Right To Thrive

The issue of Abortion was not the compelling concern for a majority of Americans in the last elections, but it is still a powerfully divisive legal/moral contest that pits Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, in a heated competition for hearts and minds. It is tough to find common ground or fresh areas for public debate, but as a pro-life Democrat I am accustomed to thinking outside the pack.

Most Pro-Choice political leaders are quick to say that they are not pro-Abortion, they are interested in abortion reduction without outlawing the procedures. Many pro-life leaders similarly claim that they are also committed to reducing the numbers of abortion even as they seek a final legal solution of defining the right to life. There are a couple of bills coming back for consideration in Congress that will test the truthfulness of these politicians’ claims.

The “Pregnant Women Support Act” is being promoted by the Democrats for Life organization as a means of reducing abortions by 95% over the next 10 years. This bill would provide more adoption incentives, much needed funding for WIC programs, and provide resources and support to help women continue their education if they keep their child or make an adoption plan for their child. There is so much that is good in this bill that I can only pray that President Obama will seize upon this initiative to demonstrate that he isn’t going to be the most pro-abortion president in history, as is now claimed about him in pro-life circles.

The Feminists for Life organization has been spreading the word that “45% of women who have abortions are college age”. As well “women with some college had the highest abortion rate of any educational group.” They also tout statistics that 71% of 18-19 year olds, and 58% of 20-24 year olds said they had abortions because having the child would interfere with their education or career. Feminists for Life have been promoting the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act”, to address these sad realities.

I would like to introduce a fresh approach to the old Pro-Life/Pro-Choice partisan wars. I like to say that there is a Right to Thrive that encompasses the Right to Life, and it addresses the fact that we have a societal obligation to children- to all children. When I hear fellow pro-lifers rage against social programs, and government’s role in ensuring the common good, I cringe. When I hear fellow Democrats rage against traditionally religious folk who are trying to take responsibility to stop the killing of unborn human lives, I want to weep.

When I want to make the pro-life case to my students in the classroom, I don’t show shocking pictures of aborted fetuses, I show the National Geographic’s documentary “In the Womb”. It is my belief that the unborn will win their human rights when everyone opens their eyes to the facts of life- every human life passes through the same stages – amazing stuff. Pro-Life must also be whole Life – for me Economics, War, Immigration, Health Care, Education, are all Life issues, and children and pregnant mothers take priority over the rest of us.

Sincerely, Tim Shipe (Guest Column published in Florida Today Newspaper)

11 Responses to Right To Thrive

  • The “Pregnant Women Support Act” is being promoted by the Democrats for Life organization as a means of reducing abortions by 95% over the next 10 years.

    I have no doubt that you approach this issue with great sincerity, but there’s just no getting around the fact that is an absolute pipe dream. The persistent myth is that practically all of the women who procure abortions are down and outers stuck on their last nickel, but nothing could be further from the truth. This bill does nothing for the arrogant yuppies who abort because the little one will interfere with their lifestyle of weekending in the Hamptons, and if you think that this constituent represents only a small minority of the women who procure abortions, then you are incredibly naive.

    It is absolute tripe like this that puts the pro-life movement back. Increased federal aid is the mirage that Catholic Democrats put out there as the excuse to keep voting Democrat.

  • Well- the actual research shows that apparently a high percentage of young women are indicating that the top reason for their choice of abortion is their fear of not being able to continue on with their education or related financial fears- I don’t know what studies you are basing your opinion on that say that most women seeking abortions are arrogant yuppies. I am simply taking women at their word and trying to address the root causes of women who would choose a legal or perhaps an illegal abortion.

    Personally I ran for public office as a pro-life Democrat who opposes legal abortions- using the 5th and 14th Amendments after making the case that medical research has made strides to prove that human life truly begins at fertlization/conception. And additionally, I promised to put forth legislation to regulate fertility clinics to forbid the practice of creating surplus embryos- which has created the supply to meet the demand of those who wish to pursue embryonic stem cell research.

    I plan on writing an article soon entitled “Pro-life movement: Democrats need not apply” to address the fact that many in the pro-life movement do not seem interested in developing an effective two-major party pro-life strategy- it would seem that serving the more narrow interests of the Republican party has become a central corruption for the major players who are ostensibly fighting for the unborn’s right to life. Personally I don’t find the normative Republican state’s rights approach to Life issues very pro-life- and I found that a Democrat such as myself is not even afforded the chance to compete in pro-life circles- not sure what happened to the meritocracy on that one. I will provide more specific details on a later post. But I will conclude by saying that I can see nothing wrong with working both the legal front and the reducing abortion demand front- combining that with the cultural interventions- so hold off on lumping me in with all your preconceived notions of what pro-life Democratic politics is all about.

