Friday, September 12, 2008

Political Issues 2: Life and Death

I almost don't want to write this post, the whole "life" issue has become so insane, but it is an important issue and I trust my readers, so here I go...

I think life is sacred. I don't use the phrase "pro-life" to describe myself, because that means something completely different than what I'm talking about (and completely different than what the words "pro" and "life" themselves mean). But I will say that I am firmly in favor of living and allowing the people around me to also live. Maybe that makes me a Libertarian?

I think life is sacred, so yes, I think abortion should not be a legal option except to save the life of the mother. I'd love to see Roe -v- Wade overturned. But I also think the death penalty should not be a legal option, and I'd love to see 100% of the death penalty sentences commuted. And it may be a failure of imagination on my part, but I don't understand how anyone can oppose abortion and support the death penalty (or vice versa). There seems to be a consistency issue there.

Now, I understand the argument that if abortion were outlawed, women would risk their lives in illegal, "back-alley" procedures, so we're actually supporting their lives by keeping abortion legal. I also understand the argument that the death penalty deters crime, so we support life by killing prisoners. I just don't buy either of those arguments (tho I hardly have the space or time or inclination to attempt to refute either in this blog post)... and in both cases, I'd say society has a moral obligation to provide alternatives, care, support, education and assistance. Even for convicted murderers - not because they deserve it, but because it's better for society to behave that way. Let me go further - I think society has a moral obligation to disallow this kind of killing.

On the topic of life, I also think gun control laws should be rather stricter than they are, because guns really do kill people, despite what the NRA says, which lines up with the Democratic position. I'm not a pacifist - it is indeed sometimes necessary to fight. But I think war is, generally speaking, a really bad idea, however terribly necessary it is at times, which lines up with John McCain's expressed views. 

So, does that make me a Republican or a Democrat? Does either party offer a platform consistent with this view?

There's only so much I can cover in a single blog post - and obviously this is a huge issue. But hopefully I've expressed at least something meaningful about my opinions, at least at the macro level. And still, I'm not much closer to deciding how to vote...


Kim said...

Dan for President!

Dick Field said...

This issue goes more to the essential beliefs of the individual, irrespective of empirical principles or the natural operation of things. Traditionally, there have been strong religious underpinnings. In other words, it's analogous to taste: there's no discussing it. Notwithstanding . . .

As a perpetual student, and occasional practitioner, of Zen (surprising, huh), I have a somewhat different view of life, which is not really encompassed within the all-to-presumed forced choice of "pro-life" or "pro-choice".

With that disclosure and caveat, I would say your views are certainly a blend of the party views - including Libertarian (although that would imply "choice"). Life at all cost, except in cases of self-preservation (including national). Not a bad philosophy and pretty consistent, really. --Just not one that is embodied in any one party.

Pick on Life and Death issues: Throw a dart.

Mark said...

I think you have a good point in your description of the logical discontinuity embodied by those who are both "anti-abortion" and "pro-death penalty". However, I think there are 2 important factors here that haven't been mentioned yet:

1) The difference in sheer number of children aborted each year and the number of convicted criminals executed each year. At the risk of implying that life's value can be quantified and manipulated as a statistic, I think one problem is MUCH BIGGER than the other. For example, Texas has a reputation of executing lots and lots of convicts. Looks like that means 8 people so far this year (

In contrast, there were 75,053 babies "terminated" in Texas in 2004 ( I couldn't find official records of 2008 to date in my quick google search.)

2) The 8 executed inmates in Texas were convicted of murdering a total of 13 victims, including a 16 year old girl, and a 2 year old boy. Their death is a direct consequence of their actions. Even though I am not a fan of the death penalty, we must face the fact that given the current laws, they brought the penalty upon themselves.
The 75,053 children killed by their mothers "choice" had done nothing at all to deserve their fate, other than "existing". Perhaps some of them were inconvenient? Perhaps some were unwanted? Perhaps some would have been handicapped or "different"? I'm literally getting nauseous as I type this. (Though I am also extremely pleased and enheartened when I think of Sarah Palin on this topic.)

