9/13/2008

Election 01: Pro-Life for Obama

If you know me well, you know that my world changed dramatically when I became a father. I was completely blindsided by how strongly I could *feel*. I've never recovered and I can't imagine life without them.

We all understand that we live in a broken world, and that women often find themselves in a place where raising a child would be very difficult. Perhaps impossible. It was the bravery of Isaac and Will's birthmother that resulted in the greatest gift I've ever received. I've always been pro-life (now more than ever).

*

With that said, I have not found the "Pro-Life" political movement to be adequate in its advocacy on behalf of LIFE.

I do not consider it to be effective in influencing people to think and act in ways that truly and expansively value all human life.

I do not feel that it adequately addresses some of the complex dimensions or scenarios that comprise the abortion issue.

I consider its legislative efforts to be ineffective in addressing the root of the issue, and in some ways counter productive.

Additionally, I believe that people of faith must always be careful when they become passionate about any cause. For me this becomes even more true when a cause focuses my attention on evil that is *outside* of myself.

This kind of cause, even when it is rightfully motivated, can easily become a diversion from honest introspective inquiry. I believe that in many ways the issue of abortion--particularly as it is framed by the pro-life movement and political conservatives--has become one of those diversions.

I don't believe anyone has ever truly wanted to abort a child.

When I think about the abortion issue, the most important questions for me center on the systemic forces that create those desperate situations. I want to consider the ways that my personal and political decisions contribute to those forces. I'm primarily speaking of poverty, lack of opportunities for minorities and inequalities in education.

For me, this is a more productive way of addressing evil in general, and a way that seems to align more closely with the teachings of Jesus. I want to always start by looking inward.

An externally focused legislative approach to the problem of abortion is (in my mind) an unrealistic solution in today's political climate. In addition to being unrealistic, I believe that the Pro-Life legislative agenda offers a largely ineffective solution because it only addresses the surface layer of a deep and complex issue.

I'm not saying that the issue is of little importance. I find abortion to be horrific and deeply saddening. I am saying that the for people who are called to advocate on behalf of LIFE, there are *many* other important considerations in this year's election.

While many billions of dollars have been spent rallying Christian Americans around [the 'pro-life'] cause, there is very little effort to understand the impact of the American lifestyle on the poor of the world.

There has been very little inquiry toward unfair trade policies, the enormous loss of civilian life as "collateral damage" in our military operations, or the daily opulence we enjoy as millions of children in the developing world starve.

We've not closely examined our own domestic systems of discrimination and inequality that repeatedly cultivate the kind of desperation that brings someone to an abortion clinic.

I find the stance taken by Barack Obama on many of these issues to be far more consistent with my Christian (pro-life) values.

I find the rhetoric and policies of George Bush and John McCain to be very centered in preserving and protecting the "American Way of Life", instead of preserving and protecting LIFE wherever we find it. I find them to be more focused on creating opportunity for the wealthy, than for the poor. (I'll save my thoughts on sustainable free-market economics for a different post).

I have a lot more I'd like to say about that, but for now I'll focus on the practical ramifications of this election for abortions in the United States (because that does matter to me very much).

I feel strongly that the policies of the Democratic party do far more to address issues of poverty, inequality, and the education of at-risk youth. I believe that this type of focus has proven to have an immediate, direct, tangible, and statistically demonstrable impact on the number of abortions performed in America.

It's not just that I find Barack Obama's plan to be more holistic or philosophically sound in the way it values (all) LIFE. I find that it is more effective--even when it comes to the specific issue of abortion. Caring for the poor, creating opportunity for the disadvantaged, and making adoption more accessible, simply does more to prevent abortions than having a president who is endorsed by the Pro-Life Movement ever could.

In the last few decades, the greatest declines in abortions occurred during the Clinton administration when impoverished mothers had more options, resources for adoption were greater, and the under-privileged had greater access to education and job training. The last eight years have seen a diminished reduction of abortions as many of those programs have been cut.

Sadly, those tax dollars were reallocated to a war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians (both born and unborn).

I'm pro-life and I'm voting for Barack Obama.

I'm open to your thoughts. Let me know if anything requires clarification.

17 comments:

Lindsey said...

Very well written- genuine and honest. I have struggled to put my thoughts on this into words that sound intelligent and articulate- especially when confronted on the spot. Thanks for the words. . . i am linking this from my blog, if you don't mind.

Daniel Rudd said...

thanks lindsey, hope to see you guys soon

*sarah* said...

