Posts Tagged ‘ the President ’

Why Aren’t Obama and Romney Talking About Abortion? (OPINION)

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Amy Julia Becker

My kids love to hear stories about when they were born. They know the quirky details—that Penny was easy to push out, that I threw up on the way to the hospital with William, that they celebrated Marilee’s birth in the hospital with cupcakes. They have a very faint idea that giving birth is precarious and difficult, but they know nothing of the sorrow of miscarriage or the feeling of crisis surrounding an unintended pregnancy. The word abortion has not entered their vocabulary, and I hope I can keep it that way for a while.

Abortion seems not to have made it into the vocabulary of our Presidential candidates either. Over one million fetuses are aborted every year in America, and nearly 1/3 of American women have had or will have an abortion. A recent Gallup poll indicates that a slim majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life, while 42 percent self-identify as pro-choice. I don’t talk about abortion with my kids, but the reality of abortion impacts the lives of women and children in America on a day-to-day basis.

Only 25 percent of respondents to that same Gallup poll stated that they think abortion should be legal in all circumstances, which implies that 75 percent of the nation opposes abortion in some cases. At the same time, since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade nearly 40 years ago, it has become increasingly unlikely that the Court will overturn women’s legal access to abortion services. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts called Roe v. Wade established precedent. And even if the court were to overturn the ruling, many states would keep abortion legal.

So let’s assume for a moment that abortion is here to stay and that the vast majority of the American public believes it should be restricted in some sense. The same Gallup poll indicates that Republicans and Democrats have held steady on their views about abortion over the past decade. But independents have fluctuated, with 47 percent now identifying themselves as pro-life (vs. 30 percent in 2001) and 41percent as pro-choice (down from 56 percent in 2001). Obama or Romney could employ a practical approach to abortion reduction as a way to attract swing voters.

Romney’s website sidesteps the economic and social realities of abortion. On his page about Values, the site reads, “in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.” And yet the response to what it calls the “tragic” taking of innocent life include overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing health care workers to follow their conscience. Additionally, it calls for ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood (which not only offers abortion services but also potentially helps reduce abortion through access to contraception—and Romney articulates no plan to provide prenatal care or contraception if Planned Parenthood were to lose funding). His website offers negative solutions, solutions that address the legal aspects of abortion without addressing the social and economic realities for women who face unintended pregnancies and need help.

Obama’s website, as far as I can tell, sidesteps the issue of abortion altogether. In the “Get the Facts” section, he offers data on women’s health, which includes contraception but no reference to abortion services. And yet on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in addition to articulating his continued support of this federal law, Obama said, “While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue—no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.” Obama has an opportunity to draw in pro-life independent voters if he is willing to reiterate this litany of pragmatic ways to address the reality of abortion in this country.

Typical liberal ideology surrounding abortion focuses on the woman’s right to choose without any conversation about the ethical problems that emerge on both an individual and collective level when women choose to terminate a nascent human life. Typical conservative ideology focuses on the unborn baby’s right to life without conversation about the ethical problems that emerge, again, both individually and collectively, when women face the economic, physical, and emotional hardship of unplanned pregnancies.

All the while, abortion remains legal and most Americans support some limitations on abortion, which suggests that most Americans would support policies that focused not upon eradicating abortion but upon reducing it. What might happen if a political leader tried to have a conversation about protections for woman and baby? What if Romney and Obama each proposed policy measures that addressed not the legality of abortion but its economic and social impact upon our culture?

We’ve argued long enough about the legality of abortion. Let’s start creating policies that actually support and protect women and children. Let’s look for politicians who can lead us towards a dramatic reduction in the number of abortions chosen by women each year.

Read more opinions from Amy Julia Becker.

 

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Obama’s Class and Gender Warfare Is Destroying the American Family (OPINION)

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Suzanne Venker

The summer heat is squelching. Here in the Midwest, things are so bad our A/C won’t register below 78. My family hates–really hates–the heat. We’d rather be hiking Mount Tom in Vermont with perfect sixty-eight degree temperatures.

