND about whether something they have decided, in good faith, might bring a malpractice suit down on their heads. (Some people I know in med school right now say that they are all told, "It's not a matter of IF you will be sued; it's a matter of WHEN.") I believe that if a doctor says a very late term abortion (which almost never, ever occur at ALL) is necessary to save a woman's life then it is; I think the idea that doctors might be looking for "excuses" to perform such procedures is simply another bit of anti-choice rhetoric, and it shows absolutely no compassion or understanding of what doctors or pregnant women go through who reach such a crossroads and must make difficult choices.

The thing is this: if a pregnancy has reached a very late stage and is only terminated because of the mother's health, then chances are it is because that baby was wanted. The mother took a chance, and unfortunately, it didn't work out. Now she and her doctor must make a difficult choice, and very likely a devastating one for the mother. To layer onto that poor woman the accusation that she is "getting rid" of her baby for "convenience" and not because her doctor wants to save her life is horrific; no one should ever have to go through wanting a baby and not being able to carry it to term because of health concerns, IMO, but there is no way anyone should have to go through all of that AND then be accused of having only trivial, selfish concerns and making up excuses. The lack of thought and consideration for what these mothers and their doctors go through in these situations shows a staggering lack of imagination and a single-minded dedication to the movement's rhetoric that I find galling.

In that Obama does in fact want to reduce the incidence of abortion by making comprehensive sex education again a part of our schools' curricula, not to mention the availability and affordability of contraceptions and vastly improved health care (so that a woman knows that, if she's pregnant, she can afford proper prenatal care and, later, a pediatrician for her baby) I think that it's really clear who voters can support if they're not completely anti-sex (since that is a common component of some anti-abortion groups). If someone is not opposed to sex on principle but would like people to be more responsible and reduce the number of abortions by reducing the number of pregnancies, McCain is the last person that voter should support.

Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Re: Part II

If someone is not opposed to sex on principle but would like people to be more responsible and reduce the number of abortions by reducing the number of pregnancies, McCain is the last person that voter should support.

I would dispute that. Canada has public health care, sex education, and a better welfare system than the US; our abortion rates are rising, while those in the US have been falling for the 20 or so years at least. The determining factor for how common abortions are is not any of the above things, but the social acceptability of the practice - in the US it is still a big issue in public discourse, AS IT SHOULD BE. In Canada it is political suicide to even bring it up, it is only ever described as "reproductive rights" - utterly ruling out even the possibility of any sincere dissenting view - and the pro-abortion groups do everything they can to block it from any public discourse. In my university, a group was BANNED from the campus purely for putting up pro-life posters suggesting a focus on alternatives to abortion, despite saying nothing about changing the laws that make it utterly unrestricted up to the moment of birth,

Public sentiment here is genuinely pro-abortion. My seventeen-year old cousin recently became a father and the general opinion of people I've spoken to outside the church is that keeping the child was a bad idea, that kids that age aren't ready to have babies - and that abortion is the best of the possible options. That is why I am skeptical that pro-life groups can make any gains by ceding ground on abortion - giving up ground makes pro-abortion advocates more extreme, not less, and ends up ending any honest public discussion on the issue.

ReplyThread Parent
Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)

I think you make an excellent point about how the "health of the mother" is defined; McCain erred (or perhaps just lacked the time) in not expanding on that distinction in the debate, because it sounded bad to anyone who isn't familiar with the issue, or has only heard the pro-choice point of view.

I think there should be exceptions for the health of the mother, but there has to be a stricter definition of what is a danger to health - as in, anything that would cause long-term or serious physical damage of a more-than-cosmetic nature. But as things stand I can understand someone voting against an absolute ban on late-term abortions because it could potentially lead to situations where women die or are seriously injured because a pregnancy becomes unsafe.

The only thing I can suggest is to check out the FactCheck article on Obama's position on the "born alive" bill and decide for yourself.

Sadly, this is an issue where there is virtually no middle ground in politics - pretty much everyone in Congress has a 0% rating from either Planned Parenthood or pro-life groups.

Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)

As for the Hyde Amendment - that's a difficult one. I live in Canada, where there is publicly-funded health care and unrestricted abortion, and I strongly dislike the fact that my tax dollars go to fund it. On the other hand, the amendment basically discriminates on the basis of class - well-off women who want an abortion can get one, but poor women, the ones most likely to have trouble dealing with an unintended pregnancy, can't.

