Fortified Faith Opinion

On abortion, Tim Kaine is a bridge to Hillary Clinton’s past

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns with vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va., at East High School in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 30, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAX-OPED, originally transmitted on August 8, 2016.

(RNS) We shouldn’t be surprised when vice presidential candidates disagree with a position or policy espoused by the leader at the top of the ticket. In recent years, VP picks have served to unite warring factions of the party, or to become a meaningful pivot to the center.

But everything is different when it comes to abortion. There’s much less room for divergence.

In the past 20 years, the number of abortion-opposing Democrats has shrunk to the verge of extinction, and the polarization of politics on abortion has left little room for disagreement among the Democratic Party’s faithful.

Yet, on abortion, Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine, have flown to different wings within the “pro-choice” camp.

Kaine, a Roman Catholic, remains personally opposed to abortion but affirms “a woman’s right to choose.” This is the position, championed by the late Mario Cuomo, that one’s personal, theological perspective on abortion should be kept separate from public policy.

This line of thinking has proved to be a useful compromise in separating faith from policy, and the result for Kaine has been a reliable voting record for abortion rights.

Still, Kaine, who told “Meet the Press” he is a “traditional Catholic” and “personally I’m opposed to abortion,” is in an unenviable position. He would appear to believe the unborn human is a person and while he personally opposes the destruction of that person, he will do nothing to protect that person.

(One wonders what the world would have been like had the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said his faith taught him that African-Americans should be treated equally but he wouldn’t interfere with laws that deny them equal treatment.)

The difference between Clinton and Kaine is not in their voting record. It’s the fact that Clinton appears to have abandoned her old position in favor of a new, much more radical one.

The difference concerns the Hyde Amendment, a compromise between abortion opponents and abortion rights supporters, enacted in 1976 with broad, bipartisan support that banned taxpayer money from covering abortion access.

Kaine supports the Hyde Amendment. He believes that Americans who have moral objections to abortion should not be forced to subsidize violence against the unborn.

For decades, Clinton has also supported the Hyde Amendment and has sought to find common ground with pro-life Democrats by stressing, even as recently as 2008, that abortion should be rare: “And by rare, I mean rare.”

But this year, the Democratic Party platform lurched far to the left of any preceding era in our country’s debate over abortion, and Clinton lurched with the party.

She now advocates a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which would force those Americans who oppose abortion to pay for the abortions of low-income and minority women who cannot afford them through taxpayer funds.

Gone is the language of “safe, legal and rare.” Now, the Democratic Party seeks to ensure that abortion is safe, legal, common, and paid for.

Democrats who oppose abortion may have cheered Kaine’s selection, but they now say the party’s platform betrays them.

In the Los Angeles Times, Charles Camosy and Kristen Day write:

U.S. abortion law (which permits abortion for any reason until viability, about 22 to 23 weeks) already makes many progressive countries in Europe (which set their threshold for abortion at 12 to 13 weeks) look like pro-life radicals. Now the Democratic platform pushes the party to roll back even the very modest abortion regulations currently on the books.

The debate won’t go away. Clinton angered abortion rights advocates who vehemently oppose any attempt to attach “personhood” to unborn humans when she said earlier this year that “(t)he unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”

Strangely, pro-life advocates agreed with her choice of words: The unborn person has no rights, which is precisely the problem. They see the danger in denying personhood to human beings, or minimizing the personhood of others (should we consider the unborn to be 3/5 of a person?) as charting a course toward dehumanization and destruction.

Kaine’s disagreement with Clinton on the Hyde Amendment shows us where the line is today between today’s “abortion absolutists” — the belief that abortion access should be available, subsidized, with little to no restrictions from conception through the moment of birth — and more centrist positions on abortion, which hold that abortion should be legal, but restricted, especially in the second and third trimesters.

Kaine’s disagreement also shows us the line between those who see abortion as a positive social good (a view advocated by Katha Pollitt) and those who see abortion as a necessary evil, or in the words of Hillary Clinton in the past, “a tragic choice.”

Kaine represents Clinton’s past. Pollitt is closer to Clinton’s present.

(Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project and author of multiple books, including “Clear Winter Nights: A Journey Into Truth, Doubt and What Comes After”)

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Trevin Wax


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  • It’s amazing how someone can write paragraph after paragraph on the issue of abortion without any reference whatsoever to the role a woman plays in such issues. As typical for all fetus worshipers a fetus is to be considered a person, but a woman isn’t. Omission for the dishonest purpose of disregarding the born person with established rights and a life who is inseparable from a fetus before birth.

    As for compromise on the issue, who needs to bother? The fetus worshipers have demonstrated they have no regard for the lives of women anyway. They are more than willing to employ dishonest and full means to get their way. No need to bother meeting them half way.

  • Should government officials be able to force their religious beliefs on others? Not in America. That is Kaine’s position, and the majority of reasonable citizens agree.

  • I don’t like Trump, but Christians really need to send Hillary Clinton a solid No-Nonsense message about her totally radicalized, fringe-liberal, messed-up mess.

    A good ballot-box defeat would properly wake-up Hillary. (Prison Time In The Slammer would be even better, but voters have no control over that aspect.)

