The New Christians

The New Christians


Sebelius + HHS = Fewer Abortions

posted by Tony Jones

sebelius.jpgThis morning, I have signed a last-minute petition supporting the appointment of Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius, as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Some on the Right are raising a stink about Sebelius’s pro-choiciness, but if you take the time to read the statement below, you will see that she, like Obama, is committed to dramatically reducing abortions.  Let’s be honest, people, there is little political will to “end” abortions legislatively or judicially.  Right now, it’s up to the executive branch to work toward the systemic reduction of abortion.

As Christians dedicated to finding common ground solutions to reduce
the number of abortions in America, we welcome President Obama’s
nomination of Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and
Human Services.

Under Governor Sebelius’ leadership, abortions have decreased in Kansas
by 10 percent, adoption funding and incentives have increased,
healthcare access for women and families has expanded, prenatal care
has become more widely available, and legislation protecting the unborn
from crime has become law. Such a record demonstrates a commitment to
results rather than rhetoric on life issues.

She is a Democratic Governor who has been elected by wide margins in a
state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one. Her
nomination has already won not only the support of Democrats, but also
praise from Republican pro-life Senators such as Sam Brownback and Pat
Roberts and Governors such as Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Her record and
her relationships with leaders in both parties are proof that
pro-choice and pro-life leaders can work together to advance a
pro-family agenda.

The governor, who is by all accounts a person of deep faith, deserves a
fair hearing in Congress and in the public square. Efforts to discredit
her will no doubt arise, but we hope that such tactics will not succeed
in taking focus off of her record of reducing abortions and supporting
women and families in Kansas – and the task that lies ahead of us all:
working together to improve health care and reduce the number of
abortions in America.

As a state legislator, Insurance Commissioner and now as Governor,
Kathleen Sebelius has worked to find common-sense solutions to increase
women’s access to health care and to reduce the number of unintended
pregnancies and abortions. Under Sebelius’ leadership, abortions have
decreased in Kansas, adoption funding and incentives have increased,
and women’s medical privacy has been protected.

Number of Abortions In Kansas Decreased Between 2002 And 2007 By 8.5%:
In 2002, 11,844 abortions were reported in Kansas. In 2007, that number
dropped by more than 1,000, or 8.5%, to 10,836. [Kansas Department of
Health and Environment, Center for Health and Environmental Statistics,
Abortions in Kansas, 2002 and 2007]

Teen Pregnancy Rate Fell Between 2002 And 2006: Kansas’ annual rate of
pregnancy for ten-to-nineteen-year-olds decreased from 28.3 to 27.1
(per 1,000 in female age group population) between 2002 and 2006. The
number of teen pregnancies in the state fell from 5,586 in 2002 to
5,192 in 2006, a 7% decrease. [Kansas Department of Health and
Environment, Center for Health and Environmental Statistics, Teenage
Pregnancy Report, 2002 - 2006]

Sebelius Signed Bill That Enacted “Alexa’s Law” Related To Crimes
Against A Fetus: In 2007, Sebelius signed HB 2062, which enacted
Alexa’s Law, to deal with certain crimes against unborn children.
“Unborn child” was defined as meaning a fetus at any state of gestation
from fertilization to birth. The bill meant that if a pregnant woman
was murdered, the offender could be charged with the murder of the
unborn child as well. The following crimes were included under Alexa’s
Law: murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter,
vehicular homicide, battery, aggravated battery, and capital murder.
[HB 2062, Kansas Legislative Summary 2007]

Sebelius Signed Bill Requiring Abortion Providers Submit Fetal Tissue
Samples to Kansas Bureau of Investigations: In 2005, Sebelius signed
the “Child Rape Protection Act” to require abortion providers to submit
a fetal tissue sample to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation when the
mother was younger than 14 years old. [Kansas City Star, 4/16/05]

1992: Sebelius Supported Compromise On Abortion Issue, Banned Late Term
Abortions:  Sebelius voted for a compromise bill containing several
limitations on a woman’s right to abortion. The bill banned late-term
abortions, required parental notification, and required that a minor
would have to be accompanied by an adult for abortion counseling. The
House voted to pass the legislation, 82-41. [HB 2778, 3/2/92; House
Journal, Page 1480-1483]

Funding For Adoption Support Increased Over $2 Million Under Sebelius:
Between FY2002 and FY2007, funding for adoption support, which helps
families who adopt children, increased by $2.1 million. Adoption
support funds can be used to modify a home to accommodate a child with
special needs, pay for other unique costs the adoptive child may have,
or simply provide on-going financial support. [Kansas Division of
Budget; FY 2002-2007]

Sebelius Administration Received Federal Adoption Incentive Payment:
Kansas received an adoption incentive payment of $440,000 from the U.S.
Department of Health, as a result of increased adoptions in FY2003.
Incentive funds were to be used to address long-term stability of
adoptive homes through the development and implementation of parent
education programs. [Kansas Department of Social Rehabilitative
Services, 2005-2006 Business Plan]

Signed Law Doubling Adoption Tax Credit: Sebelius signed legislation in
2006 to double the adoption tax credit. In 2004, under the Sebelius
administration, 306 families received adoption tax credits in Kansas
totaling $328,005. [SB 432, 2006; Associated Press, 5/22/06; Kansas
Division of Budget]

