The year is 1993 and Bill Clinton recently won the 1992 presidential election. Clinton posted about 5 million more votes than incumbent president George H.W. Bush and easily won the electoral collage vote. Perhaps even more important was the fact that President Clinton entered the White House with majorities in both houses of congress.
It didn’t take long to for him to take his new mandate for a test drive and if I remember right made a few moves that immediately angered those conservatives who opposed him. The first was the passage of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ bill concerning homosexuals in the military. The second was his failed attempt to pass health care reform.
Why do I mention this? I wanted to highlight how President Clinton took steps to address issues that important to different aspects of his base even though those issues angered and eventually galvanized those who opposed him. Health care reform was a major part of President Clinton’s 1993 State of the Union speech and in that speech he indicated a plan to send congress major legislation on health care in the spring of that year.
Fast forward to 2005. Here George W. Bush has be re-elected and also leads the party that controls both houses of congress. He too seeks to utilize his electoral mandate to address an issue important to his base even though it might arouse the anger of his opponents. That issue was the reform of social security and it was a major aspect of his 2005 State of the Union speech. And though President Bush was a pro-life president the issue of abortion wasn’t really mentioned in the speech. He did speak of building a culture of life, but connected it with his desire to ensure that embryos wouldn’t be created for experimentation or to be used to supply human body parts. While that is an important part of building a culture of life it is not the same as proposing a ban on abortion.
Now lets take a snapshot of this past election. I watched the Republican National Convention and paid particular attention to the Gov. Pailin’s and Senator McCain’s acceptance speeches. I watched all four debates and living in Pennsylvania couldn’t get away from the onslaught of political adds even if I tried real hard.
I bring this up to begin a dialogue regarding an issue that’s important to all of us. I (and I’m sure you also) received dozens of emails and read dozens of blog posts explaining why those who claim to believe in Christ should not vote for Senator Obama. My aim in this post however is not to revisit that argument. Instead I would like to give those who wondered why any believer could even consider voting for President-elect Obama knowing where he stood regarding abortion.
That’s where the examples cited above come into play and where I need your help. Many of us who did vote for President-elect Obama never got a clear idea of what Sen. McCain would do to outlaw the practice of abortion. Moreover I’ve always wondered why President Bush didn’t make outlawing abortion more of an issue during the first few months of his second term. For example in his 2005 State of the Union Speech President Bush declared his support for a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage. Yet, apart from declaring that embryos should not be created for experiments or body parts there wasn’t any kind of legislative proposal having to do with abortion. I’m not sure why this was the case and would like to have the thoughts of those of my brothers and sisters who consider abortion the most significant issue that determines their vote. I want to know what were your thoughts when a self-described pro-life president who just won re-election with a majority in both houses of congress decided to make social security his primary focus? Please understand, my questions aren’t meant to provoke an argument but to gain a better understanding. Did you expect President Bush to address abortion through legislation or by simply appointing conservative justices? Beyond that what would have been the path to have Roe v. Wade revisited?
I’m asking these questions because I think it would be helpful to explain to those who didn’t vote for Senator McCain the pathway toward overturning Roe v.Wade and then eventually outlawing abortion. For many who voted for President-elect Obama it wasn’t enough to point out that he was pro-choice. And though I did receive dozens of emails and read dozens of blog post I can’t recall reading any that spelled out what Senator McCain would do to outlaw abortion. Following that line of thought I wonder why Senator McCain didn’t make outlawing abortion a more prominent part of his campaign. It barely came up in his acceptance speech and didn’t seem to be mentioned all that much in his campaign speeches. And when it was brought up during the third debate I was somewhat surprised to hear him say that he thought the issue should be decided by the states. Were any of you likewise surprised especially in light of the fact that pro-life ballot measures were defeated in South Dakota and Colorado? Many of the emails I received and the blog posts I read claimed that President-elect Obama was the most liberal, pro-abortion candidate ever. Despite this I never saw a McCain ad that brought this up. Did he run any ads in other states with a pro-life theme?
Let me reiterate that it’s not my intention to provoke an argument nor make light of an extremely important issue. But this election caused me to wonder why Senator McCain said so little about an issue that has apparently moved many of my brothers and sisters to become single issue voters. Had Senator McCain won the election what would you have expected of him? I think I understand the importance of appointing supreme court justices so perhaps I need to know if a pro-life president would be expected to do anything further to outlaw abortion. Please understand that this is a different question than what would he do to limit and curtail abortions. And even if he had the opportunity to appoint justices could they be as conservative as he would have liked given the new composition of the Senate? I’m not accusing or even suggesting that President Bush or Senator McCain merely used the pro-life issue to secure the evangelical vote. I believe both men are sincerely committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. I just want to know if there was a clear legislative path toward overturning ‘Roe’, what that path was and when and where was it articulated by either President Bush in the two times he ran for office or Senator McCain during this last campaign.
Finally, (or perhaps I should say for now) in light of the election what is the pathway toward ending abortion? If the political avenue is now closed what other avenues are there and what might be some of the more prudent ways to proceed? Before I close please forgive me if I’ve offended or hurt anyone by anything in this post because that certainly was not my intention. I do hope we can have a good and fruitful discussion about the wisest way to end abortion and genuinely protect the lives of all who are created in God’s image.
To Him Who Loves Us…