  • There certainly are arrogant yuppies who abort — but the studies that I’ve seen do show that the majority are young, poor, and/or “repeat customers”. Of course, with over a million abortions a year, even a 10-20% minority adds up to a staggering number, so that data would certainly not make one expect not to know of lots of cases of either sort.

    I do rather share, however, Paul’s skepticism on the likely ability of the Pregnant Women Support Act to reduce abortions 95% over ten years. The number of abortions has been decreasing for the last 30 years and I think these sorts of programs might be able to increase the rate of decline by 2-4%. However, despite the frequency with which financial, educational and career reasons are given for abortions, I kind of suspect that the sorts of financing and services the bill offers would not actually make the personal cost of either setting up an adoption or being a (quite possibly single) mother seem that much less. No amount of subsidized childcare will make it easy to pursue what a 22 year old would think of as a normal dating life with a six month old. Nor will food stamps make it easier to scrape spilled food off the floor and get up at two in the morning with a toddler who can’t sleep.

    So while I think there is value to be found in making it more feasible for those brave women who choose life in difficult circumstances to continue with their educations and careers, I tend to think that there is actually very little distance to successfully go in the “reducing the need for abortion” direction.

    The “need” itself is pretty obvious. The trick is vastly increasing the social tendency against either getting yourself into the situation of needing one, or against acting upon the need itself. In other words: either make abortion socially (and/or legally) unacceptable or make pre-marital sex much less socially acceptable.

    That said, I think it’s a genuine problem when truly anti-abortion Democrats are being made to feel like they need not apply. Not only is that contrary to any sense of pro-life unity, it’s also a terrible way to run a movement. (Given that it strikes me that the NRA is pretty much the quintessential example of how to get your way legally — you don’t exactly see them turning away pro-gun Democrats now do you.)

  • And on a side note, I’m very glad to hear, Tim, that you’re working on getting legislation moving restricting the production of “extra” embryos in IVF clinics. That is something that we as pro-lifers should without question object to, and not enough has been done about it despite ample legal precedents in significantly less religious nations. I’m sure that presented right, that kind of regulation could successfully gain support.

  • The 95% figure is one that the national Dems for Life org puts out- I am an advisor for Florida Dems for Life- I don’t have a handle on how they arrived at that percentage- I’ll look into that more closely.

    Personally, I am trying to get things going on mulitiple fronts like I mentioned before- one thing I am just getting ready to do is start up a “Dads with Daughters” facebook group- this will have a religious focus to address the culture in which our girls are being brought up into. We need to take on the Playboy mentality big time- now that I am a father myself with girls, I finally really and truly get it. I can’t believe that so many American men who became fathers of girls didn’t get the memo and act on it before- we have done a lousy job on the chivalry front- the strip club on every corner thing – that has to go. I tried to get my Knights of Columbus council to get out in the streets in front of these clubs and hold up signs reminding men of the dignity of women- to try a little shame combined with some rosary praying in a very public in your face action. But I had no takers.

    I see abortion related to all kinds of things- a lot of cultural rot- there are a lot of Christians out there, but we just aren’t taking to the streets- not even to stand up for our daughters who are going to be treated like meat in a few years. I take the politics of all this deadly serious- but too many Christian/Catholic men seem so sheepish- maybe they are secretly addicted to porn like one of my female friends suggested- maybe. I understand being a weak male, but now I understand how to be a strong male, and I am hoping to help others get more proactive- let the incredible love we feel for our girls inspire us to make sure we are the ones who are determining the laws and marketplace appropriateness of things that encourage promiscuity and lax sexual morality. I’ll update you when I get this launched at facebook and hopefully beyond. God Bless- Save the children- save our children!

  • I have to say, as much as I like the idea of the PWSA, it isn’t going to stop 95% of abortions in 10 years or 100. Such an outlandish claim only opens the bill to ridicule and lessens the chances that it will succeed. I would support it if it stopped 1% of abortions, the quantity is a secondary concern, the principle and the intent are right. That does matter.

    After all, nearly 4 decades of trying to overturn Roe hasn’t reduced abortions at all. If quantity is what matters here, if we are going to be pragmatists or utilitarians, then it is this strategy that should finally be thrown out the window, especially now.

    I would rather see money spent on crisis pregnancy centers, community outreach groups, sidewalk counseling, shelters for homeless and abused women, etc. But most of those things will never be funded by our government.

  • Thanks for noting that Joe. I’m supportive of these types of initiatives. I really am. But Democrats for Life seriously undermines their credibility imo when they claim any policy will reduce abortion by 95% in 10 years. Down that road lies the Doug Kmiec Obama-is-really-the-pro-life candidate shilling, or so it appears to many right-leaning conservatives. Not even overturning Roe would result in that sharp a reduction.

