Moral Majority?


As I sit here flipping through the articles of the day, I came across one article condemning the new health care bill. Due to the health care bill, there’s been quite a bit of discussions among Republicans that the era of the moral majority is back. Unfortunately, I don’t find this to be the case.

Look at the main opposition to the health care bill – the cost and loss of liberty. Granted, these are big issues that should be dealt with, but conservatives were generally quiet about the fact that the health care bill is going to support abortions (there are notable exceptions, such as Rep. Tom Coburn). By ignoring this fact and focusing on the others, conservatives seemingly placed money ahead of life.

This is not the only example. When President Obama signed the Freedom of Choice Act, there were no Tea Parties or major protests. Certainly conservatives protested such an act in their minds, but they did not take to the streets. No, only when their pocket books were threatened did conservatives raise their voices against a tyrannical government. Though justified in raising their voices against this government, they unwittingly showed where they stand on the morality of human life; overturn state laws to kill children on demand and we’ll shake a fist, mess with our income and we’ll come after you.

This upsets me quite a bit because it tells me that the government sanctioned murdering of innocent human beings is valued less than taxation. The irony is that for most conservatives, who do happen to be Christians of some form of the other, have a Biblical command to follow in paying taxes. This doesn’t mean we can’t complain about taxes or realize that we’re being over-taxed, but at the end of the day taxes exist and we’re told by God to pay them. The killing of innocent life, however, is something the Bible is not too keen on. Yet, where is our moral outrage over the most pro-abortion president in the history of America?

Why aren’t we taking to the streets to support a Constitutional Amendment that prohibits at-will abortions (with exceptions to the mother’s health) or one that protects the sanctity of human life (by prohibiting euthanasia)? Where are the tea parties for this? Even if Congress won’t listen, so long as we are out there, we cannot be ignored forever.

So long as conservatives protest over lost money, but remain relatively silent on the issue of abortion and human life, they will continue to lose their moral ground.

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11 thoughts on “Moral Majority?

  1. “Look at the main opposition to the health care bill – the cost and loss of liberty.”

    This is a very insightful deconstruction of the conservative opposition to the bill. In reality, cost is already a crushing problem. We spend 15% of our economy, heading toward 20% by the end of the decade if we do nothing. The cost issue is smacking us in the face, with or without the reform bills.

    As a nation, we are not going to spend more on healthcare under this bill. That is why the bill “bends the cost curve.” BUT, much spending is going to shift from the private to the public sector. And there is the “loss of liberty” concern.

    To me, doubts about the bill’s impact on personal liberty have much more credence. The question these bills force us to confront is this: Is it worth a significant “loss of liberty” to pay somewhat LESS as a nation on healthcare? Not more.

    http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/

    1. If you read the entire post, you’ll see my answer is an emphatic “no.” Anything that provides funding or lends credence to the legalized killing of innocent human life is not something I can support. If the government were to say, “If we allow the harvesting of embryos we can make such a profit that we can eradicate our national debt and increase the value of the dollar,” as citizens we would still be obligated to say no. It is no different than the fiscal arguments that were used for the slave trade; no matter how lucrative an act might be, if it is unethical to the point it violates the fundamental rights of a human being (the most basic right being our right to live), then it must be outlawed.

  2. Well, I have no intention of stepping into that debate *lol*. Without wading into the right to life versus right to choose quagmire, I will just make two observations that I hope are objective and real:

    (1) Protecting the right of the unborn and “liberty” are two very different things, and probably more contradict than support each other. It is the principle of “liberty,” construed as a constitutional right to privacy, that has afforded pregnant women the right to choose. The underlying question is whether the moral imperative to protect unborn life is sufficient to deprive pregnant women of that liberty. Any time an act is prohibited, liberty is reduced. Right to life advocates must be careful about playing the “liberty” card, because that may work more against their beliefs than for it.

    (2) We, and right-to-life advocates in particular, should consider how the status quo does in terms of amplifying or reducing the forces that lead to abortions. This is just speculation on my part, but I think we know that poverty and a lack of access to proper healthcare are contributors to more abortions. I wonder which would be the case: that the 20+ million Americans to be provided health insurance coverage under this bill would, as a group, have more abortions if it is passed, or fewer?

    I take a spark of inspiration from the statistical experience of the past couple of decades. The ONLY big drop in the abortion rate we have seen happened during Clinton’s pro-choice presidency. That was attributed to reduced poverty and better support systems for poorer Americans. Maybe there is something to be learned there. Maybe better access to healthcare through this insurance reform will reduce abortions. Again, pure speculation on my part, but I tend to be a pragmatist.

    At any rate, this is tricky stuff indeed, and I very much respect your views on the issue.

