Giving Permission For Pro-Life Voters to Vote For Obama

November 2, 2008, 3:33 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.

Religious progressives have really increased the volume on their argument that a Democratic approach could reduce abortions, even though Democrats are pro-choice. (See Doug Kmiec; Matthew25, and a new coalition called RealAbortionSolutions.org.)

What’s this really about? When i speak to folks in progressive religious world, it’s clear they don’t actually think they’re going to fully convince people that Obama would be better at reducing the number of abortions. After all, this is a rather novel, new argument. Their goal is more limited: to give pro-life voters who are wrestling with an Obama vote “permission” to take the plunge. By raising the idea that there are other ways to reduce abortions besides overturning Roe v. Wade, they make the typical pro-life voter who wants to vote for Obama for other reasons feel less guilty about it.

Evidence that conservatives are worried that this approach might be working: a new email from the Family Research Council entitled, “Abortion Reduction or Pro-life Seduction?” Pointing (accurately) to the fact that Obama supports federal funding for abortion, FRC says , “Americans will get what they pay for-and that is the death of even more innocent, unborn children.”

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U.S. Group Seeks “Third Way” On Abortion

October 31, 2008, 3:35 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.

No single issue in the United States has been as polarizing as abortion. Judging from the rhetoric, the campaigns by partisan groups and the general yelling back and forth it would appear it is a debate that will only be solved by either one side or the other declaring final victory, something that is not likely to happen any time soon.

This past week a new radio ad campaign began in the United States to talk about a “third way.” It is being sponsored by a group called Faith in Public Life, which tries to find common ground for people of faith on a range of issues, including abortion, poverty and immigration.

The ads are intended to get Americans to start thinking about practical ways of reducing abortion, given that the partisan debate of the past 35 years, since Roe vs. Wade, has not changed a thing — and the likelihood of Roe being overturned in the near future is remote. Americans keep having abortions, about 1.2 million a year, and poor women are four times more likely to have an abortion than those more well off.

Katie Paris, a spokeswoman for the group, said they thought the final week of a heated political campaign would be the best time to get their message out. She said both pro-life and pro-choice groups are running ads urging Americans to consider the abortion issue when casting their vote — though they fall short of endorsing a specific candidate.

“It’s the same old debate, same old rhetoric,” she said. “They are all focussed on the legality of abortion and demonizing each other. We believe this new approach is what most people are really interested in. We wanted to put a message out there that would really resonate. It’s trying to get people to think about it differently. We wanted to say it doesn’t have to be like this.”

The ad, which can be heard on realabortionsolutions.com, begins by arguing it is “time to stop the political posturing and get serious about protecting life.” It implores those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice to get past “bumper-sticker rhetoric” and find issues that both sides can agree on to reduce the number of abortions. The web site talks about current bills meant to reduce abortions and quotes Catholic and evangelical supporters of the campaign.

“Even if Roe vs. Wade was overturned today it would not mean that abortions would end,” said Ms. Paris. “The question is: Are there practical things we can do today to start reducing the number of abortions?”

The new ad points out there are still a “tragic 2,400 late-term abortions each year,” but points out that far more babies born never make to their first birthday.

“Late-term abortions come up in the political debates and on talk shows,” said Ms. Paris. “But what nobody is talking about is that 10 times that number of babies die in their first year of life because of inadequate health care. Our infant mortality rate is embarrassing in the United States.”

She said a number of states have programs that have proven successful in reducing abortion and they hope the federal government would mimic the best of these programs and institute them nationally.

“It would also send a message that the government not only values choice but also life,” said Ms. Paris.

Their web site points to two current pieces of federal legislation meant to reduce abortions without calling for it to be illegal. They cover such things as providing for free pre- and post-natal care, making adoptions easier, creating more programs to prevent teen pregnancies and providing educational assistance for pregnant women who want to have their babies.

Ms. Paris said the ads are meant to draw out “pragmatic pro-lifers,” those who are interested in getting results.

“They are really tired of the haggling back and forth. They look at the fact that one in five pregnancies end in abortion in this country and that is too many.”

Two years ago the non-partisan Pew Research Center in Washington found that two out of three Americans support finding a middle ground on abortion. It found 62% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats favoured this approach. And more than six in 10 white evangelicals, often unfairly portrayed as the most strident anti-abortion activists, favoured a compromise.

