Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Which Candidate is Better on Abortion?

The answer should be obvious, but some Catholics unbelievably say Obama is better. The argument goes something like this:

  1. The "right" to abortion established by Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and there is nothing we can do to change it. So voting for pro-life candidates will have little to no effect on abortion.
  2. Restrictions on abortion such as parental notification, parental consent and the partial birth abortion ban do not reduce abortions.
  3. The social safety nets and universal health care supported by Obama will encourage women to choose life and will reduce the number of abortions
  4. Therefore, the abortion rate will be lower under an Obama presidency than under a McCain presidency

That sounds pretty good. So, I have decided to change my vote and endorse Barak Obama.


Unfortunately, many catholics buy into this line of reasoning. Let me show you where it breaks down point by point.

1. The pro-life movement has a very good chance of reversing the current law of the land. Roe v. Wade is on the ropes. Go to Planned Parenthood's website and you'd think a woman's "right" to chose is on the verge of being lost. Yet, the pro-choice movement is right to be concerned. The Supreme Court has four justices who has consistently vote pro-life, one justice who is a swing vote and four justices who vote pro-choice. The two oldest justices on the Supreme Court are pro-choice. One of them is in his late eighties. He probably won't last another four years.

That means the next President of the United States will likely have the opportunity to replace one or two pro-choice justices. McCain has promised to appoint strict constructionist justices. These judges tend to vote pro-life. Obama will certainly appoint pro-choice justices. With a majority of Supreme Court voting pro-life, we would see as a minimum a gradual chipping away of Roe v. Wade. We could even see an outright reversal of Roe. The Court tends to respect precedent, but it has reversed itself before. This election represents a tremendous opportunity to overthrow the regime of Roe v. Wade.

2. The Heritage Foundation conducted a study which demonstrates that restrictions on abortion do indeed reduce the number of abortions. Right now, most states require parental notification and/or consent before a minor can get an abortion and they do not allow tax dollars to pay for abortion.

Obama has promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). According to USCCB legal analysis (pdf), this bill will wipe off the books the following state laws:

  • parental notification laws
  • parental consent laws
  • abortion clinic regulations, even those designed to make abortion more safe
  • law that protect the conscience of doctors who chose not to perform abortion. In other words, catholic doctors could be required to perform abortions or lose their jobs.
  • laws preventing partial birth abortion

FOCA could also require states to use tax payers dollars to pay for abortion.

Barak Obama advocates using federal tax dollars to pay for abortions at home and overseas. It stretches credulity to think Obama will reduce abortions.

3. Social safety nets and universal health care will reduce abortion. I do not know if this is true, but it is certainly plausible. Economics can certainly be a factor in a woman's choice to get an abortion. How big a factor is unclear. I do know that crisis pregnancy centers out number abortion clinics and these charities offer women financial, emotional and medical assistance in order to encourage them to choose life.

One component of Barak Obama's health plan is to mandate that all children have health insurance. Parents could be fined for not buying health care for their kids. A woman who is not sure if she can afford health insurance may choose to abort her child instead of facing the prospect of being fined by the federal government. I laud Obama's desire to ensure every child has health insurance, but his method of doing so could encourage abortion.

Here's an idea. Why don't we give all families a $5000 tax credit so they can buy insurance for their kids? That could help achieve the goal of full coverage for children without encouraging abortion.

4. There is ample reason to believe an Obama presidency will lead to an increase in abortion, not a decrease. But, to be fair, I do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. It is possible (but I don't think likely) that Obama's social welfare plan will reduce abortion more than FOCA will increase it. Is that a good enough reason to vote Obama?


Life is the most basic, most fundamental and most important of all human rights. Without life, all other rights become meaningless. What good is freedom of speech if you are dead? All unborn children have been endowed by their creator with the unalienable right to life. A just society has a moral obligation to recognize that right in law.

A legal recognition of a child's right to be born is not only the right thing to do. But, it will inevitably lead to a decrease in abortions. People are influenced by laws. Sure there are people who break the law, but most people are law abiding.

The first step to such legal recognition is to overturn, or at least diminish the scope of Roe v. Wade. As I argued above, we are close to having the Supreme Court majority required to do that.

FOCA will do the opposite. It goes beyond Roe v. Wade and expands abortion "rights" at the expense of unborn life.

There are two major candidates for President. One of them has voted consitently to establish in law an unborn child's right to life. He voted for unborn victims of violence, partial birth abortion ban, born alive infant protection act, Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito. The other candidate has either opposed or voted against all of those measures.

McCain will protect the rights of the unborn. Obama will not.

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