Voting for a Pro-Life Candidate

Is it possible to be pro-life and vote for a pro-choice candidate? That is a question that will surely get me into trouble with a lot of folks. The issue came up because of a recent email conversation with a friend about the upcoming election. He has essentially boiled down the entire decision-making process to one issue – abortion. If a candidate is pro-life he gives them his vote, if pro-choice then no vote.

This type of reductionist thinking is way too simplistic. To select a President simply because he supports the repeal of a Supreme Court decision is a failure to look at the big picture and resign our country to very little change. This will not help. We have been expecting our President to eliminate abortion ever since Ronald Reagan was elected and it has not happened. It is a thirty-year-old strategy that does not work so it is time to come up with a new plan.

Before I begin, let me reassure you that I am pro-life, anti-abortion, or whatever you want to call it. The purpose of this article is not to defend that position or to move you or me to another belief on this issue. My purpose is simply to address the possibility of voting for a candidate who is pro-choice. Like any good preacher, I want to make three simple points.

It is Possible to be Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion

Remember Prohibition? Of course you don’t unless you are well over a hundred years old. But, you do remember what it was and how it affected this country. A constitutional amendment was passed in 1919 that prohibited the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol. It didn’t go real well and was ultimately repealed in 1933. A group of folks were able to organize, become influential enough, and pass a law that made it illegal to use alcohol.

I’m not a drinker. Never have been and probably never will be. But, I don’t support the return of Prohibition. I think the world would be better off if we did not have drunk drivers, abusive husbands, unruly fans at the ballgame, and obnoxious people on the street corners but I don’t think those problems can be solved by banning alcohol. I am not a fan of drinking but I do support you having the choice to drink.

If I may head off an argument, let me quickly agree with you that abortion is much worse than drinking. Although between drunk driving and alcohol related deaths it is realistic to conclude that drinking can be quite deadly. Some claim that abortion is equivalent to murder, but unless you are an extremist, you don’t really believe that. If you did then you have to say that women who have abortions and doctors who perform abortions should be put in prisons and perhaps executed – even husbands/boyfriends who supported them would be accomplices. Some might say this about doctors but I don’t know of anyone who advocates this for women who have abortions. It is killing but it is not the same as gunning down a child in the streets.

Although abortion is much worse than alcohol consumption, I still think there is a lesson to be learned from Prohibition. Although I am pro-sobriety I am still pro-choice. In other words, even though I choose to remain sober and would encourage you to do so as well, I am unwilling to take the choice away from you. The primary reason is because Prohibition taught us we cannot take away that choice without serious consequences. It is the price we pay for living in a free society.

In a similar way (I realize they are not exact comparisons), I think it is possible to be anti-abortion and pro-choice. I always choose life over abortion and would hope and pray you do the same, but I don’t think it is reasonable to force you to do so as well. To put it another way, simply because a person is pro-choice does not necessarily mean they want to encourage women to have abortions. They might be very anti-abortion, always encouraging women to keep the baby, even working to help make it an easier choice. However, they are unwilling to impose their will on another person.

Not everyone who is pro-choice is operating an abortion clinic or counseling pregnant women to end their pregnancy. Perhaps they are strong advocates for freedom and responsibility. It is only possible to live in a free society if we are willing to allow others to make mistakes with their freedom.

At this point, you might want to accuse me of not standing up for the unborn who have no voice of their own. If my argument stopped here then you might have a point. However, before you take that position, listen to my other two reasons.

The President can do very little to solve the problem politically

The most commonly sought intervention that pro-life advocates desire from the President is to appoint Supreme Court Judges who will reverse the Roe v. Wade decision that allows abortions. This plan is so fraught with political maneuverings that it has not happened in thirty years in spite of numerous opportunities to nominate judges by pro-life Presidents. Whoever serves as President for the next four years may or may not have the opportunity to nominate anyone. It is unlikely he will have the ability to totally reshape the court significantly, given the requirement for Senate approval.

Once Roe v. Wade is overturned, the issue of abortion must be decided by each state. Some will allow abortions and some will not. Once laws are passed by state legislatures they will once again be tested in courts. In other words, a legislative solution to the issue of abortion is very tenuous at best. Even if abortion is disallowed by law it will not be eliminated just like Prohibition did not eliminate alcohol consumption.

