Monday, January 28, 2008

Life/Liberty Ratings

This is my last installment of 'by the issues' candidate ratings. This Sunday night we focused on abortion, stem-cell research, the right to bear arms, the Patriot Act, same-sex marriage, and other miscellaneous 'value' issues.

Here are the previous scorecards:
Foreign Policy Rankings: Paul 96, Thompson 94, Obama 87, McCain 86, Giuliani 85, Romney 82, Huckabee 79, Clinton 79, Edwards 77

Health Policy Rankings: Huckabee 94, Paul 91, Giuliani 88, Thompson 87, McCain 87, Romney 86, Obama 79, Clinton 77, Edwards 76

Economic Policy Rankings: Paul 94, Giuliani 90, Thompson 89, Romney 89, Huckabee 88, McCain 84, Obama 82, Clinton 76, Edwards 73

1. Ron Paul 97%
Paul believes life begins and conception and that the argument needs to remain there for the pro-life cause to succeed. As a medical doctor, Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies and never considered performing and abortion. He believes we should negate Roe v. Wade (in fact, 'Roe' has since become a pro-life Christian and has endorsed Ron Paul). For Paul, the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms) protects the rest. He voted against the Patriot Act which limits freedoms. He has a libertarian philosophy on many social issues (for example, he is against the 'war' on drugs). He believes marriage should be left solely to religious institutions and the government shouldn't have become involved in the first place. He's against affirmative action.

2. Fred Thompson 91%
Thompson is pro-life and had the endorsement of right-to-life before dropping out of the race. He thinks Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad science. He's for strict constructionist judges. He vowed to protect the 2nd Amendment and punish criminals severely. He vowed to defend the institution of marriage and ban same-sex marriage altogether.

3. Mike Huckabee 91%
Huckabee is pro-life and thinks Roe v. Wade should be overturned. He would appoint pro-life judges. He would stop the federal funding of pro-choice organizations. He thinks pro-life organizations need to put more focus on helping parents after they choose life. He's against embryonic stem cell research. He reminds us that gun rights were meant to protect us from the government. He owns firearms and enjoys hunting. He believes we do and should continue to legislate morality. He's against any ban on assault weapons. Marriage should be definded as b/w a man and woman at the federal level. Liberalism is a slippery slope.

4. John McCain 89%
Roe v. Wade should be overturned, but we should maintain exceptions for rape, incest and/or danger to the life of the mother. He's for conservative judges. He thinks we should put more focus on adoption and pro-life centers. He is for embryonic stem cell research. He believes gun laws fail to fight crime. Manufacturers should not be held liable for what their customers do. Only certain assault weapons should be banned. He voted for the Patriot Act. Marriage is b/w a male and female, but the issue should be left to the states. He's for limited affirmative action and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military.

5. Mitt Romney 85%
We should overturn Roe v. Wade. Romney is a 'convert' to the pro-life cause, but believes abortion should still be allowed in cases of incest, rape and/or a threat to the mother's life. He'd be for conservative judges. Gun-criminals should be punished severely. Assault weapons should remain banned. The Patriot Act is good and valuable. He supports a federal definition for traditional marriage.

6. Giuliani 84%
He is personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice. The emphasis should be on reducing the number of abortions. We should put more emphasis on adoption. He's against all partial birth abortion. He vows to appoint strict constructionist judges. Stem cell research is OK if regulated. He strongly supports the right to bear arms, but was in favor of the ban on assault weapons. He's strongly in favor of the Patriot Act. He believes marriage should remain both a religious and civil institution. He's against same-sex marriage, but also against banning it. He supports affirmative action.

7. Barack Obama 77%
He's pro-choice. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. He is for funding embryonic stem-cell research. He thinks we need to get guns out of cities. He believes gun manufactures should be held liable for how their products are used. He voted for the Patriot Act with limitations. He opposes same-sex marriage, but thinks we should focus on gaining equal rights for same sex couples. The constitution is a 'living' document.

8. Hillary Clinton 76%
She is pro-choice. We should focus on reducing abortions, not banning them. She voted against the ban on partial birth abortions. We should allow embryonic stem cell research. We need tougher gun control laws. Manufactures are liable for gun related crimes. She voted for the Patriot Act with limitations. We should allow 'civil unions' so that gay couples can have equal rights. We should end "don't ask, don't tell."

9. John Edwards 75%
He is pro-choice. Abortions should be federally funded. He would never appoint an 'extremist' (read, 'pro-life') judge. He voted no on banning partial birth abortions. He wants to allow funding for embryonic stem cell research. We need more restrictions on guns. He's for federalized aviation security. He's for same-sex civil unions and thinks it's good to make 2nd graders aware of the legitimacy of same sex couples. We need more affirmative action.