Sebelius Signed Bill To Aid Adoptions: In 2008, Sebelius signed a bill
that expanded the pool of people eligible to conduct adoption home
assessments by adding the following professions: licensed clinical
marriage and family therapist; licensed marriage and family therapist;
licensed clinical professional counselor; licensed psychologist;
licensed masters level psychologist; licensed clinical psychotherapist;
and licensed child-placing agency. [HB 2570, Kansas Legislative Summary
2008]

Pushed Legislation to Require State Funding of Health Care Programs For
Pregnant Women And Children: In 1990, Sebelius and a group of women
legislators successfully added $1.5 million funding to the state’s
appropriations bill to provide resources for pregnant women and
children, including health care and nutrition programs. [Wichita Eagle,
3/8/90]

Sebelius-Appointed Attorney General Is Prosecuting Dr. George Tiller
For Violating Late-Term Abortion Law. In January 2008, Gov. Sebelius
appointed Douglas County District Judge Steve Six as attorney general,
replacing Paul Morrison, who left office after disclosing an
extramarital affair. “Six said last month [October 2008] that while he
does not approve of Kline’s handling of the investigation, that doesn’t
mean the charges should be dismissed. He also argued in court documents
that Morrison filed the case after conducting his own investigation.”
Tiller’s trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 4, 2009.
[Associated Press State & Local Wire, 12/25/09; Associated Press
State & Local Wire, 11/14/08; Kansas City Star, 2/26/09]

Sebelius Has Vetoed Legislation That Put Women’s Privacy In Jeopardy:
In May 2007, Sebelius vetoed a bill that would have required more
reporting details regarding late-term abortion. In her veto message,
she wrote: “The questions required by this proviso are open-ended and
request detailed information on a patient’s medical condition.” She
said the provision would open a patient’s private medical information
to possible public viewing. In 2008, Sebelius vetoed a measure that
dealt with late-term abortions. The bill authorized information
obtained by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Environment,
including the identification of physicians medical care facilities, to
be disclosed to district and country attorneys, the Board of Healing
Arts, and the Attorney General thereby threatening women’s medical
privacy by turning over records to law enforcement. [Kansas City Star,
5/22/07; House Sub. For SB 389, Kansas Legislative Summary 2008]



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Comments read comments(49)
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Carla

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:05 am


Thanks for posting this Tony. She’s proof that there is a way forward on the abortion issue that goes beyond rhetoric and leads to better health for women, better protection for families, and a reduction in abortions.



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Your Name

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:05 am


This is the best possible outcome for Pro-Life Christians in a democratic administration.



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Marcus Pittman

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:06 am


There is no will because people side with apathy.
How pathetic is this. “There is nothing we can do but sit back and let the politicians take control, whine whine sniffle sniffle”
The politicians do not care because the ones that elect them do not care. This is absolutely NO anger about the millions of children that have been killed. There is none.
Wake Up people. Segregation was not ended because people sat back and waited for the Politicians to do something. There was a constant stream of protests. Peaceful? yes. Loud? Yes. Apathetic? No.
Voting for candidates that are apathetic towards abortion is a losing deal.
Republicans and Democrats together are failing us on this Issue. George Bush did nothing for Abortion but give Planned Parenthood millions in his budget.
What needs to happen is people need to STOP voting for these parties who promise to stop killing children but let eight years go by without doing a single thing.
Once the republicans are incapable of gaining a single pro-life vote because of their apathy then they will wake up.
T



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Brian

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:25 am


I’m so grateful for politicians like Obama and Sebelius who are fair-minded on the issue of abortion. Maybe our politians are starting to listen to Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren!



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pagansister

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:30 am


Good Choice. Thanks for the details on Sebelius, Tony.



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Your Name

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:55 am


As usual, Catholics United just makes this stuff up as it goes along…
In fact, the Kansas health department showed a 6.5 percent increase in abortions from 2005 to 2006. Sebelius repeatedly vetoed legislation that has proven in other states to reduce abortions in large numbers.
Sebelius repeatedly vetoed any regulations on abortion centers and it was someone Sebelius opposed who filed the charges against Tiller.
The rest of this may as well be fodder for Comedy Central its such a laugh.



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Blue Collar Todd

posted March 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm


Strange days when abortion absolutism is seen as a way forward. If President Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act, it will directly cause the number of abortions in America to go up. It is truly sad how the rhetoric of compassion is used to justify killing the unborn and actually claimed to be pro-child. It is hard to believe that Liberal Christians are so twisted the teaching of Jesus about the least of these that they have eliminated the unborn from this category.
Not only that but Jesus is talking about his brothers and sisters, and Liberalism will lead to the persecution of Christians, thus violating this teaching in the extreme. It is absolutely absurd as some on the Left do, that President Obama is pro-life. No he is not, he is pro-abortion.



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Keith DeRose

posted March 2, 2009 at 6:54 pm


I have no independent access to the relevant facts, but here we have people putting themselves out there, complete with their names, making factual claims that can be easily disproven if false & giving citations, and then we have “Your Name” saying people are making it up, but “Your Name” doesn’t say which of the factual claims is false, gives no citations to where we can go to see that they’re false, and isn’t even saying who s/he is! What’s Comedy Central-worth is folks talking tough while being too afraid to even identify themselves.



