The Great Debates we deserve:
THIS IS A TRANSCIPT OF A FICTIONAL
INTRODUCTION BY THE MODERATOR:
Thank-you, I am Shiela Lehman. I will be the moderator of this very important event. It is widely speculated that judicial appointments in the near future could possibly secure the votes to overturn Roe vs. Wade. At the current time the conventional wisdom is that while the additions of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito move the Court closer to a fundamental review of Roe and Casey, there are still five votes for a woman’s basic right to an abortion. Roe vs. Wade was the landmark decision in 1973 that codified a right to privacy in the 14th amendment including abortion rights.
Since then there have been many votes that have more clearly defined and limited that right. There have been 5-4 and 6-3 votes affirming the basic tenets of Roe while permitting various restrictions to exist. The most important of those later cases is Casey vs. Pennsylvania, which establishes a viability test that balances the state’s interest in protecting an unborn child, versus a woman’s right to privacy. Once the unborn child is viable, and able to survive on its’ own, the states and Federal government have a compelling interest to limit and proscribe a woman’s right. In 2007, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld a ban on so-called “partial birth abortions”.
For the first time in the court’s history, it prohibited certain types of abortions irregardless of the mother’s health. The Court accepted the premise that this procedure was never medically necessary to save a woman’s health. Though both sides are making huge assumptions concerning the fate of future abortion cases, the facts are this decision actually upheld a woman’s right by stating that while partial birth abortions were heinous and unacceptable, a more traditional abortion was available. This is clearly an issue for our generation that everyone has had to confront on some level. Tonight we have gathered various leaders from different perspectives to debate the issue more thoroughly than usual. The nature of our current politics induces short answers with little detail.
Tonight we want each person to be able to explain all aspects of their perspective to you. Snyder Associates have found 600 Americans who are willing to listen to all sides and attempt agreement as to what our public policy should be. Towards the end of tonight's program these Americans will take part in a questionnaire that goes to the heart of the matter. Hopefully by seeing how fair-minded Americans decide after hearing a healthy debate this will help you determine what America you want to live in.
(Background for the readers only):
SENATOR TOM CANTOR
Senator Tom Cantor is the senior Senator from Colorado. He joined the Republican Party a few years after college, and worked his way up through the Party apparatus. He is a devout Methodist who makes every effort to put in practice what he talks about. Sen. Cantor is best known as the author of the revised Welfare laws of the 1990's. His idea that the government's role was to help individuals transition into independence and meaningful work rather than subsidize decadence has now become mainstream.
When he began his career in the Senate, compassion for the poor was uniformly measured in terms of how much money was appropriated for a particular program. Sen. Cantor lead a revolution of ideas that refocused the public policy debate on how many people weren't on public assistance because they were prospering. The best welfare program was a job. His books on the breakdown of the family, and "defining deviancy down" have made him a hero to Christians and moral conservatives. He joins this debate after years of working against the corrosive "abortion culture". He has not only donated to the usual causes, but has opened his home to adoption of children whose moms chose life.
Rebecca Smithye is the national leader of Mainstream Republicans of America. She is a proud fiscal conservative and social moderate typical of her small Maine town. Ms. Smithye has always had a healthy distrust of powerful government bureaucrats, and could never agree with the idea of them deciding health issues that should be left to the individual woman. Though she typically is out of step on social issues in her party, Rebecca has been committed to remaining a Republican and ensuring that the party didn't shrink into intolerance. Her fortunes had risen in recent years as Republicans became the dominant national party due in part to Rebecca's successful recruitment of good candidates. In areas that traditionally voted for Democrats simply because the Republican primary voters kept selecting "pure" conservatives, Rebecca has changed that landscape by exporting her brand of republicanism. However after the 2006 mid-term election where Democrats swept through the nation, she is now mired in the uncertain future of the Republicans. Her impassioned advocacy of abortion rights became a public crusade when she revealed in a book that years ago she endured a risky pregnancy that endangered her life. The fetus was impacting vital organs, and continuing the pregnancy could possibly have prevented further children and inflicted permanent injury. Against the advice of her husband and doctors, she chose to continue the pregnancy, and successfully gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She realized that each woman has unique factors to weigh, including some not fully understood by others. Above all that sometimes there were no good choices. Since then Rebecca has been tormented with these extremely conflicted feelings, and is sure about only one thing: that the only person who should make the ultimate decisions about any pregnancy were the woman herself.
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE-JOSE SORTES
Representative Jose Sortes was born in Honduras, and migrated with his family to this country as a very young boy. They settled in Jersey City, N.J., where he was an excellent student throughout his high school years. He won a scholarship to Notre Dame where he became active politically. Jose was excited to attend a catholic school where his religious beliefs would not be subject to scrutiny or ridicule. Instead he could learn more about his faith, and how he could apply those lessons to improve the country. Jose had particular concerns with public figures who claimed they were Catholic, yet freely disavowed church teachings in their public careers.
One of his goals was to attain legitimate political credentials while becoming a stronger Catholic and growing closer to God. Jose was elected to Congress in 1986, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the most reliably liberal votes. His Democratic Party relied on his energy to "whip" wayward members in line on crucial items. The only problem was on matters of life and death, Jose Sortes was viewed as the opposition by party leaders. His colleagues have tried for years to educate him on how he should "grow" on certain issues. This they assure him would allow for advancement in the party. To the contrary, Jose is perplexed how a compassionate party that always sides with the powerless has failed to see the evil of abortion as a human rights issue for the tiniest of people.
Albert Smith is an intellectual who wins praise from all sides as very intelligent, and always the most prepared. He is well educated, and has successfully mixed careers in criminal and constitutional law, as well as a television commentator. As a criminal lawyer, he is known to accept notorious defendants and represent them honorably. Where others seem to lose credibility, Mr. Smith wins accolades and more clients. Politically Albert is a Democrat but not reflexively. His allegiance is more to the notions of legality, fairness, and doing what is right. He is a master at delineating what the law should be in a perfect world, and developing a strategy for accommodating political realities. Albert is a speaker for the AClU which has a reputation of supporting individual liberties at all costs. He is a great spokesman for them because of his exceptional listening ability, and keen questioning.
Albert Smith has been married for six years, and is the father of three girls, 17, 13, and 4 years of age. All of his children have Albert's incredible intelligence, and regularly outperform their peers. Albert and Nancy are currently dealing with Sheryl the 17 year old, who is anxious because her normal "cycle" is late. They are conflicted in what advice to give, or what law to lay down. There's no doubt Sheryl is capable of dealing with the situation given her maturity, but Albert is unsure what his position as a father or potential grandfather should be.
Julie Swet-Walker is a prominent member of Concerned Women of Today. She is a visionary in the ranks of new feminist leadership that rejects much of the excesses of the radical left. Julie's mother was a founding member of NARAL which is one of the leading pro abortion groups in America. Julie felt that the movement her mother helped start was hijacked by extremists whose real agenda was man-hating. Julie's introduction to the topic of abortion was heart-wrenching. While accompanying her mother to a rally, Julie listened dumbstruck as her mother talked frankly about how she could have had an older sister. This devastated her because much of Julie's life revolved around searching for someone in her general age-group that she could really trust. It has always been her belief that had her mother "chose" better, all of their lives would have been better especially the sister that was never born.
Today Julie has to work hard to help provide for her mother's care. Her mom was diagnosed with a cancer that has been hard for the doctor's to address. Though there's been no official designation of it’s' origin, Julie believes the abortion did something to her mom. She now works as a consultant for a Cable T.V. Network where she regularly debates the issues of today with a liberal counterpart. Julie works hard not to publicly indicate the pain she feels the Leftist’s ideology has caused on her family.
REVEREND ANTHONY CARTER
Reverend Anthony Carter is the 45 year old pastor of the African Baptist Church. He was born to a single mother in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Rev. Carter has a reputation of working hard for the upliftment of the poor, and for economic-social justice in the African-American community. His career began as a vociferous outsider whose oratory fascinated both friends and adversaries. As America changed for the better in terms of mainstream acceptance of African-Americans, Rev. Carter pivoted his approach away from racial politics, more toward general concerns of the dispossessed in all races. Today he is an almost mainstream leader on the edges of the political left. He has adopted the rhetoric of many if not all of the constituency groups: labor unions, environmental groups, gay rights, and abortion rights. The latter igniting a terrific debate within him. In public, and for the record, Rev. Carter is pro-choice and supports the goals of the abortion rights lobby. However his knowledge of his mother's turmoil when finding out she was pregnant with him tempers his zealous endorsement of abortion rights.
