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Abortion, Religion, and the Presidency

Some Republicans have floated the name of Condoleezza Rice to be the running mate of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Rice was a professor at Stanford before serving as the national security adviser in George W. Bush’s first term and the secretary of state in his second. During both terms, she was a leading voice for the war in Iraq. She has since returned to Stanford.

Rice received a standing ovation at last month’s weekend retreat for high dollar Romney donors. Charles Cobb, who served as U.S. ambassador to Iceland from 1989 to 1992, said Rice was “spectacular” and described her as a “very bright, sophisticated, articulate lady.”

In a recent survey by Fox News, Rice was favored by Republicans to be Romney’s running mate. Next in line were Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Chris Christie, and Rep. Paul Ryan. At the bottom of the pack were Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rob Portman, and former governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. These men – sans Christie – are considered by some to be Romney’s “final five.”

Some conservatives are upset that Rice would even be considered, not because she was a leading architect of Bush’s disastrous foreign policy, but because she is “mildly pro-choice” on abortion.

In a March 11, 2005 interview with the Washington Times, Rice explained why, as “a deeply religious person” she was nonetheless “pro-choice” on abortion. “What is your thought on abortion?” a reporter asked Rice. She replied:

I believe – if you go back to 2000 when I helped the President in the campaign, I said that I was, in effect, kind of Libertarian on this issue, and meaning by that, that I have been concerned about a government role in this issue. I am a strong proponent of parental choice – of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that’s where we should be. I’ve called myself at times mildly pro-choice.

And then added:

I am very comfortable with the President’s view that we have to respect and need to have a culture that respects life. This should be an issue pretty infrequently because we ought to have a culture that says that, “Who wants to have an abortion? Who wants to see a daughter or a friend or, you know, a sibling go through something like that?”

And so I am a – I believe the President has been in exactly the right place about this, which is we have to respect the culture of life and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible.

What I do think is that we should not have the federal government in a position where it is forcing its views on one side or the other. So, for instance, I’ve tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund it.

Rice clarified her position in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” just two days later. Asked host Tim Russert: “You told the Washington Times on Friday you were mildly pro-choice. What does that mean?” Said Rice: “It means that, like many Americans, I find the issue of abortion very difficult. I believe it ought to be as rare as possible. Nobody wants to see anyone go through that. I favor parental notification. I favor a ban on late-term abortion. But I, myself, am not a fan of having the government intervene in the laws.” “You would not outlaw it?” asked Russet. “No,” said Rice.

I think it is virtually certain that Romney would never name a vice presidential candidate who was not pro-life. He recently told a town-hall audience in Ohio: “I can assure you that even though I have not chosen the person that will be my vice president, that person will be a conservative; they will believe in conservative principles.” Although conservatives are low on principle these days, opposition to abortion is certainly still a conservative principle. (Regarding Rice’s quip about being “libertarian on this issue,” I recently argued that I see nothing libertarian about a woman choosing to kill her unborn child for getting in the way of her lifestyle.)

But should naming a pro-choice running mate be a reason to not vote for Romney? The same question might also be asked concerning the view on abortion of a presidential candidate. The Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, is pro-choice on abortion. Is that a reason to not vote for him? (Obama and Biden are also pro-choice, but since I can’t imagine anyone with half a brain voting for them, I will leave them out of the abortion discussion.)

The same type of questions might be asked when it comes to religion. For the second time in less than a year, the Gallup poll is reporting that a majority of Americans (54 percent) would vote for an atheist for president. This is the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1958. The percentage then was only 18 percent. In another recent poll, less than half of voters considered Obama to be a Christian. Romney’s faith has likewise been disparaged because he is a Mormon. But is a candidate’s religion reason enough not to vote for him?

Although I am both pro-life and a conservative Christian, my answer to all these questions is a no.

Take, for example, someone else who is also pro-life and a conservative Christian – Republican presidential candidate/hopeful Ron Paul. Here are some of the statements he has made on the subject of abortion:

The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideals of liberty. My professional and legislative record demonstrates my strong commitment to this pro-life principle.

In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.

I am also the prime sponsor of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v Wade by removing the ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach to ending federal court tyranny which threatens our constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of 45 million of the unborn.

Abortion on demand is no doubt the most serious sociopolitical problem of our age. The lack of respect for life that permits abortion significantly contributes to our violent culture and our careless attitude toward liberty. As an obstetrician, I know that partial birth abortion is never a necessary medical procedure. It is a gruesome, uncivilized solution to a social problem.