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Faith Group Misleadingly Attacked in Political Ad

October 31, 2008, 11:26 am | Posted by

Faithful America became the subject of a political attack ad for speaking out against the abuses committed Abu Ghraib.

Faithful America, an online community of more than 80,000 people of faith, yesterday became the subject of a political attack ad for speaking out against the abuses committed Abu Ghraib in 2004. The misleading ad refers to Faithful America as a “liberal group that ran ads on Arab TV apologizing for the actions of U.S. troops.” The attack does not mention that the Faithful America ads were a specific response to the abuses committed at Abu Ghraib, or that America’s political and military leaders similarly deplored and condemned the abuses of detainees at the Iraqi prison.

Faithful America mobilized around the tragic brutality at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 by raising money from its grassroots network to place an advertisement on Arabic-language satellite television expressing sorrow for the abuse. “As Americans of faith, we express our deep sorrow at abuses committed in Iraqi prisons,” the ad stated. “We stand in solidarity with all those in Iraq and everywhere who demand justice and human dignity. We condemn the sinful and systemic abuses committed in our name, and pledge to work to right these wrongs.”

The Faithful America ad, which ran in June 2004, came on the heels of statements from America’s political and military leaders that also deplored and condemned the abuses committed at the Iraqi prison:

“I view those practices as abhorrent.”

– GEORGE W. BUSH, on Arab satellite television, May 2004

“Totally despicable.”

– COLIN POWELL, U.S. Secretary of State, May 2004

“Totally unacceptable and un-American.”

– DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. Secretary of Defense, May 2004

“It was sickening and outrageous.”

–CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. National Security Adviser, May 2004

Faithful America stands by its response to the horrors of Abu Ghraib and calls for the ad’s sponsor to remove its negative and misleading attack on Faithful America from the airwaves.

# # #

Faithful America is an online community of tens of thousands of citizens motivated by faith to take action on the pressing moral issues of our time. Faithful America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization.

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Abortion and 527s

October 30, 2008, 3:48 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.

In 2004, a grassroots organization in Ohio called “Catholics for Kerry” asked the campaign to send a surrogate to one of their events. They were told, “We don’t do white churches.” Turns out, if you “don’t do white churches” you also don’t get to do the White House.

This year, you don’t have to ask twice if you are a religiously motivated voter and you want some attention from the Democrats. Several groups have sprung up to articulate and amplify those parts of Catholic social teaching that correspond with more progressive policies and they are taking to the airwaves to promote their message.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has been busy all election season, hosting conference calls with reporters, preparing voter guides and now running a campaign that includes billboards, print ads and most importantly an extensive radio campaign. For samples, click here. As you can guess from the group’s name, the ads focus on the need to replace the social Darwinism that has reigned in America lo these many years since Reaganomics first began its idolatry of the free market with social policies that bring people together. Solidarity, not competition, is the theme and it could scarcely be more resonant as the nation comes to grips with the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. The ad campaign is running in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.

The group Faith in Public Life is mounting a ten-state ad campaign on Christian radio stations. The ad states: “We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans…It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric. Please learn more by visiting http://www.realabortionsolutions.org/.” The website includes statements from a host of religious leaders about the need to find some common ground on abortion.

Matthew25.org has been busy on the airwaves also. This group is the brainchild of Mara Vanderslice, who won the hearts of many religiously motivated Democrats in 2004 when she cheerfully served in the often thankless job of religious outreach director for the Kerry campaign. They are more explicitly partisan – they have endorsed Obama – and they have been running ads for a couple of months on Christian radio, highlighting Obama’s faith as much as his policy positions, making him familiar to a largely evangelical audience.

Voices from the right have been busy as well. “Catholic Answers” is distributing voter guides again this year. Randall Terry, the pro-life activist, has issued a document called “Faithful Catholic Citizenship” that reflects what he calls “the authentic magisterium,” a not so subtle jab at the U.S. Bishops’ document “Faithful Citizenship.” He also has issued “An appeal to Catholic priests” – but viewer discretion is advised. In the video Terry stands before an altar and displays an aborted fetus, which struck this viewer as tasteless, turning a tragedy into a prop.

I am no believer in averting our gaze from the horror of abortion, but the issue between Catholics in Alliance and Randall Terry is not whether abortion is good or bad but how we can best approach the issue. Some were moved when they watched “Silent Scream” and others were repulsed, but in a democracy the key is to convince and to do so in a way that respects the views of those with whom we disagree.

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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.”

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