On Tuesday the United States House of Representatives passed what is known as the Pain-Capably Unborn Child Protection Act. The event has made a few headlines this week, but not for the act itself but because the vote was 237 to 189 along party lines, with a few exceptions. The bill has yet to make it through the Senate where its failure is expected because it lacks sufficient votes to overcome a filibuster, once again along party lines. It’s noteworthy that in the last decade abortion has become an issue not defined by the statistics, implications, or veracity. Instead, abortion is an issue that is now defined by political ideologies and party affiliation. Unfortunately, such an oversimplification of the issue is a dangerous act because it reduces the issue to nothing more than emotionally-charged secondary abstractions. We can see the dangers of defining abortion by political motivations through what it reveals and what it removes.
In the analysis of what took place in Tuesday’s vote, much of the discussion has been not on the issue but only how the voted reflected the individual party’s. To those analysts, abortion is only a political issue, yet what we saw in those analytics is that defining in this way reveals the following:
- It Reveals Hypocrisy: It reveals the hypocrisy of individual lifestyles as those who voted one way live lives that reflect something different. Furthermore, because the arguments are politically based, and not rooted in facts and logic, the flow of the argument actually is reflective of hypocritical thinking and actions by groups of people as well. In yesterday’s The Briefing, Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) reflects much on this point and does a great analysis of the hypocrisy that spans five decades; I would urge you to listen to it here.
- It Reveals Division: Division is not unexpected nor is it something new. However, because we define abortion only by politics, it generates more division because rather than be concerned about the important moral issues of the debate, most simply consider what which party is associated with it and make uninformed decisions based on this alone. For those who go a step further, they may find themselves given the policy, yet few will take it beyond face value and look into the issue deeper to determine the legitimacy of what is being presented. Thus, a greater division is created by misrepresentations of people and politics.
- It Reveals Misinformation: This is alluded to in the previous two points. However, this is a serious aspect that must be considered separately. Making abortion about politics becomes a game in which facts are twisted in order to convey positions that are seen as acceptable and worthy of support. Doing this fails to give the full content and context of what makes up the very heart of this issue.
Unfortunately, these three revelations create a debate that is less about the issue (the killing of defenseless lives) and more about character attacks on those who think contrary (perhaps this revelation implies the greatest dangers of our political system . . . we have made everything political and in doing so it has become more about character attacks rather than congruent arguments.
However, reducing abortion to nothing more than an issue that must be defined by one’s political affiliation does more than simply reveal a few facts about our society. Instead, it also impacts our society. How so? Consider the following points:
- It Removes the Value of Life: This is a given and almost goes without saying. However, this fact has become obscured by everything that has been mentioned above. At the heart of the issue is the value of life. If we can’t value the most defenseless among us, how can we expect to place any sort of sanctifying value on any human life?
- It Removes the Value of Morality: Once again, this should be a given, however, if it were then we wouldn’t be debating what should be a very straightforward issue. At the heart of abortion is not politics, but morality, and specifically a morality that comes from solid, biblical theology. In focusing on the politics, the moral implications of abortion are removed and very little discussed.
- It Removes Accountability: In the long-term, all will be held accountable for their actions, so on that level, the accountability cannot be completely removed. However, there is a temporary removal of accountability in which one can make a decision without being held responsible for the actions or implications. This is because we have reduced the arguments to the most minimal of concepts and have eradicated the moral implications. When there is no morality, there is no accountability.
These implications may be coming from the abortion debate, but the adoption of these perspectives and mindsets have the propensity to impact one’s conviction and confrontation of other areas as well.
As a result, it becomes necessary to ensure that we are cautious in handling such debates. It means being careful in not reducing such debates to politics alone. It means being cautious in not making the arguments in these discussions something that they are not. Finally, it means being intentional in drawing attention to the core cause of theses issues (theology and morality).
Photo “Division Sky Divided” courtesy of user Terry Bain and Flickr.