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October 14, 2004

Informatio: ,

And while the stew boils, abortion stirs...

I have to admit something. Abortion has never been an issue that concerned me very much… As a typical evangelical Christian in my upbringing, I was typically pro-life. And possibly untypically, for my generation of evangelical Christians, I leaned heavily toward “with exception.” But, due to my lifestyle, I knew that abortion would probably never enter my scope of decsion-making — or, rather, co-decision-making. But, beyond my stance on the “rights” and/or “wrongs” of abortion, the one thing I have never felt very strongly about was the illegalization of abortion. I had just seen too much passion behind people who wanted it illegal — and, I’m talking about hateful passion — and not enoug love being poured out to expectant mother’s who needed love and not judgment. Also, even at a young age, I knew that causes and effects of abortion were never an outcome of lawmaking whether it supported abortion or not.

But, don’t get me wrong. I am pro-life…personally. I am even helping my sister with a website for her workplace. But, I don’t think that I could ever subscribe to the various mission statements that some pro-life organizations profess. In any case, it surprised me by how passionate people became at this Blog a few days ago. I mean, I did list abortion as an issue that I was still trying to tackle, but it was placed amidst five other issues — which, in my mind are equally as important.

But, I digress. What I wanted to talk about today was my early inclinations of the causes of abortion.

From a recent article posted on the Sojourners website, by Dr. Glen Harold Stassen (Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary):

I am a Christian ethicist, and trained in statistical analysis. I am consistently pro-life. My son David is one witness. For my family, “pro-life” is personal. My wife caught rubella in the eighth week of her pregnancy. We decided not to terminate, to love and raise our baby. David is legally blind and severely handicapped; he also is a blessing to us and to the world.
I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information – federal reports go only to 2000, and many states do not report – but I found enough data to identify trends. My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.
(Read the rest here. Link via Deanne Pearson.)

The article goes on to conclude:

Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, child care, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need policies that provide jobs and health insurance and support for prospective mothers.
I strongly usrge you to read the entire article.

In my opinion, this is why we can’t look at Bush as the “moral” leader in this year’s Presidential race just based on his stance on abortion. To me, this falls into the same category as “abortion vs. capital punishment.” Can we honestly vote for someone who is against abortion when they support other types of killing?

It’s a good question. And I don’t know the answer.

I’m still not prepared to make public whom I’m leaning towards in this race. Abortion is just one of the issues, and there are many — in fact, just last night, my small group discussed most of the issues that we need to look at. And issues themselves are just one aspect as well. We also need to look at the person — at his personality and his life. The documetary that I mentioned on Tuesday night helped me to deal with this factor.

Posted at 1:23 pm

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Comments (22):
Its the killing of innocent life and the protection therof that makes the “stew boil” rather than the other issues mentioned. However, you are right those other issues are important.

Doug - October 14, 2004 at 11:03 pm

I too was not concerned about abortion for a long time. I wasn’t religious growing up, I wasn’t sexually active and there wasn’t even a girl in my high school that got pregnant as far as I knew.

At 25 I discovered that I had been conceived before my parents were married (and it appears that I precipitated a hastily organized wedding).

It was another five years before it dawned on me that I could easily have been an abortion statistic.

Pretty sobering stuff. It’s not your everyday ho-hum experience.

Even so, abortion is still a very complex issue and the morning after pill only makes it more complicated.

I’ll probably blog a bit about it, but maybe wait till my current topic runs its course…

dave paisley () (URL) - October 15, 2004 at 05:51 am

Tim, thanks for you willingness to discuss this issue. I too am prolife and I believe that woman have a right to choose. I think many make the “choice” because they feel they have no choice. It is very sad. Abortion is a very touchy subject.

One thing that I question is that many who seem to be anti abortion are often pro-war. (NOT all, many). I am puzzled how one can be in favor of saving children who are unborn, but see no problem dropping bombs on others??? I really question that mentality.