Therefore, if you make your decision about which Presidential candidate to support based solely on this issue you are essentially wasting your vote. There is much the President can do to make this a better country but this is not one of those areas where he has much impact.

We must get to the real reasons women have abortions

I don’t think we need to just throw up our arms and give up on the issue of abortion. As I have already indicated, it is time for a change of strategy. Rather than simply hoping for a President who will resolve the problem, we need to begin by looking at the reasons women have abortions. Several surveys and studies have been conducted to identify the reasons and these seem to be the three main ones:

  • Negative impact on the mother’s life – she has other things she wants to be doing other than having a baby. It might be a career, educational pursuit, already has a large enough family or a number of other reasons that simply make it “inconvenient” to have a baby.
  • Financial instability – poverty is a big contributor to the number of abortions. Women who cannot afford the cost of a birth much less the cost of raising a child are often tempted to end the pregnancy. Relationship problems – these are women who might be single or have a husband who is very adamant about not having a child.
  • Because they do not have the family support necessary for raising a child they choose abortion.

Electing a pro-life candidate who promises to help overturn a Supreme Court decision does not address any of these issues.

There are many other factors we should consider when marking our ballots. How will the candidate help with the problem of poverty, lack of health care and insurance, the cost of education, the necessity of mom’s working, the availability of child care, making adoptions easier, strengthening families, and numerous other issues. It might be that the pro-life candidate is stronger on these matters as well but it is not as simple as getting his response on only one issue.

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10 Comments

Filed under Family, Politics

10 responses to “Voting for a Pro-Life Candidate

  1. Julio Guarneri

    Very interesting Terry. A well-developed argument. Thanks for writing.

  2. David

    “Some claim that abortion is equivalent to murder, but unless you are an extremist, you don’t really believe that.” – Terry Austin

    Is this really what you meant to say?

    Count me as an extremist. There is sufficient proof in the Word of God that the child in the womb is alive and is defined by God as a child and as having life. This makes the ending of the pregnancy the killing of a child and that killing of it, murder! If not when is it murder? I know, I know same old argument but that does not invalidate it.

    It is currently legal in this country to allow a child to be born all but the head and then the doctor shoves a pair of scissors into the base of the skull and up into the brain killing the child. Then a suction tube i shoved in where the scissors were and the mushed up brains are sucked out. Then the now nearly collapsed head of the child is removed and the whole mess is tossed in the trash. This is murder. It is murder if done a couple months before where a strong saline solution is injected into the sack with the child burning it and killing it. Followed by delivery of the dead child where it is again thrown in the trash.

    At what point? One second after exit from the body of the woman does it in your definition become murder? Or can we just drop the whole child into the garbage sack and let it suffocate? When is it OK for the law to stand up and call it murder and to protect the child.

    Your alcohol comparison falls down on another account. There is no prohibition given by God to never consume alcohol such as there is a prohibition against murder. In fact one of the Ten Commandments.

    No. Count me an extremist standing with Jesus Christ steadfastly against any approval of ‘pro-choice’ concerning abortion. The ‘pro-choice’ position and the ‘anti-abortion’ position are by definition of the Word of God mutually exclusive positions. Only one of these places exists in the Will of God. Just to state it that would be the position of ANTI-ABORTION.

    (I do agree with your point that voting for a candidate on a single issue is most likely not a good decision. However, all else being equal, it sounds like a good differentiator to me)

    • David – do you also think a woman who has an abortion should be sent to prision or even face execution?

      • David

        If the law defined it as murder then yes. In keeping with the Word of God. Under the current laws of the United States it is not murder so it is irrelevant. Change the laws to be consistant that the taking of life is murder then yes and anyone who helps can be called an accomplice by the same change of law.

        Anticipating another question out there this applies whatever the cause of the pregnancy – rape, incest, etc. We all learned very early in life that two wrongs do not make a right.

  3. David, so you think making it a crime and imprisoning mothers would solve the problem and eliminate abortion. I’m not sure that candidate exists.

