The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Pro-life, Pro-Obama

with 18 comments

Where can you find the lowest abortion rate in the whole world? See if this answer surprises you:
Western Europe

Douglas Kmiec

Douglas Kmiec

I found that figure on a website called Prolife ProObama, where I was greeted by a letter from Douglas Kmiec. And there a strong case is made that – well, obviously – pro-life voters may accomplish more for their cause by voting for Barack Obama rather than John McCain.

Douglas Kmiec is no fuzzy-headed liberal. He was Ronald Reagan’s legal counsel in the White House, also serving that role George H.W. Bush. Kmiec, a committed Roman Catholic, was dean and professor of law at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and at Notre Dame. And he’s now a professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University.

And he writes:

  • The most frequent reasons given by women seeking an abortion are that a child would limit ability to meet current responsibilities and that they cannot afford a child at this point in their lives.
  • Unintended pregnancy has increased by 29% among poor women while decreasing 20% among higher-income women.
  • Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women.

Strange, eh? Abortion generally is slowing in the USA. So why would it be soaring among poor women?

Over at  God’s Politics, I came across Tony Campolo on the same subject:

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven.  The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

There you go.  Most women who have abortions do so because they’re afraid they don’t have enough money to raise a child:
“If I add another to the family, will I lose my hope of sending the ones I have to college?”
“If my boss finds out I’m pregnant, will I lose my job?”
“Will my children be homeless?”

Some of my conservative friends would argue that her situation is her own fault (though I never could understand how a follower of Jesus Christ could talk that way) and it isn’t the baby’s fault, so abortion should still be prevented by law.

Let’s say they’re right. Let’s say we elect John McCain and trust him to pack the Supreme Court with conservative judges, and they overturn Roe. What do we get? Not what you might think.

More from Douglas Kmiec:

  • Overturning Roe Vs. Wade … would not end abortion in the United States, it would simply send the decision to the states.
  • If states with more than 45% “pro-life” sentiment chose to outlaw abortion, this would only impact 16 states accounting for 10% of abortions nationwide […]
  • Women in these 16 states would still be able to travel to seek an abortion in another state, or seek an illegal abortion, making the impact likely less than a 10% reduction in abortions nation-wide […]



Ten percent reduction. After four decades of waiting and thousands of pitched battles and vast alienation in our nation, you might get 10% fewer abortions.

But I have another question for you:

Is Roe going to be overturned? Consider history.  As an anonymous blog commenter wrote two years ago:

  • Roe v. Wade has been upheld by a majority of Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices for the last 33 years … not surprising given the fact that […]
  • Six of the seven justices who voted in support of Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republican presidents.
  • Republican congresses–including the recent rubber-stamp congress–have done absolutely nothing to overturn Roe […] With Republicans in control of the entire government: both houses of congress, the Supreme Court and the White House, it would seem to [have been] the perfect opportunity […]
  • Since the Roe. v. Wade decision of 1973, Republican-appointed justices have always been in the majority by a margin of at least 7-2.
  • So here we are into the 4th decade, still waiting, hopes now pinned on Roberts and Alieto [sic], the newest saviors who will surely set about striking down Roe. Maybe. Sort of. In a few more decades. Or maybe not. Don’t hold your breath. Just keep voting Republican, it’s sure to work eventually.. maybe.. sort of.. *

But let’s go one step further. Supposing there were a way to make abortion completely illegal, what would we get?

Not much. Kmiec again:

  • Nearly half of all abortions in the world are performed in countries that have made abortion illegal. […]
  • … in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, where abortion law is most restrictive, the regional rates are 29 and 31 per 1,000 women, respectively.

A friend of mine recently said he could never vote for a pro-choice candidate, for he believes “Even one abortion is too many!”   But outlawing abortions does not prohibit them. And it may not even reduce them.

But one thing does.

Remember western Europe, with the world’s lowest abortion rates? Guess what: There, abortion is not outlawed, and their rates are one third that of nations with restrictive laws.

Why? Back to Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean:

  • These countries are also much poorer than the U.S. and provide fewer social services; and a larger proportion of their population lives in poverty.
  • In Western European countries, in contrast, where more [care is] provided and fewer women live in poverty, the abortion rates are consistently the lowest rates in the world.

Get the connection?