My wife was conceived out of wedlock 38 years ago. I thank God for her everyday. I undestand some haven’t made that choice that my wife’s parents made. Those people need love, grace, and support. Often women are pressured by men to have abortions. The beautiful souls who most need love and care are often the last to get it.

Many blessings,

rick () (URL) - October 15, 2004 at 07:41 am

I only support abortion when the woman got pregnant when she got raped. I totally don’t support abortion when it comes to things like: “Oh no, I’m pregnant, my carreer is more important then a baby, I’m going to have an abortion.” In my opinion, people like that are just stupid, haven’t they heard of birthcontrol?

Marco () (URL) - October 15, 2004 at 12:44 pm

Marco ~ I appreciate you taking the time to comment, but please try not to be judgmental here (at this Weblog) and, especially, please don’t use derogatory or defamatory language — especially since you are a man and would never even have to consider having an abortion.

timsamoff () (URL) - October 15, 2004 at 12:59 pm


hearby I appologize for what I wrote in my comment about abortion.

Marco () (URL) - October 15, 2004 at 5:06 pm


Are you in the Netherlands? What city do you live in? My wife and I have traveled there several times coming back from missions trips and love Amsterdam. Your post was a bit harsh but being subtle in a different language can be difficult. Tim’s a nice guy, though. Hopefully, he won’t banish you from his blog.

Paul () - October 15, 2004 at 7:07 pm

Tim: Once again, really good thoughts. We have so trivialized the issues of life. As someone who does cared deeply about abortion and has been involved in trying to change legislation toward that end, I strongly agree with your analysis that it must be a consistent postion. I have often wondered if this issue is similar to the ERA in the 1960’s and 1970’s for those on what was then characterized as the liberal end of the spectrum – an issue you could be for because it rallies the troops and no one believed it would change through legislation anyway.

It seems to me that we need people who act in every way consistent with their beliefs. That is not easy in politics. But then, I don’t believe anyone’s job as a follower of Jesus is to do what is easy or politically expedient.

will () (URL) - October 16, 2004 at 04:26 am

Paul, I meant every word of it but I appologized to Tim about that. And yes I’m in the Netherlands, in a town named Bergen op Zoom.

Marco () (URL) - October 17, 2004 at 08:56 am

Perhaps we need to change our labels about abortion. It seems as though some are ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater—just because President Bush is proceding with the war in Iraq and supports the death penalty doesn’t mean that he can’t stand against abortion. It’s a very different issue from war and capital punishment.

Perhaps it is a stretch to call someone like President Bush “pro-life,” but for the purposes of political conversation everyone understands that this is a label given to people who are opposed to abortion.

While I applaud the efforts of those seeking a more holistic view of “life,” I think we need to not miss an opportunity to right a social evil due to what is perceived as an inconsistency.

Todd Messenger () - October 18, 2004 at 5:00 pm

Good discussion. I read the article you sited Tim, and there was a similar article recently on written by the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame. Basically, both authors point to statistics that reveal decreased abortion rates and abortions per capita during the Clinton era compared to the Reagan and G.W.B. years. The premise of their use of these stats, is that democratic presidents generally push more social/welfare programs for the poor, which, as a secondary effect, may cause fewer women to seek abortions when pregnant and poor.

There are a couple obvious, glaring, non sequiturs. First, the economy during the Clinton years was uncharacteristically strong – some would argue that it was strong out of no real Clintonian policy, but that he had inherited a strong economy when assuming the presidency. Poverty and unemployment were at record lows during his tenure. No matter what social policy he instituted (in fact, if I remember correctly, he significantly cut welfare programs while in office), the strong economy and low unemployment rates are more likely the reason for fewer abortions.

Secondly, the author of the article you cited, implies that the poor consitute the majority of abortion seekers. This is simply wrong. Check out these stats from

25.5% of women deciding to have an abortion want to postpone childbearing.
21.3% of women cannot afford a baby.
14.1% of women have a relationship issue or their partner does not want a child.
12.2% of women are too young (their parents or others object to the pregnancy.)
10.8% of women feel a child will disrupt their education or career.
7.9% of women want no (more) children.
3.3% of women have an abortion due to a risk to fetal health.
2.8% of women have an abortion due to a risk to maternal health.

