Obama, Notre Dame, Abortion, The Church and Me

Obama speaking at Notre Dame has been an absolutely fascinating moment for me and of course, for many others.  You can read his speech here.    There’s a lot to appreciate here.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I respected that Notre Dame invited President Obama.  I respect people’s right to disagree and protest. While not the route I would go, I also respected that some students decided to skip their own graduation as if Obama was the creator of abortion.  The weekend was filled with people were arrested (like ‘Roe’ of Roe v. Wade), heckling, applause and for some of us, we acknowledged that perhaps there is something to gain from listening to someone who has the opposite view.  That spirit can be summed up in Father Jenkins’ introduction.  

I find myself wondering about many things in light of all this.  First, know that I am pro-life.  Second, know that I sympathize with all women who have found themselves to be pregnant and scared.  Third, know that it is my conviction that each child deserves the right to be born.  Fourth, know that I still respect those who passionately feel otherwise.  Fifth, we need to do our part as a Church and a society to come along side the pregnant woman who is struggling with her situation.  And this is just the very basic tip of the surface of what we need to do.

When a woman gets pregnant and is either unwed or wed but living at the poverty level, (or any other scenario, young college student, professional working woman, etc.), we have to say more than, “Well you should have thought before ….” or  “The right thing is to keep the baby or put the child up for adoption.”  I’m not saying the point of that statement is wrong, I’m saying we need to do more.  As an adoptive parent, I obviously see the beauty of adoption but I also know that it takes a very special person to go through the pain of putting a baby up.  But what about the woman who can’t do that?  She wants to keep the baby and if she can’t then, unfortunately abortion becomes her conclusion.

If among our chief goals is fewer abortions then we need to work with people like President Obama and others that we swore off as enemies.  For years I believed in the teaching I was given that if we changed the culture, abortion would lose its stronghold.  While I believe that is a solid theory, it seems we have to do more until it is proven true because I am no longer content in only saying and believing those words.  Thus,  I have found myself wondering what would happen if the pro-life energies were focused on working with places like Planned Parenthood.  I think I can hear some think “What???” 

Here’s what the current situation seems to be to me.  A Planned Parenthood opens on one side of the street.  It is my perception that PP is interested in performing as many abortions as possible (it is a multi-billion dollar business).  Eventually a pro-life clinic opens on the other side and of course they compete against one another.  Every pregnant woman that enters their respective doors is urged to abort or keep their baby or put the child up for adoption.  And here we are. 

What if we converted some of our pro-life clinics into free day cares for those like single working mothers (or whomever) exclusively for those referred by Planned Parenthood? While I am not saying that we should not open pro-life clinics or close all of them, what I am speculating is the need to find ways to work with places such as Planned Parenthood.  The donations made it to the former pro-life clinic could go to day care workers, and among them could be mothers and a percentage of PP’s profits could be contributed to these day cares and needy homes.  Indeed I too see numerous issues that would have to be resolved and a long line of potential abuses but the idea only serves as a start.

Here’s another.  What if we as a Church had “Single Mother Sunday” the week after “Sanctity of Life Sunday”  Is this glorifying the wrong person?  I suppose it depends what you mean by glorifying but I see this very much in tune with the gospel message itself because no matter how I look at it, I am the wrong person.  I am grateful for grace.  Is what I suggest that different?

What if for every missionary our church supported, we also supported a needy family?  The point wouldn’t be too support fewer missionaries, but to help people get on their feet so they don’t repeat the cycle. 

What if our Christian counselors offered free counseling for every woman who had an abortion or for those who struggled with the decision, kept the child and trying to figure out the next step? 

I could probably go on but my point to my fellow evangelicals is this – can we not work together to reduce the number of abortions?  Most of these suggestions have a financial commitment behind them, but I think they also have a mercy, caring element as well.  Would that not change culture?  I argue that it would do more than our current strategies.


  1. Well said, brother. I also like what Shane Claiborne says about this, “I must say I am still passionately pro-life, I just have a much more holistic sense of what it means to be for life, knowing that life does not just begin at conception and end at birth, and that if I am going to discourage abortion, I had better be ready to adopt some babies and care for some mothers.”

  2. I agree with the spirit of this post, but there are a few things I think need to be said concerning some of its specifics. What I like most about the post is it avoids an either/or approach. It encourages Christians to advocate for the reduction of abortions by addressing certain societal issues, but doesn’t prohibit those same people from also promoting the abolition of abortion either.

    That said, there are two things that concern me. First, President Obama has often said that because he’s personally against abortion he wants to see the number of abortions reduced. But, how exactly is he working to reduce those abortions? His view is virtually indistinguishable from NARAL’s and he’s actually enacted legislation that effectively encourages more abortions in other countries. So I agree we should work to reduce abortions, but don’t think Obama is helping do that.

    The second concern is actually more easily addressed to the first comment from Tim Nye. While Claiborne’s quote wasn’t specifically quoted in the post, the idea seems implicit. The problem with Claiborne’s idea is that even if I’m dead set on never adopting a child it doesn’t follow that that would disqualify me from advocating the abolition of abortion. It would be like telling an abolitionist in the U.S. south that if he’s not willing to hire a bunch of slaves he’s doesn’t have the right (moral, not legal) to advocate the abolition of slavery. If the unborn is a person, then there’s an inherent right for that unborn person to live. It’s morally acceptable (perhaps more correctly, obligatory) for me to advocate on behalf of that person, even if I’m not willing to take him or her home with me after birth.

    Just to reiterate, I agree with most of what you say. I just wanted to give you a bit of feedback about some of it.

    Best to you,

  3. We won’t do many of those things because simply saying you’re “pro-life” and voting for “pro-life” candidates in just an easier (if not, lazier) thing to do. I think you can work to abolish abortion while at the same time taking upon yourself to take care of metaphorical widows (i.e., women w/o men to support them in this) and metaphorical orphans (i.e., unwanted children).

    I also respect those who protested and those who disagreed, but it’s nice to see diversity of opinion in a tradition (i.e., Catholicism) that often has been seen as not having such.

  4. Paul, thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the feedback. Your comments are welcomed. We share some agreement on your first point. I was very disappointed by Obama’s overturn on the Mexico City policy … on his first day of office. We’ll see how he plans on reducing the number of abortions but I was also disappointed by how the Republicans had control of the Presidency and the Congress and while I am thankful for the partial birth abortion ban, I was very eager to see a lot more. I can get into how the Republican party uses issues like abortion to secure votes but I think we understand each other.

    Regarding the Claiborne quote, I agree with your logic. Having seen Claiborne a couple of times, I know this is one of his favorite lines and I think he uses it more as hyperbole. Irresistible Revolution does that a lot and this is the nature of a radical. While, there may be a better way to say it, I don’t think he is necessarily saying that you cannot literally speak on the issue but rather a strong encouragement to be more a part of the solution.

    See you around.

  5. Evan, yes I think for all people this is true. I think it’s just as lazy when people say, “I think abortion is wrong and terrible and I would never get one, but I don’t think I can tell others that they can’t.” If it’s a serious problem, which it is, then we need all need to help solve.

    Anyway, lol at Liberty. What a tricky situation they find themselves to be in. I was wondering why I never heard of the club and the reasons is it was just started last October. My opinion is allowing people the choice to hold certain opinions, positions, and actions (provided they are not generally accepted as immoral or evil and I am comfortable with that being a slippery slope) is not the same as endorsing it. I hope LU reconsiders this.

Speak Your Mind