Bottom line: there is no way that these two issues cancel each other out. Unless you think killing babies is ok, it's gotta be Republican.

Mark said...

ps - kudos to you for putting this topic out there. too often it is "too controversial" or "too emotional" to discuss.

The Dan Ward said...

Ah, great point, Mark! There's the principle of the thing, which appears to be split, and then there's the practical reality of the numbers, which should also be taken into account. Thanks for bringing that perspective.

75,000 in Texas alone in 2004? That's insane. I physically can't imagine... and even if that number is was decreased by a factor of 10, it would still be way too many.

OK, I think I'm convinced on this issue. The GOP is clearly on top when it comes to the whole life thing.

Mark said...

Yeah, I was kinda shocked by that stat, too. At first I was just gonna post some general guess (thousands?) then I thought I would look it up. I am both glad and sad that I did.

For me, this is *the* issue. Even if I were to disagree on Defense, Education, Energy, Taxes, etc, etc, this one is just too extreme to not be a trump card for me.

dad said...

Hi Dan and Mark: rather than take sides or get into my 'personal political take' (is their any other kind?) on the political issues that you two guys both bring up (pro-life and pro-choice etc) and both respond thoughtfully and sensitively, I'm going to forcefully, and uniquivally, and proudly stick my neck out 'without any reservation or purpose of evation' and declair publicly that I am so very proud of both of you and that it takes guts to even bring up this subject and then respond the way you both did to each other's comments and the 'real issues'....and of course I believe what you both have written speaks volumes as to the kind of men, husbands, fathers, and yes, citizens that you both are... my vote is for both of you both, Dad

Gabe said...

As a fierce independent (does that mean Libertarian?), I hate the idea of being tied to a political party and love the freedom to be able to choose between them. Although life issues are important, (I'm never in favor of taking life), I realize I have to compromise some issues over others since we only have two parties.

For me, I've had to relegate the abortion issue to a lower spot on my voter importance level (actually remove it). Issues dealing with spending and the military compel me to. The president can directly affect spending and cut the waste. But he can't directly effect the law as it stands without significant effort. It seems the president would have to find a way to get more justices on the bench, hoping that a new case arrives before the supreme court to repeal ROE-v-Wade and then hoping he can influence the justices to repeal it once it does. Even if repealed, does abortion then become illegal? I just don't want a president spending that much effort on an issue that people at a grassroots level are better able to deal with. In other words, I don't think this is an issue that is best dealt with by government legislation. And I certainly don't want it to be the make or break deal for my vote.

The conflict in Iraq/Afganistan is something much closer to my heart and something the President can directly affect. It is probably the key one for me to delineate which candidate I'll vote for.

The Dan Ward said...

Well said, Gabe - and as my lovely wife points out, being pro-choice doesn't really cost the republican candidate anything ('cause they don't really do anything about it). There don't seem to be any serious GOP contenders anywhere who are actually doing much about abortion, other than "opposing it," which apparently doesn't translate into visible action or impact.

So, while my opinion on the whole life question (and I do I mean the WHOLE life) would lead me to philosophical agreement with the GOP, the lack of actual decisions, actions, plans, etc means that when it comes to picking a candidate, this important topic actually carries less weight than I'd originally thought it would.

Yours Truly said...

I'm NOT a Citizen of the US, but I find it amusin' (in a sad way) & ironic that people should be so obsessed with this abortion & pro life issue.

Methinks the issues that are more fundamental are findin' JOBS & SHELTER for those who have NONE. & solvin' those crises in the middle east & south asia. Sendin' in more troops (a.k.a."The Surge") does NOT necessarily solve afflictions over there (anyways I think it's near impossible tryin' to convince those people 'bout anythin' good 'bout western forms of government, since their views are so colored with HATRED). To hear of young G.I.s dyin' in some foreign land does not I believe make the days of parents of soldiers any easier.

There, I'm PRO LIFE.