What the President Seems to be Missing re: the Abortion Debate

The news clips and Monday morning newspapers report on President Obama’s Sunday visit to the Notre Dame campus to speak and receive an honorary doctorate. They all have him appealing to both sides of the abortion issue for calmness and reason. Okay, I’m for that.

Obama told how in his presidential campaign his website mentioned the right-wing extremists (ideologues?) who oppose “a woman’s right to choose.” A medical doctor called him to task for the language, saying he’s not a right-winger, but believes that abortion is wrong. He wanted the president to use more temperate language and to recognize there are good, reasonable people on that side of the fence. Obama told how he had his staff clean up the tone of the website. In his Sunday speech, he called for good will from pro-lifers as well as pro-choice people. “We ought to be able to respect one another’s position and have a thoughtful conversation about it,” he said (not the precise words, but that was the thrust).

No problem here. I’m all for that. But it seems to me the president is missing one big thing, the “elephant in the living room,” as the saying goes.

When a pro-lifer has his way, a child lives. When a pro-choice person has his, a child dies.

It’s very difficult to keep cool about that.

There’s too much at stake here.

Over the weekend, I had a lengthy visit with Michael and Kellie Folks of Springfield, Louisiana. He’s the chairman of deacons at the First Baptist Church there, where I preached Sunday morning. My counterpart for that section of Louisiana, Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom, was the Folks’ pastor when they lived in Hammond. Lonnie says there is not a finer, godlier young couple anywhere than Mike and Kellie. Saturday night, they took me to dinner at Catfish Charlie’s in Hammond and I got to know five-year-old Claire and six-year-old Evan Folks. What winners these children are. I have been charmed before, but rarely as completely as those two worked their spell on me.

The last time such children captivated my heart so totally was…well, Tuesday, April 21, to be exact. (You might gather I’m not exactly difficult for a child to charm.) I was traveling toward Ridgecrest North Carolina and spent the night with Tim and Brandi Bryant in suburban Atlanta. Brandi’s step-father and my dear friend Jim Graham had prepared me for meeting his grandchildren: “Joe, get ready to fall in love.” Well sir, that’s what happened. The three Bryant daughters are Graham, 9, Bishop, 7 perhaps, and Merritt, about 5. What bright, incredible children. (I was already at their home visiting with Tim when the girls arrived from swim practice. They bounded down the stairs, calling out, “Dr. McKeever! Dr. McKeever!” and threw their arms around me, welcoming me into their home. That, believe it or not, was the first time I had laid eyes on these girls. But it will not be the last, I can assure you!)

The thing is — in case you wonder why these two paragraphs found their way into this discussion — these children were at one time fetuses. They were in their mothers’ wombs and as vulnerable as any endangered species on this planet.

And look at them now.

It’s not as simple as you want it to be, Mr. President. You can’t just say, “Let’s sit down and have a reasonable discussion on this matter and agree to respect one another’s position” when one side is killing unborn babies and the other wants to save them. Where is the reason in that?

I’m trying to be cool and dispassionate, believe it or not. It’s hard.

Suppose, by way of illustration, we have two people who are discussing euthanasia, the practice of putting to death elderly or handicapped, infirmed people who are considered a dead-weight on society. Suppose the two are on opposite sides of the fence, that one supports euthanasia while the other opposes it. But suppose the one supporting it occupies the power position and has made it the national policy, meaning that even as they have their discussion, people are being systematically “put down,” then hauled to the morgue. And suppose the guy in the power position grows upset at the rantings of the fellow opposed to euthanasia and calls on him to cool off and speak rationally. “After all,” he pleads, “why can’t we just get along?”

The answer is because millions of lives are at stake. The longer we maintain the present practice, the more people will die.

History students will recall that after he invaded Poland in September of 1939, Hitler was surprised to learn England had declared war on Germany. “We have no evil intentions toward the British,” he insisted. “Why are they declaring war on us?We are peace-loving people.”

In fact, the German representatives kept trying to make peace with the British. The British, on their part, would respond, “All right. Withdraw from Poland and we will believe you.”

Oh no, they couldn’t do that, Germany protested. But this has nothing to do with you, the British.

The Germans were asking for a cool, reasonable discussion and wanted peace to prevail. What they did not want was to give up what they had taken by force from other nations. They wanted to do what they wanted to do and for critics to be happy about it and tend to their own business.

Sound familiar?

A poll just out shows that the American people for the first time are declaring themselves pro-life (something like 51 percent to 41 percent).

Not that that matters.

Right is never a matter of popular opinion. It’s much steadier than that, far more important.

One more thought.

