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A Final Reflection on the Vote

November 3rd, 2008 | 3 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

For pro-life conservatives, this election is different than most.  Years of pro-life gains--and yes, in case you haven't heard, the pro-life cause extends beyond overturning Roe--stand to be overturned.  The malaise currently affecting the Republican party could give Democrats power that is unprecendented in my lifetime.

Justin Taylor has summed up what I think is the decisive case against Barack Obama:

But I want to plead with fellow evangelicals to recognize that this is a watershed election with regard to abortion. Barack Obama has promised to make signing the Freedom of Choice Act his first order of business in the White House--and with a Democratic Congress, he will be able to make this happen.

The Knights of Columbus recently catalogued the many small successes achieved in the pro-life political process since 1973:

  • The Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions;
  • The federal law banning partial birth abortions, which was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2007;
  • The “Mexico City Policy,” which has barred the use of federal taxpayers’ money to pay for abortions in other countries;
  • Laws in 44 states that preserve a parental role when children under 18 seek abortions;
  • Laws in 40 states that restrict late-term abortions;
  • Laws in 46 states that protect the right of conscience for individual health care providers;
  • Laws in 27 states that protect the right of conscience for institutions;
  • Laws in 38 states that ban partial birth abortions;
  • Laws in 33 states that require counseling before having an abortion;
  • And laws in 16 states that provide for ultrasounds before an abortion.

With a stroke of the pen, all of these would be gone.

I am under no illusions that electing John McCain will necessarily lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But I do believe that McCain would be a good pro-life president, I know that McCain would veto the radical FOCA, and I know that Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to ever run for president.

I believe evangelicals should care deeply--though not idolatrously--about this election, and that they should do what they can to stop, or at least slow, the slaughter of the innocent. Voting is one of the things you can do. I encourage you to do it, and to do so with a view toward the weakest and most defenseless members of the human race--3,700 of whom are being killed every single day in the United States.

The decision is clearly one of great import.  Should Barack Obama win tomorrow, conservatives would do well to remember the words of that eminent conservative, G.K. Chesterton:

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and, eclipse….For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.

I have frequently argued that it is the cheerfulness of conservatives that set them apart online.  You may think that Hugh is wrong, but you may not think him unhappy.  You may find DailyKos correct, but I suspect you will also find them angry.  There is a place for anger in the emotional life--and the reality of abortion is enough to justify it, I suspect--but tomorrow, if they do not have the opportunity to demonstrate their gracefulness in victory, conservatives have an opportunity to demonstrate their optimism that America can overcome every challenge and setback.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.