    1. I certainly appreciate the respectful tone and what you had to say.

      You stated that you tend to be more pragmatic in your view of issues and therein may lay the biggest disagreement between you and I. I’m a big advocate of virtue ethics, which means I’m absolutely opposed to pragmatism on ethical issues. When something is wrong, it is wrong, no matter the benefit. On political issues, this can sometimes put me in interesting situations. For instance, ask me about abortion and I’ll state that I’m against it in every case (save for health of the mother) as it’s wrong to take the life of an innocent human person. Ask me about torture and I’ll advocate that even if torture would increase the probability of gaining information that would save lives, I’d still say torture is wrong and not something we should engage in. The reason being that in order to save lives, one must destroy the sanctity of life, which is contradictory. (Of course, the definition of what constitutes “torture” is quite ambiguous). Regardless, I should make it clear that looking to the consequences of a policy (whether it be the death penalty, abortion, health care, etc) is going to have little affect on me. What does have affect is if a policy is right in its own right.

      Protecting the right of the unborn and “liberty” are two very different things, and probably more contradict than support each other. It is the principle of “liberty,” construed as a constitutional right to privacy, that has afforded pregnant women the right to choose. The underlying question is whether the moral imperative to protect unborn life is sufficient to deprive pregnant women of that liberty. Any time an act is prohibited, liberty is reduced. Right to life advocates must be careful about playing the “liberty” card, because that may work more against their beliefs than for it.

      I’ll have to disagree with the distinction. In order to have liberty, one must have a primary right to live. Once the right to live is removed, one loses the right to liberty. Likewise, the concept of liberty doesn’t deal with autonomous choices, but rather with the right to live as one wishes so long as one’s choices to not have a negative effect on society. Thus, I have the liberty to choose to eat whatever food I choose or listen to the type of music I want so long as neither bring harm to my community. However, whenever my actions begin to harm the common good (not the greater good, but the common good) then I have violated the very essence of liberty, which is responsibility.

      When a mother volunteers to have her own child’s life taken, she is harming the common good by allowing an innocent human person to be murdered. This restricts the liberty of the unborn, which makes the mother’s choice anti-libertarian. For instance, if a man chooses to rape a woman, we cannot say he is exerting liberty because he is robbing the woman of her liberty. We cannot say that anti-rape laws prohibit the liberty of rapists because in all reality they protect the liberty of the potential rape victims. Thus, when we impose laws on person-to-person relationships that prohibit a victim from forming (such as anti-murder laws, anti-rape laws, etc), we’re not prohibiting liberty, but instead promoting liberty.

      (2) We, and right-to-life advocates in particular, should consider how the status quo does in terms of amplifying or reducing the forces that lead to abortions. This is just speculation on my part, but I think we know that poverty and a lack of access to proper healthcare are contributors to more abortions. I wonder which would be the case: that the 20+ million Americans to be provided health insurance coverage under this bill would, as a group, have more abortions if it is passed, or fewer?

      The problem is, this argument doesn’t actually work. From a statistical point of view, middle-class women are actually more likely to have an abortion than those in a lower class. The reasons is generally because a child would interfere with a job and/or an education. Likewise, certain stigmas of a young, single, and pregnant woman exist in middle-class culture that generally no longer exist in some poorer class cultures. Likewise, form a statistical point of view, statistics only tell you what is occurring; they can rarely tell you why something is occurring. For instance, during Clinton’s presidency the pro-life movement increased, there were more protests, there was more education provided to the mother’s on the issue of abortion, there was an increase of “pregnancy crisis centers” that helped women with alternatives, etc. Though I’m not saying these are the reasons abortion rates dropped, I am saying that by their very existence, they cast doubt onto the claim that because social conditions improved, abortion rates dropped. There’s simply no way to know why they dropped.

      Regardless, statistics don’t matter on this issue, nor does poverty. Even if there were a definite link between poverty and abortion, this wouldn’t justify allowing abortion. If anything, all you’ve proven by bringing up the statistics is that if abortion were made illegal (with exceptions), we would then need to do what we could to help single mothers acquire a better life. As a virtue ethicist who believes in natural law, I would have no problem with tax-payer money being used on social initiatives to help single mothers. This certainly isn’t the conservative view, but I do believe it is the moral thing to do. But all of this is irrelevant to the issue of taking an innocent human life.

      Consider that statistics show those in lower-income brackets are more likely to commit violent crimes. Does this mean we should allow certain violent crimes and in turn simply try to improve the social conditions of a few? Of course not – we should try to improve the social conditions of a few, but also make certain acts illegal because they violate the common good. Abortion is no different. Though I would support government initiatives to help single mothers from the lower class (though I think private charities function far better and would prefer charities to handle such situations), this doesn’t provide a justification for abortion. Maybe better healthcare access will help, but this doesn’t mean taxpayer money should go to abortion or that abortion should remain a legal practice.

