The Powers That Blog

While we keep track of politics at a certain level, this is not a poliblog, nor a warblog. Maybe "eclectiblog" is a good description, as we note thoughts on topics from art to parenting to whatever comes to mind.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It's More Complicated

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has an article titled You Wouldn't Even Ask where he expounds on the problems with voting for any pro-abortion candidate, no matter how much one might agree on where this candidate stands on other issues. His firm belief is that if you are for abortion, that disqualifies you from public office and that pro-life voters should vote against you without asking you any further questions. He compares the pro-abortion stance to supporting terrorism. If a politician claimed he was in favor of terrorism, no one would even ask him about where he stands on healthcare, housing, or anything else.

I've actually long held this view and could be accused of being a single issue voter. In general, I vote for or against candidates based on their committment to protect our nation's unborn children. It's also worked out well for me because for the most part, the pro-life candidates have matched my political views in other areas as well, so I always preferred the pro-life package to the pro-abortion package. And I expect at least for the next few election cycles, I will continue to weigh abortion very heavily in my voting choices.

However, I am starting to question this view in principal. While I agree that supporting any form of mass killing of innocent citizens is dangerous for our country, I also see that there are other issues that in the long run are also serious. Suppose there are two candidates running for major office in this country. One of them supports terrorism and is proud of that fact. The other supports organized crime and has received large sums of money from the Mafia, and again, makes no apologies for that. Who should I vote for? In my opinion, neither one of them is qualified to serve in public office but there aren't any other candidates on the ballot.

Sometimes, that's closer to how it looks come election time. Usually, one of the candidates is pro-abortion and one is pro-life. The problem is that the candidate who is pro-life may also be in favor of societal institutions that support abortion, so even though not directly pro-abortion, his public policy really isn't going to make much difference. What if the pro-abortion candidate were willing to reform those institutions that support abortion, which would lead to abortion being less rampant, even though he's not against abortion but sees those reforms as important for other reasons? Who should I vote for?

So far, I haven't seen this scenario happen in real life, and maybe it never will. But I am starting to see abortion and euthanasia as being entwined with modern medicine, an institution that I believe is riddled with serious problems (see my previous post). Fortunately, as a citizen I do have a fair amount of freedom in determining how much I or my family participates in the institution of modern medicine. I can choose to refuse vaccinations for my children, for example. I can also seek alternative forms of healthcare when I get sick. And I enjoy a fair amount of privacy in that matter because no one other than my doctor and the various other healthcare practicioners I have visited hold my medical records, and they only have that portion that they have contributed to, or which I have given them. If I move to another state, any healthcare practitioner I begin to visit has to start from scratch with me or my family. Of course, it's in my best interest to be honest about my history, but it is very reassuring that a new doctor has to take me at my word, has to trust me that the information I'm giving him is correct (to the best of my ability). The fact that he can't verify what I tell him with some national medical database that all doctors can access puts me in a position of certain power, which I believe is a small, but healthy balance to the tremendous trust and power our society has given the medical profession.

A few months ago I was listening to the Sean Hannity show and Sean was interviewing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. I only heard a few minutes of the interview, so I may be taking this out of context, but what I heard was Mr. Gingrich elaborating on why he believed it was so very important to develop a national medical database where everyone's medical records would be centralized and accessible. Since I do not know much of his views beyond what I heard that day, all I can really say is that his words raised a red flag in my mind. I'm not sure I like this. I know I don't want my medical records being kept where people I haven't specifically authorized can access them, and I don't ever want to see such a database being forced on anyone or used to track anyone.

With the growing concern of a terrorist attack on this country taking the form of a biological agent, I have also heard talk among Conservatives (who in general are anti-abortion) about developing and making available new vaccines to counter the effects of these biological agents, and developing laws and systems to make sure everyone takes those vaccines. Again, the second part bothers me. I do not ever want to be forced to take a vaccine, or to have my children take a vaccine. No matter how serious the threat and no matter how much the vaccine is touted as being effective, I want the choice to still be up to me to make my own decisions regarding what treatments or preventatives I pursue for me and my dependent children. I do not want some beaurocrat telling me I must take treatment A over treatment B, especially when I know that treatment B is much better and safer for me. I want to be free to inform myself of the vaccine in question, determine as best I can its effectiveness and safety, then run my own risk-benefit analysis and decide for myself what to do about it. I believe this is part of being a free citizen. Yet I hear pro-life politicians or former politicians talking about stuff like this and it makes me very nervous.

On a more general level, financial ties between government agents and the pharmaceutical companies have been well-documented. I'm sure similar ties have been documented with government agents and other types of industries so this in and of itself isn't particularly surprising. However it does mean that when those agents make a decision that will affect said companies, the decision will not be an entirely free one, and will most likely reflect the best interests of the companies over the best interests of the constituents. Many politicians who are aware of these ties do not see a conflict because they honestly believe that both interests are complementary. But given the fact that it's the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the drugs and vaccines that the government then turns around and promotes, I do not have much confidence that when one of these products causes death or sickness, the politicians (including the pro-life ones) will always act in the most speedy manner to get that product off the shelf. In fact, historically and even recently, that has not been the case (Read The Virus and the Vaccine by Debbie Bookchin and Jim Shumacher for a historical example).

Really, what it comes down to is that for the most part, the pro-life candidates view abortion as an anomaly of an otherwise good healthcare system. My view is more and more that it's the healthcare system itself that makes such atrocities as abortion and euthanasia possible. Therefore, until a politician is willing to take the medical institution head on, his pro-life stance is to a large extent compromised.

Let's suppose in the next election I have a choice between two candidates. One is anti-abortion and a firm believer in removing the laws that allow for individuals to refuse vaccines for themselves or their dependent children--in other words, vaccines will now be made mandatory for everyone, no exceptions. Other than the concern over vaccine safety, this is problematic because there have been instances of vaccines being laced with substances such as contraceptives that the recipients knew nothing about, and I do not believe our government is immune to this temptation. The other candidate is pro-abortion, but believes the current exemptions for vaccines should be left alone, and actually expanded to give people even more freedom of choice in that area. This will put me in a very difficult position as a voter. On one hand, I am adamently against torturing and murdering innocent children (let's be honest, that's what abortion is). On the other hand, my first obligation is to protect my own children, and I believe vaccines are dangerous for them. Who should I vote for?

The question is actually much thornier than would appear at first glance.

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