The Common Good

A Step Forward on Abortion

Sojomail - August 14, 2008


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

In the Olympic Village, you can find religious freedom. Maybe some foreigners can worship. ... But I tell you, the real crisis in China now is that there are no reformers left. The power struggle among the leadership is for power, not reform. To have real political reform, they would lose their power.

- Fan Yafeng, a law professor at the Institute of Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a leader of an unregistered house church. (Source: The Washington Post)

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Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A Step Forward on Abortion

Abortion is a moral issue, felt deeply on all sides of the debate. That debate has also been deeply divisive, becoming a “third rail” of American politics. It often influences outcomes of elections, and therefore the direction of the country in other important policy areas. Consistent polling shows that most are between the polarized extremes, simplistically named “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” A majority is both concerned, even alarmed, about the abortion rate in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />America, yet is hesitant to criminalize it. We have sorely needed new common ground that focuses on reducing the need for and number of abortions. Such common ground could be supported by both sides and affirmed by many in the middle.

This past weekend, the Democratic Party’s 2008 platform language was approved. Many have been waiting to see their language about abortion for this election season. The 1996 and 2000 Democratic platforms contained a clause that read, “The Democratic Party is a party of inclusion. We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party.” The draft language of the 2008 platform builds on that clause by supporting two choices that a woman might make—both of which the Democratic Party “strongly supports.”

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First, the platform states that the Democratic Party “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe vs. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” That traditional position of the Democratic Party was to be expected.

Then the platform says the Democratic Party “also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”

The platform takes a significant step forward in affirming those whose moral convictions lead them to make a different decision than abortion. It reads, “The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.” That position will help make room for people, especially in the religious community, who have strong moral convictions about abortion. Many pro-life Democrats (and there are many in the party) have been looking to be heard, respected, and given a valued space in their own party (as pro-choice Republicans have in their party).

There is indeed some chance for common ground here in the mutual respect for different moral convictions and a shared desire to decrease the need for abortion. There is also a deep and growing conviction among evangelicals and Catholics that the “life issues” also extend to the 30,000 children who die globally each day from poverty and preventable disease, issues of genocide in places like Darfur, human trafficking, the domestic issues of poverty and health care, the foreign policy issues of war and peace, and even in threats like climate change. This election provides us with a pivotal opportunity to transcend old polarities and attempt to bring people together on common ground in a “consistent ethic of life” across a range of issues.

To read the rest of Jim's column, click here.

ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

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SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

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Top Stories:


Interfaith leaders call for political conventions to focus on poverty
The Dallas Morning News religion blog
Jim Wallis and Richard Cizik are among those signing on to a letter asking that Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama use the presidential nominating conventions to talk - in primetime - about poverty. +read more


U.S. Faith Leaders Press Presidential Hopefuls on Poverty
The Christian Post
High-profile religious leaders urged U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to make a major commitment to fighting poverty at their respective party’s national convention. +read more


Democrats Seek Unity in Preparing Party Platform
The Wall Street Journal
"What has been sorely needed is new common ground that focuses on reducing the need for abortions," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, an evangelical leader and liberal political activist who pushed for the new platform to include alternatives to abortion. +read more


Will conservatives listen to new language on abortion?
The Chicago Tribune blog

Dems Reach Middle Ground on Abortion?
The Dallas Morning News trailblazers blog

Party of Intolerance
National Review Online

Dem Party Platform's New Abortion Language
CBN News

We need insight into what level of tolerance exists in our community
The Tennessean

Dems Adopt Platform in Pittsburgh
ABC News political blog

Pro-Life Democrats: Oxy-Morons?
Beliefnet.com

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.


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