The leading candidate in both parties don’t know how to talk about life.
Shouldn’t that disqualify them?
Alas, abortion and what’s referred to as ‘the question of when life begins’ (as if it’s uncertain and therefore debatable) has played into elections for decades now. It certainly will for the rest of this election year. How candidates respond to specific questions relating to abortion, rights, and human life reveal a lot about their ideology or lack of a well-formed belief system, their adherence to talking points or lack of a base of knowledge about the topic. Any version of those is revealing.
So when Hillary Clinton was asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press when and whether an unborn child gets constitutional rights, I recalled having heard that question put almost that same way to candidate Barack Obama in the Saddleback Civil Forum by Pastor Rick Warren.
When Warren asked when life and human rights begin, McCain’s succinct reply, “At conception,” and mention of his pro-life voting track record were greeted with some of the loudest applause of the evening.
Obama’s pro-choice stance and flippant language were not.
“Whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective,” Obama said, “answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade.”
…a former spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops…called the comment a “dodge that wasn’t even intellectually respectable.”
Clinton’s response to Todd was very close to Obama’s back in 2008.
“Well, under our laws currently, that is not something that exists,” Clinton answered. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support.”
(So, wait a minute…What’s the difference between an unborn person not having any constitutional rights, and doing everything possible in some instances to help a mother carrying a child to make sure the child will be health with appropriate medical support? The elasticity of the semantics of political ideology, and dishonesty of the culture of relativism.)
Following that appearance on Meet the Press, Clinton was asked for clarification on The View by Co-Host Paula Varis.
VIEW HOST: You said, ‘the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.’ And my question is at what point does someone have constitutional rights? And are you saying that a child, on its due date, just hours before its delivery still has no constitutional rights?
HILLARY CLINTON: Under our law, that is the case. I support Roe v. Wade because I think is important statement about the importance of a woman making this most difficult decision with consultation by whom she chooses… and under the law, and certainly under that decision, that is the way we structure it.
That default “that is the way we structure it” talking point response is almost the same as Donald Trump responding to MSNBC’s Chris Matthew’s question about punishing women who get abortions if the law changes, by saying ‘yes, there should be some punishment.’ Both are responses made under the pressure of the moment to pry out the candidates’ most deeply held beliefs about human life. But one had talking points and an entire industry prepping and propping her, while the other hadn’t thought it through well or for long and had virtually no prep.
However, both responses tell us a lot. Human life is a relative idea, protection of the most vulnerable young human beings is strategically embedded in political ideology more than inherently so in a mother’s womb, and facts not only don’t determine a candidate’s well formed positions on first principles, they actually get in the way of those positions when candidates don’t seek to be well informed and grounded in science, maternal/fetal medicine and fundamental morality.
Both Clinton and Trump have been exposed and made more vulnerable by questions relating to abortion. No doubt Clinton will be drilled by her camp, and Trump will do whatever he does to prepare for facing challenges to his views and beliefs.
But this is an issue central to Election 2016, and it’s going to remain so through November, and beyond.