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# Wednesday, October 22, 2008
My most recent post on how I choose whom to vote for dived into a bit of depth on the two key principles that factor into my decisions in this important part of our lives as citizens in a democratic republic.  One of my colleagues said to me something like "it's just plain silly to vote on one issue."  Put another way, "life isn't the only issue, dude."  This is actually a common sentiment, especially by those who, for whatever reason, want to justify voting for candidates who support (usually) abortion as part of their platform.

And yes, it's true.  There are more issues to think about than life issues and abortion in particular.  No doubt about that.

Issues of Consequence

But to be a responsible voter, we have to think like adults--we have to weigh issues not only in number but also in importance, in consequence.  For instance, is a candidate's position on technology of more or less consequence than his position on education?  That's certainly debatable--there are many nuances and ways of tackling both of those, some of which would be a win-win.

On the other hand, when you compare the consequences of a candidate's position on abortion to even something as near and dear to our hearts as the state of the economy (our own personal savings), which seems to be capturing folks' imaginations these days thanks to current events, there is just no comparison.  I don't care if my life savings is wiped out.  My pecuniary situation must take second chair to protecting the lives of the millions who have been and will continue to be killed with the consent of the law. 

Today, there are very few issues that can claim the priority and consequence of abortion.  As explored in my last post, protection of life must come first.  It trumps economy; it trumps education; it trumps health care; it trumps foreign policy, and it even trumps social services.  If you don't have life, none of this matters.  It is plain, simple, straightforward logic.

If you vote for a candidate who supports abortion, you are consenting to and indirectly participating in the death of each and every baby who has its brains sucked out, who is mangled, chemically burned, poisoned, or killed in any one of the many diabolically creative ways they've figured out how to do take human life in a mother's womb.  I apologize if it offends sensibilities, but you need to make an informed decision and realize there is real, moral culpability involved in voting for candidates who support abortion.  Is your 401(k) worth more than these babies' lives? 

We can disagree on the propriety of the Iraq war (I have always opposed it but believe we are responsible to try to fix the mess we've made); we can disagree on the most effective means for social and economic stability; we can disagree on the  death penalty, and we can argue about the right way to fix the environment.  There are plenty of issues where good, honest folks can have good honest disagreements.  We have to think about all these, but we also have to weigh them proportionately. 

Religion or Science?

[If I could do side bars on the blog, this would go there.  So just imagine it being there.]  A lot of folks, including Senator Biden, seem to think that when life begins is a matter of faith.  It's not.  Life is not just a religious issue; it's about as biological and primordially human as it gets.  Human life begins at conception; this is scientific, not religious--if you don't interfere with a newly-conceived human being, he or she will develop into an adult human being.  It doesn't matter if they're self aware or not; they're still alive and have everything, genetically speaking, they'll have as adults.  You can't distinguish based on awareness--that's a slippery slope.  What about the severely mentally retarded or the senile?  What about newborns?  What level of self-awareness do you require?  What's the IQ score you have to have?  Who decides?

Our Current Choices

Obama has said that the first thing he'll do if elected is sign into law the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would have the effect of overturning all existing laws that limit abortion and making it harder for future limits to be created.  He has a strong, indisputable record supporting abortion, which is why NARAL and other pro-choice organizations are so keen on him.  When asked, he claims issues of life are "above his pay grade," but he has no reluctance to take actions based on this purported ignorance.

As George Weigel wrote recently in Newsweek, "Is John McCain a perfect pro-life candidate? Of course not. But Barack Obama is a perfect pro-life nightmare."  I really wish there were a party that embodied my perspectives completely, but that'll never happen.  I think that's true for pretty much everybody, so we just have to decide what's more important and vote along those lines.  For my part, I just can't see how anything is more important than protecting human life, and I can't deaden my conscience enough to vote for someone who has clearly deadened his own.  Life isn't the only issue, but it is the most important one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:42:12 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [7]  | 
Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:10:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Ambrose, I couldn't agree more. It's my hope that some day people will look at elective abortion as being as despicable as forcible slavery. It's a complete and utter violation of the rights of those who are UTTERLY defenseless to protect themselves. Yet 40M people are terminated each year as they would cause an inconvenience. (I'm obviously not talking about abortion in severe medical cases, or in cases of incest/rape.)

So thanks for speaking up as I share your sentiments exactly. (It also irritates me that we confuse this issue with choice. Because I'm a huge proponent of freedom and definitely against gov't intervention in people's lives as much as possible. So i can see why people say that folks like me should have NO say over what they can and can't do with their bodies. In fact I totally agree with them - it's not my right to tell them what to do or not. Just as it's not their right to tell me what to do - or not. But when our choices impact the EXISTANCE of another human being, the question ceases being about self and self-determination. We'd all agree that no how inconvenienced I may get with my 3 year old, i have no right to inflict pain or abuse on her as another human being - and i certainly don't have the right to terminate her life. So I don't see why people think it can be any different just because we're crushing these children's skulls prior to birth or cutting them apart with sharp instruments before they can take their first breath.

The practice is so despicable it has to take primacy over other considerations.
Thursday, October 23, 2008 7:02:49 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
We should vote for the one who could bring peace in the world by not interfering other countries.
We are making enemies days by days.
Which continent not have our enemy ?
We don't have to follow the foreign policy of saving one regime for our interest [although it is on wrongside] and make enemies of our country for there protection
Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:03:32 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)

You're right, of course. The right to liberty (choice) is not absolute. In practice, as you point out, we all agree to this--I do not have the right to choose to kill my neighbor because he is a nuisance.

