Monday, August 18, 2008

"Above My Pay Grade" - Obama

By now the conversation on Barack Obama’s answers to the abortion questions are traveling across the internet. YouTube videos, along with the commentaries addressing his statements are available to all.

So given all of these avenues for review, I hope these comments are not merely repetitive but offer some additional insight for those perusing this site.

Obama explained in answering some of the opening questions that we as a nation should consider the Biblical admonition to care for the “least of our brothers” as he marked that lack of action as one of America’s moral failures. It would prove to be somewhat ironic. Later in the interview, he would fail to recognize that the unborn child is a member of this human community and should be afforded some basic human rights.

One would expect that Obama would know and anticipate a question on abortion. What he did not plan was the focus of the question. It proved to be his great undoing.

The question from Warren:

Rick Warren: “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

Barack Obama: “Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is, you know, above my pay grade.”

Warren did not ask him when life began, but that is the question that Obama heard. Indeed, Obama stammered at first before moving into his groove and then ending with the flippant response. He later raised the issue again by asserting that recognizing the life of the child in the womb is a matter of faith.

I mean one of the things that I've always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then -- and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.

Here one sees the core problem of pro-abortion liberals and Democrats in their efforts to attract the pro-life vote. The matter of whether the unborn child is a human being has nothing to do with religion. The only thing relevant is the nature and composition of the being. Is the being the result of the penetration of the human male sperm into the human female ovum? Now candidly people do not talk that way. They merely ask is what the mother is carrying a girl or a boy? Most people know what is inside the womb of a pregnant woman is a baby. Take a simple course on biology if one has any questions. So Professor Obama, reminding me of the law professors back when I was in law school who refused to discuss the question, fumbled the ball.

Further he opened himself up to the question we pro-lifers always ask someone who does not pretend to know. This inquiry was mentioned in Michael Gerson’s article referenced below. Simply stated, when in doubt, do no harm.

Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post on Monday August 18, 2008, said it succinctly. “It is now clear why Barack Obama has refused John McCain's offer of joint town hall appearances during the fall campaign.” He went on to say that “McCain is obviously better at them. Obama's response on abortion -- the issue that remains his largest obstacle to evangelical support -- bordered on a gaffe. Asked by Warren at what point in its development a baby gains "human rights," Obama said that such determinations were "above my pay grade" -- a silly answer to a sophisticated question. If Obama is genuinely unsure about this matter, he (and the law) should err in favor of protecting innocent life. If Obama believes that a baby in the womb lacks human rights, he should say so -- pro-choice men and women must affirm (as many sincerely do) that developing life has a lesser status. Here the professor failed the test of logic.”

The question by Warren presumed the reality that the baby is alive. Warren wanted to know when Obama would provide legal protection to the baby. Obama’s answer is – never. Perhaps he would agree after the baby was born, although there are those like Peter Singer from Princeton who would like to withhold legal protection for three days to “weed” out the undesirables. In fact this is the argument that the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was designed to prevent the Singers of the world from destroying babies born alive even after abortions. After all it would be consistent with the goal of the abortion – a dead baby.

The desire by those pro-abortion apologists to focus the debate on “choice” is because they cannot win the debate on life. Should we protect innocent human life? That is the question. It is not a religious question. Men and women who have no religion can understand that we are discussing human life. Nat Hentoff is a self described “liberal atheist” who is very pro-life. It is not one believes in the strict sense. It is what one knows.

The First International Conference on Abortion was convened in October 1967 in Washington D.C. to decide the question of "When does human life begin?" Sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School and the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, medical professionals, biological scientists and authorities in the fields of law, ethics and the social sciences met to debate and resolve the question. With the discussion of abortion very much in the news at that time, it was important that science answer the question. It is tragic to say the least that the U.S. Supreme Court and many members of the courts and Congress have failed to explore the results of this conference convened over 40 years ago.

Here was the decision of this group by a vote of 19 – 1:

"The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg (or at least the blastocyst stage), and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life. The changes occurring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six month fetus, a one week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation."First International Conference on Abortion, Washington B.C., October 1967.

This quote came from a packet of information researched in 1974 when I first began to examine the political and legal nature of the abortion question. Not a lot has changed in 34 years. We in the pro-life movement still have to explain the facts of life to otherwise intelligent people.

But Obama – the law professor – the man who wants to be president - will not tell us when he would have the law protect unborn children. It is ‘above his pay grade.”

Prediction: Obama has to do something big to take attention off his lackluster performance at Saddleback Church. Maybe the discussion for VP will go into high gear.


At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps he would agree after the baby was born, although there are those like Peter Singer from Princeton who would like to withhold legal protection for three days to “weed” out the undesirables."

In fact, the pro-life movement ought to publicize Singer's internally consistent position that if abortion-on-demand is morally permissiable, then infanticide should be as well. This approach should even take the form of a national series of debates with none other than this esteemed chairman of the Ethics / Philosophy department at Princeton. And since he is an atheist and utilitarianism maximalist (apparently, even to the point of declaring that animals have the same inherent rights as human beings), exposing the Spartan "might makes right" basis of all "pro-choice" arguments through the open public utterings of this undeniably honest man would force those who are sincerely "on the fence" over an issue not permitting neutrality to address the moral implications of a practice that they are, at least tacitly, supporting.

(BTW, it is a peculiar sort of tragedy that Singer comes from a family of Holocaust surviviors....)

John K. Walker
Phoenix, AZ


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