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Keith DeRose

posted March 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm


That’s supposed to be “Comedy Central-worthy.”
Oh, and Tony: To nitpick a little, I think it’s supposed to be “fewer abortions”, not “less abortions.”



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Your Name

posted March 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm


I’m paraphrasing Mark Dever when I say (and agree) that fighting to bring someone on board to “reduce” the number of abortions in America while keeping abortion-on-demand legal is akin to fighting to bring someone on board Nazi Germany’s regime to “reduce” the number of Jews being slaughtered while still slaughtering them for Hitler’s insane reasons. You fight to end the slaughter, not to reduce the slaughter, no matter how “unrealistic” it is. This is justice (Micah 6). Period.
It’s not about what’s expedient, it’s about what’s right, and what is right is placing the right of the unborn child to live above the right of the mother to end her child’s life for any reason short of endangering the mother’s life. If Sebelius and Obama had a Christian ethical system, they would know this. However, since they don’t, this ALONE gives me enough reason to distrust their leadership in this critical area.
Obama and Sebelius will be judged for what they believe, and I pray that they repent and trust in the Christ of the Bible before it’s too late.



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Jason

posted March 2, 2009 at 9:51 pm


Sorry, I forgot to add my name (Jason) to the last post.



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Greg Gorham

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:08 pm


But by that logic, wouldn’t Oscar Schindler have been acting unjustly by trying to work within the Nazi regime to save as many people as he could, and not launching a full-frontal assault against the Nazis? Or Anne Frank’s parents been wrong by trying to save their child and not take on the whole thing?
I would love to see the day when America and the world sees no abortions. But while we work for that, we should do everything we can to save as many lives as possible. Taking a stand against abortion is great, but as you would doubtlessly agree, in the meantime babies are dying. And you are opposing people and measures that can be taken now to save some of those lives. I would rather save lives now, in the continual hope and prayer of saving even more later, than stand on principal and see nothing done to save the children who don’t have 30 years to wait for the Supreme Court to be stacked in exactly the proper fashion.



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jasper

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:08 pm


wow, what a delusional column….



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Gwyddion9

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:12 pm


Fewer abortions, I could go with that thought but I also hope Obama and Sebelius will get rid of the prior administrations policy on denying birth control, be they condoms, the pill or the day after pill. The federal government needs to back out of people’s bedrooms.
I give credit to Sebelius for her not seeking to make people follow her religions beliefs on abortion. It is a choice but then again, if people would take the time to use birth control, perhaps there wouldn’t be much of an issue.
All the best to her.



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Jasper

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:13 pm


Oscar Schindler didn’t vote repeatadly for the Nazi regime. Unlike Kathleen Sebelius who consistantly blocked pro-life measures…
what lies, what damned lies…



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Akreps

posted March 2, 2009 at 11:47 pm


Sebelius’ unwavering support of the bioscience industry in Kansas has amassed significant wins for our region, and we can reasonably expect her continued support in Washington, D.C.
#1 – In 2004, she signed the Kansas Economic Growth Act which created one of the nation’s largest state-sponsored investment funds solely dedicated to our burgeoning bioscience industry.
#2 – KEGA created the Kansas Bioscience Authority which, with Sebelius’ unyielding support, leads the state’s bioscience investment portfolio. Four short years later, Kansas is now recognized as a Top 10 state in biotechnology alongside California, Illinois and Massachusetts.
#3 – She put partisanship aside to lure the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a $650 million federal research facility, to Manhattan. She solicited support from other governors, Republicans and Democrats. She named a Republican, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, as the Honorary Chairman and encouraged state Republican and Democratic leadership to introduce and pass a $105 million NBAF bond.
#4 – Sebelius has long endorsed the quest for National Cancer Institute (NCI) comprehensive cancer center designation at the University of Kansas. As head of HHS, Sebelius would oversee the agency (NIH) that provides substantial funding for NCI designated cancer centers. The NIH also has programs which fund research in drug discovery and clinical research, both of which are integral components of the KU Cancer Center plan.
Secretary of HHS is the perfect job for Kathleen Sebelius. Her commitment to our industry, paired with her knowledge of our region’s assets and her clear track record of bipartisanship, gives the bioscience community hope when we need it most.



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Jason

posted March 3, 2009 at 1:35 am


Oscar Schindler > Kathleen Sebelius
I cannot read Schindler’s mind, but I would surmise that if it would have been within his power, he would have effectively stopped Jewish genocide. Sebelius, however, has absolutely no desire whatsoever to end all abortion save for the physical life of the mother, and her pro-choice voting record proves it. She can institute all of the government programs she wants, but until she starts declaring all abortions (save for the physical life) immoral and start talking/voting that way, she will be implicitly partnering with those who butcher millions of innocents. Their blood is on her hands before Almighty God. Her ethical view is bankrupt because she ultimately places the right of the mother to murder her child over the right of the child to live.
God help her, and God help President Obama. They must repent and trust in the Christ of the Bible before it is too late.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 4:28 am


