J. Budziszewski on Prioritizing the Abortion Issue

J. Budziszewski has penned a helpful piece illustrating the transcendent nature of the abortion issue. The short narrative is a fictional conversation between himself and two students asking about abortion. The question is this. Who do you vote for when you think both candidates would enact “evil” policies? How can you vote at all when your only choices are a pro-abortion candidate and a pro-unjust war candidate? He concludes that in the current case, abortion-on-demand in America is a far worse evil than the so-called unjust war in Iraq.

“Ballot Box Blues” – by J. Budziszewski (Boundless Webzine)

18 Responses to J. Budziszewski on Prioritizing the Abortion Issue

  1. John October 23, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    “so-called unjust war in Iraq” – You’re funny Denny.

  2. Nathan October 23, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    I appreciate the article though sadly this election will not be decided on this issue. This election, like the majority of past presidential elections, will be decided by the voter’s wallet and their apathy with the current administration’s handling of that issue. And regardless of the Congressional stupidity that led to the economic issues, the sitting president will pay the cost, much of it because of his domestic stupidity.

    I am convinced that had Hillary Clinton won the nomination that this election would be over already. McCain is still in this election because the people still do not really trust Obama. I think it is ironic and profoundly sad that the Democratic base has lifted a man to the nomination whose only experience is in manipulated a crowd via rhetoric. If the American people truly cared about their pocketbooks they would run from Obama as fast as they could. And with the potential for super majority in the House and Senate the coming generations could be in for the next Social Security and/or Medicare/Medicaid entitlement program that possibly will seal individual liberty in this country for generations to come.

    One entitlement item to note: Obama has pledged to governmental funding of preschool for children beginning at age three. Don’t let this program escape your thought process. It wasn’t 20 years ago that Home School parents were taken to court to prevent them from keeping their children out of public school. This preschool ideology could lead to the government demanding that all children attend preschool, regardless of parental consent (to ultimately be fed government propaganda). If you think this is preposterous you did not live in this country prior to the 1980s as many states had laws making homeschooling a crime.

    Also, many of the people of this country are willing to vote for Obama because of his ethnicity and their desire to “purge” the racial tensions that still exist in the country. On the one hand this is noble. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama is further proof of this. Read Powell’s statements in endorsing Obama. He is a transcendent figure. He has the ability to change the culture with his speeches. (points are paraphrased) Powell, whose own claim to fame was at the hands of Republican presidents now divorces himself from his party over what? Hillary Clinton was far closer to Powell’s foreign policy views than Obama, yet Powell did not defect the Republicans to endorse her. Powell is clearly siding with Obama on the basis of ethnicity. And, if all other issues were mute, this would not necessarily be a bad thing.

    Make no mistake however. Obama is a closet communist (read what he wants to install in the government; i.e. government funded preschool) before you brush that notion off. Go back and read Marx. Biden is a radical conservative compared to Obama.

    While I enjoy the conversations concerning abortion and do believe that Christians should vote with this issue at the forefront, we also need to realize that this election, like so many in the past, are decided by peoples wallets and what they believe the candidates will do for those wallets.

    Welfare (under the guise of tax cuts) always sound good until the piper comes later. For my college age children and for my grandchildren to come some day, I am saddened that the liberties I enjoyed as a child, many of which have already been taken away, will be consumed even further by the greed of people wanting governmental servitude under the guise of “needs” or “rights”.

    Let’s continue the fight for the unborn, but lets also not forget that Bush’s unbelievable expansion of the government has wrought much of the liberals anticipation of cashing in.

  3. Don October 23, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    I liked that article, probably because that was approx. how I see it. In voting, I am almost always trying to avoid the worst choice.

  4. Cate October 23, 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    I have seen abortion referenced as a “transcendent issue” before on this blog – could someone please clearly and succinctly state why this is so? That is, why is it more important to address the issue of abortion over other issues that are just as denounced by Scripture?

