Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Unintended Pregnancy Amendment

Every once and a while, Sam decides to post something on this blog (and this is that once and a while).

I was scanning McCain's and Obama's voting record and I found a bill that was supported by Obama and voted against by McCain that pertains to the abortion issue. It was the Unintended Pregnancy Amendment, which did not pass the Senate. If you click on the title, you will be redirected to a sexy webpage (one that tracks various congresspersons' voting records) that breifly describes this bill. This bill's intent was to spend $100 million to prevent unwanted pregnancy and lower abortion rates. It was sponsored by Sen Harry Reid, a pro-life Democrat, and Senator Clinton. The intent (though one can be suspicious about any so called good intentions from a politician) was to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at reducing abortions through "expanding access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care." It failed by a partisan vote, with pro-life Republicans voting AGAINST it.

This boggles my mind! I can make a number of observations at this point, but I must limit myself. If you believe that abortion is morally wrong (as I do), and not on the level of name calling but on the level of homocide, one ought to take serious measures to prevent it. Overturning Roe v. Wade is one way (though imcomplete, repealing it would simply allow states to outlaw abortion), and taking active steps to reduce abortions in spite of RvW is another. These are not mutually exclusive!

Now, I won't call the majority of Senate Republicans hypocrites (since that is very unfair and childish). It is important to note some principles that they hold that (in their minds) justified their vote. (1) Small government with minimal social-programs spending. This is economic conservatism. It is not the government's job to help people; it is the government's job to create an environment where you can help yourself (through the private sector). I won't analyze this further and must settle with this simplistic characterization. (2) Sex is only permissible within the context of marriage, and the government ought not take steps that condone extra-marital sex. Funding contraception (especially amongst teenagers) would do that. Since the bill violates both those principles, they voted against it.

Now, while seeing those reasons, I have to say that EVEN if you hold (1) and (2), the moral weight of abortion outweighs those (especially if you are pro-life and campaign on that moral weight). Hence, if you put (1) and (2) on one side of the value-scale and 'preventing abortions' on the other, it will tip heavily to the latter.

Unfortunately, our political climate (even moreso within evangelicalism, as I lament) doesn not allow us to really work for common ground. We are not willing to compromise other principles to end a tragedy. Being "pro-life" simply means being against RvW, and fails to be about any real solutions, short term or long term, that could help bring more life to people. Hence, look at both John McCain and Barack Obama to see who will better lead us to reduce and eliminate abortions. Don't settle for a simple answer to that question, because there is no simple answer.


Cheryl said...

I think a lot of the problem with the conservative argument is that it defies reality. It's all well and good to take a moral stand on an issue but if your moral stand doesn't take into account human nature then maybe you should rethink your premises.

The conservative view is that if abstinence is the only sex education a teenager receives then magically abortions will no longer be necessary. The fact that teenagers continue to have sex never seems to enter the equation. Sarah Palin obviously taught her daughter abstinence only and I'm fairly sure that the education was inadequate.

I know the words "moral relativism" don't sit well with many conservatives but they reflect the complications of the average human life. There is more than one moral question to be answered when it comes to abortion though you wouldn't know it when we have this biannual national debate.

If the Republican Party could discover even an ounce of the maturity that Sam has displayed on this issue, I would be thrilled.

G said...

While I thank you for the maturity comment -I don't get that often :)- I must critique a part of your analysis. I am an equal opportunity critic.

It is not moral relativism I think you are looking for, but value pluralism. What the difference is is this: Moral relativism states that moral truths are relative to x (x can be anything on a continuum from culture to the individual). I wholeheartedly reject moral relativism; whatever is true morally is true for ladie dadie everybody.

However, one CAN endorse a moral pluralism. Moral pluralism is the thesis that there are a number of distinct ultimate moral rules or values; morality doesn't reduce to one singe rule or value (i.e. one cannot derive the whole of morality from, say, the golden rule or what have you). There are a number of moral values and sometimes they appear to conflict and one has to arbitrate between them. But, whatever the correct arbitration, it holds for ladie dadie everybody.

One other clarification: even if a moral truth is true for ladie dadie everybody, that does not mean that morality is not context sensitive. The same values can have widely different applications or rankings in different situations. But it will still be universally true that "if situation C obtains, the moral thing to do would be x."

Hope these clarifications help. Why use words that don't sit well when you don't need to?

Anonymous said...

Sam, I agree that we have to think outside the normal terms of party loyalty. Here's what I read of the bill you mention (on the page you referred to):

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget that allocates $100 million for the prevention of unintended pregnancies.


- Increases funding and access to family planning services

- Funds legislation that requires equitable prescription coverage for contraceptives under health plans

- Funds legislation that would create and expand teen pregnancy prevention programs and education programs concerning emergency contraceptives

I think that McCain and others probably voted against that $100m bill because it wouldv'e funded more for "family planning services" through Planned Parenthood... Have you seen their "teenwire" website? http://www.teenwire.com/ This is what is taught in the schools we send out children to. A more agressive promostion for teenage sexuality I can't imagine. There are PLENTY of sleazy commercials, videos, and materials that come from this organization which I could cite for you. If you really investigate where Planned Parenthood $ goes, it's not a pretty picture. It's an organization which condones and covers statuatory rape, promotes promiscuity and homosexuality, and of course, there are the abortions that kill 3x the number of black infants than whites.

And I'm with you that there has to be a better way for public schools to teach sex education and reduce abortions. But it's not going to happen through this organization which we currently fund with millions in tax $.

Also I think the emergency contraception it would've funded was indeed also abortion.

But as far as candidates go, I truly believe that Obama should be ashamed, especially as a black man, to be backed by an organization such as Planned Parenthood.

OK, end of soapbox!!
Stacie Parra :)