In the late 1950's, Alberta Robey was a 21 year old college student who showed unusual promise in her neighborhood. She graduated early from Pace University and was planning to attend Brown Law School. Her tumultuous relationship with John Carter and the discovery of her pregnancy put her at a crossroads. Alberta could choose to "fix it" in a time when it was difficult to find a safe abortion provider. Doing this would allow her to continue the transition away from John Carter who was abusive and dominating towards her. A promising career in the law and freedom awaited her. She made the "mistake" of telling John she was expecting his child. She really had no choice after that. Rev. Carter continuously deals with feelings of guilt that he was responsible for his mother's subsequent problems. When he was ten, his dad John Carter was arrested on charges of Battery resulting in a homicide: of his wife. Alberta Carter was 32 years old.
(Back to the program)
MODERATOR Tonight we will discuss the controversial issue of abortion from the usual starting points, and we'll also venture into intriguing questions for the future. We've divided the speakers into two sides whose arguments may not be entirely consistent, but who ultimately advocate similar policy. On the left, are Reverend Carter of the African Baptist Church, John Smith of the AClu, and Rebecca Smithye of the Mainstream Republicans of America. On the right are Rep. Jose Sortes of Democrats for Life, Senator Tom Canton Republican of Colorado, and Ms. Julie Swet Walker of Concerned Women of America.First we'll have very brief opening statements on each speakers' positions about the government's role in abortion.
REV C The government should not interfere with a woman's self-determination. Abortion rights are a civil right for over half the population. It's in the interest of men and women alike to advocate for a just public policy because an injustice anywhere must be dealt with. There are those who talk about right to life as though we are dealing with issues from a textbook. This is dangerous for people to use the law to impose the wrong ideology on women, because any of us could be next. What those who want to take women's rights away should focus on is: health care, a quality education, and a just society for all the children that are already born.
SORTES I've been a proud liberal democrat all my life. This has inspired me to advocate for the helpless in our society. My positions have often been lonely fights as the corporate media, and big monied interests have tried to sharply limit what is considered legitimate debate. Yet I continue to be on the side of those who regularly feel taken advantaged of. It's clear there are none more vulnerable than the babies yet to be born. In a just society the federal government must have certain standards and practices that can't be subject to political whims, but must be enduring rights. The government has a moral duty to protect an unborn child's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. All unborn children have a constitutional right to be born alive.Roe v Wade is not only wrong and should be overturned, the Supreme Court should include unborn children into where they belong: among the family of living people with protected rights.
SMITHYE If we all agree that all people are created equal, then we should concur that a woman doesn't give up her equality because of her pregnancy status. The medical decision to continue a pregnancy or terminate is immensely personal. It does involve incredibly difficult moral dimensions. Issues such as the beginning of life have been debated for centuries with as many questions as answers. These types of decisions ultimately should be made by only one person: the woman whose body is involved. This coming after consulting with her family, and her faith.
CANTOR I'm a religious man. My God teaches me thou shalt not kill. It's become fashionable to be tolerant of many things that we once knew without a doubt were wrong. Yet on some fundamental issues like life and death, we as moral Americans can't want to be liked more than we want to be right. The proponents of abortion on demand don't like to hear it but abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human life. That being so, it has to be wrong, and should be expunged from this world. The government should absolutely outlaw this procedure.
SMITH First, I'd like to say I respect all honest viewpoints on this issue. However in life we have to make tough choices and allow for distinctions that must be encompassed in the law. Though a fetus is a developing human life that in the best of circumstances should be nurtured into personhood, it should have no rights independent of the mother. To grant fetal rights equal to born humans would eventually challenge our concepts of freedom, and our hard earned notion of gender equity. A woman's right to choose must always be protected.
WALKER We must value life from conception to natural death. Our government must have the ability to outlaw these heinous procedures many of which take the life of a fetus that is identifiably human. We used to talk more in theory about what was happening to the unborn, but technology has allowed us to shed light on the torturuous journey of a fetus selected to be aborted. Technology will continue to work against the abortion industry, and in favor of innocent human life as we see the beauty and innocence of human life in the womb in living color.
MODERATOR We'll have a few different formats tonight, first one panelist will answer questions from myself and their three opponents. Mr. Smith, in your opening you say "it should have no rights". First, shouldn't we talk in human terms of she/he, and second are you saying a 9 month fetus should have no rights?
SMITH First, I said a fetus should have no rights that are independent of the mother. In wanted pregnancies their interests presumably converge. However my position is that the government in those cases where a woman chooses to terminate, should not be able to force her to do otherwise.WALKER What is being terminated when a woman ends her pregnancy?
SMITH A fetus
WALKER A human fetus that is in fact a human being in the early stages correct? SMITH No, a fetus is not a human being as we understand that in America. A fetus is not due equal protection of the laws and the Constitution.S
SORTES If the baby is not human, What is she/he then?
SMITH I said, it's not a human being though it is certainly a developing human life.
CANTOR Are you trying to distinguish between when life begins, and when a human being's life begins?
SMITH In a scientific sense all human life and human beings begin when an egg and sperm unite, but our world is more than biology.
CANTOR So you agree life begins at conception?
SMITH We don't really know when life begins or began.
CANTOR Well, certainly a woman carrying unfertilized eggs in her body is not sheltering a baby is she?
SMITH She's harboring potential.
SORTES When an egg and sperm unite under optimal conditions that person will continue to develop into a recognizable human being.
SMITH If that's a question, I'll disagree with where its' going. The notion that just because if everything goes a preferred way a human being results, means we have to by way of law create the conditions for such against our will...
WALKER You said "our" will. If I'm correct...
SMITH a woman's will.
WALKER Is it your position that there should be no distinction between 9 months and 9 days of gestation?
SMITH I recognize the Supreme Court does apply a viability test which does increasingly offer the state more rights to regulate as the fetus grows, but yes I believe women should never lose control of their body to the dictates of government.
MODERATOR Senator Tom Cantor you're up next. Should your religious convictions inform this debate?
CANTOR My fundamental belief in a higher being who will ultimately judge all of us is in fact a large part of me and figures in everything I do.
SMITH Why should you get to impose your view of what's moral on society?
CANTOR The whole concept of law and civil society rests on the notion that some behavior is unacceptable and wrong. We make distinctions and judgments every day. You on the left have a problem when the mainstream of America stands for common sense values, and against perversion, and immorality.
SMITH Is it your view that the majority's opinion of what's mainstream ,and common sense or what's a "perversion" should be the law of the land in every case?
CANTOR There certainly are limits that should be placed on the will of the majority, and the Constitution does so quite well, but the militant secular humanists have made it so that everything gets protected but the majority’s notion of decency and morality.
REV C Many on your side, maybe even you, used religion as a basis to curtail the rights of minorities and women in the past. It clearly was wrong then, why isn't it wrong today?
CANTOR First of all, anything including the word of God can be misused by those claiming to be righteous.
REV C I'm asking about you, and those you choose to associate with. the Rev. Shootes,the Christian Coalition, Bob Jones University. These people and institutions have a history of trying to impose a right wing agenda that's wrong on America.
CANTOR as I was saying, many in the Christian conservative movement years ago were wrong on some basic issues of equality and fairness. But we were right on much more, and what we intend to do is admit mistakes and keep moving forward. People on the left want to believe if a movement or person for that matter is wrong on one thing then they lose the moral standing to speak on other issues.
REV C I'm saying the civil rights movement was backed by the right Christians while the Christian Right was against us, and your crusade to take away a woman's right to choose is an issue of women having equality in the fullest sense. This issue today stems from the same battles. You were wrong then, and you're wrong now.
CANTOR First, I personally have always been committed to equal rights for all people in every sense. I'm in a younger generation that heard the message of Dr. King and fully embraced his work within my faith. In the same spirit, I think Dr. King would want the right to equality and justice extended to the weakest and voiceless sector of the human race. So contrary to where you think I am, I am supportive of the ideals of the civil rights movement in a way that all conservatives should have before and am fighting to extend it for the abolition of the needless slaughter of innocent babies.
MODERATOR Ms. Smithye and Mrs. Walker will debate First Mrs. Walker asks the questions:
WALKER What do you think our law should be?
SMITHYE I favor the current situation.
WALKER So you don't favor any changes?
SMITHYE I'm willing to look at each proposal discreetly, but I realize often a seemingly innoculous change can have major ramifications down the road so I'm wary of any deviations from current law.
WALKER You're referring exclusively to changes that make abortions more difficult to obtain right, You support changes that advance the abortion rights agenda right?
SMITHYE There are some areas where I think the law need to be changed such as equal access for poor women to essential medical services.
WALKER You want the public to fund abortions?
SMITHYE That's one area where I might want a change but in the political climate today, I'm happy to keep things status quo and am always on guard for proposals whose true purpose is hidden.
WALKER Well do you have an example of a proposal that you distrust the ultimate intent.
