Pro-Lifers… Here are some facts and comments on the abortion stances of the GOP candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election. I know that this is not the only issue (nor is it the only moral issue…) which affects how we vote, but if you are pro-life, it should be a big one. Sadly, debates and media coverage do not usually give us a clear, accurate picture of candidates’ beliefs, records, and promises toward the abortion issue. And what is largely overlooked is the candidate’s overall governmental/political philosophy and how that will affect moral issues in the United States. Just for clarity’s sake, I’ve decided to touch a bit on the candidates’ records, statements, religious beliefs, and governmental philosophies that would affect the abortion issue, if elected.
Please note that I am not writing on behalf of any church or religious organization. These thoughts are uniquely my own.
Newt, although haunted by significant moral failure in his past, is relatively solid on the abortion issue itself. However, he has not yet been able to voice his view of the government’s role in ending the practice altogether. The Speaker has been on record promoting adoption over abortion, asking that individuals choose adoption over abortion, and even stating that abortion should be illegal. He is vehemently against Planned Parenthood, mostly from a tax-payer’s standpoint (“I think that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, and I think it’s a very significant issue to say to people, ‘Should your tax money go to pay the leading abortion provider in America?'” – May 23, 2011). His language to date, however, has been more strongly toward urging that individuals not choose abortion than that the Supreme Court or Congress ban the practice. Gingrich has recently come out strongly against the governmental forcing of religious institutions or private organizations to accept a pro-choice morality (such as nurses being required to assist in abortions or the public peaceful protesting of abortion).
Newt is a constitutionalist. He would like to see Supreme (and other Federal) Court Justices/Judges appointed who will abide to a strict interpretation of the constitution. This leads the voter to assume that Newt’s approach toward ending the practice of abortion would be handled through the Supreme Court (where the practice originally became officially legal in a national sense), and not a constitutional amendment. In principle, this can be a positive route toward ending abortion, but on the negative side, it would take time, and would require more pro-life presidents making appointments over the next several Presidential elections. It would be next to impossible to end abortion with Gingrich’s ideals in a one- or two-term presidency.
Gingrich’s strongest stand against abortion is backed by his understanding that most Americans are pro-life. From a strictly political standpoint this seems great, but from a spiritual/moral standpoint, it fails under scrupulosity. If the majority determines morality, then when the majority changes its opinion, morality also changes. This would be like saying that slavery was morally right when most of the nation was pro-slavery, and then it suddenly became wrong when the majority became abolitionists. Standing against immorality is easy when the majority is on your side. But absolute morality is antithetical to societal morality.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is staunchly pro-life. Being absolutely honest here, his Mormon faith is well expressed in this moral issue (although his Mormon faith would not be supportive of other Christian ideals in the political realm). Governor Huntsman is strong in his stance against abortion and for life. He is the father of two adopted children (although neither of these adoptions were to save an unborn child from death – but still… the principle is there, and he is to be commended for it). Huntsman has signed much anti-abortion legislation, and has a record of being unwaveringly pro-life in his political career. However, Huntsman has turned down the opportunity to sign pledges to make pro-life appointments if elected President (such as the Susan B. Anthony List). There is no way to know why (for certain) the former governor would refuse to sign pro-life pledges for his future, but at a minimum, it produces in the pro-life voter a certain level of uneasiness and non-assurance of his abortion plans/appointments if elected.
Huntsman has promised to sign future legislation to end abortion, if it is brought before his desk. However, as Governor of Utah, he pledged to sign such legislation “if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” (June 3, 2011). This leads a voter to wonder which pathway toward ending abortion the candidate sees as the correct one… The path of the Supreme Court, such as is Gingrich’s inferred stance, or the path of a congressional amendment. Careful attention to his language and history in this area produces a seemingly uncertain process for ending abortion. The will looks to be there. But the course of action seems unsure.
Dr. Paul has a proven track-record of pro-life action in the House. He has signed and voted for numerous legislation which would protect the life of the unborn child. Ron Paul has even gone on record saying, in reference to abortion, that “the right to life is the foundation of any moral society,” -March 29, 2005. Paul has given the American people much confidence in his stance for life across decades of political service.
However, there is a significant problem with regard to this issue (and every other moral issue) when considering Ron Paul’s governmental philosophy. He is as Libertarian as they come. Libertarians are known for strong conservatism, and Ron Paul is no exception. But the loose federal tendencies of the political party itself is a major concern for national morality. Ron Paul does not believe that the federal government has any jurisdiction in moral issues. The federal government, according to his personal views and the views of his political party, exists only for basic national security, fiscal responsibilities, and broad constitutional cohesiveness. Ron Paul believes that the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973 has no jurisdiction over state courts. That sounds great, except the rest of the government disagrees. Perhaps this belief would be more beneficial if Paul was seeking appointment to the Supreme Court. But as President, he would not have the power to change the spectrum of federal judiciary application.