I believe beyond a doubt that a fetus is a human life deserving of legal protection, and that the right to life is the foundation of any moral society.

And regarding funding for Planned Parenthood:

I will veto any spending bill that contains funding for Planned Parenthood, facilities that perform abortion and all government family planning schemes. Like millions of Americans, I believe that innocent life deserves protection and I am deeply offended by abortion. It is unconscionable to me that fellow Pro-Life Americans are forced to fund abortion through their tax dollars. As a Congressman, I’ve never voted for any budget that includes funding for Planned Parenthood. Instead, I’ve introduced the Taxpayers’ Freedom of Conscience Act to cut off all taxpayer funding of abortions, so-called “family planning” services and international abortionists.

Dr. Paul has also said of his personal faith:

I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.

Now, if Ron Paul announced tomorrow that he was pro-choice and an atheist, but that he had not changed any other of his views, I would support him just as highly as I do now. Sure, I would be disappointed in him, and so would many others, but it wouldn’t affect my unwavering support for him because of his libertarian principles.

But don’t we need pro-life Republican presidents so they can appoint pro-life conservatives to the Supreme Court? You mean like Harry Blackmun, the author of the Roe v. Wade decision, who was appointed by President Nixon and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 94-0? The Republican nominee for president the last time was John McCain. If he was so pro-life then why did he vote to confirm to the U.S. Supreme Court pro-abortion justices like Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, and David Souter? Why did he consider the pro-abortion senator Joe Lieberman for his running mate? Why has he voted for Health and Human Services Title X funding for Planned Parenthood?

And speaking of Planned Parenthood – the nation’s leading abortion provider – here is a blog post I made on April 28, 2010:

I have seen it reported in several places that Planned Parenthood, one of the world’s leading abortion providers, received government grants and contracts of $350 million for fiscal year 2007-2008 and $337 million for fiscal year 2006-2007. I verified this information for myself on the Planned Parenthood website. I also discovered that Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ends on June 30. This means that Bush the Republican was the president during this time. But after doing a little digging, I also found out that Planned Parenthood received government grants and contracts of $305 million (34%) during fiscal year 2005-2006. During this time we not only had Bush the Republican president but also a Republican majority in Congress. Yet, Planned Parenthood was still funded. And we are supposed to take Republicans seriously when they complain that Obama isn’t likely to appoint an anti-abortion judge to the Supreme Court? Why wasn’t the Republican Party that concerned about abortion when clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood performed 264,943 abortions in 2005?

Some Republicans are still wanting to continue Title X family planning funding and even worse things like the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) and international population control through Medicaid and foreign aid programs.

It is a myth that we need to put pro-life Republicans in office from the president on down so they can use their power to try to limit abortions and funding for abortions. Republicans have failed miserably to do either of these things.

Republicans need Roe v. Wade. Not because they want their wives and daughters to have access to “safe and legal” abortions, but because they need the promise of overturning it to sucker the “pro-life” faithful to vote for them instead of those evil “pro-choice” Democrats.

But even if a Republican president were solidly pro-life, appointed real pro-life judges, and vetoed any and all funding for “family planning,” that in and of itself would not be reason enough to vote for him. We live in a welfare/warfare police state where the Constitution is continually violated, civil liberties are in grave peril, wealth is redistributed on a grand scale, foreign policy is an abomination, and government spending, regulating, and legislating are out of control. A pro-life president who perpetuates these things is just as evil as a pro-choice president who does so. Abortion is primarily a moral problem that can never be solved by government.

And it is also true that if a Republican president were pro-choice, that in and of itself would not be reason enough to not vote for him. The presidency pays well enough that we don’t need to worry about him moonlighting as an abortionist, although I’m sure he would have a lot of customers in Washington DC since it has the highest abortion/birth ratio in the United States. He couldn’t keep Roe v. Wade from being overturned by the Supreme Court. He couldn’t further liberalize state abortion laws. He couldn’t legalize something that is already legal. He couldn’t veto a constitutional amendment banning abortion since such congressional resolutions are not presented to the president for his approval. If a pro-choice president actually manifested fidelity to the Constitution, civil liberties, private property, individual liberty, peace, the free market, and real limitations on the size and scope of government, he would be infinitely better than the most ardent pro-life one.

And the same goes for a president who was an atheist and not a Christian.

The reason to not vote for Obama and Biden or Romney and any Republican talked about as his running mate is because they are all socialist, fascist, police statist warmongers, not because of the presence or absence of any pro-life credentials.

Originally published at on July 30, 2012.

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