The Rationalist Papers (6): Why pro-life voters should dump Trump for Biden

If you are ardently pro-life and anti-abortion, you vote Republican. But maybe, in this presidential election, it’s time to reconsider.

If you are pro-choice, this post is not for you. And you may be offended by what you read here. The purpose of this post is not to rehash the abortion debate, about which no one is likely to change their mind, and I have little patience for folks trashing each other over their views on this topic. The only question I have is: based on your views, who is the best choice for President in this election?

Just a reminder: these Rationalist Papers posts are for the group I call the deciders: conservative, moderate, undecided, and third-party voters considering their choices in the 2020 US Presidential election.

The latest Supreme Court nomination has changed the outlook for abortion laws

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a fierce defender of abortion rights. Now that she’s gone, Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative jurist and former clerk to Antonin Scalia, to the Supreme Court.

It’s very likely that the Senate will confirm Barrett. Her hearing in the Judiciary Committee will start on October 12. It’s likely that she’ll be confirmed by the end of October. If the hearings don’t conclude in time, she may be confirmed during the lame duck session of the current Senate, after the election, later in November.

All the Republican senators except two are likely to vote to confirm Barrett. Two Republicans, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, are on record saying that this nomination should not go forward this close to the election and will vote against it. As a result, she will likely be confirmed with 51 votes — assuming no Democrats vote for her.

While Democrats will complain and delay, it is unlikely that they can stop this nomination.

If you are pro-life, this is what you were hoping Donald Trump would deliver. There will soon be six of nine justices sympathetic to abortion restrictions on the court. There are already hundreds of conservative judges in lower courts nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

This is the most conservative possible federal judiciary.

It’s possible that the Supreme Court will now reverse itself on the decision that prohibited abortion bans: Roe v. Wade. Once there is no federal judicial mandate on abortion, many states will make it illegal.

Even if the court keeps with precedent and does not fully reverse Roe v. Wade, it may be sympathetic towards far more restrictions on abortion. It may approve restrictions that vastly reduce the number of abortion clinics, as in Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, and Kentucky. It may support bans on abortions that start when there is a fetal heartbeat, an approach that has been tried in many states; such a ban that would start at about six weeks of pregnancy, a time when many women do not even realize they are pregnant. Or it may be sympathetic to parental consent rules for minors, or laws that require notifying and getting permission from the father.

The net effect of many of these changes would be, if not to outlaw abortion in many places, to make it far more difficult.

These changes would happen in a nation that has fewer abortions than it has had in a long time. Abortions in America reached a historic low in 2017 of 13.5 per 1,000 women of reproductive age.

Source: Guttmacher.org

If you are pro-life, this is what winning looks like.

And it may give you an opportunity to think a little bit more deeply about your choice in the presidential election.

Think about what “pro-life” means

Why are you pro-life?

Is it because you feel a fetus is a baby, and it is wrong to take the life of a baby?

Is it because your religious leaders are opposed to abortion, and you feel that abortion is morally incompatible with your religion?

Let’s assume that one or both of these reasons are behind your position on this topic.

Start with children — and now let’s consider the ones that have already been born. President Trump’s policy has separated over 2,000 children from their parents at the Mexican border. Most of them are in families of migrants traveling under great hardship to escape violence and famine in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. According to testimony from Clara Long of Human Rights Watch, who has visited camps where the children are held:

Our in-depth interviews with children revealed that the US Border Patrol is holding many children, including some who are much too young to take care of themselves, in jail-like border facilities for weeks at a time without contact with family members, or regular access to showers, clean clothes, toothbrushes, or proper beds. Many were sick. Many, including children as young as 2 or 3, were separated from adult caretakers without any provisions for their care besides that provided by unrelated older children also being held in detention. 

If you care about children, this should concern you.

In the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has also vigorously encouraged schools to reopen, threatening to cut off funding to schools that don’t. It’s quite difficult to keep children safe, maintain social distancing, and require masks for school children — and anyone who’s ever been involved with schools has seen how other infections, from colds to flu to measles, spread quickly in schools. While children are apparently more resilient in recovering from COVID-19, some do get sick and die, and many others can spread the infection to teachers and parents.

Neither of these policies could reasonably be considered “pro-life.” They are more along the lines of “we can put children’s lives and health at risk because we have other priorities.” If this reasoning is inappropriate for ending a pregnancy, is it not also offensive to treat children this way in other settings?

