This is the veritable end of every discussion as a single-issue decision.
To be clear: I am fully in favor of protecting our unborn. I believe history will not look kindly on this page of society. And for my Right to Choose friends who want to holler rape and incest, I’ll remind us those tragic cases account for less than 1 percent of all abortions. We have an unprecedented loss of life on our hands. It is a dark day indeed.
But in many ways, abortion is a straw issue in this election. It is not up for repeal. It is not on the docket as pending legislation. It will certainly not be outlawed by either candidate (“There’s no legislation regarding, with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” ~Romney told the Des Moines Register). No vote will result in a repeal, so perhaps we should not so quickly malign citizens who vote toward policies that reduce.
In fact, after it was legalized in 1973, abortions surged under Democratic and Republican presidents alike, remaining legal through seven Republican-appointed and only four Democratic-appointed Supreme Court justices, reaching their peak of 1.6 million in 1990. Since then, abortions have steadily decreased, with the largest decline under the Clinton administration, then plateauing during the younger Bush years (source).
The lack of far-reaching advocacy demonstrated by most pro-life folks is discouraging.
The Right to Life focus usually omits the crucial before and after parts of the issue, as I see the same people fighting against universal pre- and postnatal care, easier access to contraception (2/3rds of all U.S. citizens are unchurched, so it is unrealistic to expect them to adhere to Christian abstinence, you know, like all the Christian singles are … ahem), better nutrition for new mothers, affordable health care for all, the offer of true community to young and vulnerable pregnant women … as these are the tools that will actually reduce abortions. There is a high correlation between social policies like family planning, contraception promotion, comprehensive sex education and increased health insurance coverage and lower abortion rates.
But I digress.
Perhaps most discouraging is the irrational, unreasonable hope I find fellow believers placing in a political party, and lest you think I’m just picking on Republicans, my Christian Democratic friends ’bout drove me to drinkin’ during the Bush years.
And may we touch on the irony of an inherent value of the right—electing a Christian president—and observe the suspension of “biblical truth” necessary to endorse a Mormon candidate? The Christian Right has gone strangely silent over this tiny detail (but should a Mormon secure the Democratic nomination, please prepare your Facebook feed for 1,000 posts a day about the anti-Christ and the end of the world).
None of this smacks of Gospel.
Politics are rife with power-plays, hypocrisy, corruption, agendas, contradictions, good platforms, bad platforms, men and women who love their country, men and women who’ve lost their moral compass, good policy, dangerous policy … in the red and blue camps alike. That any believer imagines a political platform will either usher in or threaten the Kingdom of God is worse than dramatic; it is unbelief.