SMITHYE There was/is a bill in Congress that makes it a separate crime to harm a fetus during an attack on an expecting mother.
WALKER Didn't that legislation have an explicit exception for abortions?
SMITHYE It may very well have but it established the principle that there were two crime victims instead of one.
WALKER Well weren't there two, or does the baby just not exist?
SMITHYE In a legal sense there is only one victim the woman, and the law should account for her pregnancy by establishing it as an aggravating factor.
WALKER You have children, and know of the importance of proper care during pregnancy. Are you saying that the damage that could have been inflicted on your child while in utero shouldn't be acknowledged separate from any harm done to you?
SMITHYE The law would do fine to increase the penalties on any attack of pregnant women.WALKER That's fine but if someone kicks an obviously pregnant woman, and causes a blood clot to the baby that requires medical attention for the baby's life, yet the woman is left unhurt, what should happen?
SMITHYE They should be charged, tried, and convictedof assaulting a vulnerable person: a pregnant woman.
WALKER Why are you so afraid that a wanted baby might be valued by our society in these types of cases?
SMITHYE It would be clearly incongruent to establish a fetus as a human being for the purposes of one legal proceeding, and then maintain that the same entity had no human rights for another. This is a backdoor way to establish a fetus as a person with constitutional rights.
WALKER The Supreme Court under current law allows the states or the Federal Gov. to ban all abortions after a fetus is viable, so long as there are health and life exceptions for women. Are they wrong in that?
SMITHYE I've said I agree with current law, and support the moderate balancing test that Roe v Wade and subsequent decisions install.
WALKER Just by it being a balancing test, doesn't that prove that the decision was more political than judicial and should have been left in the political realm?
SMITHYE The U.S. Constitution must be a flexible document to apply over 200 years later in a completely different world that changes every day. The Supreme Court had a tough decision that dealt with a fundamental question of freedom for women. It was the right thing to take the case, and they've got it about right.
WALKER But the point I'm asking about is the Supreme Court recognizing after a certain viability point that there is a human being involved at least more so than before.
SMITHYE I personally agree that an unborn child about to be born in the 8th or 9th month is different than a clump of cells days after pregnancy begins.
WALKER So your point is the S.C. decision was political, but you happen to agree basically with the particulars.
SMITHYE It was a Judicial decision that balanced many interests and came to a reasonable conclusion.
MODERATOR Ms. Smithye you may now ask questions of Ms. Walker
SMITHYE You spoke of technology. Well, we have the opportunity to advance cures for many diseases with embryonic stem cell research. Yet many extremists on your side insist on a complete ban, what's your position?
WALKER Me personally, I support embryonic stem cell research on eggs that are going to be discarded anyway. I am against the harvesting of them for the purpose of research though. And for the record, the debate over the past few years has been about federal funding, not a ban on private sector research.
SMITHYE So you agree with me that technology should be used to save life where possible.
WALKER I want every fertilized egg, which is the beginning of every human being; I want each one implanted in a woman and nurtured until birth. However the sad fact is that fertility clinics routinely procure too many egg cells and place us in a terrible position.
SMITHYE Have you and your organization always supported Fertility clinics?
WALKER Well I can't speak for everyone but I support the concept of helping infertile couples reproduce.
SMITHYE Well I can tell you that your organization in the past was one of the loudest in protesting the use of technology to help infertile women have children. Along with their opposition to family planning and general availability of birth control, technology and modernity was their enemy.
WALKER Well today, technology can show that a fetus develops earlier than we ever knew, and we now have life-saving ability to keep pre-mature babies alive. Soon Roe v Wade will be obsolete in medical terms because the point at which a fetus could survive on its own is moving earlier and earlier.
SMTHYE Does a woman have any rights once she's found to be pregnant?
WALKER Of course, that's not a serious question.
SMITHYE What are they? Because your side speaks of abortion as though what we're talking about doesn't occur inside someone's body.
WALKER A woman has the same rights as men do. No more. No less.
SMITHYE Yet men can't....WALKER I know, can't have babies. But it's just common sense that men, women, and unborn babies are all equal.
SMITHYE Do you support exceptions to a proposed abortion ban?
WALKER Yes, for the mothers' life, serious health, rape, and incest.
SMITHYE Especially in rape cases, why where otherwise illegal, should abortion be allowed then?
WALKER Rape is so personally destructive, and violates a woman's soul so painfully that it's unthinkable to terrorize a woman any more.
SMITHYE What about a date rape?
WALKER What about it?
SMITHYE A date rape often happens between intimates where there's often some miscommunication, but less trauma than a brutal rape by a stranger.
WALKER rape is rape.
SMITHYE I agree, but you premise one reason abortion could be allowed would be a pregnancy that came as a result of rape. First, would you demand proof somehow? And why do you get to choose what is so terrible that it affords a woman a choice, but not she?
WALKER Choose Life America and I want to help develop a culture of life. We want to end the abortion on demand culture. Most abortions are ones of convenience and carelessness. They are taking a human life as a form of birth control. With the increasing use of RU486 and other pills, technology is being used by both sides. I'm on the side of technology being used to promote life not death. A civilized society shouldn't countenance a million abortions each year. The rare cases of abortion involving rape, incest, and life of the mother don't account for the flourishing of the abortion industry in this country.
SMITHYE By the way should poor women raped or with their life in danger have the government pay for their abortion services or would they be on their own?
MODERATOR last response
WALKER In a country that respected the sanctity of life, the rare exceptions should be provided regardless of ability to pay. Once again your side goes to the hard cases in order to hide the fact that most abortions are done for convenience and lifestyle issues.
MODERATOR Before we continue, I see many panelists have comments on what's been said, so we'll allow a few comments and then proceed.
SMITH I wanted to say that in a perfect world the Roe v Wade decision is a political one that makes no sense logically. Pardon the pun but "It splits the baby" by some arbitrary viability point that could potentially change each year moving earlier. Certainly a fetus can survive on its' own much earlier today than when Roe was decided. I can imagine a day when a fetus could be viable in the 1st month, suggesting all abortions might be banned because the state now has
an interest in their survival. I believe that our Constitution as written has to include a right to privacy that’s absolute. The SC probably rightfully didn't go this far though because the public is clearly conflicted.
CANTOR I'm glad someone on their side acknowledges the flawed SC decision, maybe later we'll explore that more. But I don't want the topic of embryonic stem cells to pass. A human being begins as a fertilized egg cell whether in a woman or a lab. We should protect their life from being discarded as trash or as guinea pigs for research. We should treat unborn humans the same as we would want our children or ourselves to be treated. I’m personally disappointed that there isn’t the political will to ban the killing of embryos’ in the private sector. Yet, I would think no matter what side of the debate we're on, under no circumstances should tax dollars that come from all of us, go for something so destructive as abortion in any case. The government should not compel me to use my money for immoral purposes.
REV C My tax dollars have been used to put me in jail unjustly, and I have a long list of things our government has used my money for that I disagree with, so don't try to change the standard now. But ..Every child should come into the world wanted and well-cared for. We should promote policies that make abortion less necessary. No one in their right mind is pro-abortion. What we're saying is that medical decisions for women shouldn't be subject to a right wing veto.
SORTES We need to remember many women seeking abortions are young, some are literally girls. That's why its' important to have Parental Consent, waiting periods, and proper education. I've met many women who’ve regretted abortions they've had. Including many who have had serious health problems later. So I hope we discuss all the issues here today.MODERATOR Rev C will question ...
SMITHYE I've met and advocated for many women who had excruciating choices about whether to terminate wanted pregnancies, and they implore me and our organization not to let politicians play doctor.
SORTES Everyone supports a life exception, the problem is the abortion culture that proliferates
SMITHYE I'm talking also about women's physical and mental health including the ability to have future children. The point is these women are responsible adults and know more about their life and health-care than you do.
SORTES I'm concerned about everyone's life here.
MODERATOR I promise any thoughts you have to add will get in at some point: now Sortes will question Rev C.
SORTES Now Rev C. let me get this straight, You're a Devout man, and you're pro-abortion? How does that work?Rev C I support women in achieving true equality. This includes ownership of their body.
SORTES Still, how do you square that with your faith? Is there a bible passage you draw from?
REV C No it's an innate sense of supporting what's right. Listening to people who have a commitment to justice like I do, convinces me that part of women achieving full freedom is to control their own medical decisions just like I can control mine.
SORTES I take from your comments that at least in part, you're "pro-choice" as you say because people who generally support you politically support abortion, and those that disagree with you say on affirmative action or fixing poverty are generally on the other side?
REV C I have the courage to do what's right. Period. I have permanent interests, not permanent allies.
SORTES When you defend this killing, you talk in such general terms and more about the woman than what's actually happening to the baby.
REV C I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on t.v.