Jason wrote:
“It’s not about what’s expedient, it’s about what’s right, and what is right is placing the right of the unborn child to live above the right of the mother to end her child’s life for any reason short of endangering the mother’s life.”
and…
“but until she starts declaring all abortions (save for the physical life) immoral and start talking/voting that way, she will be implicitly partnering with those who butcher millions of innocents.”
I consider myself pro-life (although others may not), but I also struggle with the idea that the solution is to make abortion illegal. Even when it is illegal, women still get abortions… they just become incredibly dangerous.
And this is where I see an inconsistency in your argument, Jason. You seem to value the life of the fetus, but you value the mother’s life even higher. In actuality, wouldn’t a “Christian ethical system” (as you phrased it) actually demand that the mother die for her child? Didn’t Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another? The fetus is incapable of making that choice, but the mother isn’t. So why do you make the exception for abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger (I guess I understand it for when they are both going to die and they can really only save the mother… but many cases where complications arise it really is an either/or)?
If you then, as it seems, value the mother’s life higher than the fetus, why would you endanger her life by taking away her access to a safe and sterile abortion? Even if legislation is passed outlawing abortion, that doesn’t mean people will think it morally wrong (as I do), they will simply think it illegal and will find ways around the law. Those illegal avenues are fraught with danger for the mother. So, if her life is more valuable, why create this potential situation.
Instead, why not seek all means possible to lower the number of abortions? The I did some fact-checking and it seems the statistics put forth in Tony’s post are accurate. If they are not, please cite. As abortions decrease through these methods, people’s hearts will be turned more and more towards further methods of reduction.
Abortion will never disappear just as sin will never disappear without divine intervention (which comes through the resurrection of the flesh and the final recreation of the heavens and the earth). So why not seek to change hearts and minds and policies in order to reduce the numbers and still keep it legal and safe for those who would choose, based upon a different understanding of when human life should be protected (just like within Judaism and Christianity there has always been a debate about that issue), to have an abortion… since their life seems important to you as well?



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Willie

posted March 3, 2009 at 8:45 am


Keep it legal and safe to murder an unborn child while still in the “safest” place on earth, where little hands and feet have no power to defend and little minds and mouths no power to speak.
Illicit and very dangerous drugs are illegal, yet countless thousands continue to seek them out and to destroy their own lives. That is a choice they make and that we live with. With the exception of a significant number of Libertarians and a few pot heads I don’t see/hear a unified outcry to make illicit and dangerous drugs legal. It would be irresponsible and immoral.
Those of us (yes, I, too and a sinner!) who suppress truth in unrighteousness and seek desperately to bring sinful desires to their fullest and most illogical conclusion (Romans 1:18-32 and James 1:14-16) will always find a way, illegal or not, to fulfill those desires. The murder of a child is no exception.



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Willie

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:03 am


*Yes, I, too AM a sinner.
*The murder of an unborn child is no exception.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:21 am


Willie,
You have to understand that your position is theological, not medical. Is a fetus life? Yes. Is it human life? Yes. But is it a person? That is the question. I believe that it is, but that is because I do not go along with Aquinas’ assertion that ensoulment takes place at the stirring of the fetus (when the baby starts to move). Aquinas allowed for abortion up until that point. Other theologians, both Christian and Jewish, have varying opinions. The medical field can only determine when a fetus is viable outside the womb… they cannot determine the personhood.
If every fertilized egg is a person and has the right to be protected, then God is the biggest abortionist of all time (think miscarriages or the simple expulsion of a fertilized egg that didn’t attach to the uterus).
Do you really want to legislate your theological position? I know I don’t because what happens when someone else’s theology, in opposition to my own, becomes the law?
As for the drug reference, there is a significant, albeit marginalized, movement for the legalization of drugs. Again, I do not want drugs readily available, and the reason I am comfortable with legislation against it is because it is not a theological issue but a societal one. We KNOW that drugs are harmful (I would include nicotene as well and would love to see tobacco illegal but that is a ‘pipe’ dream) due to their addiction causing nature. Marijuana is actually the only one not physically addictive (alcohol is very rarely physically addictive and only through intense abuse) and therefore I have no problem with its legalization. However, the other drugs do great harm to the individual, and since injury to one member of society ripples through society as a whole, the libertarian argument can be dismissed. We are a society, not a colony of hermits (see Monty Python’s sketch about hermit colonies… hilarious and sort of historically accurate), thus it is permissible to regulate certain behaviors and substances, even though it infringes upon individual rights, for the good of the whole.
And not to totally derail this discussion, but we do see a large outcry for safer ways for those addicted to illegal drugs to administer them: clean needle programs are an example.
Back to abortion. Since the personhood of a fetus is a theological position, it cannot and should not be legislated. Rather, it should be debated and those of us who believe it must work to change hearts and minds as well as the situations that tend to lead to abortion (poverty, lack of education, lack of medical treatment, fear). We must not focus on changing behavior… that only lasts as long as someone is watching.
I would argue it is those who are seeking a government response to a theological issue (and thus depending on the government to be the church) who are suppressing the truth. Of course, I would belong to what TJ has called the “Hauerwasian Mafia.”



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panthera

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:44 am


I do not, can not and never shall understand the position of those Christians who demand we do nothing to reduce abortion because anything short of an Endlösung will do.
You conservatives had full control of the government for the last eight years. You packed the Supreme Court with your justices (regardless of their qualifications) for decades.
All you succeeded in doing was to increase the spread of Aids, increase the number of unwanted children and increase abortion.
Not even such Islamic countries as Saudia Arabia or Iran have succeeded in imposing the rigid controls you would need to achieve your goals.
Why not work together with us to reduce abortion? You can’t achieve your goal of murdering homosexuals, forcing virginity until marriage, banning all birth control methods. You could, however, reduce the number of abortions drastically through education and freely available, effective birth control.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:48 am


Willie & Jason,
One last thing, I do appreciate how much you seem to value life. Just wanted you to know that.



