A Turning Point For the Politics of Abortion?

October 30, 2008, 3:38 pm | Posted by

After decades of bitter partisanship and nasty wedge politics surrounding the highly controversial issue of abortion will this election cycle be remembered as a turning point for the politics of abortion? A notable shift has occurred in the political discourse about abortion this year. The really began with a meeting Senator Barack Obama set up with conservative leaders to discuss social issues, particularly gay rights and abortion, in early June. Steve Strang, founder of Charisma Magazine, came out of the meeting saying he found Obama to be “more centrist than expected.” Catholic “pro-life” leader and former Reagan adviser Doug Kmiec, who had already given an endorsement of sorts for Obama in Ferbruary, was at the meeting as well and less than a week later wrote in the Chicago Tribune that “disagreement or not, it is abundantly clear from our conversation that Obama shares a common aspiration to reduce the incidence of abortion.” On September 15 Kmiec published a book, Can a Catholic Support Him?: Asking the Big Questions about Barack Obama, that answers the title’s question with an unequivocal “yes.” The new view that is being increasingly taken up by “pro-life” advocates is that three decades of trying to make abortion illegal has done little to reduce the rate of abortion. Since that tack has been tried exhaustively, and failed, a new tack that, as a new radio ad from Faith in Public Life says, focuses on “real solutions that will drastically reduce abortions by expanding programs that encourage adoption, increasing pre- and post-natal healthcare, preventing unintended pregnancies, and helping young mothers choose life.”

The Boston Globe takes a look at this development today in an article today that notes that as the inflammatory abortion rhetoric ramps up in the last days before the election a “new view” on abortion has surfaced:

“The banning-abortion position, conservatives will admit, is not a realistic one in this country – it’s never going to happen, and they admit it’s not going to happen,” said Jim Wallis, a leading progressive evangelical. “Maybe abortion reduction could result in a more prolife outcome than taking what have become symbolic stances that are never going to be achieved” in the United States.

And even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, recognizes Nicholas Cafardi, a prominent Catholic scholar, abortion rights will be returned to the states to govern and it seems that at least half would maintain a legal right to abortion:

Within the Catholic Church, the argument has been made most prominently by Nicholas Cafardi, a legal scholar at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh who has held several important church positions, and who wrote last month: “While I have never swayed in my conviction that abortion is an unspeakable evil, I believe that we have lost the abortion battle – permanently.”

The reason, Cafardi and others have argued, is that even if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the battle would return to the states, many of which would not outlaw the procedure.

While the idea of reaching compromise on abortion though maintaining a legal right while working to reduce its incidence is not new, Obama’s leadership on including the idea in the Democratic platform and outreach to leaders and scholars on the other side of the debate has raised the prospects of the compromise becoming a reality:

Scholars say the idea of abortion reduction is not new. As president, Bill Clinton wanted to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” But it has gathered new currency as the Democratic Party included the idea in its platform and two Catholic Democrats in the House of Representatives – Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, who supports abortion rights, and Tim Ryan of Ohio, who opposes abortion rights – have pushed an abortion reduction package in Congress.

Obama raised the issue in the last presidential debate, saying, “there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together.”

add a comment »

Christian Leaders Support New Ad Calling for Common Ground Solutions to Reduce Abortions

October 29, 2008, 6:26 pm | Posted by

Ad Running on Christian Radio in 10 States

Starting today, a bold new Christian radio ad campaign supported by numerous nationally prominent religious leaders will saturate media markets in ten states. Calling for common ground solutions to reduce the number of abortions in America, the ad will air between now and Election Day in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.

The ad calls for an end to political posturing and asks Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric. The ad script reads as follows:

With 1 in 5 pregnancies in America ending in abortion and the number of abortions unchanged from 32 years ago, it’s time to stop the political posturing and get serious about protecting life.

2,400 late-term abortions a year is tragic, but what often gets ignored is that 10 times more infants die each year in America largely because of inadequate healthcare.

We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans.

Thankfully, some lawmakers are already working on real solutions that will drastically reduce abortions by expanding programs that encourage adoption, increasing pre- and post-natal healthcare, preventing unintended pregnancies, and helping young mothers choose life.

It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric. Please learn more by visiting www.realabortionsolutions.org.