SORTES You and I agree on most issues, and have worked well in the past until I decided to highlight my concern for the least of those. Wouldn' t you agree my progressive stances on the issues is more consistent with Life, than your willingness to allow a woman to disregard life?
REV C Again, Abortion is not a desired outcome. I work everyday to prevent teenage and unwanted pregnancies. I'll say here for all the talk by your side, I've prevented more abortions than any of you from being necessary through my work with National Help Those. So it's easy to talk abstract, but I deal with people on a human level. It's clear to me we should try to make abortions safe, legal, and rare.
MODERATOR Rev C your turn to questionREV C Would you support a S C reversal that bans all abortions or would you want them to have exceptions?
SORTES If the SC overturned Roe that unfortunately wouldn't ban all abortions. It would free up each state to pass their own laws.
REV C Don’t you support the Republican platform that states that the 14th amendment today protects unborn children? According to them, they just need a Supreme Court to correctly interpret the Constitution.
SORTES I have never read the Republican platform, and I doubt if there’s much I agree with. Yet, if that is one of the planks, I am overjoyed. I can’t tell by their actions though.
REV C So again, wouldn’t you want the SC to ban all abortions?
SORTES We are so far from that today, but yes. Right now, we need to advance the issue whatever way we can. The best I could probably hope for would be for 5 votes to send it back to the states.REV C Are you saying you favor a situation where abortion rights are legal in Nevada but illegal in Utah?SORTES I support a total ban in all 50 states whether by the SC realizing that the Constitution as written protects Life, or by legislative bans in a piecemeal fashion. But realistically based on people's voting habits, many states would keep the mills open. In fact some have laws currently, stating if Roe is overturned then the state laws protecting abortion would go into place.REV C Would you have any exceptions?SORTES NoREV C Life of the mother?
SORTES If a woman's life was truly in danger, I think any action could be taken to help save her without intending to harm the baby.
REV C But if there was a choice, would you force her to choose the baby over her life?
SORTES No, I'm saying the purpose of the doctor's actions would be consistent with his oath, So the issue is moot.
REV C What about rape, incest?
SORTES I believe many who allow for these exceptions do so for political expediency. They probably feel they'd be labeled extreme if they didn't. As far as I can tell, we're still talking about a baby who has done nothing to deserve death.
REV C So you don't think women hurt by the violence that comes from rape, or the sickness and confusion that comes from incest need to be allowed to reclaim their lives in a way that affords them the same freedoms you and I have?
SORTES God chose women as vessels for the human race. This gives them a special position and responsibility. They are to nurture and give life to our young. How we got to the point where killing our unborn babies was even debated is astounding.
REV C Every person has incredible crosses to bear, and the number of situations that women may find themselves in is too many to count, but special ones such as those in abusive relationships certainly should give you pause and understand why we need this debate.
SORTES Of Course there are horrific situations in this country and around the world. In China they force abortions sometimes. That's beyond comprehension. True in this country domestic violence, and the vicious cycles some women find themselves in are absolutely terrible. So sure, there are reasons to understand on the other side. But this country has institutionalized the killing of unborn babies not as a last resort in some crisis, but as a option that is planned for.
MODERATOR Thanks you Mr. Sortes and Rev C
Now Ms. Walker will field questions. If all abortion is wrong, why did your side focus so much on the late term procedure, the so-called partial birth abortion ban. Aren't you conceding with this tactic, that late term abortions are worst than those in the first trimester?
WALKER Certainly, there is a need to market ideas in a way that advances our cause, but in this case there's some substance to the style. Even many pro-choice people support a p.b.a.b. because the fetus is no longer a group of tiny cells or even a funny looking microscopic being. At the later stages in the 2nd and 3rd trimester the baby looks like.. just that, and human sensibilities take over.
SMITHYE You're right there are those such as I who supported the p.b.a.b. because it was too close to infanticide. Now that the S.C. has validated this approach, we can move on. Yet those on your side say any abortion even after 1 week is akin to infanticide. If I can be mainstream, why can't you?
WALKER It is mainstream to nurture your unborn child and have a healthy baby. Poll after Poll shows most Americans would not want to abort their child.
SMITHYE Isn't it true the p.b.a.b. only outlawed a certain procedure that was inhumane and gruesome, yet that fetus could be aborted using another method?
WALKER Yes that's true but outlawing one procedure changes the culture.
REV C So you're doing a bait and switch on your supporters where you use images to evoke support when in the end not one abortion is prevented?
WALKER That abortion is prevented.
REV C Why not press for a ban of all late-term abortions as the SC allows for?
WALKER I'm not privy to every tactical decision, but I will say it is important that people such as I who value life at every stage try to help those who disagree by providing facts, and understanding.
SMITH Isn’t it true you support the death penalty?
WALKER Yes but...
SMITH What about eating meat?
WALKER Yes but animals are not equal in any way to people.
SMITH Right, but the point is it would be gruesome and other terms you’ve previously used about a partial birth abortion, to watch what happens at an execution, or to watch or take part in the slaughter of animals for food. I would imagine you wouldn’t change your support or tolerance based on the negative imagery involved there.
WALKER Maybe but the difference is you're talking about an animal or a convicted murderer under special circumstances compared to an innocent baby.
SMITH The contention here is that your side has become expert at offering emotionally powerful arguments on this issue, but the same people often want to become hyper-logical on other topics. I’m not making a direct comparison, but what I’m doing is saying, if you like to eat a hamburger or hot dog so much, then why not watch the complete process where a cow is raised, and taken care of, only to be mutulated and eaten. Just because it is hard to watch/think about (just like a p.b.a), doesn’t make it necessarily right or wrong.
Concerning your support for “life”. It's proven many persons sentenced to die in our Courts haven't been guilty but you keep repeating your support for a culture of life. Also, what about the innocent people who die in War, what was your position on WWI, WWII, or even now in the War on Terror?WALKER These are all separate items. The American people have a right to defend themselves, yet the babies need our help to defend them.
SMITH But when...
MODERATOR I’ll give you 2 more questions
SMITH But when we have fought wars and killed innocent people; there's no debate they were people; We didn’t intend to kill them, but instead we had other motives such as to save us from death and/or tryanny, to preserve our good living standard or to increase the size of our country. Does your desire to protect the innocent extend to these victims?
WALKER Life is complicated. Adults have to stand-up to their responsibility to do what's right. I certainly wouldn’t support a war to increase the size of our country, but there are Just Wars. In general I support policy that affirms the goodness in people and promotes life.
SMITH My last question for this section concerns the long-term implications of a truly “pro-life nation”. If we ultimately arrive at a policy position that a fetus is the moral equivalent of a born person; logic would dictate that the reverse was true also. So if we compel one human (woman) to sacrifice to help another (unborn child); where otherwise she would refuse; wouldn’t all born persons be due the equal protection of the government compelling others to aid them: such as blood donations, bone marrow transfers, organs, etc.?
WALKER What? You have truly come out of left field with that one. First of all it seems as though you have severed the special bond between mother and child. And then afterwards you’ve contorted constitutional law into a weapon it was never meant to be used for. This just shows the difficulty in arguing your side, you have to be extremely abstract and abstruce in order to satisfy the natural tension with the death of an innocent baby.
SMITH With all due respect, millions of women have chosen to abort a fetus, which validates my focus on the woman-fetal relationship as though they were strangers. You seem to project your views on others, regardless of the reality.
MODERATOR finish up please
SMITH The question is wouldn’t a pro-life nation establish the principle of forced altruism, and if not, why would the unborn have a preference over a 2 month yr old baby. To give an extreme but plausible example: some people are philosophically against blood transfusions and other invasive types of medical interventions. Some believe this so much so that they will allow their children to die rather than follow the normal medical protocol. So if a mom has the perfect match for a blood transfusion but refuses to give to the son, the law doesn’t force her to help. But pro-lifers would force her to help him in utero, by staying pregnant until birth? How is that consistent?
MODERATOR quickly please
WALKER First of all, now I understand the gist of your question. I might be willing to explore it, but not in connection with the question of an innocent baby’s life. What I know is the focus of this discussion should be on the unborn baby first, and then the mother. Also, that they are by virtue of the situation connected, and any attempt to act as though a random woman is being asked to help a random unborn child is incoherent.
Just because every ideal is not executed to its’ logical conclusion doesn’t mean we should abandon whatever good that could be done, even if its’ incomplete for whatever reason.
MODERATOR We are going to move on, but I would like continue in this type of direction were we discuss unexplored aspects from both sides.
Now Senator Cantor will ask Mr. Smith questions.