That’s what we were doing earlier this summer, when we took our first long vacation–a two-weeker. It began with a drive to see family in Pittsburgh and ended with a house rental in Vermont. From there it was a visit to see friends in the Boston area and then a quick jaunt (okay, detour) to Niagara Falls before heading home.

It was the quintessential American vacation–family travels cross-country by car while younger child asks “Are we there yet?” a gazillion times–taken by an old-fashioned American family: a mom, a dad, and a couple of kids. We felt like the Griswolds from National Lampoon’s Vacation. I even called my husband Clark.

We don’t talk much about the American family these days; we’re more focused on the economy. But according to a new report from the Social Trends Institute, a non-profit, international research center that studies the effects of emerging social trends on society,  the wealth of nations depends in large part on the health of the family. They’re two sides of the same coin.

The report provides several links between the economy and the nuclear family. Here are just a few:  One, children raised in intact families are more likely to develop the social capital they need to become productive citizens. Two, married men work harder and earn more money than their unmarried peers. Three, the industry of household products from insurance to groceries are more likely to profit when families thrive. And four, if a booming economy is the goal–and let’s assume it is–reasonable fertility rates must be sustained.

The authors of the report, including W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, suggest that in order to preserve families and strengthen the economy, leaders should encourage policy that supports marriage and responsible parenthood.

Indeed they should. But don’t hold your breath–preserving the American family is not on our President’s radar. Why would it be? The traditional family (and by “traditional” I don’t mean Ward and June Cleaver; I mean two married parents with kids, one of whom takes on the bulk of the childrearing and the other who brings home the bulk of the income, regardless of gender) negates the need for a large-scale government. And if there’s one thing Obama and his supporters love, it’s a large-scale government. They believe it takes a village, not a family, to make the world go ’round.

But don’t confuse the left’s village with the kind of tight-knit communities America used to have, the ones where family and neighbors helped each other out. That was a village of a different sort, and it comprised what economists call social capital.

Social capital refers to neighborliness and civic engagement, such as volunteering and philanthropy, religious and school participation, and the like. It’s necessary for a number of reasons: growth of the GDP, lower levels of crime, educational attainment, public health, and marketplace production. (In other words, all the things government claims to offer.) In order for social capital to thrive, however, we must have strong families.

But we don’t, and here’s why. Big government competes with the traditional family, thus undermining social capital. The government wants your hard-earned paycheck so it can decide how your money should be spent.

Remember Joe the Plumber? We need to “spread the wealth around,” Obama told Mr. Wurzelbacher. He reiterated this message several weeks ago when he took a stab at successful business owners: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” he said. “Somebody else made that happen.”

In other words, your earnings aren’t really yours. They belong to a whole group of people. As if the business owner hasn’t helped to employ and empower people along the journey. As if he took something that didn’t belong to him.

This President’s class warfare is shameful. And it’s destroying the American family. As Charles Murray, author of the new book Coming Apart, notes in the Wall Street Journal, capitalism has become a bad word–an “accusation.” Yet capitalism “is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards.”

And without the chance to create value and reap rewards, there’s less incentive for a man to settle down with a wife and kids and work hard on their behalf. Which means the President has engaged in gender warfare as well, by putting a dagger in the institution of marriage. Simply put, big government replaces the nuclear family by providing for women and children in ways that men have historically done. When a man’s role is usurped, he has less incentive to marry.

Men are already retreating from marriage. According to the Pew Research Center, the share of men ages 18 to 34 who say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives has dropped six percentage points since 1997, from 35% to 29%. For women, the opposite has occurred: the share voicing this opinion rose from 28% to 37%.

The American family is disintegrating as we speak. This may worry you and me, but it doesn’t worry our President. Indeed, he has a new plan for the women of America.

We’ll cover that next time.

Read more opinions from Suzanne Venker.

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