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Willie

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:54 am


Dave, in an intellectually honest and logically tenable worldview there can be no such division between theology and medicine/science. Theology is Queen of the sciences.
If you’ll take some time to review the history of significant advances in medicine/science you’ll find that only recently (last 75 or so years) has there been a significant shift from theological medicine/science to a purely material/naturalistic (read Darwinian) emphasis.
Person is an ontological (theology? philosophy? science?) issue and, as such, intrinsically bound to the issue of “Is it human life?” ALL humans, without exception, are created in the image of God and, therefore, are person. So, if you conclude (as you and all of the scientific/medical community have) that a “fetus” is human, then you have determined that it is also person.
Re: your point on theological vs. societal issues…No matter what you believe about abortion, theologically, philosophically or otherwise…for ours or any other society, it cannot be a good thing to destroy millions of citizens a year!
BTW, can anything other than a person be a citizen?



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Annie

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:54 am


This wasn’t addressed to me but…someone else’s theology, in opposition to mine, *is* the law. That would be my first point. And I don’t particularly like that this is the case, but since the root issue has to do with personhood, there isn’t any way for me to keep the theological issue separate. That is, unless I throw up my hands and plead ignorance on the personhood of the fetus or if the law declared an officially neutral stance in the matter. That seems foolish, at best.
point being, this isn’t the only legal question that engages with what might be construed as theological issues, which is why I don’t think this is a very compelling argument when it comes to abortion. Would you have made this argument regarding the full personhood of African-American individuals? Isn’t that an equally theological issue? In any case, you seem a little more convinced of the genuinely secular nature of the state than seems warranted to me.
The second point I would make is that God is not an abortionist unless he performs miscarriages on demand. I don’t happen to think he does. Yes, many pregnancies end very quickly because a fertilized egg doesn’t implant. That doesn’t mean God causes each of those and it certainly doesn’t mean God performs each of those in response to a request from the woman in question. That, to me, is a serious difference that your analogy glosses over.
An admission that legislation isn’t going to solve the issue is one thing. I would readily agree with that. I certainly don’t think either the democrats or the republicans want to change much about abortion legislation, and the republican party clearly uses the issue as leverage with its voters when it clearly has no intention of overturning roe v. wade. But the argument that it is somehow inappropriate to favor legislation built on a so-called theological belief seems naive at best. A quick reversal in the law will not solve the problem, but in the long run, legislation is a key component in effecting and enforcing necessary social change.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 9:56 am


Panthera,
I am not sure that vitriolic statements like: “You can’t achieve your goal of murdering homosexuals, forcing virginity until marriage, banning all birth control methods” do anything to help.



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Willie

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:02 am


AMEN,Annie!
Thanks, Dave, for your appreciation! I appreciate your willingness to engage the topic w/ civility and reasoned argumentation (no, argument is not a bad thing!).
panthera, your vitriolic cranial rumblings do nothing to advance the discussion. No one here has advocated the murder of homosexuals, forced virginity or the banning of all birth control. Although, now that you mention it, the rationality of abstinence until marriage was never so obvious as when you just pointed it out…and would certainly lead to a “reduction” in the need for synthetic/chemical birth control!



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:14 am


Willie,
According to whom is “Theology the Queen of Sciences?” Probably a theologian ;-). You say it is intellectually dishonest to separate science/medicine and theology, but that is the world in which we live. They do not have to be mutually exclusive (i.e. theologians often refer to scientific discoveries to either support or tear down theological positions), but science is by no means dependent on theology.
It is not accurate to say that only recently has science made advances apart from theology. In fact, science has always made advances apart from theology. Theology has then utilized those advances to further its own conclusions. Science deals in the natural world only. Theology seeks to reconcile the natural and the supernatural (very simplistically stated).
The personhood argument is THE argument. It is the reason that there has always been debate about the just punishment for injury to a fetus. Even the Hebrew Bible makes a distinction between punishments for injuring and killing a person (already born member of society) and a fetus. This has been the legal debate surrounding this issue, when does personhood begin, thus establishing the rights of that person? Medicine does not attempt to answer that question other than by saying when a fetus is viable on its own. The courts have even differed on this. Does it happen in the 2nd trimester, or does it happen when the child is wanted? Again, I believe it happens at conception, but that is a belief and it differs from many other theologians throughout history.
Only a person is a citizen (at least that is how it is now) and thus it can be argued that millions of citizens are not aborted every year… just millions of non-persons. (AGAIN, I am showing that even theologically there is another side to this argument which is why we shouldn’t legislate because not even all Christians… let alone other religions, agree on this issue).



