Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My thoughts...

* * * I'm actually feeling anxious about posting this tonight. I'm really exposing myself and my thoughts like I haven't done before. I'm not trying to change minds. I'm just trying to help people understand where I'm coming from. I've come to believe that all of us -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- essentially want the same thing. We just have a different means to getting to the same end. I would love it if, after reading this essay that I wrote, you would reflect and think about the choice you're going to make in 7 days when you vote for President. One of three things that will happen if you read this post: 1) You'll agree with me, and the essay will help reinforce your opinions. 2) You'll disagree, and the essay may help reinforce your opinions. 3) You'll feel even more undecided about this election, as you'll see a perspective you hadn't really considered. * * *

Three times now I’ve heard three different people say that they won’t vote for Obama because of his stance on just one issue. His pro-choice view on abortion. I understand that abortion is a horrible thing. But since I’ve heard this from several people now, I just want to stand up and declare that I am voting for Barack Obama in spite of his record on this issue. The reason why I am voting for Barack Obama is because by looking at the bigger picture – including hunger, poverty, other social justice issues; peace and diplomacy; equality; our environment; education; healthcare and prenatal and postnatal programs to give children a fair chance in this world; and vets issues – I feel that Barack Obama is comprehensively more pro-life than John McCain. I think it’s easy to look at the issues and simply choose just one issue on which to base your vote. I think it’s more difficult, but more rewarding, to look at all the facts and stances of a candidate and choose to vote for the President who will make the most good for the greatest number of people.

First, about abortion…
As a Christian, I do not like abortion. I do not think it’s a good solution to end unplanned pregnancies. I’ve seen from first-hand experience the extreme guilt, remorse and regret that an abortion causes. Yes, it’s killing a human life. Women who get abortions must be in a pretty desperate place if they choose to do it. But we need to look at why they are in a position where they feel so desperate, and we need try to help prevent people from being in that sort of desperate position in the first place.
I’d rather see programs that help women see their choices and guide them into making the right choice – the choice of life – rather than having laws that dictate what they do. Catholics in Alliance, recently released a 20-year study about the long- and short-term effects on abortion rates, which found that benefits for pregnant women and mothers; employment; economic assistance to low-income families; quality child care for working mothers; and, removal of state caps on the number of children eligible for economic assistance in low-income families has reduced abortions (Source).
In his Blueprint for Change, Barack Obama says he supports such initiatives -- expanding access to contraception, health information and preventive services to reduce unintended pregnancies. Obama says he’ll establish community outreach programs in underserved areas to help make sure women have health care. Obama supports expanding the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families (Source).
Studies (including one by the Federal Reserve Bank) have shown that investing in training and early childhood programs to low-income mothers and high-risk children pays off in the long run, by reducing crime, drug use, lowering costs for prisons, and providing an opportunity for these children to make a better impact on our communities (Source).
I believe that all people are generally good and that given a choice between life and death for her baby, a woman would choose the miracle of life. And I think that those who decide to have an abortion are desperate enough to do it whether or not it’s legal…it’s still a choice they could make (albeit a bad choice), but if there are people who are going to do it regardless of the legality, why should we choose to cast our vote for President based on this one issue when there are lots of other important issues?

Second, looking at the bigger picture…
I have to assume people are against abortion because it’s about killing a life. But what about the people in our country and around the world that are facing death because of poverty and homelessness and war? In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop John Onaiyekan said, “The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life. You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions through war, through poverty, and so on.”
Unfortunately, the policies that McCain supports have killed people through war. He’s supported the war in Iraq since the initial invasion, where an estimated 638,579 civilians killed since 2003 (source). Those civilian deaths include many innocent children. Between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 4,775 soldiers have died (source). And more than 1.3 million have been severely injured (source). Not only has their quality of life declined, but also the lives of their families and loved ones. And because our country has committed ourselves to occupying Iraq, we don’t ability to help stop the genocide that’s occurring in places like Darfur, where an estimated 200,000 – 400,000 have been murdered (source). I’m not saying that these lives are more important than unborn children. What I am saying is this – all of these lives are important. All of these people are children of God and each of those untimely deaths is a tragedy.
I also think it’s important to look at the candidates issues on social justice. Who best supports educational programs – which is the best way to ensure that all people have an equal chance to improve their lives? Who wants to dedicate efforts to feed the starving? Who wants to dedicate efforts to eliminate poverty? Who believes that health care is a right and not a privilege? I believe that there is one answer to all those questions – Barack Obama.
When Obama is President, he’ll establish the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He said, “This Council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart – it will be a critical part of my administration. We know that faith and values can be a source of strength in our own lives. That's what it's been to me. And that's what it is to so many Americans. But it can also be something more. It can be the foundation of a new project of American renewal. And that's the kind of effort I intend to lead as President of the United States." How great it will be to have a President who will leverage the faith and hope of people across our country and put it into action to make our community a better place.
More than any issue, the Bible calls Christians to help the poor and the oppressed. “If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks (Deut. 15:7-8).” Barack Obama understands the success faith-based partnerships have at helping people on a grass roots level, and wants to enable those organizations to make a bigger impact by making it a critical part of his administration.
The hard part about choosing who to cast your vote for is that there are so many issues on the table. Clearly, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current state of our economy, this election is more important than any election I’ve ever participated in. These issues are all intertwined. I encourage you to not overlook all of these important issues by singling out just one. Think about how we can make this world a better place – not just for a few – but for everyone.