The web site, www.realabortionsolutions.org, contains information about bills that advance the goal of abortion reduction by addressing the root causes of abortion, quotes from Evangelical and Catholic leaders supporting the campaign, as well as an audio recording of the ad itself.

The ideologically diverse faith leaders coming together to support the ad campaign have track records of speaking out against divisive political posturing and for results-oriented solutions on the issue of abortion.

“Now is the time to turn from political slogans to actual solutions to our national abortion problem. I endorse an abortion reduction strategy that goes to the roots of the demand for abortion. We need to care for the unborn by caring effectively for the mothers and families who need concrete help in bringing children safely to birth and into families that will love them well,” says Dr. David P. Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, president of Evangelicals for Human Rights, and author of The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center.

“Breaking the decades-long deadlock on abortion requires not only a change of policy, but also of hearts and minds. Common ground solutions that will reduce the number of abortions in America loosen the stultifying grip of ideology and make protecting the lives of the unborn and the well-being of mothers our first priorities — just as they should be,” says Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which serves 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians in 18,000 Hispanic churches.

“I’ve been active in the pro-life movement for 36 years, and I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the way to reduce the number of abortions NOW is through positive steps to help young mothers facing crisis pregnancies so they in fact have a real choice. If we do so, I am convinced most will choose life,” says Steve Monsma, senior research fellow at the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College and author of Healing for a Broken World.

“We must move beyond the spiritually damaging culture war era. Deeply felt moral issues must no longer be leveraged for partisan gain. Let’s all join together to be part of a positive strategy to reduce abortions in America that puts problem-solving above political posturing,” says Rev. Rich Cizik, vice president for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.

“We enthusiastically support this strategy to save babies’ lives. We must outgrow our ineffective and angry ideological politics, and we must work together to pass legislation that will support every vulnerable mother and child,” say Dr. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of the 12,00-member Northland, A Church Distributed, and his wife Becky Hunter.

“For decades now we’ve been stuck in a cycle of polarized legal debates that repeat “pro-choice” and “pro-life” mantras from either side while the number of abortions has remained mostly unchanged. What we need now is a new national commitment to pursuing practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the abortion rate in America,” says Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners.

“We must demand from Republicans and Democrats a serious commitment to save the unborn, addressing the real issues in women’s lives that give rise to abortion. Where is the morality in more abortion politics as usual? We must insist that the parties come together to find common ground in caring policies for young mothers, infants, and adoption that will truly reduce abortion in America,” says Steve Schneck, director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America.

“Both sides of the aisle have done little more than offer rhetoric when it comes to the unborn as well as the newborn among poverty-stricken mothers faced with difficult choices. Some politicians have spoken out on these issues, but they are the exceptions and not the rule. I fully support programs and discussions that encourage a true pro-life position to reduce abortions and help those faced with difficult choices to choose life,” says Joe Battaglia, President of the major Christian marketing firm Renaissance Communications, Inc.

“Catholics and all Americans are tired of our nation’s leaders treating abortion as a divisive wedge issue to score political points. Being pro-life is more than a slogan. It requires a bipartisan commitment to effective social and economic policies that reduce abortions and help women choose life, including pre and post-natal health care, nutrition support, living wage jobs, and caring adoption alternatives,” says Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Faith in Public Life, a communications and organizing resource center with an extensive record of working with diverse religious groups to build bridges on issues of justice, compassion, and the common good, helped bring together this coalition of prominent supporters. Faith in Public Life has worked with a broad range of partners to amplify their efforts to address moral issues such as abortion reduction (Come Let Us Reason Together), torture (National Religious Campaign Against Torture), comprehensive immigration reform (Evangelical Call to Action with Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Dr. Richard Land), and climate change (Great Warming Call to Action). Last spring, Faith in Public Life organized The Compassion Forum, a nationally televised presidential candidates’ forum in which diverse faith leaders, including then-President of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Frank Page and President of the National Baptist Convention, Dr. William Shaw, asked Senators Obama and Clinton about these and other issues that bridge ideological divides.

add a comment »

New Abortion Ad on Christian Radio

October 29, 2008, 3:56 pm | Posted by

Hey conservative Evangelicals! I’ve got news for you. You may not like it.

There’s a new abortion ad up on Christian radio and it’s probably not your cup of tea.