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panthera

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:24 am


Dave Metz/Willie,
I was referring to absolutists among the conservatives (the christianists, if I may use a term that fits nicely) who do, indeed hold exactly those positions.
The only reason the Aids epidemic was permitted to get out of control was because people of that mindset genuinely saw/see the disease as God’s punishment for homosexuality. Shall I cite their statements? Surely you remember them, they are still making them, right here on this Website.
That is why I maintain they desire the death of homosexuals.
Let’s look at the other aspects, shall we? It was only two weeks ago that we had a very intensive discussion of ‘shame’ as an effective tool, replete with suitable punishments for the unwed mother. Many christianists responding plainly stated that they had no problem with the child suffering as a consequence of the mother’s actions. As usual among christianists, the man involved was more or less innocent, all evil arising from women.
Birth control methods? Well, again – be happy to cite the postings here and the comments from Bush administration officials on them. If one were to believe the nonsense propagated by many Catholics here, birth control methods which the rest of us consider to be in the 95-99% effective region should really be considered fertility enhancements.
So, no, sorry – the problem is with people who take those positions. They have destroyed untold millions of lives with their positions and done nothing to prevent unnecessary abortion.
Happy to provide those citations, just ask. Be a long list, but will restrict my self to just beliefnet.com



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:57 am


Annie,
It’s a decent point about someone else’s theology except no one is forcing abortions. If they were forced, then we could argue that someone else’s theology is being imposed upon you. Plus, I’ve never said we keep the theological issue of personhood separate, just out of the realm of use for legal decisions.
I certainly hope I would not have made any sort of theological argument against the personhood of someone I could readily converse with such as an African American. However, even though some argued against their equal treatment, they were still considered persons (albeit 3/5 at a certain terrible point in history). The issue of abortion is different, of course not morally in my opinion but legally, since it could be empirically shown that African Americans (and all people of color and those without color as well) were fully persons by their ability to reason. By sticking with strict empirical evidence, a fetus could be classified as a parasite to some extent. It cannot get its own food but feeds off of its host. In fact, the fetus takes the majority of nutrients. I only say this to show how different the situations are.
I do not think my view of the secular nature of the government is unwarranted. The government of a pluralistic society MUST be secular. This does not mean a universal morality that is developed from the multiple theologies cannot be used as a legal foundation… in fact, that is what should be used, but it does mean that a contentious theology (like when personhood begins) cannot.
So God is only an abortionist if he/she performs them on command? So, what does that make God if the woman wants the child, but God, who is omnipotent and sovereign, allows a miscarriage to take place? I guess some could call him a murderer? Or just really unjust since he/she didn’t allow that child to be born. Obviously I was using hyperbole then and now. My point was that most (other than the parents) don’t mourn a miscarriage as though a person has died. I did say “most” because I know that some do and those people are consistent in their argument for the personhood of a fetus in my opinion.
I suppose I could have specified that I was speaking of a personal theology (such as the personhood of a fetus) rather than a universal theology (such as stealing is bad) when saying theology shouldn’t be used as a legal basis. You are right that theology is used, but it is one that a pluralistic society as a whole can agree upon. So, I would argue that I am not naive, I just wasn’t specific enough for you.
I agree that social change is finally solidified when there is enough of a majority to enact legislation. But, that can only occur when the theology becomes so entrenched in the civil society that it ceases to be theological to most and is simply a secular norm.



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panthera

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:04 am


Dave Metz,
Your reply to Annie was a great deal more subtle and well-reasoned than I am capable of making.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:11 am


Panthera,
I still don’t see where any sort of mainstream sect of Christianity advocated the murder of homosexuals as you asserted, so your “citation” is a bit off. You simply show where some (misguided in my opinion) did equate AIDS with some sort of Divine judgment but no mention of murdering homosexuals.
Also, I have not seen where anyone advocated forced virginity until marriage. Shame is not the same as force (albeit it is a powerful tool that I would never advocate using).
Lastly, yes there are many who advocate banning birth control, but they are also not in the majority. Even though the Roman Catholic Church is by far the largest denomination, even they do not sanction the illegalization of birth control. Plus, they are only against artificial birth control. They do advocate Natural Family Planning (and no that is not the rhythm method) which, when utilized correctly, is actually more effective than the pill and releases no chemicals into the body. The main problem they have with the pill is that some (since there are many) are abortofacients. Now, while I disagree with their position, I can understand some of their arguments against birth control.
Overall, your “citations” are insufficient. Also, if you truly were trying to make a legitimate contribution to the discussion you would have avoided the inflammatory language that you seem to abhor coming from those who disagree with you.



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Dave Metz

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:15 am


Panthera,
Thanks, but I am sure you can be just as well-reasoned (most likely more). Don’t let the vocal minority drag you down.



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Zach Nielsen

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:16 am


The guys at STR.org had a great perspective on this that I think we really need to consider.
STR.org:
Imagine a politician making the following statement:
“Personally, I believe slavery is wrong. However, I disagree with the suggestion that criminalizing slave owners and slave traders is an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the number of slaves in our nation.”
This would be a ludicrous statement. But Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius made a similar comment.
She said, “Personally I believe abortion is wrong, however, I disagree with the suggestion that criminalizing women and their doctors is an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the number of abortions in our nation.”
This modified pro-choice position is foolish, especially for the governor. She says her Catholic faith “Teaches me that all life is sacred.” If abortion kills sacred human life, then shouldn’t she want to make killing sacred human life illegal? After all, society usually outlaws methods of killing innocent human beings – abortion should be no exception.



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panthera

posted March 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm


Zach Nielsen,
I really have to ask myself sometimes, can conservative Christians even be reasoned with? Do you really prefer to see the current rate of abortion, in the vain hope of someday imposing your will on all women as opposed to the very realistically achievable reduction of abortion through working with the people who actually are trying to do something about the problem?



