Monday, February 25, 2008

One Issue Voting

For many years, I apologized for basically being a one issue voter. I no longer apologize.

I do generally fall in line with a conservative, "don't expect others (esp. the gov't) to help you" mentality. However, I have found more often than not, that conservatives actually think: "we will give away more than we should, because we really have more than we need." Many even act on these thoughts. This was recently well documented in a surprising book about compassionate conservatism, Who Really Cares, by Arthur C. Brooks, Basic Books, 2006.

I am a strict pro-life voter. Here's why. 
The true character of a person is never determined by what they say or do in public alone. 
The true character of a person is seen 
• in private,
• in how they treat people when no one is watching,
• in how they treat a person whom others have determined is not worth treating well,
• in how they value the life of the unborn.

True character is best seen when one is faced with a difficult dilemma.  Difficult dilemmas are messy, they usually involve moral high roads and moral middle roads, and then a lot of roads that our culture now considers just roads.

Being pro-life does not automatically give a person a morally upright character.  It's just that when a presidential candidate supports pro-choice legislation, that candidate is publicly telling me how they value a person whom others have determined is not worth treating well. More specifically, it tells me how they value such an "unwanted." I might be an "unwanted" someday.

And here is why I included the comment about Gonzales v. Carhart: the pro-choice candidate immediately says, "You can't make the above claim about me because I don't believe the fetus is a person."  Gonzales v. Carhart is about babies, who, if preserved in an incubator instead of having their skulls crushed for extraction purposes, would live.  My or their arguments about personhood pale in comparison to what is communicated by the finger prints and eye lashes of a "fetus."


Anonymous said...

I'll always want you Joel! Don't tell Marty.....

I'm nice to people when no ones looking. I actually DO know what it feels like to be the unwanted one.

We can be one issue voters - too bad we cancel each other out.

I still like you a lot though.

SteveQ said...

The problem I've always had with the religious anti-abortion stand is that, when the Mosaic law was codified, life was defined as beginning at the "quickening," that time when the fetus is felt to move. Either the anti-abortion stand is breaking the religious law, or is rewriting it, which is the same as allowing abortion.

Unknown said...

Steve, I'd never heard this argument. I'll look into it.


I think I have two problems with one issue voting - first, I don't believe that the far majority of the candidates that state they're pro-life really are. I think it's purely a political statement to get votes. Once in office they'll do little to nothing to address the issue. This leads to my second problem with (this) one issue voting - I honestly do not think that Roe v. Wade will ever be over-turned or any significant changes made to the law regarding abortion.
Personally...I'm pro-life and pro-choice. I know....therefore I'm stand at all. Actually what I strongly believe in is no killing at death penalty, no war either. Find some other solution. I don't understand how someone can be pro-life and then justify killing by injection, cluster bombs, or inaction.
If my wife were to get pregnant I would desperately want to have the baby and I think she would choose the same but it really isn't my decision. It's not my body, I can't make that decision for her if there is one to be made. I can see and understand both sides of the issue but I'm not the one that is truly influenced by what the law decides.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Peter - nicely articulated. Thank you. Beth

Unknown said...

I'm so glad people are responding.
First, it may be true that pro-life candidates are really closet pro-choicers. I suspect McCain is as such.
However, Bush's position did have impact. His Supreme Court nomination, Roberts, most likely tipped the scale in Gonzales v. Carhart, which does impact society.
I hesitate to respond when I have not spoken in person with some of you, so I'll keep it generic.

Who is for killing? I do see biblical justification for the authority of the state to take life in limited situations. Maybe more on that later.

I understand the "it's not my body" argument. It sounds very appealing. I think it is too easy. It's a way to pass the buck. To wash one's hands.
There are numerous circumstances, let alone laws, that dictate that one person makes a decision for, or takes responsibility for another. There are even more circumstances in which one person dictates expansive areas of other's lives, even to that other's detriment. Need I mention taxes? The state of MN has, at least to the present time, determined that it has a significant interest in preventing people from committing suicide. It is against the law to commit or assist another in committing suicide. MN makes this decision for me every day, even though it's my body.
I hope that I am able to show great concern, empathy, assistance, anything, even though I will say, "Yes, it is your body, but it is not your place to bring to end the life of an eternal being."
A good discussion does not take place in a 30 minute, sit-com style manner. Please keep arguing.