Just a few thoughts on this important issue, and I think it’s wise to remember some of the stats (you can find more complete stats at:

:: Peder ::

p.e.horner () (URL) - October 19, 2004 at 2:28 pm

Awesome… Thanks, Peder! This is a much needed interjection.

timsamoff () (URL) - October 19, 2004 at 2:35 pm

Thanks Peder for inviting me into this discussion. I probably should be dictating but this is too inviting :). Tim, I appreciate your comments to Marco because I do appreciate an open, non-judgemental format. Also, the following stats should be of interest to him:

-54% of women having an abortion said they used some form of contraception during the month they became pregnant.
-90% of women who are at risk for unplanned pregnancies are using contraception
-8% of women having an abortion say they have never used contraception.

So, guess what, the “pro-life” or “anti-choice” will have you believe that the cause of abortion is women’s stupidity or recklessness. However, it is proven over and over again that this is not true. In fact, do you know how often domestic violence is related to abortion? Over 50 % of women presenting for abortion have been survivors of domestic violence in the past year. But do we study this phenomenon? No, although this is what my research is doing right now. Do you think domestic violence laws have gotten stricter? No, they have not. Because it is much easier to blame so-called stupid, slutty women.

Additionally, how do you convince women not to have abortions? Well, first, you teach them sexual education and inform them how to prevent pregnancy (amazing how many pro-life people don’t believe in sex ed…hmm…). Second, you empower women with education opportunities, job opportunities, and social programs so they can stay out of domestic violence situations where rape occurs every day. And, a note on the poverty stat-who is the biggest group in poverty? Women with children! So what does that say about our country? Now these women are not the biggest abortion users, as stated, but the difference between poverty and low income is not great, and if a women feels like she can’t feed one more mouth, she probably can’t.

Additionally, although Clinton may not have been the biggest supporter of social programs (I am still looking for the stat on that), he did support sex ed, the morning after pill, and HIV education (which by the way, helps to prevent pregnancy). Note the following stat:

-It is possible that up to 43% of the decline in abortion from 1994-2000 can be attributed to using emergency contraception.

Sorry Peder, but it probably wasn’t the improved economy or high unemployment rate (can we give Clinton credit for anything? ) Especially if you are arguing that women in poverty are not the biggest abortion users.

By the way, Tim, kudos to your recognizing that Bush is not truly pro-life! He is responsible for the most people executed as governor than any other leader. Additionally, did you know that his wife and mother are pro-choice? Again, seems like a guy who is out of touch with women’s issues.

So what is the solution? Even though I am very pro-choice (by the way, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion), I don’t think abortion is the solution. But let’s quit arguing about abortion and whether it is right or wrong. Let’s get to the bottom of why women have abortions and what we can do to change the situations that lead to them (i.e. domestic violence, poverty, unemployment, rape, incest, lack of knowledge regarding birth control and sex ed). Ahh, but this is the problem-no one wants to spend the money and time to figure this out, so our generation will have to do better. Also, if you don’t believe in abortion that is fine. But just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist (it is not Santa Claus), and I will argue that it will continue whether it is legal or not, the question is-will we do anything to lift women up and empower them so they don’t have to make that choice?

Jennifer Miller-Davis () - October 20, 2004 at 7:35 pm

The following is a interesting article about women voters-

The author is one of my favorites who will often write for the New York Times and The New Yorker.
To Hell With Well Behaved
Women who are interested and involved in politics talk quietly about how no one is chasing their vote. Then they sigh and move on

By Anna Quindlen

June 28 issue – Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken and inconveniently willful?

“Keep her,” I replied.

Not helpful, but heartfelt. I have never been a fan of tractable women, having mostly experienced self-loathing when I tried to masquerade as one. Yet despite progress and change, liberation and self-examination, she has a way of resurrecting herself, the girl who sits with her hands folded, the woman who keeps her mouth shut.

WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN DON’T MAKE HISTORY, says the T shirt a college student sent me. It’s been worn and washed so often, it’s the texture of tissue.

Here she comes again, the fantasy and the reality. Hollywood has showcased her in a remake of “The Stepford Wives,” in which judges, doctors and executives are remade by their husbands into Stay-at-Home Barbies, and apparently the most shocking thing a woman can admit is that she’s more accomplished than her spouse. As punishment for this heresy, she must be transformed into a vacuous trophy wife. This is either satire or wish fulfillment, depending on how you see studio execs. Of course, there is the sub rosa suggestion abroad in the world that it is actually more soothing to shop and lunch than perform surgery. But only if you’re a girl. When it is suggested that men might be happier playing golf full time than closing a deal, it is called downsizing and is a bad thing.

And in real life we have the Stepford voters, who are supposed to go along to get along, taking what they’re given. At cause luncheons throughout the country, women who are interested and involved in politics talk quietly about how no one seems to be chasing their support. Then they sigh and move on. Which may be what John Kerry will be doing if he keeps this up.

The gender gap has been the most persistent voter phenomenon in presidential elections in the past 25 years. Men disproportionately support the Republicans and women the Democrats. Depending on whom you talk to, this is either because men are more interested in fiscal issues and women in social concerns or because men couldn’t care less about sex discrimination, sexual harassment and unwanted pregnancies and women have to live with all three. Although not so the ruling Republicans would notice.

Many progressive Republican women—not an oxymoron—have become disenchanted with George W. Bush, who began his term by blocking aid to foreign family-planning groups and went on to allow his attorney general to try to rifle through the private medical files of women who had had abortions. A golden opportunity for the Democratic challenger thus presents itself. Poll figures suggest women are more inclined to see things his way to begin with. And if the pattern of the last election continues, female voters will participate at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

Which makes you wonder why the Kerry campaign seems to be taking women for granted. Where are the commercials that discuss the trifecta of child care, health care and jobs that constitutes real homeland security for women juggling work and family? What was the deal with that lame answer about appointing judges hostile to abortion rights as long as the vote on Roe wasn’t too close? Where is the emphasis in events and in message? Just for a moment, pretend we’re autoworkers!

More than 20 million unmarried American women, a group polls have found are more liberal than the average person, never even voted in the 2000 presidential election. They didn’t think it was worth the effort. If he reached out to those women as aerobically as George W. Bush has to evangelicals, Kerry could be working on his Inaugural speech right now. Instead the Democrats seem to be figuring that most female voters have nowhere else to go.

They’re counting on the gratitude factor. Democrats better than Republicans, 14 female senators better than none, America better than Afghanistan. Who thinks this way? Do prison reformers back off because at least in Attica inmates aren’t stacked naked in a pile having their pictures taken? Here’s an antidote to gratitude: the new interim Constitution for Iraq mandates 25 percent female representation in Parliament, which thoroughly trumps the United States on the democracy scale.

History tells us that women’s equality is often becalmed by the press of outside events, that the movement that begat suffrage, for example, slowed in the face of the Great Depression. But I suspect that some of the slowdown is always about our fear of unfolding our hands and pointing a finger. In “Iron Jawed Angels,” the recent HBO film about the suffrage movement, you saw young women who fought and kicked all the way to a prison cell. It’s dispiriting to think that they were bloodied but unbowed so their granddaughters could halfheartedly vote for someone who assumes their support instead of seeking it. Those suffragists refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Jennifer Miller-Davis () - October 20, 2004 at 7:38 pm

Bush’s policy on sex ed and contraception:

Bush started his term by removing a budget provision that required some insurance companies serving federal employees to cover contraception. Then federal National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed fact sheets about sex education and the effectiveness of condoms from their websites. Bush went on to cut funds for family planning throughout his time in office while pouring money into “abstinence-only” education, which forbids frank discussion of birth control. For the past three years, Bush has withheld $34 million for international family planning from the United Nations Population Fund. Meanwhile, he is promising to increase abstinence funding, already at record levels, and to insist that nearly one-third of domestic funding for HIV/AIDS be spent on abstinence.