    Thanks

  5. JM October 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    Cate,
    I think the issue has to do with the genocide occurring within the borders of America year after year. Numbers are around 48 million babies have been killed since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in America. If 1.2 million innocent adult men and women were set to be systematically killed next year (and 5 million over the 4 years of the next presidency), it would clearly be the number one issue on the table.

    The issue being raised on this blog is that Christians must value these babies lives just as much as they value adults humans lives.

    The reason why abortion is a “transcendent issue” is both the content (murder/sanctity of life) and the extent (approx 1.2 million babies killed last year).

  6. Brian (Another) October 23, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    I would say that there are two reasons. First is the denial of dignity of a class of individuals. In essence, all issues are contained in that denial. Meaning that there are no issues about which I can care if there isn’t a life there. A denial of a life is a denial of any care or love to extend.

    But, more often than not, it’s a matter of a difference in policy. It’s not that Obama cares for the poor but McCain is championing slave labor. It’s not that McCain believes in every man paid for his earnings while Obama steals from one group to give to another. In abortion, however, Obama does believe in the legal sanctioning and even (given FOCA) the funding of (and, in a slightly more far-flung manner, coercion of Dr.’s to perform) what is specifically unbiblical. J.Bud gives a good account of how to then fine tune, given comparable issues such as war (and you can even apply to the issue that disputatio rallied earlier).

    And in a smaller manner, just hearing the rhetoric about the issue is upsetting to me. When Obama refers to a child in the womb as the equivalent of an STD, it breaks my heart. I think that we all harden our hearts to different sins. This is an easy one since the victims are silent and we don’t get pictures and broadcasts, etc. Actually, if I remember, that is something the article chimes in about as well. This is one that I would say Obama has hardened himself against. He only sees children we want to raise as gifts from God. Otherwise, they’re an inconvenience that we should be able to eliminate. And, as he has said about his own daughter (in the event that she were to get pregnant as a teen), he would condone as well.

  7. Paul October 23, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    “I think the issue has to do with the genocide occurring within the borders of America year after year. Numbers are around 48 million babies have been killed since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in America. If 1.2 million innocent adult men and women were set to be systematically killed next year (and 5 million over the 4 years of the next presidency), it would clearly be the number one issue on the table.”

    And here’s why it’s largely a non-issue that is best combated by other means…

    1) Roe v. Wade did NOT legalize abortion in America. It made abortion legal in all 50 states. There is a HUGE DIFFERENCE there.

    2) Because of the fact that it was only a federal mandate, overturn of Roe v. Wade will only return the right to have an abortion to the states.

    3) The most populated states, where logically, the most abortions would happen, are also the most liberal states that will NOT overturn Roe v. Wade.

    4) Let’s face facts here: abortion, right or wrong, is now seen as a privacy issue and as a women’s rights issue. Understanding that, you can also understand that any state that might at all be “purple” will undeniably remain a pro-choice state. In other words, about the only states that you can guarantee an abortion ban in would be Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia and Kentucky (Alaska is way too libertarian). Maybe you’d be able to add Texas to that list.

    So, how many abortions do you really eliminate if a woman can still get one in New York, California, Massachusetts, Ohio or Illinois?

    I would much rather see systematic limits put on the ability to get abortions, and I would much rather see people educating their children on how to not get pregnant in the first place.

    Watch everyone tell me what a big jerk I am right…

    …now.

  8. Darius October 23, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    You’re a big jerk, Paul.

    I understand in pure numbers, getting rid of Roe v Wade may not make much immediate impact. However, something you said is actually the main reason to get rid of Roe v Wade: “abortion, right or wrong, is now seen as a privacy issue and as a women’s rights issue.”