Jo said...

thanks for the overview. i didn't realize that obama voted against the ban of partial birth abortion...

i wonder what his reasoning was on that? can you get obama on your blog for an interview? :P

matthew said...

There reasoning seems to be that there wasn't enough of a provision in the ban for allowing the procedure when the mother's life is in danger.

The problem with that is I haven't found anyone claiming that such a procedure is ever necessary to save a mother's life.

Steph said...

I "know" someone (know in the sense of they're part of the same online community I am) who needed to abort a baby that she has wished and hoped and payed for, because she had a very aggressive form of uterine cancer, and there was no way the baby would survive the treatment, and no way she would survive if she didn't have the treatment. I don't think she (or any other woman, FWIW) should feel like a murderer for that decision. Instances like that are rare, but they do happen. This is an amazing story that gives a different perspective as well. No, it doesn't make it right, but it does make it understandable. And for people who have no faith, no hope, no understanding of eternity like we do, can you really blame them?

matthew said...

Hey steph, I will read that article in a moment, but first wanted to say that even the pro-life candidates allow almost always allow for abortion in the rare case of extreme danger to the life of a mother.

Jo said...

Steph, thank you for sharing that article/story. it's good to have real life contexts to put something like partial birth abstraction inside . The article has definitely made me think....a lot.

matthew said...

Hey steph, I finished reading the article.

Obviously the online friend you have and the article talk about 2 totally different situations. Your friend's life was in danger. As I said before, almost all pro-lifers lend allowances in such situations (which are very rare).

In the article, the woman's life was in no danger. It's actually not an article about abortion at all, but euthanasia. She admits the child was alive and a human being, but doesn't think it's quality of life was good enough to merit keeping around.

Now, I agree that euthanasia is one of the most complex moral issues of our time. I think this woman was very wrong to choose partial birth abortion. She should have completed the birthing process and gone from there into the realm euthanasia ethics.

They could have chosen passive euthanasia (withdrawing medical technology that maintains life) and had some moral justification for doing so. But they chose active euthanasia (implementing medical technology to end a life) instead.

To me, there is a big...a very big...difference b/w passive euthanasia and active euthanasia. But we should be clear that the article is not really about abortion at all. It's about euthanasia.

Steph said...

While a lot of pro-life individuals would allow for that, the wording of the law doesn't always, and a lot of people don't believe it is ever necessary - they feel either the pregnancy will terminate on its own, or the mother should wait until viability (26+ weeks), deliver, and then have treatment.

Steph said...

Matthew, I couldn't imagine forcing a mother to carry her child to term, knowing that child would not survive outside of the womb. I know that wasn't necessarily the case in the above article, but there are defects/abnormalities that make life after birth impossible. Either decision (continuing or ending the pregnancy) have the same result, same turmoil, same grief. I know some women in that case can carry their child (a friend of mine only had her son for 108 minutes, and feels blessed for that time) but as I said, not everyone has that hope, that faith, and the strength needed to do that.

Pregnancy is such a time of joy and worry and fear. I hope I'm never faced with that choice - it's easy to say I would never choose to terminate, no matter what the defect, being in the situation, and being a mother in the situation, is totally different. In some cases it's not a question of *quality* of life, but possibility of life. To go through months feeling your child grow and move, knowing each day brings you closer to loosing them, that's a pain no woman should be forced to go through.

matthew said...

Should we keep all abortions legal while trying to fix the wording of a law to account for a small percentage of situations OR should we make all abortions illegal while trying to fix the wording of a law to account for a small percentage of situations?

Obviously, if you believe life begins at conception, the latter position makes all the sense in the world and the former makes little to none.

Sometimes the life of the mother is in serious jeopardy. These situations need to be taken into account, for sure.

Sometimes the issue is the quality of life of the child. This is, as i mentioned, in the realm of euthanasia, not abortion.

Sometimes, as you mention, the very continuation of life after birth is a medical impossibility. I'm even further removed from being able to imagine the pain of such a situation than you are, but I state that here, as well, it's an issue of euthanasia, not abortion (even if the pregnancy is ended before or during birth).

And I stand by my position that active euthanasia is wrong. I think there are allowances for passive euthanasia. In fact, I think sometimes we're wrong NOT to practice passive euthanasia.

But on the subject of partial birth abortion, it is an inhumane procedure which is never necessary in any of these scenarios. It is active euthanasia of one of the most grotesque kinds possible.