ReplyThread Parent
Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)

I think there are two issues here....1) How important is it to you that you vote only pertaining to this issue (single issue voter) and 2) do you trust Obama integrity on this issue?

In regards to number one, only you can answer that, but in response to number two, I think Obama has stated and shown by his reasonable and thoughtful responses on different occasions that he is opposed to abortion in principle, but feels that it is an issue that should be left to the individual/families concerned.

He has stated many times that he is a Christian. So, I think it is based on your trust of his word and character. Personally, even though I would never have an abortion, I'm still pro-choice because this is not my decision to make for any other woman and I believe that this is Obama's feelings, as well.

Sen. Obama doesn't see things in black and white, IMHO, but has a quality of looking at every aspect of each issue; he's nuanced, which is why, IMO, he is the best candidate running. He is calm, rational and reasonable, which is why that even though he continually gets attacked by right-wing extremists, his actions and words speak for themselves. You can only look at how respectful he treats those around him and see this to be true.

Based on that, I believe he is honest in stating that he believes late term abortions should be banned except in the case where it endangers the mother's health.

Edited at 2008-10-17 01:17 pm (UTC)

Mrs. B.
Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)

Because my own position on abortion is, like so many, basically in the middle, I do not make it a habit of immersing myself in the arguments, rather I take a pragmatic view. So, I can't claim to address the specific points and questions you raise. I can say that Obama (and Biden) sounds to me much less "extreme" than many pro-choicers would prefer and, as is said, a good compromise makes nobody happy.

Here is one article I ran across this morning that reflects my pragmatic view.

But there are those additional words about appropriate education as well as adoption and assistance for mothers who choose to keep their baby.

This is not just debate posturing. It is consistent with Obama's successful effort to add language to the Democratic platform affirming the choice of a mother to keep her child by pledging pre- and post-natal care, funded maternity leave and income support for poor women who, studies show, are four times more likely to pursue an abortion absent some tangible assistance.

Some might ask, isn't John McCain, the self-proclaimed "pro-lifer," still a morally superior choice for Catholics? Not necessarily. McCain's commitment, as he stressed in the debate, is to try to reverse Roe vs. Wade. But Republicans have been after this for decades, and the effort has not saved a single child. Even if Roe were reversed -- unlikely, in my judgment -- it merely transfers the question to the states, most of which are not expected to ban abortion. A Catholic serious about preserving life could reasonably find Obama's educational and material assistance to mothers the practical, stronger alternative.

Of course, this alternative is less than the absolute legal protection for unborn life sought by the Catholic faith, but it is more than the GOP delivers, or can deliver, with its speculations about judicial vacancies and reconsidered precedents

Fri, Oct. 17th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)

Y'know, I made a clumsy attempt at an argument last night, but the more I dwell on it, the more this bothers me. If you feel that this issue deserves priority over anything else whoever becomes President will have to deal with when they step into office - regardless of any assurances made on the campaign trail - then vote for a candidate who reflects that. With the admittedly important exception of who he'll be looking at for Supreme Court nominations, I personally don't see McCain giving the issue more attention than Obama without strong outside pressure, but I admit that I haven't been concerned enough with this particular point on which his views diverge from my own to pay attention to any promises he's made on the subject.

On that note, I do thank you for the links: they have made me aware of several cases that I would like to learn more about, albeit for different reasons than you might have hoped. (The way the Hyde Amendment is characterized on one of those sites had me wondering how it ever made it past the drafting stage, until I went and looked up the actual wording; it sounded like a selective opt-out and not a funding decision.) But I'd far prefer to do that research and formulate any arguments when I'm not feeling pressured to do so on behalf of a candidate I want to see win for reasons that have pushed this issue down my list of priorities, and it's against my conscience to pretend otherwise.

Sat, Oct. 18th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)

if you disagree with his feelings on something like this, an issue that goes into morality and all, you probably shouldn't vote for him. personally, i just think that abortion is wrong. therefore, i wouldn't vote for someone who actually is for abortion, a matter that isn't just political but goes into someone's moral beliefs. nobody is really in the middle on this issue. there's either people who are willing to admit how they feel, or poeple who aren't. and in today's world, you're expected to say yes, you agree with abortion. it's so stupid, and a lot of women say they disagree with it, but they don't want to take away that right from someone else. that's bullcrap. if you disagree with something, it's as simple as that. people today are just too worried about being politically correct.

but anyway, again, if you disagree, don't vote for him.