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LS1958

posted March 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm


The STR.org argument is false on its face, as it starts from the premise that we abolished slavery in this country by making it illegal. We abolished slavery with a painful and devastating civil war. I doubt anything so extreme will ever come to pass over the issue of abortion.
But setting that aside, the argument leaves us in a position that has stymied this debate for decades: If all life is equally protected, from the moment of conception, then do we value the life in a few cells as much as that of a grown woman? If all life is equally protected under the law, then when does it really begin? Is fertilization the threshold? And who decides? How do we come up with a national standard for when life begins, when we can’t even all agree on an economic stimulus plan?
And do we really want to start putting more people in jail over what comes down to an ideological – and largely religious – difference of opinion?
Our recent election speaks volumes to what Americans care about at this point in history. We know now that prevention makes more sense than prohibition, that when you educate a young person and give them medically accurate information free from judgment and condemnation and secrecy, when you endow them with positive core values, they are more likely to make the right choices for themselves.
And when you tell them they can’t do something, just because it’s against the law, they are more likely to do it.
Governor Sibelius has a very moderate position in the pro-choice movement, one that works because she exercises common sense and emphasizes results over ideology. If more of us worked in that direction, we would see the rate of abortion in this country drop like a stone. The longer we fuel the fires of dissension with judgments and recrimination, the longer we will suffer the natural consequences of negativity.



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ryan

posted March 3, 2009 at 2:02 pm


Tony do you have a problem with the following argument.
“Personally, I believe slavery is wrong. However, I disagree with the suggestion that criminalizing slave owners and slave traders is an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the number of slaves in our nation.”
Or what if you sibling came to you and said, “I am tired of taking care of grandma I am going to kill her.” And I said well my religion requires me to be against that but since I do not want to impose my religious beliefs on you and your need to be free from the burdens of grandma…
At a certain point you have to realize that everything the emergent church set out to be has nose dived into just being the doppelganger of the Religious Right.



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ryan

posted March 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Panthera and LS1958,
Why is abortion a “problem” or something we should aim to reduce if it is not the murder of a human? Why oppose it anymore than getting a mole removed or having your wisdom teeth taken out.
Pro choice people betray their position the very minute they say they want to reduce abortions, because there is a deafening WHY? If it is not murder then what is wrong about it?



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Roberto

posted March 4, 2009 at 12:35 am


I personally believe that the best way to address the ethical issues surrounding abortion is to encourage homosexuality. A certain percentage of the population, of course, cannot overcome heterosexuality, and they should have full education and access to birth control. Then any aboritions should be early unless there is a compelling health reason.



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Panthera

posted March 4, 2009 at 8:53 am


ryan,
Pray do not put words into my mouth. I ‘betray’ nothing in desiring that abortion be reduced.
Quite simply, I have no standing in the question of what a woman shall do with her body. Would I countenance a woman telling me that I ‘must’ cut off my mustache?
There is proof that a man is more capable of impregnating an egg if he refrains from hot baths, bicycle riding, tight underwear and eats vegetarian food for six weeks prior to the attempt. Should a woman demand all of these of every man who is of age?
Of course not, she has no standing.
How, then, shall I, a man, impose my will upon a woman, much less upon a woman’s biology? I can not become pregnant, I run no risk as a man in my, at most, two minute participation in becoming pregnant…nope, no standing, no health risk, no common ground.
Yes, at a personal level, I prefer that abortion be limited to matters of gravest health – mental or physical. Incest, rape and a baby incapable of life once born included.
But that is of no higher weight than my request to women in my courses that they not wear perfume on days when we are experimenting with olfactory response attenuation.
All I can do is to request. Provide the means and education to prevent pregnancy. Explain why I find casual sex a mistake. More than that is not possible as I have no standing.



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Willie

posted March 4, 2009 at 9:30 am


Wow, I missed a lot yesterday!
Panthera…
I’m not black, not from Africa, not subject to the harsh conditions of servitude, nope, no standing to end slavery.
Have you sincerely relegated the issue of LIFE to the disgusting and disturbing banality of shaving your mustache? The issue is not what a woman does w/ HER body and what standing you may or may not have in that issue…no, you have no standing to tell her what to wear, etc. The issue here is the LIFE of the wholly other individual within her womb. The issue is LIFE!
And it does boil down to Ryan’s deafening WHY? Answer that question before you launch into some irrelevant ramblings re: your participation in the process of pro-creation.



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panthera

posted March 4, 2009 at 9:48 am


Willie, being gay, I had to rely on statistics about the, er, length heterosexual men were engaged in the, um, process. That’s what the data shows, personally, I have no idea. Nor do I especially wish to know.
Your assumption is that women are nothing but the vessels for babies. Women have no rights, no standing over their own bodies are truly not deserving of their own voice.
I don’t think there is much basis for us to discuss there – maybe it is because I am gay that I see women as equally human? Might explain a lot about the fact that nearly all ultra-conservative Christians are heterosexual men.
There is a no difference between my opposing slavery on the basis that it is denying a sovereign human being their free will and my insistence that I have not standing to tell a woman what to do with her body. In both cases, free-will is involved.
Personally, yes, I would prefer to see abortions reduced. In Europe, where contraceptives are freely available and sex education is good, we have fewer abortions than you have here in the US. What is so hard to understand about that? I should think we would be in agreement that it is better to prevent an unwanted pregnancy which might well be terminated through abortion than to refuse these young people the knowledge and means to prevent getting pregnant/causing pregnancy in the first place?