Hi Daniel, I found you through Lindsey's blog. :)
I consider myself to be pro-choice, but I found your view to be thought provoking and moving. I wish more Americans (pro life and pro choice) would stop and think about the causes, rather than only focusing on the unfortunate outcome.
Thank you for your viewpoint. :)

gail ellis said...

Could you give me more information about how adoption resources were reduced during the Bush administration? I'm surprised and very troubled by that. I'm interested in what reductions were made and how that came to pass. Perhaps you could just point me in the right direction for info, other than a google search. Thanks for any help you could give me.

Anonymous said...

I'm very surprised and troubled by the knowledge that adoption resources have been reduced. Other than a google search, could you point me to where I could get more info on what's been lost and how that came to pass?
Thanks for any help you can give me.
-gail ellis

Tom said...

You have done a much better job of
presenting the case, then I did on my post that pro life is more than anti abortion.
For years, I have always taken the stance, pro life = anti abortion. I still am very pro-life but have evolved in my thinking enough to understand that pro life must be more, so much more than anti abortion...
thanks for communicating it so much better than i did.

Daniel Rudd said...

thanks for your comments.
Gail, good question, I'll get back to you shortly (I mean soon -- not that the answer will be short)...

:)

Daniel Rudd said...

Here's the short answer. Documentation is available on state and federal web sites.

In the last eight years, funding for many social work programs were cut across the board.

Many agencies and organizations that provide help for pregnant teens and publicly funded adoption agencies were under-resourced.

This impacts the adoption of older children and special needs children the most because these adoptions cost the state money.

There are over 4000 children in Michigan without parents.

With a reduction of federal and state funds, these organizations (like Muskegon Catholic Social Services) are unable to serve as many families and individuals.

Additionally, the fees for adopting infants are inflated to subsidize the cost of adopting older or special needs children.

There are many people who would love to adopt an infant, but simply cannot afford it.

Also many of the programs that make it possible for an impoverished pregnant woman to get the medical care needed for a healthy pregnancy have been cut or underfunded.

In fairness, the Bush administration did extend some nice adoption tax credits. But for lower income families that doesn't make any difference because they don't have the money up front, and they don't have much tax liability to apply the credit against later.

It's not that there isn't money to fund these things.

It's been spent on a very expensive war (resulting in thousands of casualties for both the born and unborn), some minor tax relief for the middle class, large tax breaks for the wealthiest americans, and even larger tax breaks for corporations.

There is one more significant way that that recent legislation has worked directly against adoption, but I'll post about that later.

Liz Nyenhuis said...

I have always considered myself to be pro-choice as in we need to stop abortions...make them illegal...something. Reading this blog entry has put a new spin on how I feel. I think I may need to research about McCain's and Obama's plans to help the underpriveledged in our country...see what they are going to do. If you have any good websites for me to check out, please post them here if you can, otherwise I'll look more later.

Thanks.

Mike Sweet said...

It is always surprising to me that people view political issues so differently, especially within the Christian community.

I do understand/share your concern about the causes of poverty, unemployment and war. However, arguments could be made for other causes of these problems other than our present Republican administration. The Democrats blame the Republicans for higher oil prices and the mortgage fiasco, but Michigan’s high unemployment (partially caused by Clinton’s promotion of NAFTA) and 9-11 (partially caused by Clinton’s lax policy on terrorist activity) could be blamed on Democrats.

In this discussion, I think it is important to talk about the Democratic Party’s support of Planned Parenthood. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, advocated African-American abortions and sterilization as a means of racial “purification.” Black women, mostly impoverished, are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion. It is working. The African-American population has decreased proportionally to other races. The Democrats would have us continue to have our taxes pay for Planned Parenthood, which is the largest abortion provider in America. By the way, last night I saw a TV ad bashing McCain, which was paid for by Planned Parenthood. I could go on and on with the blame game, but that is not the main point of your writings.

As I understand it, your position is that the abortion issue does not trump other political considerations, especially poverty. I wonder if you have considered that the Democrats’ solutions would only make a small dent in the problems of social inequities at best and little reduction in the abortion rate. Jesus asks us to give to the poor, but he also said that there will always be the poor with you (John 12:8). That is not to say that we should not help the poor, but paying for the killing of their children (Planned Parenthood) to make it easier for them is unconscionable. The problem is not that abortion is caused by poverty, but by the selfish dark hearts of humans. It is not the evil that is outside ourselves, for we (even Christians) are capable of evil given the right situation. Thank goodness for God’s forgiveness. God’s spirit within us is the solution to evil.

