Friday, November 7, 2008

a pro-lifer who welcomes the Obama presidency

In many situations I’m hesitant to use the term “pro-life” as for a lot of people it really means nothing more than “anti-abortion.” To be pro-life should mean doing all the one can to protect life from the womb to the death bed. It should mean the rejection of killing as a method of solving problems.

Using the word in that sense, I am among the pro-lifers who favored Obama's election and watched with gratitude his fine speech at Grant Park in Chicago after McCain conceded defeat. (Here in Holland watching this life meant being awake a 5 AM, which I was thanks to a toothache.) My happiness was not naive. I know about Obama's pro-choice position and his plans to greatly increase US troop levels in Afghanistan. I fully expect in the coming years that I will passionately disagree with many things the Obama administration does. On the other hand, I expect a presidency that will do more community building, care more about the poor, strengthen relations with allies, listen more carefully to cautions and criticisms, and not engage in a "shoot first, ask questions later" foreign policy.

I think it is not unreasonable to expect that the abortion rate in the US will fall significantly in a way that it didn’t during the past years of the “pro-life” Bush administration. Some of the reasons for that hope are listed on a “Pro-life Pro-Obama” web site:

The site is worth a visit.

In Holland, though abortion is legal, the abortion rate is extremely low (while in Orthodox Greece and Russia it’s very high). There are several reasons for it being low here:

1) There is a good sex education curriculum in the schools. One consequence of this is that there is a much lower rate of unintended pregnancies than in the US.

2) There is strong and effective social support (economic, medical, housing) for women who, without such support, might well see no alterative but abortion.

3) Last but perhaps not least, the pro-life movement here really is pro-life, not simply anti-abortion. It doesn’t aim at shocking anyone nor does it engage in scolding, but rather puts its stress on caring support and encouragement of women who may be seriously considering abortion. The group has the initials VBOK, which means the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. VBOK posters are regularly displayed at train stations, bus and tram stops throughout the country. (See a photo of one such ad here: .) The photos used on the posters are of young women who clearly are struggling with a hard choice. The images always strike a note of compassion. The text is always the same. The headline on top is “An unwished for pregnancy... What now?” The text at the bottom is: “There is help for both the mother and child.” And then a free phone number one can call any hour of the day or night. I have no doubt these posters have saved many lives of unborn children and also saved many mothers from a lifetime of profound regret and depression.

Perhaps there is something that Americans can be learn from the Dutch model.



beth said...

Thanks, Jim, for a very thoughtful reflection.

I have such problems with the way the way the Catholic Church in the USA chooses to teach the sacredness of life.

Ali said...

This post spoke directly to my heart.
I love Jesus, and I love life, thus killing in any way, shape, or form is unacceptable, in my opinion. But I believe that Barack Obama has a plan that honors life - not just the life of an unborn child, but all lives. Through healthcare, economics and education, I believe that we can reduce our abortion rate and improve quality of life for all individuals.

Kevin Davis said...

Good thoughts. I keep working to build a more holistic view of voting pro-life and understanding the impact of my vote. If only we could be a theocracy again...