Pro-Choice: Because It's Not a Casual Decision

by Jay Johansen
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I heard an interview with a pro-choice politician a few days ago where he said:

I am I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade. And I come to that conclusion not because I'm pro-abortion but because, ultimately, I don't think women make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors, or their spouses, or their doctors [and] their family members.

Transcript, Saddleback Church interview

In this case the politician was Barack Obama, but you hear similar statements from many pro-choice politicians.

Curiously, on Senator Obama's campaign web site, among his statements of position on issues we find Barack's plan to crack down on excessive energy speculation, where he explains that he wants tough new laws against certain types of investments in oil that he considers bad for the economy. Why isn't Sen. Obama pro-choice on energy speculation? I don't think businessmen make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with economists, energy experts, business ethics consultants, and their stock holders and employees.

His education page lists a number of new laws he would pass about education. "Obama supports transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school." "Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited." He will "ensure" that all schools offer "a strong science curriculum at all grade levels." [Emphasis mine.] Etc. Why are these programs mandated on local school districts? I don't think teachers and school administrators make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with other educators, students, parents, and community leaders.

Perhaps most incongruous of all, he calls for, quote, Mandatory Coverage of Children. The web site says, "Obama will require that all children have health care coverage." Why isn't Sen. Obama pro-choice on health insurance? I don't think parents make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors, or their spouses, or their doctors and their family members.

He doesn't this there should be laws to prevent women from killing their unborn children, because he is sure that they do not make these decisions casually but carefully consider all relevant factors. But once the child is born, he no longer trusts the mother to make decisions about him. He doesn't trust her to decide whether to buy health insurance for the baby or what kind of health insurance to buy. The government has to step in to make these decisions for her.

I'm not singling out Sen. Obama, here. I'm just using him as an example. Politicians routinely call for laws making many things illegal, from theft and fraud to race discrimination to marijuana to trans-fats. They don't trust people to make these decisions for themselves, no matter how thoughtful they are about making them or who they consult.

In some cases I think these laws go beyond the rightful role of government. Personally I don't think the government should be telling me that my food choices are unhealthy and can't be allowed. In some cases I agree. I certainly agree that people should not be allowed to decide for themselves whether they will steal and rape. Perhaps you draw the line at different places.

But I have a hard time taking a politician seriously who says that he is so concerned that parents might neglect their children that he wants laws requiring them to buy health insurance, but he trusts them to decide whether or not to deliberately kill those same children. As long as they don't make the decision casually.


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Created Aug 24, 2008.

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