    So it’s time to put Hillary’s presidential campaign under arrest instead. Do it while America is still alive.

    VOTE TRUMP !!!!!!

  • And that one statement, right there, effectively tells you the whole truth about why Hillary picked this guy.

    Hillary didn’t pick Cain — sorry, I mean “Kaine” — to bring any ideological balance to her ticket. She picked that guy to REINFORCE the radicalized over-the-top extremist liberalism that SHE is already running on this confused nation.

    This nation really IS in trouble if Hillary wins. Not just Christians or Atheists or Whatnots. ALL of us.

  • A verse for impotent politicians:
    “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”
    —‭‭James‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  • There will be no comment on this issue from either side that has not been heard multiple times before, here or anywhere else.. Each individual should undoubtedly vote for the candidate whose position most closely reflects their own conscience on the question. Regardless of the electoral outcome of the presidential race, the outcome of the congressional races in play will have a greater effect on any potential legislation that arises, whichever way it cuts. This article is merely flogging a horse that is either destined for the glue factory or served up as horsemeat.

  • Connie, There is a huge fallacy in calling this a “religious belief” or that in the US one’s ethical beliefs whatever their source are rejected if they have any ties to religious teachings or beliefs. The fact is that there are biological, scientific and ethical considerations around abortion. It is totally clear in late term and partial birth, where a viable infant may be killed. I understand that there is debate in earlier stages, especially during the first few months. I agree on exceptions for the life of the mother in late term, so long as there is an attempt to deliver the child.

    As for forcing beliefs on others, one of the big problems with appealing the Hyde amendment is that it abandon’s the commitment to pluralism, the idea that I can allow you to make choices but for some areas of difference don’t make us pay for it. Contraception is a reasonable choice, and we should do more to support mothers and families but abortion is always a tragic choice. The abandonment and intolerance for this view is a dark sign for our society.

  • I should add that I am likely to vote for Hillary though, despite my opposition to the recent postion. The reason is that I consider Trump a much great risk to our nation and not fit to be president. It was the utterly insane notion that anyone is better than Hillary that caused them to give a bye to Trump last year just because he wore a Republican jersey.

  • The role of Government—as established by God (Romans 13)—is explicitly to restrain evil-doing as defined by God. Government officials have a duty therefore, to force their religious beliefs on others if those those beliefs are derived from and consistent with Scripture.

  • How about this, when either of us grow a uterus, we can tell people what to do with theirs. 🙂

  • Fortunately, more and more Americans, and more importantly, more and more Republicans, are waking up to the horror that a Trump presidency would bring.

  • And this is why bring a good Christian means being a bad American. Much like how islamaphobes state that Sharia law is incompatible with democracy and freedom, you demonstrate why Christian beliefs are equally at odds.

    If all you have for support of a subject is religious belief, it has no business being given color of law. We are not a theocracy. Nobody has to live according to your religious beliefs.

  • Now we are getting a little philosophical. Short answer: social order and ensure the fair and just treatment of the people bound by it. But the thing about living in a free and democratic society is that our laws cannot be beholden to the purely sectarian foibles of any given faith. Law must have a rational and secular purpose to be just. if a law has a purely religious purpose and lacks any kind of rational and secular basis, it is always discriminatory. By its nature it excludes and attacks others not in such faiths. It has no place in a society which values freedom and the liberty of all of its citizens.

  • @Spuddie,
    So if I understand you correctly, a human conception of freedom is to rule, rather than the righteous God of Scripture, correct?

  • Not at all. My point is that in a free society I am not bound by the peculiarity of your sectarian beliefs. The “righteous god of scripture” is your version of such belief. It is both rude and arrogant to believe you have a monopoly on such interpretations and views.

    You may believe your interpretation of god is all things to you. But I am not compelled to follow suit. God doesn’t rule directly even in your faith. He is always filtered by people assuming to act in his name and make their own interpretation of religious text.

    Or to put it most crassly, why do you think everyone must follow your religion?

  • Nope. He has been pretty lousy at making his point clear to everyone in an unambiguous fashion. So short of his voice booming from the heavens right now, it’s all just selective interpretation on our end. 🙂

    The delusional idea that fundamentalist Christians have a monopoly on the word of god gets old really fast.

  • The biblical position is that God is not silent; man is not listening. The most irrational thing we can do is reject the being and rule of God. After that we have become ungovernable and every atrocity will eventually be justified as rational. It is no coincidence that abortion and atheism currently coexist. It is for this reason that the wrath of God comes, as we are told in Romans 1.

  • Your interpretation of the biblical position, that is. The delusional part of your spiel is the certainty you claim your religious views are the only one worth considering. That you speak for the word and ruled god with absolute clarity and there can be no differences on the subject. Atrocity has found more justification in the word of God than any other cause.

    You are simply showing why views such as yours create oppressive, harmful forms of rule. ISIS makes the same arguments as yours. It is not your belief in God which is so pernicious and repugnant to the sensibilities of a free and just society, it is your complete and total lack of humility about it. You are too wrapped up in self importance to see the limitations of your view. In the zeal to act as god’s chosen voice, you overlook the drawbacks of such things.