From: The Village Voice:
New ad campaign targets Bush record on birth control
The President vs. the Pill
by Sharon Lerner
October 12th, 2004 10:45 AM

Jennifer Miller-Davis () - October 20, 2004 at 7:42 pm

Wow, Jennifer… Thanks for all of that interesting reading! I think we will all be pretty well-informaed after everyone has their say here. That is so cool to me. :-)

Hopefully, others will have the time and patience to read everything said here, because it is pretty important.

timsamoff () (URL) - October 20, 2004 at 11:42 pm

Who invited her to this discussion? Yikes! Hehe. Just kidding Jen. You’ve got some very interesting stats. Since both Kerry and Bush are so lackluster, I think this election just comes down to which woman we want as 1st lady – as for me, I think Laura is the one. ;)

p.e.horner () (URL) - October 21, 2004 at 2:36 pm

I still like P.E.‘s stats better. Especially on the number one reason why abortions occur (postpone child bearing) and why 10.8% have abortions (career)

dh - October 21, 2004 at 3:50 pm

Hi DH-Just to let you know PE’s stats came from the same page mine did. And remember that to postpone child bearing means everyone from age 11 (yes, 11 year olds can get pregant) to menopause. And no one can argue that periadolescents have safe, healthy pregancies (they are fraught with complications). Also, what other reasons did you expect? Do you expect women to answer on those surveys that they didn’t realize they could get pregnant because they never really learned what happens during sex?

It is interesting when you talk with women without education (and even some women with education), very few of them understand how their bodies work, and even more don’t understand how to prevent pregnancy.

Also, and I could go on for days… But let me put you in the body of a woman. You are in a relationship (or you had a one-night stand), and you find you are pregnant, and your partner wants no part in this pregnancy (people suck sometimes). You will have no where to live, and won’t be able to go to work or school once this little one comes along because your partner is not going to support you. Our social system is such that you quickly fall into poverty, and have the shame that occurs when you can’t feed your family or yourself, and you can’t make a decent living. So, you argue, why doesn’t this women put the baby up for adoption-hmmm… good point. Why indeed?

One other thing-so you say abortion is wrong if it is for the selfish reason of controlling one’s own life? So, do you believe it is ever right?

Jennifer Miller-Davis () - October 21, 2004 at 6:53 pm

My answer to all of these is the LIGHT House a non-judgemental organization. You might have heard of it. Check out there web site. It is a wonderful organization that supports the woman over a lifetime not just on the birth but after healthcare, economic support, etc. Are their many pro-life organizations doing this? You and I probably would agree not as many as their should be but this is an extremely good organization.

dh - October 21, 2004 at 10:20 pm

Dh-I have been a researcher and follower of this cause for a very long time, and you must know that not one truly pro-choice person supports this organization. The Light House is not a non-judgemental organization. They won’t judge you as long as you choose to keep the fetus or put it up for adoption. Please…. And by the way, it is still a Christian organization. And by its nature, it is based a set of tenets that places people into catagories and judges them if they don’t follow those tenets. Here is the quote from the Lighthouse site “Whether you choose to parent or place for adoption, we respect your decision, and offer resources and information to help you realize a promising future. “ So, do you think the option of abortion is even brought up? NO! It is not. Additionally, I personally know the director of the Lighthouse, and I certainly think his judgement of any woman is suspect. How well do you understand this organization?

Jennifer Miller () - October 26, 2004 at 7:54 pm

Jen: Just because a place doesn’t value abortion as a good option doesn’t mean that they are being judgemental. I bet you’ll find that these people are much warmer and compassionate than you might initially think.

Besides, poverty isn’t a logical justification for abortion, ever. Who ever said that any one was guaranteed a big house in the suburbs with a doting husband, 4 acres, swimming pool, and multiple SUVs?

Love ya,


p.e.horner () (URL) - October 29, 2004 at 2:33 pm

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