CANTOR Before I get to my question, I would like to say, I truly am delighted that Mr. Smith asked that last set of questions. I think there is common ground to be found, if not with Mr. Smith, then with many on the left who constantly want to use the power of the government to solve problems. In this limited area, I could support more mandates and regulations that ultimately promoted life. Now, that includes the life of the unborn child; but also blood banks, organ donations, and requirements that we have a duty to help our fellow man. I think if we regularly felt the power of compassion and sacrifice to help others, rather than a hedonistic approach, then maybe people would not throw away so many beautiful lives, both born and unborn. So maybe by them understanding that I’m willing to explore many areas where we can make this a more just society. Then maybe we can start changing this culture of death into a vibrant entity.
WALKER I am totally uncomfortable expanding the role of government. It is proven that whenever the government gets involved to try to do good. The end result is that the government becomes the biggest problem. Look at Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Programs.
Abortion is wrong because it is murder. We don’t allow murder for born people and it should be likewise for the unborn. If we ever become a pro-life country, there won’t be any valid equal protection questions.
MODERATOR Mr. Cantor, Question please
CANTOR That said, You support the animal right's agenda correct?
SMITH I think we should treat animals in a proper way yes.
CANTOR In fact you don't eat meat do you?
SMITH No I'm a vegan.
CANTOR Why do you have more regard for a chicken or turkey than for a child of God?
SMITH Some issues are difficult and there's not a good answer only least worst options. On one side there's a fetus: a developing human life that needs a mother for everything including life. Yet there's a woman who wants autonomy over her physical and mental being. In a legal sense, since we can only deal with the woman, I believe that her rights should never be curtailed in this manner. But many assert an independent fetal right to life. If this is true,there is a conflict. Either way I support the woman 100% of the time because we don't force people to sacrifice themselves for another.
CANTOR So in practice you offer more protection to a chipmunk than a baby?
SMITH There is no baby in an independent sense, theer's a woman who's pregnant. Once a baby is born and there are two people, I support the baby infinitely more than any animal. There are often clashes of values where each individual choice would never be preferred: I would not want the government to dictate to a pregnant woman what it could not dictate to humans who weren't pregnant. On the other hand it is never desirable to see a fetus which could develop into a human being capable of great things destroyed, and its life ended.
CANTOR You talk in such intellectual jargon about a simple fact: we allow the killing of God's babies in the womb of the mother. Babies that could have a chance at survival are terminated. How is that a good option?
SMITH In some topics, its' easy to demogogue the issue for political gain. Take war, imagine if a television network against the War in Iraq focused on the deaths of Iraqi civilians exclusively. Especially the children. What if they showed their pictures, read their names and gave a lengthy biography of their lives and how they died at the hands of Americans. Futhermore what if there were footage of families doing normal things you or I do, and we actually saw the deaths. These people if given a free choice surely would choose our side over tyranny, yet they are victims in this process. Keeping the focus on them and not the reason why we had to bomb, and how our goals were to promote what's best for millions of people in Iraq and world-wide, would obscure the picture and limit our ability to do what's right. Right now you are keeping the focus on the fetus which is innocent, without looking at the values at stake including women being free to control their life, and how far can a government go to compel human sacrifice for another.
CANTOR You are conflating disparate issues that don't belong together. War has been necessary for thousands of years because some men and governments are evil. Any harm to the innocent is on their hands. Yet when God allows life to begin in a woman, you are playing mind games about whether the baby exists, depending on the woman's intentions. The baby exists regardless of the woman's wish, or our desire to do away with them. How can you deny what can now be seen in color on sonograms?
SMITH I'm simply saying that there is one woman who is pregnant with a fetus which under ideal circumstances will be born into humanity, but until birth legally there is one person not two people.
CANTOR So you support p.b.a. because "it's just one woman" who can do what she wants as long as the ambilical cord is still attached right?
SMITH I personally am against abortion including p.b.a. Like most people the issue is really where do we draw the line. I say you shouldn't draw a line during the pregnancy because it would violate a principle of human freedom.
CANTOR so you think current law is too conservative?
SMITH I do but I accept it because its' the best available.
CANTOR Your talk of these killings are often very sanitized and academic, have you ever seen an abortion?
MODERATOR last answer
SMITH no but the gruesome nature of any abortion really shouldn't be a convincing factor. There are many sights that are better left unseen but are necessary such as innocent victims in wars, or injured or fallen soldiers, watching cattle being slaughtered into food, or even routine operations where doctors do invasive surgery. I doubt there are many on your side who would want to see or listen to a description of any of the above yet most wouldn't ban them or the results from them.
MODERATOR Mr. Smith you may ask questions
SMITH Your opposition to abortion rights is based on your religion, correct?
CANTOR My religion is not separate from me, I live my life everyday to try to please God, and be more perfect even though I know I will fall short at times.
SMITH Will you agree that we shouldn't base American law on your, mine, or anyone else's religious beliefs, but in fact what's best for society?
CANTOR Judea-Christian values are the basis for almost all of western civilization. This is why the west has outperformed any known civilization. Our downfall will come surely and swiftly if we turn our backs on what's worked so well for us for so many generations.
SMITH Do you disagree with the rejection of morality laws that have occurred since the 1960's, there's no laws against birth control, pre-marital sexual relations, divorce, etc. Would you want the biblical laws to be enforceable in general society?
CANTOR No the law can't be used to force morality, but we can state what's right and wrong and hold people accountable as best we can.
SMITH Every presidential candidate for your republican party since Roe has supported exceptions to any proposed ban, doesn't that suggest they are being political rather than sincere. If a fetus is a baby, why should it ever be right to harm a baby?
CANTOR These candidates live in the real world of national politics. The abortion lobby has convinced many Americans of many things, so our candidates can't just go from 0 to 100 in one trip.
SMITH so you think they really support a total ban, but ...
CANTOR I don't know what's in anyone's heart, but I do know reality.
SMITH Back to my war analogy, wouldn't you be irritated with a liberal who always focused on the negative aspects of our military campaigns without at least recognizing the overall goals, and the good that was being done.
CANTOR I certainly would and have, but there is nothing good that's being done with abortion.
SMITH Would you support laws that forced you to give your body parts in service of another against your will?
CANTOR how does that relate.
SMITH well if a woman makes it clear she doesn't want this "person" in her body, and you and the government say she has to nurture it, she's being forced to use her body for another against her will.
MODERATOR last answer
CANTOR That's part of the thinking that has become all too common in our world. God has been taken out of the public classroom and the godless have taken over. It's hard for me to answer a question about a child in a mother's womb being a "person" she doesn't want to help. If we don't change course this “if it feels good, do it” mentality will continue to spread and attack other institutions that have made us the marvel of the world.
MODERATOR Now Mrs. Smithye will take questions starting with me: One of your colleagues was asked whether they supported animal rights such as laws to protect animals from torture etc. Assuming you do also, why should baby cats have more protection than baby girls/boys yet to be born?
SMITHYE yes I support humane treatment of animals. I think we have certain values that need to be promoted that build our humanity. I would want every conceived embryo to grow into a healthy baby. I support any public policy changes that help mothers to choose to keep a pregnancy.
SORTES are you suggesting some payment to new parents, because I would support a better safety net for the poor.
SMITHYE that's possible although there would need to be both a plan to encourage those who are pregnant to have healthy babies, while also ensuring that we're not enticing young girls to become sexually active and risk all of the problems that comes from that.
CANTOR All that you say suggests you know that aborting the unborn child is wrong.
SMITHYE see that's part of the problem with the typical debate because people who acknowledge abortion is not a good choice, and are working towards common sense solutions are often left on a political island. Sometimes both sides prefer the political fight of "pro-life" v "pro-choice" rather than working together.
CANTOR but my point is you keep saying its' a bad choice or not a good choice, but why?
SMITHYE It's regretable whenever a developing human life is terminated. There is a physical part, and a loss of human potential such as that person could have cured diseases, lead our world, invented great products, or simply been a good citizen.
SORTES plus there's the death of the child and the value of their life.
SMITHYE I recognize there is loss, while also understanding life's not simple. There are many ugly realities that every person has to come to grips with. While doing that we also have to figure out which values are enduring. For me, I support women's freedom because its' a human right.
Mr. Sortes the female human body naturally destroys close to 50% of all fertilized eggs for various reasons. Are each of these human beings that have been created and now died?
SORTES in a theological sense yes.
SMITH do they deserve everything a born child would get?
SORTES I don't follow.
SMITH we mark birth as the beginning of personhood which entitles the child to police protection from danger (including the parents), a social security number, and many general welfare protections. If you say they're human, why not name them and give life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
SORTES right now I'd settle for life.
SMITH are they people from conception yes or no?
SORTES of course they are, yes.
SMITHYE so the question is if you're for life, why aren't you for liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
SORTES who said I wasn't?
SMITHYE this would include proper nutrition, and protection from potentially dangerous activities like scuba and skiing. Would you advocate the government have mandates for the proper care for all 9 months?
