Abortion debates highlight various issues

Pro-choice and pro-life activists confront each other during the March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

The hot-button issue of abortion always finds a way onto the presidential election stage.

Since the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the Republicans have lined up in favor of limiting abortions or overturning Roe entirely, while the Democrats support the court’s ruling and want to protect access to abortions. These two camps have come to be known as pro-life and pro-choice.

At a time when the economy is ranked as the most important issue, the republican candidates take an unusual amount of time to talk about abortion. They call themselves pro-life and always try to create a visceral image of abortion. They argue for limiting abortions.

It is hard to tell if this is their actual view or if it's just a play to get the Christian vote. In the 2012 election, Reps.Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdock made comments about limiting abortions in cases of rape or incest. They subsequently lost their elections, and many strategists would point to their abortion comments as the cause behind their loss.

The term pro-life is actually a misnomer. Pro-fetus would be more appropriate. The “pro-life” candidates argue and fight for the fetus to be born, and once it is born they turn their backs, hold back any support and probably badmouth the mother.

Analyzing their policies, one would find cuts to food stamps, Medicaid and education. One would also find resistance to environmental protections and support for the death penalty.

The fetus that the 2016 presidential candidates vowed to protect could be born into a home without food, access to medical care, clean water, good schools and be exposed to toxic chemicals. All those factors can seriously lower a person’s life expectancy.

Not every child is born into a family that can adequately provide for their material and emotional needs, and this is especially true with unexpected pregnancies.

Democrats typically stick to the script of being pro-choice. They argue that the government should keep its nose out of a woman’s business. Their position is more or less to keep safe access to abortions. They do not promote abortions, as the right would try to paint it.

The biggest gripe I have with the abortion debate is that everyone focuses on the act instead of the cause.

Republicans always try to outdo each other on who wants to limit abortions the most. Simply banning it or severely limiting access will be as successful as prohibition was for ending alcohol consumption and will give back-alley abortionists a ready market.

Banning will not rid the country of abortions, but discussing the causes will. I have not heard a public discourse on what causes people to seek abortions. Even when the politicians say “in cases of rape or incest,” is there ever a discussion on how to prevent or reduce rapes?

If economic insecurity is the driving force for people to seek abortions, how can policymakers improve that? What can policymakers do about reducing rapes in this country?

If broken homes put people on the path to an unexpected pregnancy that will end in an abortion, what can society do to help people avoid that path? Can sex education help reduce pregnancies that would end in abortion?

Asking these sorts of questions can help reduce the number of abortions in this country, while making the United States a better place to live.

Will the conversation ever turn toward the causes instead of the act of abortion? I’d like to think so, but the media has a way of stopping this conversation from happening.

It is far more profitable for the media to play a clip of a candidate making an abortion comment to get views than it is to have a policy discussion. Candidates know this well. It is easier for a candidate to say they are pro-life or pro-choice because that will endear them to a certain voting block.

It is unfortunate that this is the way things are, but I have hope. Hope that the coming generation will end this theatre of the culture war through a thorough discussion, instead of the 40-year-old shouting match that has dominated the abortion debate.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Hunter Balczo at torchnews@valpo.edu.

If I’m right, you’re wrong! At least that is the message our hyper-partisan political system perpetuates. Need an example? Look at the design of this editorial page. Democrat on the left, Republican on the right, with images that suggest stiff diametric opposition.

Becoming the champion of “your side” is a breeze when you tout positive change and the “other guy” is just against everything. Are you pro-abortion? Try anti-family. Are you anti-abortion? No, you’re just pro-life.

Did either one of these statements make you angry? Good. Then my point is clear. In a world of zero-sum ideology, semantics matter. Black-and-white portrayal of issues in modern America is a real problem. Take the aforementioned “pro-life” label, for instance.

The Republican party identifies as pro-life because of its stance on abortion.

The official party platform reads, “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.”

The exact point when an unborn child becomes a government-protected human life, however, is not a point of consistency among candidates.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee have stated that life begins at conception and have gone so far as to suggest the legal definition of life should begin at conception, while other presidential hopefuls, such as Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham, support making abortions illegal after the first 20 weeks (when a fetus is capable of feeling pain), or after the first trimester.

Although some label these views extreme, Democrats, intent on preserving women’s purported “right to choose,” completely gloss over the first inalienable right listed in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life.

It was recommended Republican Rick Santorum’s youngest child be aborted because she would not live beyond her first birthday. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley promotes terminating a pregnancy at any time if it is predicted that the child could not survive outside the womb. This idea, loosely defined, is murder, whether you believe life begins at conception, a heartbeat or when a child can first feel pain.

The middle ground on this issue revolves around the very definition of what it means to be pro-life.

Donald Trump says he is, but also claims to be pro-choice. For those who do not believe in the personhood of their own offspring, this logic stands, but I find it rather porous. O’Malley and Rubio cite their Catholic faith on the campaign trail, but Rubio is the only of the two who is avidly anti-abortion.

Candidates on both sides of the aisle have suggested an exemption for rape, incest and survival of the child or its mother. Where these lines blur, choices are more difficult than I can imagine, but if an American truly believes in the sanctity of life, I see very little “choice” in the matter.

Allow me to touch on sanctity of life. In my mind, pro-life means pro-all life. Period. Should we avoid unnecessary war? Absolutely! Should we care for the sick and dying? Of course! These values are held in both parties.

Lincoln Chafee said he wanted to “end these wars” and Ben Carson was against the invasion of Iraq. John Kasich wants to save Social Security and Medicare for the next generation, just as Hillary Clinton does.

Since faith was mentioned as having an influence on policy, a relevant quote to these and other points was said by Sister Joan Chittister: “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

If this diatribe proves anything, it is that broad labels, like pro-life and pro-choice,  incorrectly place people with sometimes similar viewpoints in warring camps, and those with diametrically opposed policy suggestions in the same platoon in the name of party loyalty.

Let’s reevaluate the political stigma around the semantics of “us versus them.” If you are anti-abortion, fine, but don’t claim the pro-life moral high ground if you’re tweeting about how former police officer Darren Wilson should be burned at the stake.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Jacob Schlosser at torchnews@valpo.edu.

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