Thursday, October 16, 2008

final debate

Well the final debate before the election happened last night. I have only seen clips of it online because I couldn't watch it live. But I did find the conversation on abortion particularly interesting.

McCain supports a pro-life position and is a strong supporter of adoption. He and Cindy have an adopted daughter themselves.

What was interesting to me was Obama's position. He is obviously pro-choice. But he said he would be willing sign a bill that outlawed "late-term" abortion so long as it had a provision for the health of the mother. When Obama is President, the pro-life movement should take advantage of this and see if he actually will stick to his word. The big question is what does "health of the mother" include?

What is likely to happen is that a bill will get presented to Congress that would outlaw late-term abortion nationwide. Then, over disagreements on the fine print on what "health of the mother" means it will either not pass or will get vetoed by Obama. This is exactly what happened to the partial-birth abortion ban when Clinton was in office. The bill passed Congress and Clinton vetoed it because he wanted a provision for the "health of the mother."

Here is a quote describing this incident from the Guttmacher Institute:

"A bill to ban the procedure except when it is necessary to save a woman's life was adopted by the U.S. Congress but vetoed by President Bill Clinton in the spring of 1996. The Senate, but not the House of Representatives, lacked the two-thirds of votes necessary to override the veto. Following the veto, President Clinton, surrounded by several women who had undergone D&X to terminate wanted pregnancies that had gone seriously wrong and threatened their health, announced that he would have signed the measure if it had contained an exception to preserve the woman's health as well as her life."

We definitely want to preserve a woman's "life." Even Congress could agree that late-term abortions would be legal if it threatened the mother's life. But what does it mean to preserve her "health." Anytime a women gets pregnant, her health is in jeopardy. "Health" is such a vague term that could include anything.

It's not "healthy" to have high blood pressure and acid reflux, yet many, if not most, pregnant women experience both. So if a woman has a "late-term" pregnancy and her blood pressure goes up, would she be able to have a "late-term abortion" to preserve her "health?" You can see how that language opens the door for anything. McCain rightly pointed this out in his rebuttal of Obama's position.

I applaud Obama's willingness to try to reduce unwanted pregnancies and his willingness to be open to outlawing late-term abortion. But having a provision in the law that uses the language of "protecting the health of the mother" needs to be more specific or it just ends up opening Pandora's box.


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