I don't mean for the "not my body" argument to be a buck passing. I know this will be a reach but I compare it to my Mom's current situation. She's recently diagnosed with cancer and has made the decision to not take chemo but to do a herbal, more natural treatment option. If it were me I might make a different decision. I'd like to see her live to be 100 and with chemo it's possible. It seems a very risky gamble for her to choose the non chemical treatment but it is her body, her decision. She is the only one that has to truly deal with it. Until I am in her shoes I'll never know what it really means to have to make that decision. The same goes for abortion...I THINK I know what I'd do but I am a man. So like I said, I'm pro-choice also. It's not my body, it never will be my body. I can disagree and try to influence others if I choose but I won't choose any candidate based on any one issue. So Bush did some things to influence/change abortion laws but I'd guess his foreign policies are responsible for killing more people around the world than the babies he's saved. So, one issue voting...maybe that is better saved for state politics where you might stand a chance of instigating change or maybe "it is too easy. It's a way to pass the buck. To wash one's hands" of many, many other equally important issues.

Unknown said...

OK. Good analogy. Let me ponder awhile. Here's my first impression, though. I see two differences between your mom's situation and the abortion issue. With your mom, there is a conscious choice to pursue one path over another, even though the chemo may keep her alive til 100. The living being in a woman makes no decision about their body. Second, your mom decides about her body. Yes, others are affected, but not the bodies/lives of others. In abortion, the woman decides about two bodies/lives.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I'm still with giving women choices about their own bodies. I wish that all babies were wanted, that all children in this world had a social structure in place to care for them once they are here - so far, this is not the case. I think it is unfair to judge women for making choices about their life - it is their life first and foremost.
And Peter, I am so sorry about your mom. I wish her the very best in her courageous struggle.

Matthew Patten said...

Aren't these debates best left for the trails?

just kidding.

I just wish we would not use euphemisms anymore. It is a lot clearer to just say "pro abortion" or "anti abortion". That is pretty clear.

The problem with the "pro life" argument, (which I mostly fall in this group) is I am for the unborn child, but likely to be for the death penalty, as well as war (forget Iraq, think of WW2). I understand why pro abortion people have a hard time grasping how someone can be "pro life" and support the death penalty. I don't agree, but I understand the problem.

My bigger issue is the argument of a woman's right to choose what she can do with her own body. I find it interesting that I NEVER find these people supporting the legalization of prostitution, the legalization of any and all drugs, elimination of seat belt laws, etc.

Why can't a woman choose to be a prostitute? It's her body.

Remember, Roe vs. Wade did not legalize abortion. It made it illegal to make it illegal, taking states rights away from their voters.

Can we go running now?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to go running - we could spend the time talking about how I am not "pro-abortion" I wish there was no such thing as incest, rape, mental health issues, lack of resources, domestic abuse and a myriad of other reasons women feel trapped, lost, devastated and they end up making the choice to have an abortion. Pro-abortion? Never! But, the reality for me is women need to be able to make choices in our less than perfect world. Beth

Anonymous said...

Great discussions everyone. In my state (OH) I thought it very hypocritical that a man was convicted of killing a pregnant mother and the unborn fetus. Yet if she'd had an abortion, no murder would have been committed? Can't have it both ways.

- Bob

Unknown said...

Runner brewer,
thanks for the comments. I like your more correct labels.
Don't you think it likely that prostitution will soon be legal? It really is the only possible logical extension of a premise that no one can tell me what to do with my body.
I haven't given it any thought, but I wonder if there are any "it is my body" arguments that apply to men?

Unknown said...

OK. THe world is a rotten place for women. This goes back to an earlier conversation about whether I believe people are basically good or bad. You sound like you are agreeing with me.
So, what are we going to do? My position on the abortion issue does not prevent me from helping these women who, you argue, need the abortion. Neither does yours.