What about Joe Biden? His task force guidelines are full of policies intended to help children — for example, by replacing dangerous lead water pipes that lead to developmental problems and brain damage, by increasing family leave time so parents can bond with young children, and by helping to fund child care.

The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that health of all — including pregnant women and children — depends fundamentally on access to health care. If the family next door to you cannot get treatment because they are unemployed, they’re at higher risk of sending a sick child to school, putting your own children at risk. Health care is a societal need — when some of us are sick, we all suffer.

Moving on to the other reason to restrict abortion, religious faith, consider that Donald Trump belongs to no church. He says the bible is his favorite book (neck and neck with The Art of the Deal) but has no idea what is in it. Biden, on the other hand, attends Catholic Mass every Sunday.

What’s the point? The point is that Trump is using faith to gather support from believers although he has no belief of his own, while Biden actually thinks about religion as a participant.

Pro-life voters talk about their vote for Biden

Some pro-life voters have made the switch to Biden. For example, Mona Charen wrote:

I have been pro-life my entire adult life. I haven’t changed. I continue to find the practice of abortion abhorrent and will persist in trying to persuade others. While I would prefer to vote for someone who upholds the right to life, I’ve never believed that electing presidents who agree with me will lead to dramatic changes in abortion law, nor is the law itself the only way to discourage abortion. The number of abortions has been declining steadily since 1981. It dropped during Republican presidencies and during Democratic presidencies, and now stands below the rate in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided and when abortion was illegal in 44 states.

It’s wrong to take innocent life. But other things are immoral too. It’s also wrong to swindle people, to degrade and demonize, to incite violence, to bully, and while we’re at it, to steal, to bear false witness, to commit adultery and to covet.

Donald Trump is a daily, even hourly, assault on the very idea of morality, even as he obliterates truth. His influence is like sulfuric acid on our civic bonds. 

If you are a single-issue voter on abortion, perhaps it is time to expand your view of the world. Gallup says that 30% of pro-life voters would vote only for a pro-life candidate. Are you ready to join the 70% who look at the candidates more broadly?

Abortions are down. The Supreme Court is as anti-abortion as it’s going to get. Another four years of Trump won’t make things any more hostile for abortion than they are now.

Remember, the president doesn’t make abortion laws — states and localities create them. The president’s only influence is to nominate judges who make decisions about what is or is not in line with the Constitution and legal precedents. Those judges are already in place. The president is far less important in the abortion question now than he was before this latest opening on the Supreme Court.

But if morality is important to you, the candidates’ morality matters, too.

Another four years of Trump will change America, and not in a way that is better for children. If you are pro-life, consider whether this election is one in which you can vote for a Democrat with a platform of pro-child policies. Your other choice is a Republican who has no platform — but whose policies have caused, and will cause, many children to continue to suffer.

Our children — born and unborn — are counting on you to see the bigger picture. Can you see it?

Feel free to post comments. However, I will delete comments that insult or demean me, other commenters, or groups, or state supposed facts without evidence. Vacuous cheerleading and catcalling is also prohibited; this is not a sporting event. No one persuades anyone by creating a hostile environment.

For the origin of the Rationalist Papers, see this. All Rationalist Papers posts available here.

10 responses to “The Rationalist Papers (6): Why pro-life voters should dump Trump for Biden

  1. Re the closing comments: ” Republican who has no platform — but whose policies have caused, and will cause, many children to continue to suffer.
    Our children — born and unborn — are counting on you to see the bigger picture. ”

    In the case of “already-here children — these are not “just” migrant children — the past years of Republican policy have continued to slash away at our own people’s safety nets. Once a child is born — good luck. No one will help you now! Pro-life needs to commit to the bigger picture just as forcefully as on abortion. Then I could agree with them.

  2. I’d want to test your assumption that there truly is such a thing as a single issue voter.
    I have been told there is such a thing and I am sure many would claim that they are single issue voters. And yet I suspect that these kinds of issues are much more like a catchall for a bundle of related opinions and values.

  3. “The point is that Trump is faith to gather support from believers although he has no belief of his own” What does this mean Trump is faith????

  4. Why your vote on Abortion should be the only one that matters

    Fact: there were 862,000 abortions in 2017, and there have been 61.8 million since 1973, which was the year of the passing of Roe V. Wade (Abortion Statistics). The consensus that the majority of our population has decided is that either 61.8 million babies have been murdered, or 61.8 million women have executed their reproductive rights. The thing is, one side is correct in terms of morality, and the other is wrong. To be on the wrong side of the morality of abortion would be to advocate for a crime against humanity, either murder of innocent children or a restriction of women’s bodily autonomy, both horrible things. Abortion should be the number one issue a voter thinks about when entering the polls, and it is essential for the voter to make his/her decision based on abortion in order to avoid supporting a grave violation of human rights.
    There is a striking number of people today that vote opposite in their views of abortion. According to a Gallup poll, 62% of Republicans believe that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, while 50% of Democrats believe that abortion should have some restrictions (Gallup). These stats can be somewhat misleading due to the lack of clarity on what the restrictions are. Most Pro-Life people believe that when the women’s life is in danger from the pregnancy then an abortion should be available, however that is not the mainstream democratic view by any means. 24% of Democrats view themselves to be Pro-Life, yet the democratic view of abortion is that life does not begin until birth, the opposite of a Pro life view. So these people who consider themselves Pro-Life yet still vote Democrat and Pro-Choice but still vote Republican are either in a fundamental disagreement with themselves or view other issues to be more important when it comes to choosing who to vote for, and in that case fail to see the gravity upon which the decisions upon abortion have.
    Only one view on abortion can be correct, and the moral correctness of Pro-Lifers or Pro-Choicers comes down to the simple question of where does life begins? It has to be a finite point, whether it be birth, a heartbeat, or conception or some other definite time. The value of a human’s life does not change per situation. Things like rape and incest, as horrible as they are, do not change the value of the babies life, either it has value as a human or it does not. The same goes with whether or not the family can afford to raise the child well. To say that some people’s life has value per different circumstances violates a fundamental law, a law that states that all humans are created equal and have intrinsic value that no one can take away, something that today is an accepted undeniable truth in society. And if in fact life does not begin until birth then fetuses are not in fact human and terminating their growth should be a widely accepted thing, and barring people from doing so should be a crime. Therefore it comes down to a matter of when life begins.
    Consider, for the moment, that we had scientific and undeniable proof that the Pro-Choice movement was correct, and that life in fact began at birth. In this hypothetical, everyone is well aware of this proof as well and no one lives in ignorance of it. In this situation then, every Pro-Life person in history, whether they knew it or not, would be advocating for the restriction of the woman’s body, a grave evil in which should never be tolerated. In this situation there would be absolutely no reason that any women could not get an abortion whenever they wanted, regardless of the situation. In addition to any reason, abortions would be moral at all times, all the way up until the exact moment of birth. 3rd trimester abortions should be widely accepted and even encouraged as the baby inside in the womb, as a scientific fact, is not a human being, rather an extension of the mother, and any attempt to legally or forcefully stop the abortion should be met with extreme measure. In this time as well, any murder of a pregnant woman would not be considered a double homicide do the fact that the fetus is not a human. In addition to this, any support for a politician who supports any restrictions on abortions at all should be immediately outcasted as a sexist and if they are already in office, removed from it immediately. Any supporters of this politician should be labeled as extremists and deniers of true solid science. America has no room for people to treat anyone else as unequal, especially with the troubles that women run into already in America.
    Now take the flip side. Let’s say that in this hypothetical we have 100% proof and sound scientific evidence that life began at conception. Like the previous scenario, everyone in this situation is well aware of this proof and not living in ignorance of it. In this situation then, all pro-choice people, or those who agree that abortion should be ok, would be advocating for murder. And everyone, keep in mind that all people are aware of the scientific proof that life begins at conception, that participates in any part of abortion would be committing and be associated with cold blooded murder and should be tried accordingly.
    This goes the same for the politicians who advocate for abortion and anyone who supports them. The advocation for mass genocide is, as simply put possible, evil. Nothing would change the fact that the child, from the moment of conception, is a human, and to terminate that human in any way would be to murder it. It makes it especially evil due to the fact that the baby cannot defend itself and is at the complete and total mercy of the doctor performing the abortion.
    The most important take away so far is that there can be no middle ground in the debate of abortion. Life has to begin at a definite point. Once you decide where that is, to vote for a candidate that believes otherwise would be to support either murder, or a restriction of women’s rights.
    An article was posted to the TampaBay Times recently in which highlighted the exact group I am critical of. The author Lodovico Balducc, a retired Medical Doctor, highlights his Italian heritage, religious beliefs, and belief in science to describe why he is totally opposed to abortion in all cases except rape and incest, but still votes as a democrat. He says that ”according to molecular biology, what we call “life” is the ongoing decompression of a unique file contained in the DNA of each individual, a process that starts with fertilization” (Balducc). Balducc calls out the hypocrisies of both parties when it comes to their stances on abortion. Both parties’ hypocrisies work hand in hand with their adamant views on abortion. He states that “Liberals who brook no divergence from the pro-choice point of view display the same disdain for life that Trump supporters showed when backing the action of ICE agents at our southern border ripping children, even nursing babies, from their parents’ arms” (Balducc). He brings up another great point, asking, how can those in the GOP advocate against abortion when they “dare to claim with straight faces that $600 a week in federal unemployment compensation is too high for a family of four” (Balducc).
    Lodovico makes many great points. How can those who are Pro-Life still vote Republican when many Republicans today seem to show extreme selfishness and a lack of respect for other human beings? The answer lies simply in the fact that, based in the Pro-Life point of view, abortion is murder, and there are 862,000 abortions in the U.S. every year (Abortion). The issues of immigration, the healthcare system, and the state of our impoverished in America are all important issues that Americans should seriously think about where they stand and who is affected by these things. BUT, none of these issues are even as close to as big of an issue that abortion is from a Pro-Life persepective. You have essentially have the population split in half on this issue, both believing completely polar opposite things, and the implications behind those beliefs are very strong.
    The Rationalist paper essay used the fact that “the Supreme Court is as anti-abortion as it’s going to get. Another four years of Trump won’t make things any more hostile for abortion than they are now” (The Rationalist Papers). Essentially the argument being made here is that as far as legislation goes, voting for Trump, who strongly opposes abortion, will not increase the probability that abortion will get banned. Along with Balducc, the author of this article, whose name I could not find, made many of the same points along the lines of their distaste for Trump’s policies in other aspects of America and his character in general.
    There are two counter-arguments to this point of view. One, the weaker of the two, is that Democrats actually, if they win enough elections, could potentially have the power to expand the court to have more justices, thus weakening the Pro-life presence in the court. But the likelihood of all of those things happening are low. The actual process of increasing the number of the number of supreme court justices would be a very difficult and long process that could last a long time.
    The stronger argument is that just because the legality of an issue is not at risk, that does not make it ok to vote for someone who supports the opposite, especially when it comes to abortion. Imagine if Biden supported slavery. There are zero Pro-Slavery judges, so the chances of the 13th amendment getting overturned are zero, but I would imagine that just about every single democrat would immediately drop their support for Joe Biden. From the Pro-Life perspective, abortion being a mass genocied of children, it is very comparable to Slavery. So yes, the legality of Abortion may not be at substantial risk with the election of a Pro-Choice Candidate now, but, from a Pro-Life perspective, voting for a Pro-Choice candidate is, in a sense of moral gravity, like voting for a Pro-Slavery candidate.
    Contrary to the rationalist paper essay and Balducc, Sarah Davis is a Texas Republican senator who is Pro-Choice. Her scenario is a little different because she would not specify if she would vote for Donald Trump or not, however her view on politics and abortion stands (Rayasam). She aligns with the Republican Party due to its idea of small government. Let’s assume that Sarah Davis will vote for Donald Trump due to that fact, smaller government, and that he is her party’s nominee. In her doing so, she votes completely out of line with the Pro-Choice point of view. And in this case, she is advocating for someone who believes in restricting the rights of women to the highest degree in modern politics. Obviously she would be putting other issues in front of her view on abortion, and just like everyone before, she is either failing to realize or choosing to ignore the implications of voting against her view of abortion.
    These articles are all examples of people who, most likely unknowingly, are failing to realize just how important their vote for or against abortion is depending on what they believe. “As of August, less than 0.5% of Americans told Gallup that they consider abortion the most important problem in America” (Gallup). Knowing what banning abortion or keeping it legal could mean and does mean, this stat seems extremely appalling and scary. But it makes sense. Abortion does not directly negatively affect anyone with any consciousness of the political world around them. However the ban of it could, and the fact that it is legal at the moment, no one with a voice in the matter is being negatively affected, so it makes logical sense that so many Americans do not view abortion as the number one issue in America. If there was a ban placed I would imagine that number to be much higher. Bottomline, however, is that that number should be 100%.
    There are more Pro-Life voters that vote Democrat than Pro-Choice that vote Republican. The many downfalls of the Republican point of view, on the surface, seem to be self centered and can be looked at as being racist from certain perspectives. Things like this scare many Pro-Life voters off and cause them to not want to vote Republican as no one can truly feel the effect abortion has on our lives. If we could, then everyone would be voting for Pro-Life as we would be the one’s getting killed, the world of those with experience in living in society.
    From a Pro-Choice standpoint, Every woman in America counts on it. To vote against abortion would be a vote against women and their rights. People like Sarah Davis are fundamentally contradicting themselves in a giant way by sticking with the Republican party while one of their main purposes is to strip rights away from women. Continuing to keep equal rights for women is something that every American should strive for. Think of all the women struggling financially and simply are not ready to bring a child in the world. They should have every right to end the pregnancy, as it is just another extension of their own bodies. To vote against that would be a slap in the face to all of those struggling women who need every bit of help that they can get.
    From a Pro-Life perspective, voters need to absolutely be sure their candidate that they are voting for truly supports their view. Voting for anyone who believes that abortion should be legal would be supporting the mass genocicde of literal infants. Think of all the babies, who due to their youth cannot defend themselves. It is different from slavery and women’s rights, where those issues had outspoken leaders in which to defend themselves. People like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ida. B. Wells were able to use their voices in public to make a difference. Sometimes all the victims of abortion get to experience are the clamps of a doctor. Think of all the Frederick Douglasses, Sojourner Truths, Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs. and Ida. B. Wellses type of people that we could have had in our society today if they were not aborted.
    The vote is the number one way we as Americans can exercise our rights to be a citizen. And no matter where you align as a citizen, who you vote for is you directly saying what you want from society. The next time you enter the polling booth, think of how strong the implications of your vote have for either the rights of women or the unborn, and how abortion indirectly affects us all, as an injustice to one group of people in the U.S., is an injustice to us all.

    Works Cited
    “Abortion Statistics.” American Life League, http://www.all.org/learn/abortion/abortion-statistics/.
    Balducc, Lodovico. “Why I’m pro-Life but Not pro-Trump: Column.” Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Times, 7 Aug. 2020, http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/2020/08/07/why-im-pro-life-but-not-pro-trump-column/.
    Gallup. “Abortion Trends by Party Identification.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 6 Oct. 2020, news.gallup.com/poll/246278/abortion-trends-party.aspx.

    Rayasam, Renuka. “The One Republican Lawmaker in Texas Who Supports Abortion Rights.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 14 Apr. 2020, http://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/14/texas-abortion-sarah-davis-pro-choice-republican-126071.

    “The Rationalist Papers”, (6): Why pro-Life Voters Should Dump Trump for Biden.” Without Bullshit, 5 Oct. 2020, withoutbullshit.com/blog/the-rationalist-papers-6-why-pro-life-voters-should-dump-trump-for-biden.

    1. Thanks for this detailed argument. I take issue with a few things.

      One is that you can define “life,” or more accurately, human life. A don’t think a fertilized zygote is human life. I do think a fetus at 7 months is human life. Somewhere in there is the crux of what matters. Certainly, if the woman’s life is in danger, or if the fetus is not going to live anyway, you might make different choices.

      Second, while this is an important issue, it is not the only issue. If you care about life, you can care about the lives of migrants, or the lives of people in danger of getting COVID, or the lives put in jeopardy by wars, or the lives endangered by the lack of health care. These are all issues about life, and some of them are arguably more important than the “life” of a bundle of cells that’s got very little to do with a human. I notice no one is arguing about all the frozen embryos in in-vitro fertilization clinics.

      I cannot solve the abortion question and I suspect I’m not going to convince anyone of anything different from what they already believe. But we are mature people who can vote on more than one issue. All these issues are moral issues, including the morality of the president.

      1. Thanks for the reply.
        If you define life at 7 months, then all abortions after that are murder by definition. I do actually advocate for legal abortions if the mother’s life is in danger from the birth, but those cases are extremely, extremely rare.
        And yes you can care about those other issues, which I do, a lot, but I still do not believe that they compare to the murder of innocent babies.
        I tried to make my response as objective as possible but obviously some bias showed through. I personally disagree with many of Trump’s policies, but simply cannot advocate for the murder of children. The Democratic Party view of abortion is that human life does not begin until birth, and in your case, rare indeed, but perfectly allowable by the democratic party, those late 3rd trimester abortions are literal murder of children.

  5. God bless you for such beautiful words and eloquent wisdom. I am pro choice as a policy, but pro life as a personal belief. I am a doctor in my own right and an ardent feminist. And despite all that, you have managed to enlighten me. Thank you for what you do

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