      My ultimate point in this post, however, was to show that conservatives in general, at least the major mouth-pieces, need to stop focusing so much on the cost and instead focus on the moral implications. For instance, the abortion aspect of it; why should the federal government pay for an unethical act? Or what about the fact that the government wants to restrict a working system, one that works for at the very least 80% of the country? Is it not unethical to demolish an entire system that works for the vast majority? Wouldn’t it make more sense to tweak the system so that it works for those who are the poorest? Rather than focusing on the money, I would much rather see opponents attack the ethical aspects of the bill.

      Anyway, if you’re interested in the abortion debate, I have written quite a bit on the issue. I think what you may find interesting is that in my most in-depth appeals, not once do I make a claim to faith or God as justification for being against abortion. I take a purely secular stance on the issue. Here is a link to some series I’ve written on it:

      Intrinsic Human Value (posted at Virtue and Life)

      Evaluating Pro Choice Arguments

      1. Yours, too, is a thoughtful and respectful series of postings, for which I am appreciative.

        You’re right: I guess my pragmatism does lead me in another direction. Even if we accept right to life as an ethical imperative, why must we reject a bill that seems, to me at least, neutral on the subject of abortion rights? Unless I am mistaken, it neither advances nor diminishes the right to life cause, and therefore there is no reason to give the right-to-choose status quo preference over this bill. Sometimes, it’s not about abortion, you know? Anyway, that’s my view.

        And on the liberty issue, again I hear what you’re saying. I’m just saying that the liberty of the unborn child is at odds with the liberty of the mother. Objectively, the mother’s liberty is diminished under a right-to-life policy. The whole point of right-to-life, in fact, is to have the government remove that personal choice from the mother. Again, right to life may well be an ethical imperative, and that may well trump the mother’s right to liberty. But I think it backfires politically to try to sell right-to-life as a pro-liberty platform, because that argument can be made for the unborn child but not for the mother.

        Thanks again. All the best to you.

      2. The problem is the bill DOES enhance a pro-choice position. Certain tax-payer funds designated for health care will in turn be used for at-will abortions. That is why abortion becomes an issue. If the Democrats had simply left abortion alone, then the ethical debate on this bill would be elsewhere and abortion wouldn’t enter into it.

        As for the liberty issue, the only way you could justifiably say that abortion limits the mother’s liberty is if you were willing to say that anti-murder laws or anti-rape laws limited the liberty of the murderer or rapist. Most ethicists find that an uncomfortable position to take because the very idea of murdering or raping someone is anti-libertarian (it goes against the common good). If abortion is murder (the taking of an innocent human person), then we have to apply the same standard as we would in any other case.

  3. Center Square, as an economist, expert in credit management and cash flow, your assertion that for us to do nothing in relation to health care would be more costly, is incorrect. According to the GAO, the costs for the tentative health care bill ( whatever it may be or in whatever form it ends up), will far surpass any expectation or numbers that have been put out there to date. Therefore the 1.2 trillion that is projected over the next ten years will in all actuality end up twice to three times that amount. For the record, I predicted both the housing bubble burst as well as the asset bubble burst which is under way now. I say this not as boasting but as one who understands these and other financial matters.

    It is not a matter of whether there is a problem with health care, there is no problem with health care in America; the issue is the cost of health care, not the service of health care as well as the cost of insurance. The democrats allege that there are 42 million people uninsured. They fail to point out that in that number, almost 1/2 of that 42 is made up of illegal aliens, then there is another 5 million who DO NOT want to buy health care because they do not think they need it. Assuming these numbers are true (and they are), then that means approximately 15 million people are truly uninsured. And we need to spend 1.2 trillion to insure that number???? Now we hear that at the end of the day, if the present health care bill passes in its current form and language, there will still be remaining uninsured, 20 million people. And we are jumping through these hoops because why?

    I disagree with Joel in that many in the Tea Parties, myself and his aunt included, protested the health care and other issues; and the issue of tax payers paying and funding abortions was first and foremost on our radar of dissent. I think that Joel is to be commended in that he is first and foremost pro-life and has never compromised that position.

    For me, as a Christian first and conservative second, I am concerned about the socialist direction this country is going, and health care taken over by the government is simply the means to take more control over our freedoms that have been given us by God.

    As a final note, though the current health care cost make up less than 15% of our economy, if this bill passes, that number will increase to 30-40% of the economic costs. What we should do is allow for pool purchasing of insurance because 80% of small business create the majority of the revenue and work force for this country. Second, allow insurance to be portable and sold across state lines (kind of like auto insurance), and put in tort reform. If we did those three things, the cost would drop form 15% to below 10%.