Anonymous said...

What would you suggest? That I drive them to their abortion appointment, donate substantially to Planned Parenthood so they can continue their efforts educating women about their birth control options?
And, yes, worldwide, life IS harder for women. Now is this an excuse, no - but it is a reality and one that can not be ignored.
And as far as men and a comparable situation, how about men that have vasectomies? Aren't they denying the world the potential they have to continue to populate the world? Isn't a vasectomy against Natural Law the same way birth control is? Also, please, men not only control their own bodies, they try to control women's too.
The reality, as I see it, is there will always be abortion. Always. Now, this said, do we make it safe and legal for women or do we enact laws that force them back to alleyways with unsound medical procedures that not only kill a potential baby, they also kill the woman?
Really, Joel I totally see your point - and I also don't disagree with them. I get it. I really do. But, I have seen first hand women who are so stuck, so disenfranchised, I don't know if they have the luxury of the same choices that an educated, connected, articulate populace has. Until we have social structures in place to care for children that are deemed "unwanted" we have to allow choice.

Unknown said...

All right.
Just show me clear and convincing statistics that indicate how the plight of women has improved since abortion has been protected by Roe v Wade.

Regarding your last sentence: what forces our culture to put social structures in place to care for unwanted children if abortion "takes care" of them?

Here's what society gets to say because of abortion: "incest? rape? mental health issue? lack of resources? domestic abuse and a myriad of other reasons women feel trapped, lost, devastated?
We can help. Get an abortion."
That's too easy. Easy answers are never good answers.
Abortion has become the easy solution for a society that does not like to get messy and really help people. It's the "take a pill" approach to health.

I'm suggesting that we, you and I, our families, get messy. Adopt a young lady, a young pregnant lady even. Help her out of her trap. That would not only help her, but it would change our children's lives.

Matthew Patten said...


All said, I do take issue with making a comparison of vasectomies with abortion.

Virtually all who are against abortion are for birth control. Vasectomy is exactly that. It is done before a life is conceived. The problem is that our society has been using abortion as a form of birth control.

You switched your stance from pro choice to anti rape, inceste, etc. from my previous comment, but left out that only 6% of the 1.2 million abortions done in America every year are a result of rape, incest, life threatening situations. That means over 1 million are done out of social, economic, societal reasons, etc.

These are numbers which are easily backed up and sourced, unlike your claim that woman worldwide have it tougher than men.

I was an unintended pregnancy.

I am glad my mom chose to have me.

The penumbras of the Constitution and Bill of Rights has to include unborn children if the penumbras in the Griswold case insures a right to privacy with abortions.

I am sorry that men have tried to control your life.

Not all men are like that.

My wife has way more control over me than I do of her.


Unknown said...

Runner brewer,

do you brew your own beer?

Unknown said...

Runner brewer,

do you brew your own beer?

Matthew Patten said...


Coffee as well.

If you like I can bring a few brews to Chippewa 50k

Anonymous said...

Runner Brewer,

Do you really think someone as spicy as I am is controlled by some man?...Please do not read into my stance as having anything to do with my personal experience. I have been blessed to have had two pregnancies, that resulted in two beautiful, healthy children. I have the great fortune of being married to a man who was thrilled on the days I announced our intended desire for children had been reached. I could not have been more happy.

I have never been abused. I have never been so impoverished without any hope that I felt I had no options. I have never found myself pregnant, raped or a victim of incest. Thank God. This does not mean I can not feel immense empathy for women who have had this happen to them.

It's all fine and great to help women. I have a great friend who helps women every single Saturday making sure they know what they are doing when they walk into a clinic to get an abortion. She's had great success helping people make connections so they can have assistance through their pregnancy.

That said, Joel, what do you think our society is saying to women when we won't support them by offering child care so they can work? When President Bush has twice vetoes a child healthcare act? If you ask me, we are saying, hey, best wishes - we're so proud of you for choosing life - now good luck from here on out.