SORTES I know you're trying to scare women into thinking the government would be watching over them for the whole time but we're far from even enforcing a p.b.a.b. not to speak of protecting all life. But I for one would want the best of care for our unborn children. We should work to make sure the mother is doing what's in the child's interest.
SMITHYE If an embryo is a human being, that would mean over half of our population “dies” before birth “naturally” through miscarriages. Shouldn’t we do something about that?
SORTES As a nation we have become extremely vigilant in nutrition, education, and better health care for expecting moms. We are doing this in hopes of bringing about a healthy child. Of course it doesn’t work every time, but we are devoted to superb pre-natal care.
SMITHYE You are avoiding the essence of the question which accepts your logic, and asks, why we not only don’t legally recognize the creation and loss of a “baby” in a miscarriage, but also takes more heroic actions to prevent them?
SORTES I’m not sure
CANTOR If I might, we have customs concerning the way we deal with grief associated with a miscarriage. They weren’t developed in a context where everything was up for debate. Our understanding of the miracle of life is yet unfolding, and I’m confident we will reduce the instances of miscarriages, just as we have progressed in many other health-care areas. But your logic seems to say since so many die, why not just kill them first. Which is just horrible.
SMITHYE No I’m saying, the natural rate of spontaneous abortions and miscarriages, would constitute an epidemic were these embryos really people. I think we all know that they aren’t, so we deal with them accordingly. I think many people develop their ideas in the abstract and fail to make connections. If we really believe all embryos are human beings, and we know many times women are pregnant, miscarry, and never even know it because they don’t miss a menstrual cycle; We would develop a strategy of pregnancy detection, and marshall all our forces to save them in the same way we fight other terrible afflictions. We don’t do this because, 1st we don’t believe they are babies because they aren’t, and 2nd the loss of freedom would be so stark that it’s unthinkable. The problem is we have political movements that try to avoid the real implications of their views.
MODERATOR Last response, and then back to the format please.
CANTOR According to you many times no knows there was a baby before it dies so of course we don’t mourn. Second, this whole attempt to reduce women and reproduction to a biological exercise is not only demeaning, but inaccurate because we are spiritual beings by nature. You are trying to scare people about a “big brother” scenario where we are searching for any potentially pregnant women and taking over their lives to protect an unborn child. Yet, reality is 180 degrees against that. We are struggling just to obtain accurate records of all the babies killed each year in these clinics.
SMITHYE I’ll move on, but I notice a tactic of their side to avoid the implications of their policies in the real world, by saying that we are a far way from that ever happening. Well, I’m glad we are. Mr. Sortes, assuming your logic, the government would be compelling a pregnant woman to help another human being correct?
SORTES yes her own likeness that she helped to create.
SMITH since we have equal protection, you would want to compel all people to help another against their will?
SORTES it would be good for us all to help one another.
REV C the question is whether the government can force a person to physically sacrifice for another person?
there's no comparison between a mother-child bond and two other people.
MODERATOR Rev C you're next up: It's not clear to me why you don't recognize the unique nature of an unborn child?REV C I understand that each individual is special. CANTOR surely you believe God creates life at conception then what happens to change that?REV C the fact is whatever happens occurs inside a woman. This is not occurring on a street corner.WALKER what restrictions do you support?REV C I support common sense restrictions such as parental notification for minors as long as there are safeguards against abuse.CANTOR what about a waiting period?REV C I support current law.CANTOR There are different laws throughout the country.REV C the point is as long as there's not too large a burden on the woman I support a healthy choice.SORTES do you think it's healthy for 13 year old girls to haveabortions, especially when they are used mainly for birth control?REV C we need to rebuild families and morality in our whole nationespecially in poor and minority communities. There needs to be a focuson positive activities that help to stop these teenagers from becomingsexually active. The problem with the rightwing is they have a don'task-- don't tell policy until it's too late.CANTOR when a doctor botches an abortion is that a good thng or abad thing?REV C: what's the question?CANTOR in rare cases the abortionist is unable to kill the child in thewomb, and she/he is born alive is that good or bad?REV C it's always good when a baby is born.CANTOR should the abortionist be subject to a lawsuit for malpracticein that case?REV C I'm not a lawyer so I wouldn't know, but I would think not unlessthere was damage to the woman.
WALKER but you would have terminated the child?REV C I would not. I support all pregnancies coming to full term, Ijust believe that it is not my body being impacted and can never be, soI think it should not be my choice.
with a child?
REV C I'm not a lawyer.
WALKER I have heard you speak about how men and black men especially should stand up and be more responsible?
REV C Absolutely, in our community, the women have often had to shoulder the burden of breadwinner, and being both parents.
WALKER Doesn’t it send the wrong message to men that they have no choice while the woman is pregnant, but if she decides to have the baby, then they are held responsible?
REV C As a society we is imperative that we demand responsibilities from all fathers regardless of how they became fathers.
CANTOR I certainly agree with that, but there are instances when the father wants the baby, and the mother aborts him or her. The father doesn’t have any recourse to stop it.
SMITH If I might, the fact is if this happened for the first time ever, you might have a good case to pursue in terms of the inequities in the law. However, similar to the dangers from cigarette smoke and tobacco use, we all now know the court rulings and the law; so a man nowadays already knows the risk, and chooses to proceed anyway.
SORTES What about when the couple has talked about the situation and come to an agreement? Shouldn’t that supercede past court rulings?
REV C Reclaiming my time! The consequences of a pregnancy fall 100% on the woman. As a society we get involved after birth where biologically the child is equal parts of the mother and father. It’s unfortunate that some men are in this predicament. I think it’s vital that we continue to teach good values all of our youth, and offer positive alternatives that lead them towards a better future.
SORTES : Earlier, you said, “Its' not your body so you don't have a say”, do yousupport an individuals right to use any drug or do anything with theirbody such as prostitution?REV C No. Each case is different but the two you mention have directimpacts on our society as a whole. We have an interest in keeping orderand setting standards.CANTOR I think we have an interest in promoting healthy families andgood clean living. Abortion erodes our culture.
REV C There are lines to be drawn, and as intelligent people we canbe reasonable and fair in doing that.
CANTOR I want to make this clear about something else, if you felt itwas the right thing to be Pro life and that put you with us] rightwingers you would pursue what's right not the easiest political route,correct?
REV C I don't know if you know me but I have never had the reputationof doing the easy thing!
WALKER If it was proven that many of the groups that advocated abortion have a racist past where they wanted to use it in a genocidal way against blacks, would that change your mind? The fact is the rate of abortion in low income and black communities is disportionately high.
REV C I can’t answer for every group. One thing I do know is that many people and groups began as racists in our society. Part of being an African American is dealing with these contradictions in a way that is best for today.
WALKER What about some of the groups that say there’s a correlation between the increased abortion rates and the low crime rates of recent years, especially in the 1990’s? Do you use these arguments to support your viewpoint?
REV C I can honestly say I’ve never heard that one. What is it?
WALKER There were researchers who said it was possible that all of the abortions by poor blacks and others in the 1970’s and 1980’s helped eradicate many people who would have most likely grew up in single family homes and been the typical criminals that prey on us in society. Since, they were aborted the result was a lower crime rate.
REV C I don’t subscribe to these theories, and am very wary of some of the implications. The fact is, we have many problems to deal with in society, and we all should do our part in addressing them.
WALKER Rev c would it change your mind if its proven the link betweenabortions, and Cancer. Abortions are bad for women's health.
REV C we need research into these issues and do what best for women'shealth.
WALKER when the groups you support downplay and disavow any problems do youdisavow them?
REV C If that's correct I would . I think we need to be honest abouteverything.
MODERATOR mr smith if you believe abortion is a constitutional right,should the government make sure that choice is widely available to allwomen regardless of income, similar to our right to an attorney?
SMITH absolutely first of all we should guarantee healthcare as abirthright. It is unacceptable in the wealthiest nation that so manyget substandard care. Within a universal system abortion services should be offered.
CANTOR So you would use my money to fund something I abhor against mywill?
REV C the government does plenty of things with our money that many ofus object to 100%. That can't be the standard. On most issues thereis someone who loses out and is disappointed by gov. action. There'sunjust wars, executions of innocent prisoners, big corporate giveaways...
SORTES rev c surely tax breaks to a big corporation which you know Iam against also, nonetheless don't compare with a child of God.
REV C A constitutional right should be guaranteed regardless of income.
SMITHYE I don't think abortions should be paid for with publicdollars because they are so personal and controversial. The governmentshould be out of this whole process.
WALKER yet you support roe which allows the gov. into the process inthe later trimesters.
SMITHYE I support roe because it works, and makes us a better country.