  • The 95% figure is sheer flim-flam and is mooted about to give electoral cover to pro-abort democrats. I have no problem helping pregnant women in crisis pregnancies as the 10 years I have spent on the board of the local crisis pregnancy center in my county indicates, but helping pregnant women should not diminish one iota the fight against the obscenity of legalized abortion.

  • I don’t know what studies you are basing your opinion on that say that most women seeking abortions are arrogant yuppies.

    I actually never said a “majority,” but rather bristled at the implicit suggestion that all but a very tiny percentage of women who procure abortions are poor or uneducated. I don’t dispute that a majority are, but let’s stop pretending this is solely or even mainly about economics.

    As others have said, there is nothing wrong with assisting crisis pregnancy centers and like, as my KoC council is doing. Certainly there are both political and societal ways to attack to the problem of abortion outside of fighting for its abolition; however, as long as Democrats continued to be aided and abetted by pro-life Democrats such as yourself, we will continue fighting an uphill battle regarding the evil of abortion and the pursuit of its ultimate demise.

    You can put as much lipstick as you want on this pig, but it’s still a pig.

  • Paul- are you saying that even being a pro-life Democrat is contributing negatively to the abortion situation? Be careful not to lump all pro-life Dems in with those who publicly endorse pro-choice candidates- I don’t. I think it is a mistake to focus so heavily on recruiting Catholic Democrats to just become Republicans. Before 1980 there were more pro-lifers in the Democratic Party establishment than in the Republican one- the parties change like the wind on many issues- look how Clinton sold out the FDR economic tradition for Dems- and I would say that Ron Paul is right to stay Republican and fight for the party to drastically change the imperial approach to foreign relations and excessive military presence and expenditures. I would never say that Dr. Paul should simply quit the Repubs and become a Democrat because he is enabling imperialism- he didn’t endorse McCain as far as I am aware and I never endorsed Obama- I am being true on every issue regardless of where the Democratic platform of groupthink is. I say that as a Catholic- pick a party and be consistent with the Catholic social doctrine as best you know- every party is in need of major reforms from this perspective- no party is clean- there is no party of God- only the social doctrine of Christ’s Church- and that is a blueprint of moral principles, not an exact step-by-step ideology

  • I’m a huge advocate for the Pregnant Women Support Act.

    Now granted, the goals of the bill are quite lofty. However, I don’t think we should ever settle for less.

    In fact, the legislation is not merely some pro-life Democratic measure to strengthen the social safety net and reduce the “need” for abortion. Rather, it is a pro-life jewel in that it would in one federal legislative action win the wars that pro-life Americans have been fighting at the state level for years.

    - For over a decade, the pro-life movement has been fighting to get unborn children and pregnant covered in the S-CHIP program. This would occur definitely under this bill and get health care for pregnant women.

    - The PWSA would establish parental notification laws in all 50 states. A study from the University of Alabama estimates that parental-involvement laws in states that have enacted them, have effected the abortion rate by 13 – 31%. Several states do not have such laws and this would be a magnificent way of doing it all in the stroke of one legislative pen.

    - There is legislation entitled “A Woman’s Right to Know” that requires that women be asked if they would like to see an ultrasound before having an abortion, be offered literature on human life development, and be informed about fetal experience of pain from an abortion. Sometimes this also includes a 24 hour waiting period. This approach has about the same success as parental notification laws. This is another aspect of the bill that could be enacted in all 50 states that could have quite an impact on the abortion rate, acting in concert with all the other measures.

    - There is an aspect of this legislation that deals directly with parents who have a prenatal diagnosis, particularly with Down Syndrome. In regard to Down Syndrome, 90% of such diagnoses end in an abortion.

    - It would protect and expand federal funding of pro-life pregnancy crisis centers and provide ultrasound equipment and free screenings.

    - On this last point, I’m not certain, but I could have sworn there is a provision in the bill that is covered in CIANA laws, which deals with teens crossing state-borders to go obtain abortions. This may be dealt with under the parental-involvement aspect of the bill, but again, this is another pro-life measure that could find its way into federal law.

    I’m sure, if we all had to vote for it, most of us would vote in favor of it. My only point is: I don’t think we should be so quick to say this is ‘already being done’ and won’t have much of an effect.

    I think we should consider the amount of resources that would be put at the disposal of groups trying to help pregnant women. This could increase efforts and enable them to expand. I’m sure many non-profit organizations often stretch thin on resources.

    Another area of interest is how many pro-life measures — parental notification, CIANA laws, women’s right to know — would be enacted in all 50 states. This is currently not the case and it would be phenomenal to reap the effect of such widespread measures, together with increased efforts and financial resources of groups seeking to help support pregnant women.

    95% in 10 years? Maybe not. But, right now, it is hard to say that there has been a significant difference in the abortion rate between pro-life and pro-choice Administrations, aside from the only agreed fact that the number of abortions itself is declining. I think this would be a profound step in the right direction.

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