* * * 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.