MODERATOR rev c it has been reported that the original feminist whoadvocated abortion rights were racists who promoted abortion as a wayof population control
MODERATOR rev c its been reported that original feminists were racistswho promoted abortion in the black community as a means of populationcontrol, doesn't that bother you?
REV C Whether its true or not doesn't impact on us today. There havebeen many institutions that were developed either witin a racist systemor specifically for racist reasons, yet as we have changed America forthe better we have to evaluae each item for what it means today and inthe future.
CANTOR There are millions of minority children that have never beenborn due to abortion. There is a family crisis in urban America withthe dysfunction. e've tried it the liberal way and things are notgetting better. its' getting worse and spreading.
SMITH It's hard to argue things would be better if more children wereborn into abject situations. The abortions are the result of biggerproblems. In fact I've heard of research which seem to indicate part ofthe recent drop in crime over the last decade besides factors of abetter economy, better policing, and more law enforcement was theabscence of a generation of children born to single parents in toughsituations which we know are breeding grounds for future problems
WALKER excuse me are you advocating abortion as a positive force in oursociety, and are where we should include it in our planning?
REV C I should hope not.
SMITHYE of course not the point is that we all want to reduce the numberof abortions but the way to do that is not to ba abortions andcriminalize women's health but to address the root causes that put womenin this position.
MODERATOR Mr. Sortes if all abortions are banned should penalties applyto the doctor, the woman, or both?
SORTES that would be a welcome problem to figure out. I believe therewould be both criminal and civil penalties only on the doctor. Theseverity would depend on the particular circumstances.
REV C the woman would be at least a co-conspirator. In America, depending on the case they are often dealt with worse than the main culprit.
WALKER I think you are trying to ratchet up fear for women. We haveno intention of prosecuting women.
SMITH as we talked about earlier , technology allows for more privacy, andcontrol for women. Would you sanction women who went on the internetand privately ordered prescriptions that aborted the fetus through a purposefulmiscarriage?
SORTES that would probably be hard to prove, but you're missing thepoint. Our laws state our values and principles we strive to uphold.Certainly we can't expect to catch all violaters of the law. What we cando is design mechanisms to enforce and encourage law abiding behavior.This would include education, counseling, and other public policy decisions.
SMITH when laws go unenforced people learn to disrespect and disregard,the government in general. We should strive to enforce the law or not have it at all.
MODERATOR Mr. Smith, earlier Rev C. made a distinction between behavior that had more societal implications, and could be restricted such as drug use and prostitution, do you agree with that distinction from abortion rights, which he asserted was more personal to the woman?
SMITH With this, I disagree with Rev C. The government can find all kinds of reasons to regulate and ban almost anything. I won’t use this as a time to go into depth on each topic, but the main idea is that of personal freedom. The only question for the public in these types of areas should be if what an individual is doing is harming others.
CANTOR Well certainly an abortion harms another; also our society is cheapened by the devastation from drugs and prostitution. The crime and the health problems that flow are enormous.
SMITH You are talking about related issues in terms of drugs and prostitution. Oftentimes they go together. Yet, they don’t have to, and it doesn’t have to be harmful to society. Again, this topic is complex, but the principle is that we should err on the side of freedom and personal dignity.
MODERATOR There are reports that in China there have been many reports of forced abortions either in fact or in practice through coercive means such as a tax forevery girl born over a quota. Is there ever a case for the government mandating or promoting a policy that in fact leads to more abortions?
REV C There's no defending the Chinese policy if there is in fact one, its wrong. The woman should always have choice.
CANTOR Yes true, but your concern is that the woman's feelings aren't trampled on, not that a baby is being destroyed.
MODERATOR Sen. Cantor, much of your discussion concerning abortionrefers to the destruction of innocent life. There are those on your sidewho feel that since it is Just to use force to defend a human being against unprovoked attack, why not defend the unborn from “murder” by any means necessary?
CANTOR The use of violence is wrong, period. We have to change the hearts and mind of our opponents and then change the law. This must be done peacefully. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us this brilliantly. I believe the sanctity of Life is a long-term struggle similar to Slavery. At the time many people offered bogus explanations as to why it should be allowed. We have to debunk this reasoning, and then change our culture. All of this should be done with total respect for the rule of law.
SMITH Surely, I agree with you approach, but aren't you admitting that a human being such as you or I are different than a fetus? If somehow a certain class of people were being killed or even threatened, we all would find it reasonable for they and their supporters to defend themselves whether it was legal or not.
CANTOR In general, we can defend ourselves, the unborn are helpless. This does make a compelling case for nullifying the law, but just as if I were living during slavery, I would seek to change the society peacefully without escalating the violence. Violence only begets violence.
REV C First, the analogy with slavery is just not apt. This country allowed the degradation of a whole people, and an insidious attempt to destroy their culture. I applaud attempts by people like John Brown to resist that institution even violently. Dr. King’s approach was possible because the society was on the cusp of being ready for a change. During Slavery, the country needed to be taken to that point, and part of that journey was a violent resistance. The reason none of this applies to abortion, is that we are talking about the biology of women.
CANTOR What I’m equating is the general acceptance of the abortion culture and slavery’s institutionalization. It shows that something that’s so hideous and morally offensive can be seem totally natural to otherwise good people.
SMITHYE Your side often talks in such broad terms. It’s hard for me to believe, but do you equate the murder of, say, an elderly woman with a woman chosing to terminate a pregnancy, are they both equally wrong and be punished as such?
WALKER They are different of course. However all violence is wrong, and weneed to work to end it all.
MODERATOR I'm still not clear, if it were legal to kill say all whitepeople would you agree that any force to stop that would be justified morallybecause war had been declared on them?
SMITH When true genocide occurs we all should become mobilized to stop it byany means. It's clear my opponents in good conscious know that anabortion is not equal to murder.
MODERATOR Wait, are you saying that if you truly believed an innocentperson was being executed or some horrible injustice was being done, that you on this side would engage or sanction violent responses to stopit? Further, that the refusal to respond as necessary would demonstrate a lack of commitment?.
REV C I support non-violent protest in response to injustice.
MODERATOR For this side, even on a more non-violent route, there are sit-ins, sickouts, boycotts, personal persuasion, etc. Why does it seem abortion has become so marginalized in our consciousness, that we can go weeks without news, or discussion. This results in the only real difference between “pro-life” and “choice” citizens are the labels.
SORTES There are many absolutely horrible things that happen everyday inall parts of the world. Not only do we have to pick and choose our battles, we have to balance the well being of society in the future and also our personal responsibilities to our family.
SMITHYE I think the pro-life community should be commended on balancefor rejecting extremists and accepting the rule of law.
MODERATOR As we conclude the audience can begin to get ready to vote. Once again we have set up a questionnaire to determine what the majority in this audience thinks our public policy should be. Yes, Sen. Cantor.Cantor: Ms. Smithye, I didn’t hear your view on what the fathers' role in all of this should be?
SMITHYE Absolutely fathers should stand up and be responsible for theiractions. I'v spent a great part of m life finding ways to connect menwith thier children.CANTOR The issue is whether a woman should have the option to killing ornuturing the man's child and he remain powerless. What about a fatherwho supporting life?REV C This is why people should not engage in sexual activityoutside of marriage. Families solve many of these problems. But in thecurrent context I support the woman's right.
SMITHYE I’m not commenting on what people should or shoudn’t do in their personal lives. We need to stay focused on the woman’s inherent rights.
SORTES So is it the policy of everyone on that side that two adult createa baby, one (the woman) decides wheter he/she lives even against the wishof the father, if she decides to abort that's the end, no duty orobligation, If she decides for life, he has a full time life obligation?
SMITHYE Yes this is known or should be known before hand.What if they have a verbal agreement that there would be nochildren in any case and that abortion was to be the option. Should thedad be responsible in that case?
WALKER Yes that would be an invalid contract. A man can't contract away his responsibility.
MODERATOR act hisway or the women can't give away the child's rights. Though I'd beinterested to know what Sen. Cantor thinks.
SMITHYE These are difficult questions that turn on implied agreementsand very personal issues usually with little independent evidence.There's no doubt a man can think any pregnancy will be aborted, and haveassurances to such, yet have no ability to impact the
MODERATOR Unfortunately, we are running out of time and the tangents on this
issue are endless, but if we could let each participant have one closing comment, and during that please discuss solutions and the future of the issue so the audience can start thinking about these answers our concluding questions. Ms. Smythe, as a person who prides herself on working in political center, where do you think this debate should go?