So I support the absolute ban on this procedure completely.

matthew said...

btw steph. I'm sometimes told my online debate style comes across as combative so i wanted to add the disclaimer that I'm enjoying this discussion! I've always found arguing more boldly gets us somewhere rather than flooding the paragraphs with bland nice-isms.

But you're an active message boarder, so you know what i'm talking about. I'm really saying this for anyone else reading these comments :)

Steph said...

No worries on tone, I understand.

I can see where you're coming from, but I still disagree. I also don't like the insinuation that if you believe life begins at conception (which I do) then you must think abortion should be illegal (which I don't). I've come to realize that abortion laws don't end abortion, they just lead to illegal abortions, which can lead to infertility, severe infection and blood loss, or even maternal death. No one can convince me that two deaths is better than one.

As for seeing it as euthanasia instead of abortion, I don't completely buy that. For the record, abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy before labour (miscarriages are labeled as "spontaneous abortion, and if the mother goes into labour, it's called a stillbirth).

I talked to Ben about your position, and he made a good point. Take a severe case of anencephaly where the only reason the baby is alive is because of it's connection with the mother. Is that different from a person being kept alive only because of life support, with no chance of regaining consciousness, with no hope of viability without the machine? In that case, can you really say that abortion is any different from "pulling the plug" (which I assume you would see as passive euthanasia)?

Also, if a mother is induced (either medically or on her own) before the baby is viable, births the baby and the baby is stillborn (or dies shortly after birth), would you consider that an abortion?

Steph said...

For the record, I don't like abortion. I believe it's wrong, and I think it's horrible that so many people see it as a means to just deal with an unplanned pregnancy. However, at the same time I can understand why women would see it as necisary to choose that option, wether legal or not, and I don't think that choice should be taken from them. I think as Christians it is not our job to make these women feel any more guilt and shame than they already to, but to provide them with whatever they need in order to carry their pregnancy to term, or give them the support, counseling etc. necessary if they choose to have an abortion. I don't think our support etc. should be conditional on what they choose.

matthew said...

Hey Steph, thanks for the continued discussion.

I have to admit, I am surprised by the number of people who admit life begins at conception, but still think abortion should be legal.

I completely agree that laws don't solve problems. In fact, I am a libertarian (against legislating morality), but with the following distinction. I don't think a government should pass moral laws except those that negatively and directly impact unwilling members of society (for example, murder, rape, theft, etc). Moral decisions that only indirectly affect others aren't the governments business imo (homosexuality, drug use, etc).

But just because the law against murder, for instance, doesn't end simply doesn't follow that the law against murder is a bad idea. The choice to have an illegal abortion is a 2nd choice only indirectly caused by the law. Obviously there are no law enforcement agencies pushing for these women to have illegal abortions. If anything, it is the opposite.

I don't particularly care about 'for the record' definitions. I can only evaluate things the way I see them. I see abortion as getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy and euthanasia as getting rid of an unwanted life. I think it's pretty clear which is involved in the various scenarios we've discussed.

I would view, then, cutting the baby off of the mother, in a case of anencephaly, as passive euthanasia, not abortion.

As for the stillborn scenario, it would depend on the motives. If she was induced early for the purpose of getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy, then of course it is considered abortion. If for other reasons that I can think of, it's just an unfortunate situation.

As for your suggested support for mothers no matter what choice they make, that is really a different issue. It is clear that many pro-life ministries have failed in these regards. I agree.

But I still feel we are missing the forest (millions of babies being killed each year) for the trees (hundreds or perhaps thousands) of mother's in very difficult situations. As I said before, is it better to keep abortion legal and the 50,000,000 baby number growing until we can forget out perfect wording on a law? Or is it better to make murderous abortion (and in MOST cases of abortion there's no question it's just a casual rejection of a human life) illegal and then work on fixing the specific wording from that point on? I'll err on the side of life every time.

The black and white is that life begins at conception and abortion is, by definition, murder. Every rule, of course, has exceptions and I agree that the scenarios you bring up are difficult. But they are by no means the majority.

The AJ Thomas said...

The only situation I can think of where abortion should be an option is when both lives are in clear danger and killing the baby would save the mother. Even then I'm not 100% sure.

I definitely don't buy the "in case of rape" argument. "Your dad was a bad man so you die" Where is the login in that. I think we place to little value on the role of mother and way to much on the prerogative of mother.

I also can't buy the "people will do it anyway so let's keep/make it legal" argument. That same logic would say I should be able to steal cars because I'm going to do it anyway but if it's legal that cops won;t have to chase me because that can be dangerous.