Sunday night, a nature program on television showed the birth process in the kangaroo. (Is there a person in the civilized world who has not seen images of this tiny fetus crawling the 12 inches toward the mother’s pouch and inserting itself inside, then attaching itself onto the teat? It’s one of the marvels of the natural world.) I sat there watching and reflecting upon the human baby growing inside its mother’s stomach.

Could it be that God in Heaven has given us the image of the kangaroo fetus for all to see in order to make a point about the life of the human unborn?

I have a theoretical question or two: if we were to try to curb the kangaroo population by capturing the mother and taking the fetus inside her pouch and exterminating it, what kind of hue and cry would erupt? And who would be crying the loudest? Is it possible the loudest cries would come from the pro-choice people, who — it seems to me; I don’t have any information to bear this out — want to honor all kinds of life on the planet except that of unborn babies?

I really do want to be cool and unpassionate and reasonable about this discussion. But it’s just so hard.

There’s so much at stake.

11 thoughts on “What the President Seems to be Missing re: the Abortion Debate

  1. Hi Joe,

    Thank you for the great incite into what you write.

    I am very sorry that our president cannot see our side of the tissue, Killing Babies is killing babies any way you put it. May GOD help US. Keep up the good work.

    Joel Davis

  2. Amen! As the father of three adopted children, one of whom has Down’s syndrome, it is unbelievably difficult to be dispassionate. Since when did passion for life become politically incorrect?

  3. Joe,

    The point you made seems good and obvious, but I disagree. When a pro-lifer has his way a baby lives and when a pro-choicer has his way, I believe a baby lives as well. I don’t think President Obama or others who support pro-choice want babies to die. President Obama wants to reduce abortions. Abortion rates did go down when Clinton was president. I think we all agree that abortions should be reduced.

  4. Actually, now, it seems, when an anti-abortion person has their way, a doctor dies. Happy? You cannot use language like “murder” and “holocaust” without bearing responsibility for terrorists who shoot down people in the lobby of their church.

  5. Happy? You betcha!

    Just as happy as I would be if a serial murderer got run over by a truck, or fried in the electric chair. Dr. Tiller certainly had it coming.

    Anyway your logic is of the “two wrongs make a right” fallacy. Dr. Tiller was a murderer. So is the man who gunned him down. Calling a spade a spade makes ME responsible for their actions? In your dreams.

    Also, funny how the word “terrorist” is suddenly acceptable to the left again. But not when muslims shoot up synagogues…

  6. I’m not sure I follow Marty’s logic. Shooting down people in a church for religious/political reasons, shooting up synagogues, and flying airplanes into buildings are all acts of terror. Who said they weren’t?

    And my point was that by using such charged language the radical anti-abortion right wing has the blood of Dr. Tiller on their hands. Some of them have decried his assassination, but not very many. So yes, in that way, you are responsible for Roederer’s actions.

    Until our society comes to a consensus on this issue, Dr. Tiller was a person doing something allowed by law. People don’t “fry in the electric chair” for that.

  7. Paul said, “Some of them have decried his assassination, but not very many.”

    Let’s see:

    Operation Rescue

    National Right to Life Committee

    U.S. Bishops

    Priests for Life

    American Life League

    Kansas Bishops


    Susan B. Anthony List

    have ALL condemned Dr. Tiller’s murder in no uncertain terms. I’m sure there are many more — these are just the ones I found in 5 minutes of looking.

    But for commentary, i think this one has it right:


  8. You know, Marty, when you say “Dr. Tiller certainly had it coming” who gives you the right to say that? I don’t know the reference, but the Bible says, “there is none righteous, no not one”. I know I’m not righteous, do you?

    I watched several interviews of people affiliated with Operation Rescue and other “right to life” groups and they all felt the same way, Dr. Tiller deserved what happened to him. What is wrong with these so-called Christian people? I can tell you one thing for sure, they think they are better than people like this doctor, but I’m sure God is not pleased with their attitude.

  9. I’m not sure I’M even pleased with that attitude, Ginger, but there it is… Lord forgive me.

    But I keep coming back to the question:

    Would you give your life to save 1000 children? Would you TAKE a life to save 1000 children?

  10. I COULD give my life to save 1000 children and I COULD take a life to save 1000 children, it depends on the situation. If a man breaks into my house with a gun, I could easily kill him to protect my family, but a man having been convicted by a jury of murder being tied to a table and being “put to sleep” is murder, not self-defense nor is it a defense of the community.

    As far as God forgiving you, He already did that, so you don’t even have to wonder about that. But, we are supposed to be a nation of laws based on no particular religious beliefs and therefore an innocent man was murdered by a religous zealot.

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