I am just saying unless you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes - and may I add, you as men, can not imagine what it is like to find out you're pregnant - don't judge.


Unknown said...

I'm planning to drive over in the morning. You?
Any other races?
I'm looking at Chippewa, Trail Mix the next weekend, Afton, and then Leadville. I'd do Superior 50 again, but it is the day before I graduate. My wife said, no way, with relatives here.
Pete puts on a great 50 miler on the Ice Age right by his house around Twin Cities Marathon time. It's not an official race, but a great day in the woods.

Unknown said...

It was on MPR that I learned there was much more to the Bush-vetoed-child-healthcare-insurance-act than the media was telling us about. I would be cautious about saying that b/c Bush vetoed it, he is against more child care or better medical care for children. There is much abuse in the welfare system.

I may have never walked a mile in another shoes, but what if I've RUN it? Does that count?

So, you want to look for someone that needs our help, not the government's? Let's go help a woman in need.


Alright, I just got to the computer and *#@$! Don't you people have jobs?! At least you've taken a break since 8:30.
So here's my input....Joel, I like your options - adopt a woman in need, maybe even the child. Also the points you make regarding societies ability to ignore incest, rape, etc. if abortion is the solution. I don't think that holds much weight for the woman or child that has had to suffer it. What about that? A child, raped, pregnant, but afraid to admit to anyone what has happened to her. Her life is in danger if she were to carry a child. What are her options? Sure she "should" tell someone what has been done to her but there's a major psychological hurdle to cross as a victim. Now imagine being forcefully raped by a man and now another man is forcing you to carry and deliver the baby. It's an ugly idea...the rape, the abortion, all of it. This is an ugly world we live in and there will always be horrible situations like this so there will never be a black and white solution to this issue. Find a solution to fix the root of the issue that is the only way to solve it.
As Beth stated, if you make abortion illegal it will still happen. The only difference is that it will go back to the alleys and back rooms and once again men will be victimizing and attempting to control women.
John Irving wrote a book called
The Cider House Rules. Take the time to read it. You'll get a good picture of what things would be like if abortion were illegal again. I doubt it will change your minds regarding abortion but it's a good book.
The solution is in our homes. It's about the responsibility of raising children to make the right decisions in their lives and being available to them to talk about anything and everything regardless of how uncomfortable it might make the parent.
I also want to address a few other things. Steve Q brought up the issue of when is it life? He stated that some believe it to be when the woman feels movement. I know some believe it to be at the point of fertilization. So why not egg and sperm? Just wondering.
Next...the "morning after" pill. I think it is probably most widely used as the "I was too drunk and did something really stupid last night" pill. Is it legitimate birth control? I'll put myself out here on this wife and I will most likely never have kids. We don't like condoms, we don't like chemicals in our bodies any more than absolutely necessary so the standard birth control pill is out. The idea of someone with a sharp object between my legs....well, that would pretty much make all my parts crawl back up inside me so maybe just the threat is a solution. Anyway, where does the morning after pill fit into all of this for you? Birth control or abortion?

Anonymous said...

Peter you are my new BFF....thanks.
I'm bowing out now, but I'll be interested in the responses to your entry.


Thanks Beth. I'm sure we'll meet at some running/beer drinking event. At least I hope there's beer drinking involved.

Unknown said...

Thank you to all for your comments. Pete, I'll comment later about my opinion of the morning after pill. You can probably imagine what it might be when I say that I believe that a real person exists at the point of conception. Consequently, of all the comments so far, Steve's is the most troubling for me.
It is also why I am very interested in frozen embryo law as a possible specialty practice once I pass the bar.

I think that 99% of pro choice people really do hold their position out of great and honest concern for women in crisis. Their concern is so great that a lot of other things take back seat. That is, academically. Very few actually are in the trenches getting messy to help these women.

Furthermore, while pro-choicers are concerned about not abusing women, the actual abortion providers are not so charitable. If abortion were, at its roots, about helping women, let me suggest the following:
• staunch pro-choice doctors should provide abortions for free.
• this process should be followed up with free employment counseling.

