Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Democrats and Abortion 

I missed it live on Sunday, but on Meet the Press, Rev. Jim Wallis talked about what Democrats need to do on the abortion issue. (Transcript here.)

REV. JIM WALLIS: Well, Christians voted both ways in this election. God is not a Republican or a Democrat. That should be obvious. The values question is critical. The question is how narrowly or how broadly we define values. So we say that poverty is a religious and moral value. So is the environment. So is the war in Iraq. These are moral value that require a lot of discussion. I welcome the moral-values conversation. I really do. It's the soul of our politics, the compass of our public life. But how narrowly or how broadly we define the values is the question.

In this election, there were competing values, so a lot of Christians voted both ways because we wanted to vote all of our values, not just one or two. I think the Democrats are often uncomfortable talking about faith values, when it's even about their agenda. The Republicans want to narrow, though, or restrict values to one or two issues--important ones, but one or two. I think the Democrats have to recover their heart and soul; Republicans need a broader and deeper agenda about values....

MR. RUSSERT: Reverend Jim Wallis, let me ask you. You said something very interesting. You said, "The secular fundamentalism of the left is as much of a problem as the religious fundamentalism on the right." Would you apply that to abortion?

REV. WALLIS: Well, this is a conversation that we're having all across the country now. And it's again about symbols more than--I want solutions here. Pro-life and pro-choice people could unite together around working on teenage pregnancy, adoption reform, supporting low-income women. When you support them economically, the abortion rate falls. The abortion rate is way too high in America.

DR. FALWELL: We're doing all those things, Jim.

REV. WALLIS: You know, we're not--no one's pro-abortion. How do you prevent unwanted pregnancies? I'd like to find some common ground to work together to dramatically reduce the abortion rate. On so many of these issues, we get in the polarized, ideological debates and then we don't talk about to solve the problem.DR. FALWELL: You're a preacher, aren't you?

REV. WALLIS: "How do we make abortion"--Democrats--"safe, legal and rare?" Well, they're keeping it legal, but let's try to make abortion truly rare in the society. That is a common ground around which I think a lot of people, pro-life and pro-choice could and should support.

DR. FALWELL: Jim, let me ask you a question. Did you vote for John Kerry?

REV. WALLIS: I did vote for John Kerry.

DR. FALWELL: Now, he is pro-choice. How can you as an ordained minister--you are an ordained minister, right?

REV. WALLIS: Jerry--Jerry...

DR. FALWELL: How could you vote for some--I wouldn't vote for my mother if she were pro-choice.

REV. WALLIS: Yeah. You endorsing George Bush. That's fine. But you also called--you ordained him. You said all Christians could only vote for him. That's ridiculous. There are Christians who voted for deep reasons of faith for both candidates.
DR. FALWELL: Well, I don't think--I can't command anybody. I can only take the Bible seriously. You're certainly going to have to--Psalm 139:13-16--believe that life is sacred from conception on...

REV. WALLIS: And Jerry, there are 3,000 verses in the Bible about the poor--about the poor.

I tend to agree with Rev. Wallis. Democrats shouldn't make a drastic change and give up supporting the right of a woman to choose, but they should take the position that they to want to lower the abortion rate. To do that we need to support low-income women and help strengthen adoption, make giving birth a better option. This will show some of the moderate "values voters" that Democrats stand for more than just keeping abortion legalized. We can't allow the Republicans to continue to define the abortion issue.


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