In my "Catching Up" post the other day, I was lucky enough to gain a few comments from my good friend Ed Hanks (otherwise known as Rensslaer both here in the comments and at the Paradox site - link in the Entertainment section to the right.) You can also read his musings at Look On the Right Side. In the discussion that followed, he and I went back on forth on the troubling issue of abortion and I must admit that it was a pleasant and meaningful discussion, unlike most arguments one might encounter. As such, I thought it proper to break those comments out into their own post. Here is a little of the back and forth -
The portion of the post Rensslaer responds to:
Readers who are puzzled or angry that I am so supportive of Giuliani should view the 2008 election through this prism: of what import is the endless ‘war’ over abortion in the face of a complete collapse in the real war in Iraq?…
The above is from a post made by Mark at Decision '08.
I definitely agree with you on the war, and its necessity -- I've blogged on the subject at least twice this year.
But Giuliani is a non-starter with me (not that you're necessarily supporting him, but the Decision 08 guy is). I'm not a single-issue voter, even on the war (and I think he's hardly the only pro-war candidate), and I disagree with Giuliani on just about every issue other than the war. He might as well be a Democrat.
I remember just a few years ago, when I was more of a "pragmatic Republican" than I am today -- I might well have gotten along with the fact that he favors killing children. But now, I see "that pesky, divisive abortion issue" for what it is -- a matter of killing children. I see it as equivalent to a candidate who favors killing Jews -- it's not something I can set aside to make a pragmatic vote for the lesser of two evils.
I must quibble that Rudy "favors killing children." What he favors, as far as I can tell, is the ability of an individual to make that choice on their own without the federal government stepping in (regardless of how right or wrong the choice may be.) To me, that is the most conservative position if one really wants to consider small government conservatism. To be sure, the practice of abortion itself is clearly killing unborn children, but rather than have the big old Feds tell me what is right and wrong, I'd rather promote a culture where one's raising and public temperament informed that instead. I tend to feel the same about some of the other issues your general social conservative would bring up in regards to Rudy.
I do support him, yes. And I am a single issue voter right now. I seriously doubt it will be terribly important in the near term that abortions are carried out if a bomb goes off in New York City because we have elected someone not willing to fight terrorism. Keeping someone out of the Oval Office that presided over a small number of children being killed, would very possibly instead see many, many children potentially destroyed in terrorist activities. If and when we can find a solution to the war, then I'll entertain thoughts towards domestic issues, both large and small. Until then, those other issues simply muddy the water (in an already dirty water town.)
The issue, really, is whether abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being.
You've granted that "the practice of abortion is clearly killing unborn children", so...
Think of it this way: Would you support someone whose platform included as a major issue a plank which would remove restrictions against murder, preferring to allow people to "make that choice on their own without the federal (or any) government stepping in (regardless of how right or wrong the choice may be)"?
Personally, I would not, and I'm betting neither would you, or any other conservative.
And since you've yourself made the link between abortion and killing children...
It seems hyperbole on one level to say this, but on another level not:
More people die from abortion every day than die of terrorism anywhere in the world.
The Centers for Disease Control figures indicate 2,300 abortions every day (and they admit that's a conservative figure). How many die from terrorism every day? Every month? Every year (other than 2001)?
Terrorism is important to deal with -- and I'm with you on it -- but abortion isn't something to be swept under the rug as relatively unimportant.
If you think I consider abortion unimportant, you have misunderstood. I think the practice itself is abhorrent, but not the most pressing issue when compared to the issue of Islamic terrorism. Nor do I think it is the government's responsibility to counteract abortion and every bit of it's responsibility to combat terrorism.
Thus, I do not think the true issue is the death of unborn children as much as it is where the line is drawn with government involvement. You make the analogy towards adult murder, but fortunately, the morals and ethics of that practice were settled years ago. Unfortunately, the morals and ethics of abortion have not been settled, and I do not look towards the federal government to take care of that.
In truth, the number of abortions has gone down over the last 20 years or more. This is not due to heavily restrictive laws (though I will certainly concede things like parental consent does help and was necessary.) The practice has lessoned in many peoples eyes/minds precisely because discussion of the morality of abortion has been on peoples lips. That is the only way to truly lesson the practice - not outlawing it. If there were some way to overturn the bad law made by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, I would be perfectly happy allowing each and every state to make the decision of whether or not they would allow abortions. The conservative approach should not be to include more government, but to get government out of the way and allow the better angels of man's nature take over when it comes to the personal responsibility to make such a drastic choice. That is what should be talked up...not some sort of Federal Law outlawing the practice entirely. One, it could and will never happen. And two - nor should it.
It is hypocrisy to suggest on the one hand that there is too much government and then to expect yet another level of such to contend with a moral issue. I am not suggesting you have done so, but that this seems the general position. I do not want government dictating morals, but rather, my own heart and mind should be sufficient (from abortion to drugs to sex and on and on and on.)
Now, if you want to discuss the rights of children (both born and unborn) we could move on to an entirely different set of parameters that in the end, could possibly include the victims of abortion. But any constitutional amendment must protect and preserve a right, not deny such.