The Stupak Amendment and a Terrible Argument

Those of us who are pro-life have been following with interest the details of Obama’s health care reform in regards to the unborn.  The possibility of government funded abortions has historically been one my concerns with the Obama administration, especially since the democratic platform spelled out in no uncertain terms their desire to see such a reality throughout presidential campaign of 2008.  Well, today is an interesting day.  A version of health care reform has been passed in the House, but not without a significant amendment that will prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion or federal funds to pay for insurance that covers abortion. 

As you can imagine, the amendment sparked emotion from both sides of the debate.  Some, such as Rep. Nita Lowey (D.-N.Y.) simply called the amendment “reprehensible.”  Others, such as Tony Perkins, president of the Pro-Life Family Research Council, are calling it “one of the most significant pro-life votes since Roe v Wade.”  But it is the argument from Donna Schaper of The Huffington Post that is difficult to understand.  Schaper writes that her heart has been “broken” by the amendment and then addresses a few reasons why.  The basic premise for which she now suffers from a broken heart is that the nation is in danger of being “weak” and not strong because of the amendment.  She says, “compassion is a practical virtue as well as being a moral virtue. I
want abortion to be paid for. Paying for abortions would build our
nation because anything that increases the freedom and capacity of
women builds nations.
”  Her argument fails on several grounds.

First, this is the first time I have heard an argument for abortion being made on the grounds of strengthening our country.  Most arguments are centered around the rights of women, their bodies, and the government’s need to not interfere.  But the rhetoric of Schaper conveys the notion that abortion is a good thing!  That it should be lawful and utilized as a means to make America strong.  I personally know many pro-choice advocates.  I don’t know anyone who thinks that abortion is a good thing, a way to build up and strengthen our country.  Abortion does not empower and build up, it destroys and leaves lasting, unforgettable memories.  Never has a lady left an abortion clinic, regardless of the circumstances that called for an abortion, with her head held high in proud recognition of building her country.  Of course not.  We can debate the merit of whether or not a woman has the right to abort her child, but lets not dare take it to the level of thinking this kind of choice somehow empowers and strengthens.

Second, Schaper talks about compassion.  Of course, the classic error that all pro-choice advocates make when the discussion of compassion and human rights comes up is compassion for the little boy or girl in the womb.  There is something painfully ironic about promoting health care reform, a desire to see all be protected and insured, that includes a government provision to terminate life.  And the age-old debate of “is it really a person” is all but over now.  Pro-choice advocates are more and more unwilling to make that argument; besides, it’s not about what is in the womb.  It is all about the woman.  And apparently the good of the country.

Those of us who follow Christ and desire to be obedient to Him have to make some tough decisions.  Do we promote and advocate Obama’s health care reform because we believe that is what Jesus would do?  If so, then we better be willing to follow that argument through to its logical conclusions and not jump out of the boat when it comes to difficult issues and pledge our allegiance to the “separation of church and state.”  Either we bring our faith into the discussion or we don’t.  We can’t pick and choose.

I love the idea of health insurance for all Americans.  I’m not smart enough in politics to know if it is the best thing in the long run, if we can afford it, etc.  I do know that as a Christian, the most important aspects need to remain the most important aspects.  God is the Father of all life.  It is precious to Him.  It should be precious to us.       

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3 Replies to “The Stupak Amendment and a Terrible Argument”

  1. Your next to last paragraph is very good. Having worked among Christians in the faith community for many, many years I am troubled by how we tend to pick and choose which political issues we bring our Christianity into and which we don’t. It all comes down to our bias. Anyway, thanks for these good words.

  2. And the age-old debate of “is it really a person” is all but over now. Pro-choice advocates are more and more unwilling to make that argument; besides, it’s not about what is in the womb. It is all about the woman. And apparently the good of the country.

    The first part of this statement surprises me, because I’m not sure I’ve seen any significant change by the pro-choice movement (either by response or non-response) that would make me think they’re softening their ideas on whether a fetus is really a person or not. I’m not saying I’ve studied the debate or kept up with the rhetoric on either side but as a layman in the argument, I can’t say I’ve detected a increased “unwillingness” to admit that they are wrong about when life begins.

    In addition, I’m unaware (and again, not having followed the debate closely I may not be up on this) of any new technological or biological advances that put any more empirical proof to the belief that life begins at conception (or shortly thereafter) – so while pro-life advocates may believe it in their hearts and by faith, there still isn’t, to my knowledge, sufficient scientific evidence to prove it.

    That said, I totally agree with your final statement – that it’s all about the woman, and guaranteeing her rights are defended.

    I believe pro-choice advocates, for years, have used this statement to hang the hat of their belief on, that since the fetus is not a life until birth whatever happens to it is irrelevant and it’s what happens to the mother that matters. I believe with what we’re seeing with Donna Shaper (and I’ve never heard of her, nor do I read the Huffington Post, so I have no knowledge of her credibility nor her influence) is that the arguments for elevating women’s rights are breaking down – which leaves the argument without a strong straw man (or woman) so other arguments must be found to keep the movement viable. In this case, long years of saying “abortion is a terrible, but necessary thing” don’t cut it anymore so they seem to be backtracking to amend that statement to say “abortion is kind of a bad thing, but it’s necessary so it’s patriotic and enables our freedom.”

    Which is ironic, since that’s the argument Republicans have been using for years to build support for the military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan – from “War is hell” to “War is kind of a bad thing, but it’s necessary so it’s patriotic and enables our freedom.”

    What this proves, for the nth time, that neither side really believes in anything except they are against the other side.

    1. Scott – Thanks for reading and for commenting. I agree with your remarks.

      Barry – Good to hear from you, thanks for the good thoughts. Two quick responses: 1) Science has nothing to do with the decline of the “it is a person” argument. You are right, nothing new has surfaced. Pro-choice advocates are simply deciding that such a course of argumentation is not their best offensive; that is not to say it isn’t still employed. I think they are wise to avoid it. It is the same kind of reason why those of us who oppose the normative idea of homosexuality should not base our arguments solely on the lack of a “gay gene.” The point is, even if science proves it is a life, pro-choice isn’t going anywhere (as is seen by the support of some for partial-birth abortion). And even if there is a “gay gene”, God’s Word still disapproves of the lifestyle.

      2) I do not mean to suggest by this article that there can never be anything good come from something difficult. Having said that, I am of the opinion that such comparisons cannot be drawn when discussing this issue – all people intuitively know, especially those who have had the procedure, that abortion is limited in its efficacy to the destruction of a life, and to draw the conclusion that it empowers and strengthens our country is irresponsible at best.

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