    Mark

  4. To reinforce abortion as murder, I’d like to point out that lawmakers like to speak out both sides of their mouth. Legalized abortion, as is common practice now, and a possibility to be federally funded by yours and mine tax dollars in the healthcare bill, is given the okay by them. It’s the right of the mother to do as she will, and the unborn child is given no rights. Right? Right. But we all know the Laci Peterson case, in which the other branch of the goverment said that “No! The unborn child is a person, and as a person since it’s father killed it’s mother, and thus the unborn child itself, it’s a case of double-homicide!,” and now Scott Peterson is serving two sentences. So how can it (being the goverment) acknowledge life, and the liberty associated with the child, in this incident, but it’s perfectly okay for a mother to abort (which is just a flowery way of suggesting murder, otherwise Scott just “aborted” the child), and in fact let us (again, the goverment) take it a step further and use J-‘s money for the weapon!

    1. It’s even worse than that. If a mother has her boyfriend hit her with a bat in order to force a miscarriage, both her and the boyfriend can go to jail in some states. If the mother attempts to force her own abortion without a doctor, she can be charged with murder.

      If a mother gives birth and immediately kills the child, that’s murder. But there’s no real difference between a child in the womb and a child outside the womb. If anything, the government simply can’t live with the ethical ramifications of applying the abortion standard across the board, which shows abortion should be illegal.

  5. HEALTHCARE BILL — As we both know, there is a hard and fast firewall in the bill to prevent federal funding for abortions.

    So I assume you are using the argument based on this analogy: Suppose my dad helps me out with $1000, on the condition that I not spend it gambling. So, I pay my utilities and rent with “his” money, but that gives me enough left from “my” money that I can go to the casino. That is the logic of the pro-life community regarding the abortion issue in the healthcare bill, right? That private insurance companies will be better able to cover abortion services because of the infusion of federal dollars on other services. Correct?

    If that is the argument, I am curious: how could the bills have been drafted to the satisfaction of the pro-life community? I am not sure what sort of provision could overcome that objection.

    LIBERTY — Except that, unlike murder and rape, abortion IS legal currently. Abortion is a right currently held by pregnant women. Abortion currently is not a crime, is not considered murder. It is an individual right upheld by the Supreme Court, based on an implied constitutional right to privacy. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that is the legal and constitutional status quo.

    Again, I am not debating pro-life versus pro-choice. All I am saying is that today pregnant women have a well-defined legal and constitutional right to abortion, and to end that would be deprivation of liberty. Today, the government says it’s legal; tomorrow, the government says it is illegal. That seems tautological to me. I hope it is clear I am not commenting on the ethical issues, I am just rejecting the pro-liberty characterization.

    1. I’m curious if you’ve kept up with what is going on with the health care bill. The Nelson amendment was proposed to the legislation in order to prevent tax-payer money from being used for abortions (with exceptions). The Senate rejected his amendment. The House version of the Bill prevents tax-payer money being used for abortion, but the Senate version does not. What Senator Nelson proposed as an amendment was the same thing as the amendment in the House, yet the one in the Senate was rejected. This means when the two groups meet to hammer out a final bill, the abortion amendment may not be present. That’s why it is such an issue – the House did the right thing while the Senate did not. So where the final bill ends up is a mystery, but if it is with tax-payer money being used to support abortions, then aside from the unethical nature of universal health care to begin with, it becomes even more unethical in that it uses government money to support the act of murder.

      Your argument on liberty is weak, and I think you realize that. 🙂 Saying, “Well it’s legal” doesn’t mean a thing when discussing the ethical nature of something and determining if it is pro or anti-libertarian. In Stalin’s Russia it was legal to spy on one’s neighbor, but this certainly doesn’t mean it was ethical or pro-liberty. In some Islamic countries it is legal for men, under religious ruling, to rape women or murder women who have brought shame to the family or community. This doesn’t mean the law is pro-liberty or ethical. Stating, “This is the law” means absolutely nothing when discussing the ethical issues of an argument or how permissive an act is.

      You can’t say you’re not commenting on the ethical issue of abortion while at the same time saying you’re rejecting the pro-liberty aspect of the issue. The two are tied together. Regardless of what the law says, if abortion is factually murder, then it is anti-libertarian because to allow abortion takes away a greater right (the right to life) than prohibiting abortion would. When one holds the right to take another human life arbitrarily, then that is not truly liberty. The concept of liberty is acting as one will so long as one adheres to the public good. The legality of an act has nothing to do with it, other than to show if a government is being tyrannical or not. For instance, Hitler’s Germany made it legal for soldiers to kill innocent civilians, yet we look at such an act as tyrannical and anti-libertarian. So which is it, were they acting in liberty in killing civilians, or were they restricting liberty by killing innocent humans? It is the same with the abortion issue, legal or not is completely irrelevant. What matters is if it is murder. If it is, then the act is tyrannical. If not, then the act is completely justifiable.

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