Progressive Revival

On August 16th, Saddleback Church is sponsoring Senators Obama and McCain for their first joint event of the campaign, the Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion. Some on the far right have expressed concern that the Pastor of Saddleback Church, Rev. Rick Warren, is under tremendous pressure not to put Senator Obama on the hot seat about abortion and will not ask the “right” questions that would make Senator Obama “squirm” when he asks questions of the candidates.

The conversation the right wants to have on abortion is the same tired extremist position of the past thirty years.  This position has been front and center of the recent appointments of Supreme Court Judges. It is hoped that they will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which will in turn lead us into another long divisive struggle as the abortion issue is determined, if ever, at the state level. All the while mind you, abortions will continue on demand in this country. It seems as if the right wants women to continue to seek abortions so they can continue to roll it out every four years to inflame the conservative electorate.


I would suggest that Rick Warren have a conversation with Senators Obama and McCain about  not only why women choose to have an abortion, but also how women can be empowered to make other choices instead of abortion.


The most fundamental underlying circumstances that lead to abortion include lack of comprehensive sex education of both sexes starting early in school, poverty, cyclical family attitudes, and impeded access to both contraceptives and quality and affordable healthcare.


It is reported that nearly six million American women become pregnant each year. Of these, almost half are unintended.  80% of these unintended pregnancies are teen pregnancies. Over half of unintended pregnancies each year occur among women aged 15-44 who do not use contraception. As part of the unfortunate circumstances listed above, the lack of access to education and health care is the main reason women don’t use contraception.


15% of American women of childbearing age are poor. 17% have no health insurance. 43% of unintended pregnancies result in abortion. 44% result in births that the mother did not want, in many instances, cannot support and cannot provide health care for.


The conversation at Saddleback also should be about offering policy solutions that promote life and the support of parents beyond the birth of their new child. We have a moral obligation to find common ground, moving the conversation  beyond the question of the legality of abortion and move towards actually reducing the need for abortion by investing in programs that will reduce both unintended pregnancies and abortions.


Eric McFadden served as State Director of Faith & Values for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

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