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ryan

posted March 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm


I also do not beat my wife or homosexuals for that matter, should I therefore have no opinion on the matter? Very, very convoluted logic Panthera.
And I did not put words in your mouth, you said abortion is something we should reduce and that is it something you would want to see limited, my question still stands Why? If the murder of a human is not involved how is it different than morally neutral procedures such as a woman having her ovaries taken out, or me having a mole removed? No one advocates that these procedures should be “limited” so why abortion?
Also, last time I checked, your mustache is not a human life, and to compare a unique human life to your mustache is just silly.
And I doubt any of us find it intolerant that Wilberforce did more than just “request” that his fellow citizens stopped enslaving people. No, he was outraged. Even though he had not been a slave I think none of us fault him for speaking out against it.



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panthera

posted March 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm


Ryan,
One may have opinons over many matters. Especially when one is clueless.
There is, however, a simple, biological fact which I can not set aside. I am a man. Thus, I have no standing to tell a woman what to do with her body. Frankly, I rather doubt whether anyone, man or woman has standing to tell a pregnant woman what to do with her body.
You seem to be saying that one must consider abortion murder else any other objection is trivial.
Goodness! To my certain knowledge, the only person competent to answer that question is a woman who is pregnant. No one else has standing.
I should truly think you would find it sufficient that I desire to assist women in preventing unwanted pregnancies as well in expanding the opportunities for such unwished for pregnancies, so they should arise, be brought to term and the baby adopted by parents who desire the child.
Obviously, nothing will satisfy you except my conformity to your demands. Ain’t gonna happen, darlin’, so you might as well just stop tryin’ to box me into a semantic corner.
Why do extremist Christians always assume that all who do not share their views are necessarily stupid or, worse, evil? It does not further their arguments nor win converts to their position. Rather the opposite.



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ryan

posted March 5, 2009 at 8:43 am


Box you in? I did no such thing Panthera I simply posed some questions to you trying to understand your logic. And these questions were met with aversion and neglect. That is okay it really is. I only ask them because this is not just a trivial debate, these are serious matters that deserve serious thought.
In the future though I would ask you abstain from trying to label/typecast me as some “extremist christian” simply to get off the hook of having to answer questions about your arguments. It only ends discussion and is uncharitable to those who disagree with you. It also smacks of smugness and superiority as you do not know me or my heart. I would simply point out that it is you who use extremist language such as “always” to describe a group of people who you have made into a strawman villain.



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panthera

posted March 5, 2009 at 9:46 am


No, ryan, you are not trying to engage in discussion, you are trying to force answers which are either in line with your world view, yay! you win, I lose or opposed to your world view,at which point you win, ’cause you then get to try to ‘corner’ me again.
I told you several times how I see this matter. I have no opinions on subjects which I am incompetent to analyze. My conservative position in such cases is to leave things be.
Oh, and, the further to the extremes a conservative Christian, the more they resent being labeled as such. Yawn.



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panthera

posted March 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm


Yup, Yup – stumbled over other comments from you on beliefnet.com this morning, ryan. You are not doing a very good job of convincing those of us who see women as sovereign over the bodies, gays as humans entitled to human rights, including marriage and several other ‘classic’ splits between extremist conservative Christians and other Christians.
So, instead of getting into a nasty shouting match with you, let me ask you civilly, do you seen any ground for agreement apart from your own maximum positions? Or needs must we all change to fit your desires?
I, for instance, am personally not happy with abortion. It seems a foolish thing to do and not particularly wise. Were I a woman, I suspect I should not choose to abort, rather would carry a baby to term and see that she or he was adopted.
But that is me. I am not a woman. As I am not a woman, I have no standing to impose my opinions on her.
Hoping we can break the bottleneck – panthera



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ryan

posted March 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm


Uhh Panthera, are you talking about the comment I left on another of Tony’s posts? If you are I do not understand there relevance to this post, nice red herring though as it allows you to change the subject rather than deal with your mustache=killing babies logic.
I really am saddened by the exchange we had hear. I am not out to get you or dig up dirt on you from other blogs. I do not respond to your arguments with “yawns” (seriously would you ever actually do that to a person’s face?)
I simply tried to engage you by talking about ideas. I was not afforded that same respect by you as you neglected every question I asked you in favor of saying “well I have no right to say anything about that” and then when I ask you how you would react when that logic is applied to other areas you respond with labels. And yes, ALL people even us “conservatives” do not deserve, or like to be labeled. It does not further conversations at all but only shows an unwillingness to take the time to get to know a person and engage new ideas.
I can see your ideology has already allowed you to place me in a box and you are not interested in listening to what I have to say, so blessings my brother and God bless.



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Tony Arens

posted March 6, 2009 at 3:01 pm


I met a woman several years ago at a conference – she should have been dead – she was alive because some moron botched the abortion. By the way, her mother was with her, and her gratitude for the Doctor’s lack of skill was quite revealing. That changed my life – your philosophy bores me to tears – you really are quite pathetic. It’s murder. I wish you had the courage to call it what it is, be forgiving, and minister to those who commit the act – with love and gentleness, instead of simply REINVENTING IT!



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