Abortion is a difficult subject to discuss with an open mind because arguments on both sides of the debate penetrate the deepest of moral convictions. Attempts to rationally discuss the issue with those of opposing opinions frequently devolve into unproductive or hurtful opining.
However, the uncomfortable nature of the abortion debate is precisely why all Americans should examine the issue for themselves before going to the polls.
In the span of less than three days, America was presented with a clear juxtaposition on the difference between two major candidates with respect to the unborn: On Friday January 24, President Trump was the first sitting president to speak in person at the March for Life Rally in Washington D.C.; On Sunday, January 26, Mayor Pete Buttigieg stood squarely on the opposite side of the issue.
Responding to a question from a pro-life Democrat over the weekend regarding incorporating the diverse opinions on the right to life issue into the party platform, Mayor Pete hid behind the veil of party line. Although the headlines have taken his statements out of context, Mayor Pete clearly does not support opening a dialogue to include the policy opinions of pro-life Democrats and left-leaning voters into the 2020 party platform, supporting the current language to the fullest.
In 2016, the Democratic Party adopted its most “progressive” proposal on abortion as a normalized method of birth control:
Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion…We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion….
Not only has the Democratic Party’s official language and position regarding abortion become more extreme over the past two decades, but also the number of Democrats who believe abortion should be “legal in all or most cases” has increased from 63% to 82%, compared to only a 3% shift of Republicans in the opposite direction.
Want more proof? Just look at the near unanimity of Democratic voters in the validity of the Roe v. Wade decision. Only 11% of Democrats are opposed to the framework established by Roe v. Wade. By stark contrast, there is a 33% difference between conservative and moderate Republicans in their stance on keeping Roe as law.
Whether or not you believe life begins at conception, at the first sign of independent movement, or at the first breath of oxygen, the fact that party politics has usurped the place of conscience in making moral decisions behind policy matters should be deeply disturbing.
The number of abortions in the United States has continued to decline since its nation-wide peak in 1988. While this fact of numbers is interpreted by the Guttmacher Institute—the leading independent think tank on reproductive statistics next to the CDC—as an anomaly of declining fertility rates in general, this trend should not minimize the crucial nature of the abortion debate.
More troubling than the 862,320 abortions performed in the United States in 2017 is the reason why they are performed.
According to a 2017 study, over 75% of abortions in the state of Florida were performed as “elective” operations without any specific reason. In the same study, 20% were performed due to “social or economic reasons.” Nation-wide survey results from the Guttmacher Institute in 2004 find similar results.
The question of abortion hinge on the questions of when life begins and what constitutes life. Those who are forced by circumstances to make the difficult decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy are thrust into the gravest moral decision an individual can make. The vast majority of individuals who choose to end a pregnancy do not do so lightly.
But policymakers and voters who address the issue from a policy perspective too frequently fail to grapple with the ethical dilemma of the political “right” to choose, instead letting party orthodoxy override their moral compasses.
Single-issue voting is not conducive to a healthy, functioning republic; however, the words of St. John Paul II provide an excellent roadmap for more issues than just the right to life.
“Respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace, and happiness.”
T H E U N V A R N I S H E D B L O G
Original publication by THE UNVARNISHED BLOG on January 30, 2020. https://theunvarnishedblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/abortion-conscience-v-party-politics/