But abortions are relatively expensive. Why? The costs involved: labor, cleaning utensils, replacing disposable utensils and properly disposing of the organic product of an abortion. That's it. Once the doctor provides their labor for free (remember, abortion is for the benefit of the woman), the cost should be about $45.

This is not the case. Abortions are much more expensive. Why? Who benefits?

Jenna said...

It's time to weigh in.
1. You actually said, "I wish all babies were wanted". You CALLED them BABIES. Your words. Seriously. You just indicted yourself as being one in favor of destroying BABIES for the reason of them being merely unwanted.

2. You said, "unless you walk a mile in someone else's shoes..." And this followed your confession that you hadn't. You have ZERO experience in being raped, having an unplanned pregnancy (as if that's such a horrible thing), being controlled by a man, etc. Seriously. Haven't you disqualified yourself based on your own qualifications?

3. "I wish there was no rape, [etc]..." What person in their right mind would disagree with you? But, your logic doesn't follow. Abortion doesn't solve social issues. And it's not even a band-aid to help heal from the misery from rape or incest. It's a traumatic experience on top of a traumatic experience. Are you people aware of the despair a woman feels after an abortion? Can we talk about the affect abortion has on a woman emotionally?

4. I was an unwanted BABY. My biological father abused my mother. They were poor. Things looked really grim. She went to get an abortion and someone talked her out of it. She smoked a pack a day and drank (not excessively that I know of) during her pregnancy with me. I was born large and healthy. A few years later, my biological father divorced my mother. Ooooo. Now she's even single. Probably should have aborted, right? By our society's standards (and yours), her situation is why it should be legal. But see, WE DON'T KNOW THE FUTURE. Abortion is a short-sighted solution to a problem that is likely very temporary. And you CAN'T know! My mother told the story of her almost aborting me, where? At the baby shower of her first grandchild, my son...through tears of joy. Beth, you haven't even walked a half a mile and I wish you'd stop voting like you have. There are countless stories of people who rose from adversity. They NEVER would have had a chance if abortion was legal and their mothers or fathers felt that they just COULDN'T keep this child.

5. I know of TWO women who were raped and kept their babies...and they are SO GLAD they did. They have the experience to know the difference between a rapist and an innocent baby. I think ALL of us could figure that out in "the line up".

1. How about the affect abortion has on a man? It's not his body. Sure. But, do you know how many men have been heart-broken over abortion. What should our opinion be of the man who's wife or girlfriend has an abortion and he's weeping for days...and even years later. (I'm not making this up. This is a situation very close to me.)

2. I agree with Joel on the "body" issue. When a woman is pregnant, there are TWO bodies involved. And ONE is hers and the other is her BABY (Beth's word, remember).

3. I agree that there's no great form of birth control. Actually, I'm only in favor of "fertilization control" (which would include tubal ligation, vascectomy, natural family planning, condoms, but NOT the Pill). The morning after pill is certainly a chemical that destroys human life. If you don't like chemicals in your body, don't do that one either.

4. It's too bad you don't want children. I've written and erased like 10 things because I can't briefly state why having children is so miraculous. Everything sounded so trite. But, I'll leave this.


First, just to be clear...I didn't say I didn't want children. I said we will most likely never have children.

Second, I fully understand the affect an abortion has on a man.

Third, my comments and questions about the various forms of birth control were made in an effort to more fully understand other peoples opinions of them. I wasn't suggesting that we want to use any form of the pill and I certainly wasn't asking for advice from anyone regarding how my wife and I choose to live our lives.

Emma said...

Wow, you people really need to get a life. Personally I don't see how you guys can be arguing/debating/killing each other over this, then five minutes later, go out to coffee together.
But seriously, it's not the baby's fault the mom had it, yet it's the baby who is killed. The mom faces challenges after the abortion too, but the mom isn't dead. The baby is. And if you say that every woman has a choice, what if the baby is a girl? Shouldn't she have a choice whether she gets to live or not? (and what person in their right mind would choose death over life?)
just some thoughts

Unknown said...