SMTHYE I’m sure it has been clear tonight that I’m not much of a debater. I like to operate in a much less frenzied atmosphere, where public policy can be shaped through consensus. I wanted to participate tonight because the extremes in both political parties are forcing people to accept undesirable choices, rather than attempting to find common ground on what most people already agree on. We should make sure abortions remain safe, legal, and rare. I know that phrase has been made into a political slogan, but the three parts are essential in cultivating the best America, I know. We have to begin with a nod toward reality, that ultimately if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, she can and will find a way to end the pregnancy. That being so we should have strict regulations on the process so that unsavory people aren’t involved in women’s health. Also, we need to reinvigorate our efforts to promote and provide birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Those in the pro-life community need to recognize the the connection in their refusal to teach and promote planned parenthood, while demonizing the choice of abortion later. Surely they can see that it is better to never have been pregnant in the first place. This might require compromise, but it would be principled in that the ultimate goal would be to value life by only creating it under planned and stable circumstances. So I am in favor of better educational strategies , even including reinforcing the value of abstinence in the schools. Yet, on the fundamental concern about abortion rights, we can all have different opinions on a woman’s morality, decisions, and life situation, but I think we must work with human nature and respect a woman’s prerogative concerning her own body.
SORTES Thank you for this opportunity. I take personal responsibility for my failure to promote my position supporting life from conception to natural death as vigorous as I should have. I’m going to be vigilant in changing that. There are many democrats who are pro-life, whether they use that term or not. Yet every election cycle my party listens to the special interest groups on the left that force our national leaders to accept the pro-choice pablum. We need more honest discussion from both sides of the aisle. The key contention that disturbs me is that many in the progressive community who often can disagree on the smallest of things, don’t have any disagreements on abortion. How is that possible? We’ve had presidential candidates, some with no chance of winning, change their position from one of supporting life to “choice”. Usually you might think one or a few would stay pro-life and advocate it in a progressive way, not only because they believe it, but also it would distinguish them from the rest of field. My plea is to those who spend their lives trying to help those who need support, why not add the most defenseless and vulnerable to your list? We need to work harder at examining our core beliefs and extending them into new areas. I think it is not only important to be intellectually honest, but that it should be a goal of each public figure. Once we learn through experience, research, or even just reflection that we aren’t comfortable with our past positions, we should make every effort to update our public advocacy to match the current perspective. I fear many on my side are refusing to truly be the progressives they envision. Each year as new technology and information becomes available, instead of an honest review, many on my side simply restate their dogma. I believe there are vastly more progressives who respect the growing life in the wombs of women in America. We have to find a way to make them feel safe to act on those feelings. Right now, they see people who generally oppose who and what they stand for, and assume the proper stance is surely against familiar foes. Yet, in all of this politics, lives are at stake, and in the future we need to choose life over political dynamics.
SMITH Thank-you. This is an issue where the true principles of this country often get lost in the political debate, and we end up discussing small aspects of extreme examples. It is in my interest and I’m dedicated to validating the ideals of America. I believe in Freedom and equality for women. I also support personal autonomy, and to make sure that no group of people with the heavy hand of government can impinge on personal freedom.
CANTOR As we conclude, with all due respect to the moderator and all of those who worked so hard to make this event a success, there is a bias here towards the so-called “pro-choice” position simply by virtue of the debate. I must say, some questions really aren’t necessary to be asked, and if they are, they don’t deserve but one answer. Think about it, for you in the audience, what if you for some reason weren’t able to communicate, and there was a serious discussion as to whether you were a human being and worthy of respect, and if it was o.k. to kill you? Just by engaging in the discussion it lends creditability to the question. So I think the future needs to be one for those of us who support a culture of life to stop trying to be so politically correct and sensitive towards people who support choosing death. In doing so over the past few decades, we’ve allowed them to define the mainstream. So currently, It’s good that it’s considered extreme to support partial birth abortions because they are so horrible, but at the same time, I’m disappointed that it’s also labeled extreme in wanting to ban all 1st trimester abortions. So the moderate default position is to be “pro-choice”, and try to “change people’s hearts” through personal diplomacy. I reject that approach, and in the future, I think the younger generations will join me in more forcefully opposing this moral outrage.
WALKER I’m glad I was given a chance to participate tonight. Often in these types of events many women have their viewpoints ignored or under-represented because they don’t subscribe to the typical feminist jargon of today. Yet, tonight I think those who listened closely could make up their own minds about the vibrancy of the debate within the women’s movement about just what our goals and purpose should be. This topic of abortion is inevitably a major aspect of any such discussion. The truth is a majority of American women are traditional and conservative in their viewpoints, and don’t feel as though they are second-class citizens. They value marriage and child-bearing within that institution, and resent the elites both in Hollywood and Washington trying to “educate” them differently. Of course life is complicated, and many individuals are confronted with difficult choices. Yet, I represent a tradition that promotes good character and moral decisions. We must begin to reverse the “choice” culture when the consequences are innocent babies. We must accept the scientific advances that will continue to make defending the abortion on demand culture extremely difficult. For instance, I can see in the near future when every fertilized egg, embryo, and more developed fetus that was unwanted could be removed from the woman unharmed and nurtured into full personhood. If true, I hope those on the other side won’t make esoteric arguments to still destroy Life, when we could preserve it. This is an emotional issue for me that I try to present in as logical way possible, but sometimes I think I and others are doing a disservice by being so measured towards such an outrage. I would like to end with a plea towards optimism and the possibilities of the unborn and of our character to live up to a better standard, and be a truly pro-life nation.
REV C I’m pleased I had the opportunity to share my views tonight. I especially wanted to highlight my rejection of the “slavery” analogy to women’s rights. I notice today that many on both Political sides have a habit of using past injustice to African Americans as a roadmap to promote their cause. While they may have begun to master the language, that doesn’t make their case any better. There wasn’t ever a legitimate case to be made for slavery. All of the arguments that were advanced were bogus then, and failed the test of time. Even today, while we totally reject the arguments for slavery, we can at least understand some of the arguments concerning the Confederacy. This, even while the Union was correct and thankfully prevailed. The south had arguments concerning states’ rights and protecting their economic opportunities that can still be debated today. Yet, slavery is universally condemned. To equate a woman’s right to choose with slavery is just wrong. There is a woman whos’ life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is clearly being challenged. I could respect a more cogent comparison, that was nuanced such as the right of the Confederacy to exist. I bring up this distinction to offer the viewers a more clear picture of this moral debate. Those on that side like to position this as a clear-cut morality play when it clearly is not. While I am pro-choice, I am not pro-abortion.
Also, we've here tonight somewhat but more extensively in the intellectual assault on a woman's right that if Roe was overturned it wouldn't ban abortions but rather "return the matter" to the states and the people, "where it should have been left". I think this might be the first step, but surely those who are adament in their views wouldn't tolerate states such as California and New York to continue as has been the case for over 35 years. Once they lose in the legislatures they will file suit for Constitutional protection. They will argue, I'm sure that the Constitution as written prohibits abortion when interpreted properly. So the so-called "strict constructionist" movement would split into two groups, one who really believe in trying to understand issues in 18th century thinking, and more rational minded ones who understand that the Constitution needs to be flexible. The end result of all of this is that it will take five justices on the Supreme Court to maintain any policy Federal or state by state. And as we saw with Bush v Gore in 2000, we can't count on people to be intellectually consistent when the case really matters.
MODERATOR Audience, after hearing the debate, here are your questions:
1. should (unborn children, a fetus) have Constitutional rights?
2. Were we to prohibit abortions should that mandate other changes in public policy concerning mandates for one person to help another?
3. Legally, should there be a distinction between an abortion in the 1st trimester and a 3rd trimester abortion?
4. Legally, should there be a distinction between an abortion in the 2nd and a 3rd trimester abortion?
5. If technology ultimately could save every fetus extracted from the womb, should the government mandate that each fetus be saved during an abortion?
6. Do you grieve for a miscarried fetus the same as a born person who passes away?
7. Has our society been inflicted with a “culture of death” that can be traced back to the legalization of abortion?
8. Should the government pay for abortions for poor women (never, under some circumstances, always).
9. Do you generally consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice?
10. Do you think this topic is discussed too little, the right amount, too much?
11. Should fathers have any rights concerning a woman’s pregnancy?
12. There are an estimated 46 million abortions worldwide each year. Should we undertake an effort to eradicate this practice similar to our stances against slavery, and genocide?
13. If our liberalized abortion laws have contributed to a decrease in crime, should that matter in the debate?
14. For those who believe abortion is murder, what limits if any should they place upon themselves in their work against it?
15. Is your position concerning abortion based all, in part, none at all on your most relevant personal experience(s)?
MODERATOR: I hope we have succeeded in beginning a tradition of fully debating issues in a mature manner. Though there are intense emotions from people on both sides, I think we are best served as a moral nation by allowing everyone to have their complete viewpoints heard without interruption or an intimidating atmosphere. From there the American people will decide who ultimately wins the battle of ideas.
Thank You, Good Night, and may God Bless America.