    Why is this? Because Roe v Wade was enacted, thus giving moral aid and comfort to all those who would spread the “abortion is a moral right” mantra to the hearts and minds in this country. So to reverse that trend, the first step would obviously be to eliminate the main reason for it. Once Roe v Wade is gone, the (federal) law will no longer be on the side of inequity and evil, which could do wonders for the pro-life movement and worldview. Plus, after it is overturned, we can move on to pushing for a federal amendment to ban all abortions that don’t affect the PHYSICAL health of the mother. Right now, that seems impossible, but Wilberforce was told the same thing about banning slavery.

  9. Brian (Another) October 24, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    Yea, Paul, with the exception of the big jerk part, I have to go with Darius. And hey, if we were to sit and have dinner with one another, that may change, too (oh, wait……;-). RvW is the security blanket that lets (most) people keep telling themselves that this is simply a matter of personal choice (not saying you tell yourself that, mind you…but if you do, you’re a jerk.).

    Additionally, while you or I couldn’t give a sure prognostication on what would happen to the abortion numbers in the event of RvW being repealed, my hedge would be solidly in the camp that it would significantly reduce the numbers. Which would begin to return the idea that children are a gift, not a disease.

    And, though I know that you will vainly not cast your vote for Obama, this isn’t a pro-choice supporter. This is a rabid pro-abortion candidate. At least that’s what his rhetoric would indicate.

  10. Nathan October 24, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    “Let’s face facts here: abortion, right or wrong, is now seen as a privacy issue and as a women’s rights issue.”

    Paul, Your statement is accurate, but herein lies the misconception by many on this issue. There is NO RIGHT TO PRIVACY in the US Constitution. This is a court created fiat and that is why this issue will not go away.

    I do agree with you that this election will not be decided on this issue. However, Christians must stand on this issue over and against all others. That was the point of the fictitious article to begin with.

    Obama is a radical abortionist; his record cannot be refuted. While McCain is, in my opinion, pathetic on embryonic research, he is not the vicious abortionist Obama is.

    As far what the states would do should Roe be repealed, it is anybody’s guess. Prop 8 in California will be a good barometer for how a liberal state feels about court imposed beliefs. Maybe California has moved more radical in the last couple of years, but it took a judicial fiat to bring Prop 8 to a vote. The people had already previously spoken.

  11. Derek October 24, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    Paul,
    Why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to save a few lives? You’re seriously asking people who equate abortion to murder to pursue some kind of pragmatic withdrawal just because we can’t win all the marbles over night?

    You know, I’m beginning to understand something that never made sense to me in school – that is, how politicians in an earlier age decided that a pragmatic response to slavery was to reach a compromise whereby people with black skin could be designated a 3/5ths person – because we have exactly this same thinking today, within the evangelical community.

  12. Paul October 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Let’s go backwards here:

    1) Derek: “You’re seriously asking people who equate abortion to murder to pursue some kind of pragmatic withdrawal just because we can’t win all the marbles over night?”

    I sure am. You’re advocating playing the biggest card in the pro-life deck FIRST. At which point, where do you go from there? You’re left with the entire east and west coasts and the most populous states in the midwest remaining pro-choice states, as well as all but the reddest of the red states.

    Now, I have heard the theory that more abortions happen in red states than in blue states. If that’s true, then this will get much more interesting. But you can bet that if that is the case, you’re going to see a lot of people screaming pro-life everywhere BUT the voting booth and a whole bunch of faux-confused looking people in the pews the Sunday after the vote.

    So, yeah, better to pick and whittle away at Roe v. Wade than to attempt a straight up overturning of it.

  13. Paul October 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Nathan,

    “Paul, Your statement is accurate, but herein lies the misconception by many on this issue. There is NO RIGHT TO PRIVACY in the US Constitution. This is a court created fiat and that is why this issue will not go away.”

    Oh, I agree. But, it’s more than a court created fiat. There are also federal statutes enacted by congress into US Code in the 80’s which also guarantee a right to privacy now. Not to mention, overturning Roe v. Wade, on the privacy issue, might not be enough, considering that Casey v. Planned Parenthood went the way that it did based on the assumption that privacy is a part of constitutional law. Same with Texas v. Lawrence.