Emma, the best debates take place between people who can have coffee together afterward. If we are not able to speak our minds to each with candor, then we should not be drinking coffee together. My dearest friends do not have to agree with me on abortion, even though I would hope they would some day. It is the exchange of ideas/opinions, that help us deal with each other with grace. If I know someone's character, their heart, their personality, their demeanor, they can say anything to me.

Emma said...

Okay, okay, okay. Fine! You win.
But let me just say that it does not work like that in Jr. High.

Anonymous said...

Jenna -
Points taken - I will admit I am not the best, most articulate debater.
I am glad your mother had you. I am glad that you are here.
Peter, you my dear, are a gem. We can have coffee anytime.
Emma, Life sometimes is a reflection of junior high. The only advantage we have is we can drive and go out for coffee whenever we want. I absolutely do not agree with women losing their right to chose. As Jenna pointed out, I'm not the best debater as to why. But, it is my belief. I will not detour, just like Jenna and your parents won't. This does not mean I don't really, really like your parents. We will be voting differently though and my hope is we will continue to be friends. Life would be quite dull if we all took the "smooth" path - if we did people like Jenna would not be here. But she is. Her mother made that choice. Beth

Jenna said...

So, immediately after I published the comment, I felt a tinge of guilt. I knew I'd been too harsh. Beth, if you're still reading these comments, please accept my apology for having a severe tone. This is not a casual topic for me. It's my passion. It might be yours, but you're vote is to protect someone's *comfort* ultimately. (And I'm not trying to belittle you personally in the point I'm trying to make here.) But, my aim is to protect someone's *life*. That said, my heart was cut to the quick with conviction that I should have been gentle in my tone. "Let your speech always be gracious..." is in the Bible, which is God's word, and I treasure Him above any baby's life. So, please forgive me.

And Peter, I had no idea that you would take my comments so personally. But, I'll take responsibility for my comments rubbing you the wrong way. I certainly did not intend on advising you on how you should live. I don't even know how you live. I mean, it did seem like you were fishing for what to do for birth (or fertilization) control, but I don't even have that figured out in *my* life. I wouldn't even know *how* to start advising someone else. I just know I'm against pills--the Pill or morning after--for more than *one* reason. I do truly apologize for misunderstanding, or rather, misREADING your statement regarding the probability of not having children. I feel rather foolish about that one. I have to confess that I was *blazing* through the comments, hands quivering, heart racing because I'm just so dead serious about this subject. But, I should've been more carefully reading before I responded. I hope you'll forgive me as well.

I whole-heartedly agree with Joel about friendship and being able to say anything. And here I came on the scene...and I don't even run, unless I'm not wearing a coat when I take out the trash in the winter...alright, I've digressed.

To recap: Thumbs down on harsh tones, abortion and skimming comments.
Thumbs up on coffee, real conversation, and wearing steele-toed boots when having these conversations...and...running...forsome people.

Anonymous said...


I like a person with strong beliefs. I don't agree with you, obviously, but I appreciate that this is a topic that is very important to you. I can also appreciate and hear your comments. Let's leave it at that, if you like.



I love your dad because he's different than anyone else in the world. I love your mom and each of you kids for the same reason. You're each unique and most importantly, different from me. I spend entirely too much time with me so I need people like you to offer a different view of life and the world. It's far too easy and comfortable to surround ourselves with people "like us" and when that happens we have a tendency to become closed minded and even afraid to listen to any other view than our own. This isn't to say you have to or even should agree with the other view point but by listening we can become more educated about the world outside our safety zone.

Emma said...

Awwwww, thanks you guys!
But seriously, I want to see you guys actually go out to coffee....


Ok, but only if you're there to mediate.
If we all get together we should consider drinking something besides a stimulant like might get a little exciting.
Just to be safe, decaf or beer only.

Julie Ann Fee said...

im a single issue voter too, but have realized that this may not be the case in coming elections, having one candidate for which to vote because they are 'prolife'. candidates are becoming more liberal, like the last election, john mccain. hopefully there are a few more elections with one prolifer.