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  2. You are brave to share your opinions! I think that about all the blogs I read (the ones I stock daily), when people take a risk by sharing their feelings and beliefs.

  3. Jenny,

    I too, am proud of you! You are an educated voter who takes all of the issues seriously. It would be phenomenal if the majority of others would do the same.

    Love you,
    Mom Balow

  4. i love what you wrote. and i so appreciate your point of view and your perspective. i especially like how educated you are on both sides. that said, i think from the pro-choice stand point, the reason there is such a stance isn't so much because those people believe that abortion is bad or gross choice or has ugly rammifications...it's b/c they believe it blasphemies the One who created life. and if God created us, then it is only He who should decide when we come into this world and leave. and from that beginning, is how the Word came to life. so i believe that many christians have a great hesitation with obama's presidency simply - largely - because they feel like his word is not based around The Word. ...you know i'm not debating. just adding to the love. and you Are brave for putting yourself out there. i wish you'd do it more. i love seeing into that heart of yours ;)

  5. Thanks for sharing, Jenny. I have to say that my primary issue in voting is abortion, although in this case, I have voted for McCain on more than just that issue. With regards to those Catholics who vote only on the life issue, the Church firmly establishes a hierarchy of concerns in voting, and the killing of innocent life is at the top---always. Sometimes it may seem like circumstances don't allow women to make a better choice for life. I would like to see abortion illegalized AND better care given to women in order that they may choose life. It would be nice to live in a more perfect world, wouldn't it? I was talking to my brother-in-law about this over the weekend, and he brought up a concern that many do---whether abortion is legal or not, people may still do it. While this may be true, a country can not establish its laws clinging to such poor logic. We can't just condone murder because "it will happen, anyway."
    Another issue that steers me away from Obama is his close association with socialist policy. While I would like to see better healthcare access in this country, I do not want my healthcare to fall into the hands of big government. When my Dad got sick with leukemia a few years ago, he had fantastic healthcare coverage through work. Even with that coverage, though, he had to fight---hard, and with legal aid---to have his stem cell transplant covered by his provider. If healthcare coverage falls into the hands of the government, the slippery slope is that people may not be able to choose their doctors and the healthcare coverage may be more limited. I want to be able to make choices for myself on this issue.
    As others have, Jenny, I applaud you for your bravery in voicing your views. I definitely agree that all people are looking for good change in this world...it's an innate desire of mankind. It just happens that our views of how to accomplish that are different. Well, we find out the answer today! :)

  6. P.S. On social justice (very briefly)...Jenny, I definitely agree that more care needs to go in the direction of the impoverished, the hungry, etc. That is always a concern in our nation. However, I would like to see such care provided by non-profits instead of the government. I would like to see tax money freed so that people can aid the poor in a manner they think it more theoretically appropriate. (Unfortunately, the truth is that not enough people are giving their money to private charities...) Anyway, the table of debate is so large. Hopefully, we can just make a decision today and move forward for good tomorrow.

  7. Wow! Thanks so much for everyone who commented. Everyone was so respectful, and I really, really appreciate it. Everyone has their own view on their thoughts in regards to their choice to vote..and I appreciate all who shared. Even if you didn't agree with me on all of it, the post still made you think about your own thoughts...and helped you reaffirm your own. Cuz their our own opinions, there are no wrong views. If only the rest of the world could "debate" issues like this, I think there'd be so much more getting accomplished.

    One thing I want to clarify about Obama's health plan. He doesn't want everyone to be under one socialist health plan. Employers would still offer health plans to their employees. He is offering an option to people who don't have healthcare (including those with pre-existing conditions that have a hard time getting healthcare if they can't get it from work) to buy into the same health care plan. By all those people joining together, their buying power will increase more than if they were buying on their own.

    Honestly, I agree with Anne that it's poor logic to make laws based off of the fact if people are going to do it whether it's legal or not. But it brings up the fact that whether or not abortion is legal, more support needs to be given to mothers in a situation where they're facing an unplanned pregnancy and would contemplate this choice.

    (But I guess I should clarify that I am still pro-choice, because I acknowledge that women always make a choice when they do have an abortion. They make a choice when they keep the baby. They make a choice when they choose adoption. Even Palin acknowledged that her daughter made a choice -- when she decided to keep her baby. I do want people to make a better choice than abortion. If someone chooses an abortion, then it becomes between that person and God...and our secular laws don't compare to God's. But I really do wrestle with this b/c I know people have choices to make for everything they do. We have secular laws regarding murder...even though it's a choice...and if someone does a murder than it's still becomes between that person and God. So obviously I wrestle with this.

    And now I feel like I've gotten way too deep in the pro-life/pro-choice argument and that wasn't the purpose of my post. The purpose of the post is to suggest that people should look at all the issues on the table when deciding how to cast their vote.


What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear.