Protecting Life

Human life begins at conception

One of the questions that anyone running for office beyond the very local level can count on getting asked is:

"Where do you stand on the question of abortion?"

Let me state unequivocally my personal position: I am Pro-Life.

As one who believes strongly in limited government, I have struggled over time with how to integrate my personal feelings about abortion with my views on the role of government. What I have concluded is this:

  1. Government’s proper function is to protect life, liberty and property. This was the understanding of those who founded this country, and it was the understanding of political thinkers dating back to Plato.
  2. Human life begins at conception. Science and my faith lead me to this understanding. My experience as a mother, hearing beating hearts very early in pregnancy, and seeing tiny feet on early ultrasounds supports that view. That life is no more or less valuable because of its convenience or inconvenience to someone else.
  3. Hence, government should stand for life at all stages.

How those views are translated into public policy can be problematic, and not entirely straightforward. A few years ago, for example, our state leaders had to make decisions on prenatal Medicaid funding for undocumented mothers. We know that prenatal care can save the lives of babies (and their mothers), and that it can prevent other complications; yet at the same time, there is concern with providing health care benefits to those who might be here illegally. State senators who have strong pro-life records voted on both sides of that legislation.

My general rules on questions of life would be these:

    1. I will not vote for any legislation which would publicly fund abortions or abortion providers.
    2. I believe that health care providers should have freedom of conscience, and would oppose any legislation—insurance related or otherwise—which required physicians to perform certain procedures or prescribe certain drugs, or lose certification for payment through any publicly funded health care.
    3. As a parent, I must give permission for my child to be given aspirin at school, or to be treated in non-life-threatening circumstances in the emergency room; the same should be true if my child is thinking of undergoing a major medical procedure like abortion.

I have friends who see this issue differently than I do, and I realize that reasonable people can and will disagree about the point at which life begins—or at least when it is worthy of state protection. This is an issue which inspires passion on both sides, but it’s one that we need to talk about rationally.

Ultimately, though, this is an issue of the heart. Those of us who oppose abortion can make it difficult for women to get an abortion, or for doctors to provide them—but the law by itself won’t stop them from happening, it seems. That will require non-governmental institutions like churches and families to instill the value of respect for life into our children.

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