Obama’s speech yesterday at Notre Dame was controversial in the days leading up to Commencement, and today the media continues to buzz with heated opinions on every side. You want to know my opinion? I’m very much against abortion, and I’m also very much for adoption. Regardless of where I’m at though, I believe in civilized debate.
The thing that bothers me most about politics, the thing that I just cannot stand, is debate which demonizes people for their convictions. For this reason, there were several parts of Obama’s speech that rang true for me. I’ve highlighted the parts I like below. I also found this post from Christianity Today to point out an interesting perspective on the issue, and reminds us that while Obama gave a very appropriate speech for a Catholic audience, he’s still very much pro-choice. And yet, while I don’t agree with his politics, I do appreciate his call for respectful conversation and debate–on all issues–not just abortion.
Too often, I think I have it all figured out. I’m quick to think that my opinion is the only way; the right way…on issues that often don’t even effect me yet– like what type of education system is best for children, or whether a woman should breast feed or not, or continue to work after she has a baby. Too often, I judge people for their beliefs instead of trying to look at it from a different perspective. It’s only when we truly attempt to understand the other side that we can engage in conversations which are respectful and edifying. Please don’t misunderstand me- abortion is one issue that I do believe God is very clearly against, but I know that not everyone feels the same. The only way we will reduce the number of abortions in this country is by trying to understand where the other side is coming from. By doing so, we may have a better chance of working together towards fewer abortions, more adoptions, and more healthy families.
“The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.
The question, then, is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?…..
….So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”