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Wineke: How did abortion get back into the political debate?

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Oct 29 2012 09:24:29 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 29 2012 09:44:19 AM CDT
Generic, abortion protester

Jim Young/Reuters

One of the big surprises to me in this year’s political dialogue is that abortion has once more become a hot topic.

I had thought the nation had developed a quiet consensus. Republicans would be against abortion except in cases involving the life of the mother, rape, or incest.  Democrats would favor a woman’s right to choose, but would make soothing noises about how no one really likes the idea of abortion.

And, then, POW! It started with Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri senate candidate who told an interviewer that in "legitimate rape" a woman couldn’t get pregnant so he wouldn’t allow the rape and incest exceptions if he had his way.

That reminded people that House Republicans had been busy writing legislation that would ban all abortion and that led to the Republican National Convention adopting a resolution that condemns all abortion, regardless of circumstance.  And that led to people noticing that Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is also against allowing any abortions because the "means of conception" are not pertinent to the right to life. Then, the Republican candidate for senate in Indiana said he believes that even in rape, God wills the baby to be born.

The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, surprise!, has taken every position there is to take on the  issue. He is currently against legal abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. I have no idea what position he might take tomorrow, but I am sure it will be principled.

Here’s what I think:

Life begins at conception, just like the religious right and their Republican toadies says it does. When else would life begin?

The question is, just how sacred is that life? Does it have priority over the life of the woman who harbors it? Does it have priority over "the means of conception?"  Does the life of a fertilized egg really have priority over every other human value?

You know, we really don’t place too high a value on human life. We allow babies to die each day because we won’t provide them health care. We send them to bad schools. We send them to war. Paul Ryan cares about the means of conception – but he considers the "safety net" society provides a baby once born to be a "hammock."

In the end, we have to find a way to decide the priority of a fertilized egg.  Personally, I find the idea that a rapist’s sperm should take priority over the well-being of the woman he rapes to be profoundly immoral.

I find the idea that Jesus would approve of such a priority to be scandalous, even blasphemous.

In the final count, the only moral choice is to let the woman who is pregnant make the decision and to support her in that awesome choice.

Actually, I’d been fairly wishy-washy on this subject prior to this year’s debates.  Now, the logic of the pro-life position has pushed me firmly into the pro-choice camp.

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