I can't imagine being a mother with a baby in her womb that was unlikely to survive much past birth and going - aww frig it, we'll let's just kill it now and be done with it, that will be easier. Some would say "it made sense to them in that situation" but that is a ridiculous argument. The acceptability of killing to the person doing (or in this case ordering) the killing them does not make it ok.

In short - I see room for the one in a million both lives at risk scenario. Other than that, abortion is always wrong. Adoption should be promoted heavily for those who are in situations where they are not ready or fit to raise a child. Women who have abortions should be charged with 2nd degree murder as it is obviously premeditated. Doctors who preform abortions should be locked up forever. And huge support should be given to expectant parents who are unable to raise the child.

I'm on the liberal end of the Christian scope on most things like social programs, gay marriage, gun control, and such but I'm a pretty hard liner on abortion. Say what you like, killing babies is always a horrible thing.

Steph said...

While there are situations where I can understand why a mother would choose abortion, and situations where I truly believe that a safe abortion should be available, I believe all killing (abortion, death penalty and war) are wrong. There's a difference between understanding and making right. I forget who said it, but one of my favorite quotes is "it may be necessary for a time to accept a necessary evil, but one must never label the evil as good."

I also disagree on the murder charges for women who abort. There is enough guilt, remorse, regret and self blame that the woman has to carry on her own, not to mention the shame etc. that others force on her as well. She might not feel it at the time, but no abortion is without emotional consequence. That's where the church needs to be there with open arms - love and support, counseling, forgiveness. Not judgment anger and hate.

The AJ Thomas said...

I'm not recommending anger or hate and I'm all for love and support. i think the church should respond to people who have their babies killed the same way they would anyone else who has committed a sin of that nature.

I also think the law should treat them the same way any one else who has committed an act of that nature. To say life begins at conception and to realize that abortion takes that life and not to punish it the same way we punish other life takings continues the double standard that says abortion ends a life but not a life as valuable as someone who has been born.

We wouldn't think twice about prosecuting a woman who drowned her toddler in the tub because the strain of motherhood was too much for her even though she will probably feel pain and remorse and guilt in the future - why is a baby in the womb any different that a toddler in the tub?

Steph said...

We also don't convict soldiers of murder, nor do I think we should. Soldiers are seen as heroes, mothers who abort are seen as monsters. Which is responsible for more death?

I don't know why it's different, but it is. It's something I can't explain. Again, not justifiable, but perhaps there's a different penalty. I think because once the baby is already born, there's other people who can intervene, other people the mother can turn to for help. While she's pregnant, it's all hers. Even the father (if he's in the picture) doesn't have the same connection to the baby. The father can walk away after the moment of conception, the mother can't. Again, not that it justifies it, but it does make a difference.

For me it's just not such a black and white issue. Yes, killing is wrong. Yes, abortion is a horrible thing. But if a woman honestly believes she has no other choice, if she's committed to aborting even if it costs her own life, should we make her life the penalty for that choice?

The AJ Thomas said...

A) Killing in war is not murder - at least not biblically speaking and I would have to check my stats but I'm pretty sure in the US since RvW more people have died in abortion clinics than have been killed in wars.

Isn't abortion just a more complicated way of "walking away from it"

B) I think if you kill someone, wether they are inside you at the time or not, you should be punished. if you see the goal of punishment to be make people pay then prison is the way to go. If it's purpose is to stop the crime from happening again I guess you could go with forced sterilization.

I'm not saying I have some big hate for women who abort, and I have all the sympathy in the world for women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy.

I think we should be there to help and support and love I'm just tired of people saying it's wrong and it's murder, and all that stuff but then turning around and wanting to treat it as something less.

Anyway that's my um... several cents worth. As with most stuff I'm sure this is an "agree to disagree" issue.

Regan said...

I know I'm late in this conversation, but I had a friend who was pregnant with a child whose skull hadn't developed and whose brain wasn't encased. The doctors recommended abortion because the baby couldn't survive. She chose to carry the baby to term instead because she believed abortion was morally wrong.

Dr. Dobson once told a story about a young woman with a terrible case of TB who became pregnant. Her doctor didn't believe that she could carry the pregnancy. But she did, and miraculously, the pressure of the baby against her lungs helped her TB to heal.

There's also the story that I read on another blog, of a woman who was diagnosed with liver cancer while she was pregnant. She stalled treatment until after she delivered, and died two months later.

In all of these situations, abortion could have been chosen. But instead what was chosen was life-affirming and right. My take on the life-of-the-mother issue is this: is it right to take someone else's life to save your own? Well, of course not. But it seems our society is finding that question harder and harder to answer.

matthew said...

great comments everybody. I don't have anything else to add that I haven't said already, but I appreciate the discussion :)