Paul believes that states should decide, in their own constitutions and courts, the policies and legality of moral issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage/union. Since he believes the federal governmental establishment does not have jurisdiction over issues such as these, Ron Paul is against federal constitutional amendments banning abortion and homosexual marriage. How would Paul respond to this accusation?… He believes that Congress has the constitutional power to strip federal courts of their jurisdiction over certain issues (abortion being one of them). The problem with this? – He’s been preaching that same sermon for decades, and has little-to-no converts to show for it. If Paul’s process for ending abortion were sound, you should be reading blogs on the moral stances of your Representatives right now instead of this blog. (Which by the way, is still a good idea).
Dr. Paul’s governmental conviction (that federal government cannot decide the legality of moral issues such as abortion) would stop him, if elected President, from signing federal legislation to end abortion. On a good note, however, Rep. Paul has signed legislation (the Pence Amendment, 2011) to end funding for Planned Parenthood (but I can’t be sure if this is because of his opposition to abortion, or of his opposition to the funding of federal agencies). I’ll leave you with one quote from Rep. Ron Paul: “abortion simply is not a constitutional issue.” – July 24, 2002.
Also a self-proclaimed pro-life advocate, Perry has a great record of promoting anti-abortion and pro-adoption legislation and programs in the state of Texas. From “Choose Life” license plates to parental consent and sonogram bills, Perry has not just verbally, but also actively promoted Life in the state he has governed for the past 12 years. He has signed state legislation into law which defunded government agencies supportive and promotive of abortion.
However, Perry has two significant flaws on the issue. Firstly, he has been openly supportive of abortion in the instances of rape, incest, or danger to the mother (June 5, 2002) (Since the publication of this blog post, a dear friend of mine sent me this link in which Perry clarifies his stance as now only being a proponent of abortion in the instance of danger to the mother: LINK HERE). While this is a hot-button issue, the notion runs diametrically opposed to the fundamental pro-life belief that an unborn child has a right to life. The argument itself deserves much more attention than this blog will afford right now, but one can infer from Perry’s stance here, that he either believes a child has a right to life only when it is not significantly inconveniencing someone else (slippery slope, I know), or that the unborn child is not really a “child” when it is conceived under certain circumstances or presenting certain difficulties. Southern Baptists themselves were slow to abandon this belief, and Perry should be afforded the opportunity to change his mind as well… but as of now, this is where he stands.
The second significant problem with Perry’s stance on abortion is that he believes the Tenth Amendment applies to this issue. Namely, that where the constitution has not afforded a power to the national government or banned a power from state governments, that power is fair game only in the realm of state government. The problem here is that the federal courts have forced states to be pro-choice. So one of three things must happen: (1) the federal courts must overturn Roe vs. Wade, (2) the federal Legislative branch must amend the constitution to cover the issue, or (3) it must be congressionally settled that the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision was a step outside the Court’s jurisdiction. With all three of the possible options, if something is to be done about the abortion problem in America it must be done on the federal level… involving either congress or the court. Rick Perry’s Tenth Amendment argument fails similarly to Ron Paul’s Libertarianism.
Romney is rightfully labeled as being a flip-flop on the abortion issue. Decidedly in the past, he was pro-choice, and now, he is pro-life. While flip-floppers should always raise a suspicious eyebrow, Christians should hopefully realize that we ourselves have made the ultimate flip-flop from self-degradation to gracious eternal life in Christ. We’re not to blindly look over such evident vacillation in something so serious as the issue of abortion, but individuals who show actively their new convictions should, at some point, be forgiven of the past. Is Romney there yet? That’s for you to decide.
Recently, on paper, Mitt Romney has shown some active improvement in this area. Like Ron Paul, he also supported the 2011 Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. In Republican Presidential debates over the past six months or so, he has defended his pro-life stance well. Other than his historically pro-choice/pro-abortion record (of which he now has repented), Romney’s biggest drawback on the abortion issue is that his position is really no different than Rick Perry’s – well, with the undeniable exception that Romney is much more capable of effectively communicating this stance, while Perry… well… he’s just “not a good debater.” 🙂
Like Perry, Romney also supports abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother. Again, as previously delineated under Rick Perry’s section on this blog, such a “pro-life” stance, when unmasked, is really not a pro-life stance at all. In fact, support for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother is by definition a “pro-choice” stance (Viz., “pro-choice when the conditions are right”).
