Last week, The Hays Daily News published a letter about abortion. This piece was written by a resident of Hays in response to part of a remarkable debate between Rick Santorum and Howard Dean. The Santorum/Dean debate took place at Fort Hays State University on Nov. 4. A video recording of the debate is available aty outube.com/watch?v=XtmoQc004Ws.
The letter included a summary of the relevant part of the debate. The summary was so well written I will take the liberty of simply repeating it here, with thanks: "On Monday night, Rick Santorum and Howard Dean, both former presidential candidates, met for a debate on "government involvement" in Hays. Almost immediately, the abortion issue was raised by Howard Dean in his opening statement. Rick Santorum eventually addressed the same issue with the statement, "I know life begins at conception ... and science confirms this." Howard Dean's response was to say he did not believe that life begins at conception but rather, that it begins when it can be sustained outside the womb."
The letter's author, speaking from the heart and with careful thought, challenges Howard Dean to re-examine his line of reasoning. The author contends this line of reasoning is faulty, saying: "If you can't call a baby a baby, and a murder a murder, I don't trust your judgment. You have fuzzy thinking -- a symptom of spiritual blindness."
I deeply admire the author's thoughtfulness and convictions, and also her cogent writing. Her piece moved me to reply.
I think the author I am quoting here is correct when she identifies fuzzy thinking by the Dean camp. But as a proud two-time Obama voter (Yes we can!) I can't help but notice fuzzy thinking on both sides.
Therefore, I felt moved to reply with some rebuttals to this very thoughtful author, in the same sincerity of heart that she clearly demonstrates.
Like the author, I also pray in sincerity that if I am misled, I will, as she hopes, be led to repentance and true healing. Anyone who is thinking carefully would hope that for themselves, I believe.
I am not certain that I have the answers to the questions this argument brings up. What I am certain of is that we need to work together, in unity, to try to ask good questions.
So in that spirit, here are some rebuttal arguments to a few of the author's points, which I have repeated in quotes:
"How can (Dean) say he believes in working for "the people" and "their rights" yet fails to see that all human life deserves to be fought for, as our Declaration of Independence clearly states?" With respect, I point out that the Declaration of Independence includes no clear statement that "all human life deserves to be fought for." If anyone would like to check the original text, an excellent live reading of the Declaration, recorded by celebrities at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETroXvRFoKY.
"Come on, people, everyone knows, deep down inside, that the life a woman carries in her womb is a baby. It's not a dog, a moose, a chipmunk." With respect, I point out that Howard Dean did not say that a pregnant woman is carrying a dog, a moose or a chipmunk. So bringing a dog, a moose and a chipmunk into the argument is not an adequate rebuttal of what Dean said.
"No matter what stage, if the development is stopped, a human baby is killed. Period." With respect, I point out that italicizing and saying "Period" after an assertion is not adequate supporting evidence to prove that the assertion is true.
The author makes several other arguments, some of them theological, which I am not qualified to address.
I will end by expressing my gratitude to the letter's author for her sincerity and thoughtfulness. I also thank The Hays Daily News for covering the debate and the Sebelius Lecture Series organizers at Fort Hays State University for making the debate happen. I would especially like to express my gratitude to Rick Santorum and Howard Dean. These two politicians share in common a very rare and valuable quality: a willingness to look a little bit silly for the sake of communicating extremely important ideas. Thanks, Rick and Howard.