  4. David

    That is not what I said. All I was addressing was the quote I pulled out. Also, I would go so far as to say that this candidate does not exist.

    I do agree that there is multi-front approach to eliminate (really just vastly reduce as abortion will not be eliminated until the completion of God’s plan and the coming of the New Earth.) All the areas you detailed do have to be addressed to eliminate the demand for abortion. If that is done then abortion is eliminated. Until that time it is still, and always will be, a sin and is against the Word of God and should have consequences just as all sin does. My own sin front and center!

    My family in the form of Pat and Megan work weekly at the AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center in Omaha, NE (http://www.aaacpc.com/). Working on all the other areas. Megan at 14 years old works in the Boutique that they have with donated maternity cloths, baby supplies, baby clothes, etc. She has been working there 2 years. The girls that avail theirselves of the services of the Center earn points by doing activities at the center – classes, doctor appointments, etc. These, points not money, they spend in the store where Megan works. Pat works as a councelor/advocate for the girls that come in. There are services for fathers as well. Classes, etc. If I didn’t travel 75% of the time for my job I would probably be involved with this in some way. Right now I support it with my family resources.

    As for political candidates I look upon their stance on abortion as an indicator of their character. If a politician says he is a Christian but does not value the life of the unborn child then it is an indicator. Just as if the male politician calls himself a Christian but has been divorced 3 times and is on his 4th marriage would indicate something about his character.

    I am not (and said otherwise) a single issue voter. As I said before, if there is not other significant differentiator this may be enough of a reason to choose one candidate over another.

    This US Presidential election of all that I have participated in has me torn to the core. Utilizing Biblical Principles there is not a qualified candidate to choose from that could win. The question becomes what is it that God would have me do as a man striving to follow Jesus Christ. Vote for the best of the best of the two available that could possibly win or vote for the single most qualified man on the ballot in Nebraska? I cannot answer that question yet. I will by the time I step into the ballot box because I know that God wants me to participate. This applies to every other office on the ballot by the way.

    • I do not disagree that we should elect candidates that are anti-abortion. However, my point (from the beginning) is that the strategy of the current pro-life movement is not working. For example, the easiest, quickest way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. One of the easiest, quickest ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies is to make contraception available to every woman (not just those who can afford it or have health insurance). Yet, the current pro-life movement is adamantly opposed to this approach, even though it would reduce abortions. Our current President’s healthcare plan actually makes provisions for this. So, it might be this pro-choice candidate is actually doing more to reduce abortions than many pro-life candidates. This is what makes this issue so difficult to resolve.

      • David

        I don’t buy that the cost of contraception is a barrier for anyone. A short search on the internet provided this:

        $9 Monthly cost of some generic versions of the birth control pill ($108 a year)

        $90 Monthly cost of some brand-name versions of the pill ($1,080 a year)

        $55 Monthly cost of vaginal ring or birth-control patch ($660 a year)

        $60 Annual cost of using a diaphragm and spermicide, including mandatory doctor’s exam

        $150 Annual cost of using condoms, twice a week

        $220-$460 Annual cost of getting a birth control shot (Depo-Provera)

        $600-$1,000 One-time cost of getting an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted (effective for up to 12 years)

        $350-$1,000 One-time cost of a vasectomy (male sterilization)

        $1,500-$6,000 One-time cost of female sterilization

        $9 a month is a barrier? Like I said I don’t believe this is statistically significant portion of pregnancies that are aborted. I am willing to reveiw any scientific research you know of to the contrary. I cannot find any.

        But for the sake of this discussion I will agree with you. It would seem to be a good idea to provide contraception to those who cannot afford it. Only to those who cannot afford it.

        I would also have to say that I agree with the pro-life stance that any contraception that ‘aborts’ (prevents a fertilized eff from attaching) should not be provided with the use of tax dollars or with any money ‘taken’ fron individuals by the government or any government required insurance package.

  5. David

    Terry, one other thought to your last comment about me thinking that [man] could make it a crime as a solution to the problem of abortion. That thought is that I did not make murder a crime. God did.

  6. Pingback: My Attempt to Offend Everyone | Intermission

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