It is my opinion that there is no other issue or issues more important than making the murder of babies illegal. In the next four years, it is likely that at least two Supreme Court Judges will be replaced, and the balance of pro-life and pro-choice will change. I hope in the favor of the unborn.

It amazes me how some Christians can rationalize that the abortion issue is of lesser importance so they can justify their support for the Democratic Party. I hope this response gives some pause.

Lindsey said...

Hi Daniel! As you can see my family is not speechless when it comes to these topics. My brother, Jered, commented on my blog in response to what you said. Gail is TJ's mom and Mike Sweet is my uncle. My dad and other brother are sure to have read this too. Both on extreme opposites when it comes to politics and who to vote for. Aren't you glad i brought some more readers to your blog. Maybe they will each send you three dollars! I hate talking about politics, but as you can see my family loves it. . . some are genuinely seeking and looking at others' points of view, and some are a wee bit close minded. Thanks for entertaining their comments.

I know you are so busy chasing after turkeys, so i appreciate your time for clarification.

Miss you guys.

Daniel Rudd said...

liz,
I'm working on pulling together some resources, but I'm working slowly. sorry.

for now I'd suggest starting with both candidates' web sites. And also independent non-partisan organizations like: factcheck.org

I'll try to find more

**

Mike,
thanks for sharing. Are you looking for a response?
that's fine if you aren't.

**

Lindsey,
any family of yours is immediately on my list of people I would be willing to hold an elevator for.
they are all welcome in my comments (provided they continue to send me their monthly $3 donations).

Jason said...

Daniel,

Lindsey's other brother Jason here. She's right, we do love to talk politics. After the 2004 election though, I realized that for the sake of my sanity, I couldn't engage in political arguments with fundamentalists anymore. My rule now is, if you can't accept that the world is more than 6000 years old, I can't talk to you about anything meaningful to me. No sense in even trying.

At any rate, I just wanted to say that it is people like yourself, my sister and my brother-in-law that give me hope for the future of the church. After a pretty horrible experience during my childhood, I've held the evangelical movement in pretty poor regard. So it's so very refreshing to see that the younger generation isn't afraid of asking questions and interrogating their faith anymore.

If more people like yourself can learn to eschew binary thinking, there just may be hope for the Republic yet! Keep on keeping on.

Jason

Mike Sweet said...

No, I am not looking for a response. I am just glad that you allowed the posting of another perspective.

dave diller said...

Hey Daniel...black and white issues? Unfortunately not. Often when we turn people and situations into issues they are easier to dismiss and "contain" with policies and legislation. Sadly there is fear present in many of these "black and white" issues. Fear that if we don't vote correctly we head down a slippery slope and our "blessed favor" of this Americanity kingdom will wain.

The extremes try to articulate that there is no "grey area" to be had. This too saddens me as it limits the imense creativity of a God who made all things. Our world is not full of black and white issues. It is not full of grey areas. It is full of people, creation, alive in vivid technocolor.

Because of the depths of colors present we are called to be the kind of people who, without fear, engage the creative possiblity that is life giving in every way possible. As a follower of the resurrected Jesus, and a participant in his body, I believe that it is my responsiblity to vote, not just once every four years, but each day...each moment, for things, for people in life-giving ways.

If I choose to live this way, then the God of all will invade and in turn "haunt" my thoughts. When I make a purchase it will cause me to quesiton, "where does my money go?" "Who had to work in what conditions to make this product possible for me to consume?" These are pro-life questions...and they should never leave my consciousness.

With my vote I am not trusting in a gov't or a ruler to create and safeguard life...instead I will trust in the Maker of all and work towards that in fellowship with his people.

you are appreciated brother.

Redbaerd said...

Yo, Little Brother,

*Finally* you say something that is so worthwhile, that I don't have to correct you by pointing out that a little more life experience will season your perspective and make you realize why I am actually more right than you are.

SERIOUSLY. This post so completely represents my concerns on these issues, that I'm just going to refer ppl here to understand my thinking. Thanks for the time & effort you put into saying it all.

Brian said...

Thank you for putting into words what so many of us have been thinking. I, like many Pro-Life Christians, have been struggling with this single issue for a long time. I am EXTREMELY Pro-Life being the product of an adoption that occurred after a brutal rape.

All life is sacred and should be honored. It is time for us to stop electing leaders that hide behind the mask of "Pro-Life" and start electing leaders that will bring actual change to our country. A reduction in abortions and improving the lives of those around us is all that we can ask for.

I will be a Pro-Lifer that voted for Obama in a few hours. That you for helping me climb down from the wall of undecided.

Thank you for your eloquence of words.