Heck, take it down to something simple like speeding or driving while intoxicated. It is illegal to speed or drink and drive, which only maybe will harm others (maybe some of the time). You don't see a "pro choice" drinking and driving movement, right? People getting indignant that they can't get drunk and go drive all they want? So how does it make sense to say that it's okay for people to choose to kill unborn babies when that choice will *always* result in the direct and willed death of another human?

The choice rhetoric just doesn't hold water. Life trumps liberty when there is a conflict, and there is an inescapable conflict when it comes to abortion.


@Ka, foreign policy is trumped by these life issues. Even so, there's no clarity that Obama would be better than McCain on foreign policy. I would actually tend to think McCain would be better on that count...
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:19:25 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
I would go so far as to say if you vote for any thing but a Pro-Life candidate you are explicitly participating in the slaughter of the pre-born. A Tadpole is a different name for a frog. An Eagle's Egg is understood to be the same as an Eagle. The PETA supporters of the world need to wake up to the abuse of humans. You can't say the animals have no voice and ignore the mute voices of those in the womb.
Friday, October 31, 2008 1:41:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

I completely agree with you. Thank you for your post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008 12:39:26 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)

I agree with you for the most part. I consider myself to be pro-life and anti-abortion. I also think it is a mischaracterization to frame the issue in terms of "choice." We certainly wouldn't advocate being "pro-choice" on issues like slavery, child abuse, and murder.

However, it does seem that you've built your entire argument on life as the most important value of all. While I agree that life as a value trumps the economy and many other things that are of interest to voters today, I'm not entirely sure that, for me, it is the foundational value everything else must flow from.

Here's what I mean: you mentioned in the comments that "Life trumps liberty when there is a conflict." For me, liberty and freedom (not to be confused with the pro-choice position, which I oppose) are at least as foundational as the value of life.

Imagine if one were to protect the life of an unborn child, and then lock that child in a small, dark room for the entirety of his or her life, depriving the child from freedom. In a larger sense, I can also imagine a society overly concerned with "safety and security" progressively stripping citizens of basic rights and liberties to the point where life itself becomes meaningless and barely resembles what we would call "life."

This argument has inherent dangers, I realize. What does it imply for those who are comatose, mentally retarded, or in states that don't resemble what we would call life?

But this just points to how genuinely difficult it is to define the precise nature of life.

While arguments can certainly be made on the basis of rational argument and universal values, I think you and I both look to our faith for guidance in understanding the way the world works (would that make us Scholastics, I wonder? Can you tell who I'm reading now?)

In this sense, I think its also important to remember that our lives consist of more than our temporary stay on this earth. When persecuted and robbed of freedom to worship God, many early martyrs welcomed death and some actively courted it. The Old Testament Prophets warned of times when it would have been better for children never to have been born.

I am *not* using this argument to advance a case for wanton taking of innocent lives. Rather, I'm making a case that it might be *equally* important to protect freedom and liberty. Just as liberty deprived of life is meaningless, I think that life deprived of liberty can quickly become meaningless.

Let's work to preserve both, rather than pitting them against one another.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:09:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Hi Neal,

Thanks for commenting; I appreciate your sharing your considerations.

In saying that when life and liberty conflict, life trumps liberty, I am not pitting them against each other. I am saying when they are pitted against each other, life takes precedence. After all, if you haven't got life, you haven't got anything, or at least not the ability to exercise liberty.

It is surely dangerous to suggest that we can justify killing based on a perceived or, worse, anticipated lack of quality of life. It is the slipperiest of all slippery slopes and one with the most dire of consequences--providing ammunition for someone or even some group or society to kill those that don't live up to their standards. This is the stuff that salves the consciences of those committing genocide.

I would suggest the OT prophets you quote are using hyperbole to make a point, but even if they weren't, I would not base decisions that could easily to lead to terrible consequences on that. God doesn't change; truth doesn't change, but our understanding of it develops. Our understanding of the importance and sanctity of life has developed over time, and rightly so; we should not seek to regress.

Of course protecting liberty is important. God gave us free will despite our capacity, or even proclivity, to abuse it, so that we could choose to truly love. We would be going directly against his manifest will were we to not protect that liberty in as much as we can within the scope of the common good. At the same time, God has made his will equally manifest in natural law and revealed law that liberty can and should be restricted for certain reasons, the right ordering of society (love thy neighbor) being one of them.

Naturally, I agree that this life is not all there is. And I know that some zealous people have sought martyrdom, but that is not an argument against the value of life. On the contrary, it is a testament to the power of faith and love of God that some are willing, even eager, to give their lives for it. Choosing martyrdom is the correct ordering of values. Loving God and loving others (in exemplifying the right ordering of values) should indeed trump love of self.

This is not placing liberty above life but rather love above one's own life. It is not killing another person for one's own liberty as is the case with abortion; abortion is love of self above both the life and liberty of another. Self-sacrifice for love of God and others is a virtue, but there is no way we can or should twist that around to suggest that our own liberty should trump the value of others lives.

In any case, it would be a shame to facilitate the very real and continued destruction of all those innocent human lives through abortion on demand by predicting extremist doom and gloom scenarios of Big Brother taking away all our freedoms to purportedly protect life. You may not be making that argument, but what you suggest smoothes the way for others to.

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