    It is because of Texas v. Lawrence though, that even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, another case will have to be the litmus test for a newly enshrined right to privacy. Hopefully a better written establishment for the right of privacy of the US citizen will also allow for the overturn of the Alabama sex toy ban, quite possibly the most painfully STUPID enforced law on the books in the entire country.

    As for your comments on Prop. 8, I will roll my eyes at you. You can make a very good case for calling denial of gay marriage a civil rights issue, and you can make an airtight case for saying that it’s an issue of contractual law and nothing more. No matter what, we live in a secular country, and you cannot make a single secular argument that makes any sense against gay marriage.

    Sure, in California, the case is a little different because of the domestic partnership laws that are already in place, so I’m slightly more inclined to agree with you, but not by much.

  14. Allie October 25, 2008 at 7:29 am #

    This is the first time I’ve commented here, although I’ve been reading for a while and I find the debate that sometimes follows the posts in the comments section interesting.

    I found it odd that, although Mr. (Dr.?) Burk wrote a post espousing the evils of Sen. Obama for his comments about abortion, he neglected to comment on the fact that Sen. McCain stated that he would not necessarily appoint Supreme Court justices that would fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. He stated, “I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test” (from http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/debates/transcripts/third-presidential-debate.html). He also stated in the debate that he voted to confirm Ginsberg and Breyer’s nominations to the Supreme Court.

    Sen. McCain has certainly not impressed me as being pro-life himself, in any case. Sen. Obama, on the other hand, has stated his commitment to reducing the number of abortions by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies due to other circumstances, such as poverty and a lack of sex education.

    I respect the commitment to life that many readers of this website have expressed here in the comments section. I, too, am concerned for the rights of the unborn, and believe that they should have the same right to life that all Americans have. However, I am no less of a follower of Jesus than you for voting a different way for the president. Focusing on who we are voting into the presidency has not yet overturned Roe v. Wade. I believe that a different tack may be necessary, namely, trying to reduce the number of abortions by fighting the causes of unwanted pregnancies, while at the same time petitioning the current Supreme Court with intellectual, well-reasoned arguments for life, petitioning state lawmakers to present a law challenging Roe v. Wade, and, I think most importantly, to work in our own communities to come alongside women who have unwanted pregnancies and provide them with the means necessary to carry their children to term, whether they then give them up for adoption, or choose to raise them themselves.

    As Mr./Dr. Burk pointed out, Sen. Obama will most likely be our next president. In that case, we can not afford to sit idly by for the next four years while women continue to choose abortion. We must take a different approach, and be the hope of the unborn, as well as the world, that we are called to be.

  15. Brian (Another) October 27, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Allie:

    I think Dr. Burk posted a response in general to your question. Additionally, though, taking the argument you pose about SC nominations, I think you point out a specific “great divide” between the two candidates. Taking Obama at his word, he will actively seek to expand RvW. His “first order of business” would be to sign FOCA. This is an aggressively pro-abortion candidate. And, Sen. McCain also stated that he wouldn’t nominate someone who agreed with the RvW decision.

    Further, Obama stated “Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on.” Both candidates would agree that the next presidency will have a great impact on that (judicial nominations and RvW).

    You are right about actively pursuing ways to help single mothers. Again, though, Obama wants to cut funding from crisis pregnancy centers. FOCA would force pro-llife organizations to “support”* abortion (if federal funding involved). So yes, we should actively seek to help, nurture and care for those mothers. But until the presidency is decided, we should also resist the urge to “back burner” an infant’s right to life because we find it unpalatable to vote for somebody who doesn’t socially reform the way we see fit.

    * – at least they would have to present it to those they are counseling, if I understand it correctly.

  16. Allie October 28, 2008 at 1:29 am #

    Hello Brian, thank you for your response.