Making abortion illegal can’t be shown to decrease abortions. What most impacts the number of abortions is the economic and medical security of mothers.

It’s no secret that Sen. McCain’s approach to abortion is to appoint Supreme Court justices who might make abortion illegal someday.  Sen. Obama’s approach is to address the economic and medical security of mothers.

Which is most likely to help? Which, conservative Christian, is more like Jesus Christ?

Which brings me back to Tony Campolo:

Tony Campolo is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE) and professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University

Tony Campolo is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education (EAPE) and professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University

More than 60 percent of all abortions are economically driven.  The reality is that without provisions for hospital coverage; pre- and post-natal care; maternity leave so that a woman giving birth will not lose her job; and nursing assistance to help single mothers transition into parenthood, millions of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term will not do so.

Listen to Campolo describe what’s changing in the political landscape:

I have often said that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican.  I have contended that to make either party “The God Party” is idolatry.  … I have long called for Christians to be involved in both political parties, striving to be the “leaven” that permeates both parties with biblically-based judgments and values derived from Christian beliefs.

Taking my own advice, this year I played a part in framing the abortion plank of the Democratic Party’s platform.  I helped the party to take what some have called a “historic step” by having the party become committed to abortion reduction.

… the [Democratic] party platform now calls for these needs to be met.  It also calls for educational programs to reduce unwanted pregnancies, with room for the teaching of abstinence, and asks for government agencies to make adoptions easier.

These achievements were lauded by Democrats for Life and by the Catholic Alliance for Life.  While at the Democratic National Convention, religious leaders of other faith traditions personally thanked me for my efforts.  Even leaders of some pro-choice organizations hailed this compromise, claiming that at last they could find some common ground with pro-life advocates.

Purists, on the other hand, have had hard words for me […] [Tell me about it! – M.]

Consider these questions:  If 10 children are drowning in a swimming pool, and you can only save six of them, should you save the six? Or, should you wait until help arrives that can save them all, even if you know that the six you could save will be lost in the meantime?

Douglas Kmiec writes:

We are all called to build a culture of life – but there’s more to it than just hoping that the next Supreme Court justice somehow deals with Roe v. Wade. A bad economy is threatening to human life. Women facing the moral tragedy of abortion – are facing it, now, today – and they need a supportive community and tangible help, not condemnation. […]

[A]fter 35 years, a new approach is needed. Too many unborn lives are being lost as we wait for judges to get it right. Barack Obama’s strengthening of support for prenatal care, health care, maternity leave, and adoption will make the difference. Studies confirm it. […]

Those studies – and summaries of the related policies of the two main presidential candidates – are outlined in ProLifeProObama’s outstanding fact sheet, here.

We are all called to build a culture of life. We can dramatically reduce abortion – and bring America back together in the process – simply by putting in place a policy that reflects the central passion of Jesus: caring for the poor.

ProLife, ProObama also recommends:
National Catholic Reporter: “I’m Catholic, staunchly anti-abortion, and support Obama.” Nicholas P. Cafardi, September 30, 2008
Newsweek: The Changing Face of Abortion. Sarah Kliff, September 23, 2008
Relevant Magazine: Q & A With Barack Obama. July 1, 2008 Issue
Catholic Online: Douglas W. Kmiec: Democrats Step Toward Honoring Life in their Party Platform. August 11, 2008
National Catholic Reporter: Democratic platform shift to reduce abortions commended. Tom Roberts, August 13, 2008
America Magazine: Obama and Abortion
Huffington Post: Frank Schaeffer: Why I’m Pro-Life and Pro-Obama. February 7, 2008.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

October 31, 2008 at 12:04 pm

18 Responses

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  1. Obamacare is up and running and I site this blog post often.


    December 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  2. Thanks! I would agree with you if I were convinced that we have a President who supports infanticide. Jill Stanek – the authority cited at the link – has grossly misrepresented Obama’s positions on this issue. Focus on the Family, to my astonishment, has published mash-ups of Obama views that are highly deceptive, and grossly misrepresent the context from which they were taken.

    Obama is through and through anti-abortion, and will accomplish far more than McCain ever thought about doing. And he will bring reasonable people from both sides together to do it.


    November 6, 2008 at 7:10 pm

  3. Well said. I agree with most of what you wrote.

    My concern is that if we have a country that blatantly disregards the life of the unborn and a president who actively promotes infanticide, how much longer will it be before the rest of us have to worry about the value of our lives?