Also like Perry, Romney invokes the Tenth US Constitutional Amendment for the abortion issue as well. Unlike Perry, however, Romney has put forth his solution to the travesty of abortion in America very clearly. He believes it to be a two-step process: (1) Roe vs. Wade needs to be overturned by the Supreme Court, and (2) afterward, each state should decide for itself its own laws concerning abortion practices.
I’ve waited until now for this… Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney, by affording to the states the power to decide which unborn children are worthy of life and which are not, are either overlooking or ignoring one significant problem: If I live in anti-abortion Texas and I want an abortion, all I have to do is drive a few miles east to pro-abortion Louisiana and allow a LA-government funded doctor to murder my unborn child (please note that this is a hypothetical situation – I don’t know that Texas would decide to be pro-life, or that Louisiana would decide to be pro-death). I fail to see how this solves anything. Honestly, I see this stance as what, in elementary school, we used to call a “cop-out.” Displacing responsibility for argument’s sake. Our nation (federally) has historically acknowledged (via the Declaration of Independence, which I don’t believe any of these three men are willing to throw under the bus) that every individual has “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Is the unborn child not an individual? Or does this unalienable right only apply to individuals who have emerged from placentae via the birth canal or surgical removal? If protection and enforcement of the unalienable right to life is federal responsibility (to which all three of these men would agree), then the unborn child deserves the same federal protection. Passing this protection off to the states is not a solution – it is a shameful relinquishment of federal responsibility.
Although Santorum is sometimes accused of supporting abortion in the case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother, he has also seemingly flipped more recently. In September of 2006, he is recorded as having verbally supported abortion in the case of rape, but in a presidential debate, August 2011, Santorum vehemently argued against it: “One violence is enough,” was his quotable line. Santorum, when attacking Romney on his newly developed pro-life stance stimulated crowds by telling Romney that he (Santorum) has not only “taken the pledge,” but that he has also “taken the bullets.” Referring to Romney’s yet-to-be-proven, newly-developed support for life versus his own lengthy record of casting the right votes, supporting the right bills, and taking the inevitable heat from opposition. Former US Senator Santorum has a solid legislative record of standing for the life of the unborn child. It is a record of which every pro-lifer should be proud. He has said that issues such as abortion and end-of-life controversies will be “top priority” for him because he holds his moral values very strongly. In a heated debate against Sen. Hillary Clinton, 2003, Santorum cited the Americans With Disabilities Act as legally binding against partial-birth abortions performed on disfigured babies.
Santorum is, as far as I am aware (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), the only candidate left in the Republican Primary who has repeatedly and unabashedly claimed that human life begins at the moment of conception. This most basic moral stance is indispensable to the candidate who holds all human life equal, both inside and outside of the womb. There is no question, with Santorum, when a human “fetus” become a “person.”
Santorum’s most significant contribution to the governmental side of the issue is that he believes the US Supreme Court to have created, by a series of various rulings, an unconstitutional “right to privacy.” This is almost uniquely a moral issue. Its range covers everything from sodomy to contraceptives and abortions. Most basically, the Tenth Amendment is at stake again… in Santorum’s original context concerning states banning contraception (including “Plan B,” the “Morning-After Pill”), since the US Constitution says nothing of contraception, Romney and others believe states have the right to decide on the issue. But because the Supreme Court has ruled that inside the US Constitution is “embeded” a “right to privacy,” states cannot have the power to legislate against actions which happen in private (such as sodomy, contraception, or even polygamy, to some adherents). Instead, under the Supreme Court’s concocted “right to privacy,” privacy in every instance, becomes a federally protectable right. Santorum believes this to be an unintended, unwarranted, heinous abuse of power by the Supreme Court. For us in the Christian community, what this means is that Santorum believes the Constitution gives the federal government (Legislative Branch, specifically) the ability to make laws concerning moral issues which are detrimental to society and to the protection of life in every stage. This provides the backbone for Santorum’s verbalized agreement to support constitutional amendments with moral overtones (such as an amendment to protect marriage as being between one man and one woman). He believes the federal government not only is capable of ruling on these issues, but is responsible for ruling on these issues.
So who is the right choice for the GOP candidate this year? You decide. And understand that there is a plethora of other issues to diligently consider. In any case, I pray that the Lord Jesus is glorified and that we begin taking steps toward being a nation that promotes life and morality in every respect.
Grace and Peace,