    Can you direct me to where Sen. McCain stated that he “wouldn’t nominate someone who agreed with the RvW decision”? Just curious, as in my previous comment I quoted from the third debate, where he stated that he would “not impose any litmus test [in nominating a justice].”

    In either case, I never disputed that Sen. Obama seems to be adamantly pro-choice. I merely brought up the point that Sen. McCain does not appear to be adamantly pro-life.

    My question still stands: what is your next course of action to fight Roe v. Wade if Sen. Obama is elected?

  17. Brian (Another) October 28, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    Allie:

    Thank you for the response. I have to apologize. I read the quote:

    I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications.

    And I was thinking that (though the quote written is a bit confusing) his indication was not to submit an RvW supporter (but I did not get the opportunity to watch that debate). I truly apologize for getting that quote wrong.

    Of course, given his disagreement with RvW based on his federalist stance, if a potential nominee agreed with RvW, then that would not meet his qualiications (simply from the fact that he not only disagrees with the abortion aspect, but the decision itself that took the decision out of the hands of the state). Again, I apologize for anything I wrote that was wrong or misleading (sigh).

    My question still stands: what is your next course of action to fight Roe v. Wade if Sen. Obama is elected?
    I didn’t realize that you had a question about that, wasn’t trying to avoid it, if so. Some things would be to continue our support of crisis pregnancy centers (this one especially since Obama seeks to cut federal funding unless support for abortion is included), single mother outreach, outreach to those around us (I live in a college-centered city). But all of that continues whether McCain or Obama (well, sans the parenthetical statement). Especially the last part. One of the fantastically detrimental aspects of secular thought is the teaching of how best to ignore repercussions. Meaning, teach kids how to have sex and pretend that you can prevent repercussions (or act as though they aren’t there). Even outside of a biblical framework, this seems obvious. I think, in the end, what happens is that the center of the issue is human life. We see this in terms of human life and it undoes the idea of sex without consequences.

    The thing about what we do is very important. How we impact our community is important. How we speak to our neighbors (well, actually, just that we should speak to our neighbors 😉 ) is vital. Demonstrating (and speaking) the gospel to those with whom we interact is not just important, it is our defining action (of being a Christian). That’s local. What we have an opportunity to do now is to affect a national level. The vast majority of us are not called to stir a national organization such as Focus on the Family, NRL, etc. But our vote has a national affect. And every aspect that Obama touts is denied of the most unprotected of us all.

  18. Brian (Another) October 28, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    I meant to comment on two other things, but I feel very long winded (sorry, all).

    In either case, I never disputed that Sen. Obama seems to be adamantly pro-choice. I merely brought up the point that Sen. McCain does not appear to be adamantly pro-life.

    That was my point as well. It’s not that Obama is pro-choice, he is aggressively pro-abortion. You (correctly, perhaps?) frame McCain as a passive pro-life guy. Obama is an aggressive pro-abortion guy. This isn’t Clinton, for instance, who at the bare minimum opposed late-term abortions (if my memory serves me correctly). Obama is a candidate who seeks to eradicate what little movement has been made in the law (again, see FOCA). McCain continues to seek faith-based initiatives, which would include efforts such as crisis pregnancy centers, of course, it could be that nothing gets promoted. Obama’s camp has already said no to supporting continued funding for crisis pregnancy centers. So, yes, it could be that McCain would nominate a center SC. At worst, he simply continues the court as we see it today (I disagree, however). But Obama is aggressively seeking to solidify and expand abortion. He’s a rabid pro-abortion fellow.

    And, BTW, …while at the same time petitioning the current Supreme Court with intellectual, well-reasoned arguments for life, petitioning state lawmakers to present a law challenging Roe v. Wade…

    With FOCA, the state law would not be allowed. With a left leaning (at best, ultra-liberal at worst) SC, the arguments never make it.

    Did you read Weigel’s piece (and the corresponding rejoinder and surrejoinder)?

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