Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama Pledges “Everything Possible” to Limit Abortion

Our president recently met with the pope at the Vatican. It was the first meeting of the two men – two men who are diametrically opposed in so many areas.

In a bold move, the pope gave the president a booklet explaining the Catholic opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research. I’m glad that the pope didn’t just resort to the simple and expected formalities. He had an agenda, and he pursued it because he believes it is vitally important. Obama’s response to the pope’s request, according to the Vatican, was that the president would do everything possible to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.

I got a little excited when I saw that. If I promise someone that I’m going to do “everything possible” to get something done, I tend to…well…do everything possible. But it looks like that was wishful thinking on my part.

Obama has stated that his method of doing everything possible is to improve the economic climate in the U.S., so that fewer women will feel the ‘economic need’ to have an abortion. Such an indirect method is a lot like me saying that I will commit to spending more time each day with my kids – by working for hours a day on a time machine that increases the number of hours in a day to twenty-six, instead of the usual twenty-four. The proposed solution is completely out of touch with the objective, and doesn’t guarantee the objective will be attained even if such a machine could be invented (I might use the two extra hours to sleep, or go fishing).

Obama’s comment is predicated on the belief that abortions occur because of economic hardship. But is this really the reason? According to an Alan Guttmacher Institute study in 2004, only 23% of all women electing to have an abortion cited economics as their primary motivator. In the same study, 59% gave their primary reason as one of convenience (not ready for motherhood, already has all the children she wants, etc.). Only 7% gave health as a primary reason.

Further, assume for a moment that economic times get better. Will this really lessen the number of abortions performed? Or will they increase? It seems to me that the more money a family has, the fewer children that family has. More children brought to term does not necessarily follow as a result of increased economic wealth. In fact, one could make the case that better economic times will increase the number of abortions in this country, as more families can afford to have them, and as their selfishness for more time with their boat or fancy car is increased. I think there is a strong case to be made that links better economic circumstances with an increase in the incidence of abortions. It would make an interesting case study. Just check out the graph above which shows abortion rates have declined somewhat in Michigan…during a period where Michigan’s economy has soured.

If President Obama really means what he says when he will do “everything possible” to reduce abortions in this country, then he should start by supporting the reversal of Roe vs. Wade from every aspect in his power. He should appoint strict constructionist judges who support this reversal. He should promise support to lawmakers who will sponsor legislation to help overturn the practice of abortion. He could hold a press conference (or one of his free infomercials on CBS) boldly stating that he believes abortion to be wrong and a stain on our country’s history. Don’t get me wrong – I truly believe that our president and our congressional leaders could have exactly this change of heart. I pray for it nearly every day. Maybe we all should. God can change men’s hearts in mighty ways.