The group Faith in Public Life is behind the effort. Listen here and read the script below:

With 1 in 5 pregnancies in America ending in abortion and the number of abortions unchanged from 32 years ago, it’s time to stop the political posturing and get serious about protecting life.

2,400 late-term abortions a year is tragic, but what often gets ignored is that 10 times more infants die each year in America largely because of inadequate healthcare.

We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans.

Thankfully, some lawmakers are already working on real solutions that will drastically reduce abortions by expanding programs that encourage adoption, increasing pre- and post-natal healthcare, preventing unintended pregnancies, and helping young mothers choose life.

It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric. Please learn more by visiting www.realabortionsolutions.org.

The ad is up on Christian radio right now and will air all the way until Election Day in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.

Moderate and progressive Evangelicals are pushing hard to change the debate on abortion in this country.

add a comment »

Progressives on Christian Radio

October 29, 2008, 3:53 pm | Posted by

*For RealAbortionSolutions.org, FPL built a coalition of religious leaders who were already dedicated to common ground solutions to reduce abortions to support an ad campaign to raise awareness about this approach. So far, ads have run in 11 states and during the March for Life in Washington, DC.

From TIME’s Amy Sullivan:

There’s been growing momentum over the past few years behind an

alternative approach to the abortion issue, an effort some people

refer to as “abortion reduction.” The idea is that whether they’re

pro-choice or pro-life, most people agree that it would be a good

thing if the abortion rate could be lowered–whether through

preventing unplanned pregnancies or by providing economic and social

supports for women who would like to carry their pregnancies to term.

The effort got a big boost this year when Barack Obama plugged it

in his acceptance speech. And it seems to resonate with Americans who

are tired of the shouting matches that usually occur whenever abortion

comes up–when Obama mentioned it again in the third presidential

debate, focus groups dials soared.

This morning, a religious coalition is going up on the air with a

radio ad calling for support for abortion reduction policies. The ad is running on

Christian radio stations in 10 swing states, including Ohio, Indiana,

North Carolina, and Missouri. Here’s how it starts: “With 1 in 5

pregnancies in America ending in abortion and the number of abortions

unchanged from 32 years ago, it’s time to stop the political posturing

and get serious about protecting life.” (The full script and other

resources are available at an accompanying website:

http://www.realabortionsolutions.org)

The ad buy comes at the same time that a progressive Catholic

organization–Catholics United–is sending a direct mail piece to 50,000

households in Ohio and Pennsylvania, asking Catholic voters to

consider ways to deal with abortion apart from trying to overturn

Roe. And it argues for an expanded definition of “pro-life”

that includes opposition to torture, support for universal health

care, and alleviating poverty.

Will these messages make any difference in states with large

Catholic and Evangelical populations? The economy is already trumping

social issues for many moderate-to-conservative religious voters. But

there’s still a significant number of undecided Catholics and

Evangelicals out there. In 2004, they broke heavily for Bush.

add a comment »

Shocking Radio Ad Pushes For Common Ground Abortion Reduction

October 29, 2008, 3:50 pm | Posted by

This campaign season has brought a new species: ads that advocate for fewer abortions but are implicitly pro-choice. Matthew25 did the first wave of such ads.

Now, Faith in Public Life has begun running an unusual radio ad in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.

Pro-life activists will bristle at the notion that “we need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life.” Pro-choice activists will dislike the call to help young mothers “choose life.” But all in all, the language is actually closer to where many Americans are: wanting abortion legal but more rare.

The text of the ad:

With 1 in 5 pregnancies in America ending in abortion and the number of abortions unchanged from 32 years ago, it’s time to stop the political posturing and get serious about protecting life.

2,400 late-term abortions a year is tragic, but what often gets ignored is that 10 times more infants die each year in America largely because of inadequate healthcare.

We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans.

Thankfully, some lawmakers are already working on real solutions that will drastically reduce abortions by expanding programs that encourage adoption, increasing pre- and post-natal healthcare, preventing unintended pregnancies, and helping young mothers choose life.

It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric. Please learn more by visiting www.realabortionsolutions.org.

Given that most ads are either attacking Obama for supporting infanticide or McCain for putting pregnant women’s lives at risk, it’s rather amazing to hear an ad like this right now. I’m obviously especially sympathetic with their point about the failure of politicians (pro life and pro choice) to look at the 28,000 babies who die in what I called “the seventh trimester.”

add a comment »