Biden On Abortion

Is Biden’s answer to the abortion question a good defense of the pro-choice position? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Like many of you last night, I watched the vice-presidential debate and I was definitely pleased to hear the abortion question come up. Thankfully, Ryan did not get interrupted during what I thought was an excellent answer. Ryan got to the facts of what abortion is, which is the main question to answer. Then we turned to Biden, who like Ryan, is Catholic. Biden gave an answer that I’m sure many Christians thought would be difficult to argue against. Is it really a good response? Let’s find out.

Biden: My religion defines who I am. And I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And it has particularly informed my social doctrine. Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help.

Response: Of course, we would not have much problem with this. Granted, I am not a Catholic, but by and large, we would not have problems as Christians even if we’re not Catholics with the idea that we should help others who cannot take care of themselves. The difference is I would include babies in the womb at this point.

Biden: With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

Reply: Here is the key point. Biden has just said life begins at conception, which is exactly what Ryan had said earlier. This is the opinion of the RCC as well. Biden says that he accepts it personally.

Biden: But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.

Reply: For many, this sounds so good and non-judgmental and tolerant, which is what we’re taught to be. “I personally am against abortion, but I’m not going to limit your freedom to do that.”

And hey, we don’t want anyone imposing their worldview on us. Right? We don’t want to live in a theocracy or anything like that do we? What could we have against this?

Biden’s problem is that his view is imposing. Let’s look at this with what he says next.

Biden: I — I do not believe that — that we have a right to tell other people that women, they — they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I’m not going to interfere with that.

Reply: Once again, this fits with our modern milleu, but it assumes at the start that the life in the woman is her body, which is just its first major problem. If that life in there is something that might depend on the woman but is itself not part of the woman, then it is not the woman’s body. It is another body that is growing inside of the body of the woman.

We also do a number of times tell women they can’t control their body. If a woman goes out and strips nude in a public place, we will arrest her. It’s her body, but she is not allowed to publicly expose herself. If a woman gets drunk and tries to drive, we will arrest her for what she is doing with her own body. The idea that if someone does something with their own body then it is automatically justifiable is simply false.

Now by and large, we do let people do what they want with their own bodies, but only until they endanger the freedom of another. You have the right to free speech, but that does not mean you can use it to walk into a crowded theater and yell “Fire!” or make a threat on the life of a government official. Recently someone on Twitter, for instance, said they would assassinate Mitt Romney. While they later said it was a joke, one suspects the Secret Service might not be laughing.

Biden’s position is in fact imposing. He is imposing the idea on people that the baby in the womb is included in the woman’s body and is not a separate body. For the sake of argument, he could be right about that. That needs to be argued. If this is a life, as Biden himself has said, then Biden is essentially saying that he believes this is a new life that has come into existence and he is opposed to abortion, but he will not stop it if a woman wants to do that, even though, as said, it is a new life.

Would the same apply to a toddler? Would Biden be personally against killing a toddler, but if a woman wants to do that to her toddler, well that’s her right? As has been said, there is nothing magical about the birth canal that suddenly makes the baby a new life. The question we could ask Biden is at what point does it become wrong to kill the life and why is it at that point since you hold that life begins at conception?

We also all impose our views on another person to an extent. Every law is the imposition of someone’s view. If I’m out driving, I cannot suddenly drive on the left side of the road here in America and respond to the police officer with “Don’t impose your views of driving on me!” Every law is built on some moral basis and it is declared that a society is better if it follows that moral basis than if it does not.

What are we saying about abortion? We are making a statement about life in relation to abortion. There are people who are saying to give out contraception so there will be fewer abortions and if it is not given, we will keep having sex and you will be responsible for the abortions.

No. We’re not. We’re not responsible for what someone else does. If someone wants to avoid pregnancy, then there are contraceptives out there they can use. There are natural family planning routes as well one can take for those who do not support contraception. However, if you have sex when it is prone to bring about pregnancy and you get pregnant, the person responsible is you and the person you had sex with. (This is assuming a natural case and not the case of something like rape) If you choose to abort, you are not forced to. You choose to. (All things being equal. I know there are sad cases where a husband or boyfriend or some other figure forces an abortion.) This is simply emotional blackmail.

What needs to be asked is if this is the kind of behavior we want to promote? Do we want to promote the idea that sex is a natural act just like any other act and can be done with most anyone and anywhere, or do we want to promote the idea that sex, while a natural act, is a sacred act that is reserved for those who have given the highest level of trust to one another? Do we want to say it should happen in marriage so that children born can be raised by their biological mother and father in a stable and committed relationship?

Biden’s own position has him doing an imposition on the baby especially. The baby is denied the right to exist in this world in the name of supposed freedom of the mother. We would not allow the killing of a toddler or a young child for that reason. Why do we allow it for abortion?

The rest of what Biden says is more into political aspects I will not get into. I simply wish to point out that Biden’s argument does not work. If life begins at conception, as Biden says, then Biden is saying he thinks the taking of innocent life should be legal. This is not a position a Christian should take. It would be interesting to see if they have not spoken out already what the RCC happens to think of Biden’s position. It could be someone might not be allowed to partake of the Eucharist.

In Christ,
Nick Peters