This is difficult territory. But someone I deeply respect, whose background is evangelical, said he saw abortion in about any circumstances as deeply wrong; he’s also voting for Obama. The schism between sides may mean he hasn’t been exposed to audios like those linked above. Or he doesn’t want to know. So, this is difficult because that Illinois hearing and its transcripts define an in-your-face position.
I consider Obama’s position important – it weighs in my decision. I consider him extreme – I suspect few share his extreme (and harsh) postion. My feelings about abortion are mixed: I understand the long and intense commitment to raising children and the even greater and longer one to raising children with needs. Many of my friends are strongly anti-abortion. I think they have the better of the argument, but I would hesitate. My responsibilities are also to the living. I’ve been lucky and if I spout off with rather unhinged regularity, I have sufficient impulse control to see ahead to responsibilities. People don’t tell me about their abortions – or else my acquaintances also plan. They sense my confusion; we usually go to people at such times we can trust (knowing well what they are likely to say) and they would have no way to know how I’d respond since, to be honest, I don’t know myself. Still, we understand rape, incest, the health of the mother are reasonable exceptions – these categories may be more elastic than some want and not as elastic as others do, but we recognize them.
I suspect among Chicagoboyz feelings are varied and freighted – they certainly are across the nation. Many of us have had to consider much since Roe v Wade. One is early viability – I know proud grandparents of children delivered after six months of gestation; we get e-mails of babies gesturing “Gig ’em” in quite early stages. Another is with maturity I’ve begun to see that consequences of our actions are often best accepted and understood rather than eliminated. And we see in India and China the result of gender selection in abortion and suspect that ending is not going to be good.
Perhaps the strongest factor in my growing doubts about the nature of abortion is the extremity – if vagueness – of its proponents. Whenever a flock of euphemisms gather, we sense the buzzards are circling a dead argument. At least, we know it is intellectually dishonest if strongly felt.
The natural rights arguments against slavery had validity in the 1850’s and the pro-slavery arguments, often clothed in terms that did not face the true nature of slavery, set a pattern we see repeated. But after 1820 these arguments also became more extreme and defensive. It’s hard to be pro-abortion; it was hard to be pro-slavery. And this hesitation, this restless stretching to change the terms, is not the sign of an argument that believes clarity will buttress its position.
Obama’s arguments in the legislative give and take make obvious what so many debaters – and his later speeches – want to cloak. While most of us see Akin (asked by the Romney camp as well as the Missouri one to step down) as beyond the pale, doesn’t the majority, surely the large majority, find the arguments from Obama’s mouth, extreme?
I realize many – certainly Obama – would treat Winthrop’s great speech with irony; still, in 1630, as they stepped from the Arbella, they must have cherished the conclusion to that great old sermon – Let us choose life. And this seems the choice I’d like my country (and my president) to make.
Being positive may be the theme of the week – it is a far better argument to make. Romney on Chris Wallace: from his father to his son to his grandchildren was enmeshed in bourgeois domesticity. But we didn’t meet Obama four years ago in a thoughtful way. So we are fighting battles that should have ended then – and with the emphasis the Democrats have put on Akin, they assume did.