    Obama’s reason for supporting infanticide:


    November 6, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  4. Thanks Monte i read it too late but my vote didn’t help either been to busy to visit. God is the one we can count on that is for sure now I hope tha tour new President can really make some change. may the Lord richly bless you Love Leroy


    November 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

  5. Brenda – good thought about the similarity to gun control laws. We Christians, of all people, ought to know – I suppose – that law is powerless to bring inner change.
    Seems like law is a necessity to keep harm from becoming too great, but not the real answer to any particular problem.


    November 5, 2008 at 4:28 pm

  6. Brenda – thanks very much. I have been truly chagrined to see the distortions that have come from formerly-credible groups like Focus on the Family. It is as if truth were no longer of any consequence; winning is all that matters.

    As with McCain himself, that which was once regarded as an icon of honor has somehow sold its honor for power. It’s a tragic loss.

    It’s been coming for some years. I can remember a pro-life video they made perhaps ten years ago that grossly mis-characterized the motives of pro-choice advocates. Truth was on the way out as FOF slowly desensitized itself, believing its own distortions.

    Thus, in this campaign, assuming the worst, most simplistic view of an opponent’s policy, then projecting future consequences of their own distorted view of the policy, became true enough. The differences between truth and hyperbole must have become lost, as they drank the fear that they themselves manufactured.


    November 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm

  7. And stare in amazement, dumbfounded, wondering what it means!


    November 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  8. Excellent post, Monte.

    And now we can celebrate…


    November 5, 2008 at 9:38 am

  9. One more thought… just the other day I made a similar argument about gun control attempts. I was reading about some tragic gun-related death and although I am a strong supporter of the right to own guns, I also support things like background checks and waiting periods. I made the comment that certain types of guns really aren’t necessary but outlawing them does very little to stop them from being available. It simply drives up the price. After all, there are all sorts of drugs that are illegal but that doesn’t make them difficult to obtain. The multitude of social ills are not going to be cured by passing laws but rather by reaching the hearts of people and by reaching out TO people.


    November 4, 2008 at 12:46 am

  10. As a “conservative christian” I have been increasingly aware of the pressure to do what every good conservative Christian does and support the republican nominee — meanwhile secretly admiring Obama every time I hear him speak. I’ve tentatively voiced just a hint of that here and there and been instantly ridiculed by my conservative Christian friends and family. For months everytime I hear shocking, damning info on Obama I’ve checked it out and found each claim to be untrue. Tonight, I just finished reading a scathing report on Obama from Dr. Dobson and I was fearful again that Obama was practiacally the anti-Christ himself… this was all about his pro abortion stance. So I remembered my old friend Monte was an Obama supporter and how could this be since I know he’s also pro-life. So I came to the blog to see if I could find any info and lo and behold, I found this reflective, thoughtful, balanced blog on this exact topic. I won’t be voting for Obama, but I won’t be upset when he wins. (I’m not voting for the republican nominee either… I’m going third party this year.) Thanks Monte!


    November 4, 2008 at 12:03 am

  11. Which is to say “I am more concerned about myself being correct than I am about others receiving mercy.” And that is the attitude of many who called for the death of Jesus.


    November 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm

  12. Good observation, Joe! So often “taking our stand” means avoiding having to wrestle with what will really do some good. The end becomes being on the right side, rather than doing the right thing.


    November 3, 2008 at 8:26 pm

  13. Great post, Monte.

    I’m coming to see these battles not as left vs. right ideology, but pragmatism and problem-solving vs. dogma and oversimplification.

    It’s literally a battle against fundamentalism wherever it’s found, isn’t it. Whether you’re hard-core pro-choice or hard-core pro-life, you’re really just creating noise and emotion that prevents rational and effective problem-solving…

    Joe Hayes

    November 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

  14. Why thanks! I’m astonished!


    October 31, 2008 at 6:33 pm

  15. I agree with you for once. Great job Monte!


    October 31, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  16. Thanks! More dead mothers is hardly pro-life, true!


    October 31, 2008 at 2:19 pm

  17. Great job Monte.
    Illegal abortions also lead to more dead mothers.


    October 31, 2008 at 1:46 pm

  18. […] Pro-life, Pro-Obama […]

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