For far-right single issue voters on abortion, there has been a growing chorus in the social conservative echo chamber about Sen. Obama’s response at the Saddleback Forum saying that the determination of when life begins, either theologically or scientifically, was "above his pay grade." The remark seemed to most people an acknowledgment that even those who have spent their entire lives studying these issues have not resolved them. Yes, there are differing beliefs that many people hold very strongly, and in other responses, Obama spoke of the respect he has for people who believe that life begins at conception, and that he would not try to argue that because for that person it is a core value.
Sen. McCain has been very clear that he believes life begins at conception, raising questions for many people about whether or not that means he is also opposed to contraception, and the threat posed to contraception and many medical decisions by the recent Bush Administration proposal.
Sunday, on Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi about what advice she had for Obama on this issue.
Speaker Pelosi: As an ardent, practicing Catholic this is an issue I have studied for a long time. What I know is that over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is that it should not have an impact on a woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions; first trimester, certain considerations in the second trimester, not so third trimester, there are very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand. It is about a set of careful, careful considerations, factors, that a woman has to make, with her doctor and her God. So I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this and there are those who have decided…
Brokaw: The Church at the moment believes very strongly that life begins at conception …
Speaker Pelosi: I’m saying that, that’s over the last fifty years or something like that, so again, over the history of the church this is an issue of controversy. But it is also true that God has given us a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. We want abortions to be safe, rare and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, it would behoove you to support family planning and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to handle this respectfully, this is sacred ground, we have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it as it has been, and I’m not saying Warren did, because I don’t think he did. But others will try to.
Good advice from the Speaker Pelosi, and again, we keep waiting for those on the far-right to explain why they don’t support common sense prevention agendas, inclusive of evidence-based sexuality education and contraception access, and work to create policies that respect the diversity of belief that makes America great. The truth is, for social conservatives, it is not about common sense, respecting diverse beliefs, or even reducing unintended pregnancies and thus abortions. The more voters that realize this, the more likely it is we will elect leaders from both parties that believe individual health care decisions are best made by the individuals involved.