Some months ago I published my credo on abortion. I presented my views on what I thought should be a balanced American approach to treating that controversial subject. I thought my idea included a respectful recognition of different points of view, but had as its central focus the reduction of the incidence of abortion. Since then, however, I have received substantial criticism from members of the evangelical community for my “anti-Christian” and “murderous” attitude.
In private email (no one had the courage to post in my blog forum) my critics’ rhetoric seemed to have little to do with an honest interest in reducing abortions; it was directed much more toward efforts to force Americans to yield to a particular political agenda. So, shifting to the purely political implications:
Though I am a lifelong MODERATE conservative I am offended by the hypocrisy of the Republican/Evangelical alliance and its hateful intolerant message on abortion. They try to claim the moral high ground but invariably actually travel the low road. Their leaders howl loudly about the preciousness of life and how abortion is such a moral sin against God and country. But at the same time they brag about their law and order credentials and take pride in their record of putting “vicious criminals” to death. While there is no agreement about when life begins, certainly no one can deny that a man led into the death chamber is alive when he enters.
When I challenge conservative evangelical extremists about this clear hypocrisy they typically offer one of two defenses: “Well I haven’t focused on the death penalty; my main concern is the poor innocent unborn babies”; or “those criminals were found guilty in a court of law and got their just punishment”. Both arguments ring hollow to me. Either life is precious or it isn’t! If their faith and political convictions are sincere why is it that they think God allows them to decide which life to protect and which to take. On the other hand, if their argument about the death penalty is valid, would they also be comfortable with and supportive of abortion as long as a jury of her peers agreed that a woman could have that procedure?
Regardless of my personal feelings on the subject it is clear that the public debate about abortion is not primarily driven by spiritual or moral concerns. It is a wedge issue Republicans/Evangelicals use in jockeying for political power. Democrats are generally an undisciplined party and not particularly idealogical; they are pro-choice because they depend on broad political coalitions and that is where most Americans are. Republicans on the other hand are much more idealogical, disciplined, and wedded to group-think. They are pro-life because they have forged a narrow coalition with white evangelical leaders, gun rights advocates, anti-immigrant activists, old paternalistic white men, and various other ultra-conservative groups.
Finally, I know nothing I can say will sway Republicans or Evangelicals; they are stuck in their own “righteous” political bubble. But the most despicable aspect of their “holier than thou” attitude is their hateful abuse of poor families. They work tirelessly to block abortion rights which mostly only affect poor women; but then they insist on cutting the very social services that help provide for the children that result from unplanned pregnancies. That seems both un-Godly and un-American to me!
I don’t plan any more comments on this subject barring some unanticipated major political development.