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Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were asked a number of tough questions at a recent event called the “Compassion Forum,” hosted by CNN’s Campbell Brown and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham. Meacham asked the candidates if life begins at conception. Here are their responses:

OBAMA: This is something that I have not come to a firm resolution on. I think it’s very hard to know what that means — when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don’t presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I’ve said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we’re having these debates.

Please help me understand two things:

1. If we don’t know for certain when life begins, why would we not err on the side of caution? Why would a candidate support the right to kill a being that even might be human life?

2. What does “moral weight” mean – practically – to someone who have voted for partial-birth abortion?

CLINTON: Potential for life begins at conception. . . I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out. But for me, it is also not only about a potential life — it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

Again, please help me understand two questions:

1. Does Mrs. Clinton really believe that individuals should be entrusted with the decision about the destruction of “potential life,” without government interference? Using similar reasoning, I might argue for the legalization of prostitution, marijuana, the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws, etc.

2. Given Mrs. Clinton’s conviction, would it not make sense to say, “for me it is about the quality of life a person may have. So after many years of searching my own soul, I have concluded that each individual must be entrusted to make the profound decision to spare an Autistic child from a less than normal life by euthanasia. You see, I care about the others who are involved – the unfair burdened life of a parent who must take care of the child.”



  1. Gee, since their churches have not provided answers that satisfy them, maybe Obama and Clinton could do something that would be clearly unique for them: Ask God what the truth is. Then again, He can come off as so dogmatic… and intolerant…

  2. Let me start off by saying that I do believe that life begins at conception. When everything joins together, a living organism begins, and that can become a person. If it doesn’t after those things are joined, something has indeed died.

    Still, so often, there is a blaring disconnect in the church. Politically active American evangelicals call themselves pro-lifers. They preach about the sanctity of life, how every human life is precious and created by God. Now, I agree. But then the disconnect comes. Christians will fight to their deaths to protect the potential life of an unborn child, but they don’t care at all for the mother who is going to die if she stays pregnant, and most likely, the baby will die, too. They don’t care for the homeless man on the street, covered in his own urine and growing emaciated. They don’t care about the poor, starving, afflicted of India and Africa. They don’t care about the Palestinian babies that have recently been buried due to violence from Israel. They don’t care about the continued racism in America and abroad. In fact, they support wars, which kill! They mostly support Republicans, the oobercapitalistic party that helps out wealthy business owners and country club folks, but totally disregards the poor and sick that are dying here in the wealthiest nation on the earth! Christians say they believe in the sanctity of life, but they only believe in the sanctity of potential life of unborn babies. The living, however, are abandoned to fend for themselves more often than not.

    And I have been a part of this, and I, as a part of the church, AM a part of this. Something has to happen. If we believe in the sanctity of life, we will approach this subject in a very different way. And we will be forced to rethink the way we approach many other subjects.

    I agree with Hillary that “individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision.” With every case in abortion-related things, there are always many “what-ifs” and “how abouts” and circumstances–too many, I think, to make broad, general statements about the subject as a whole. Surely the girl who freaks out because she and her boyfriend are expecting now getting an abortion is not okay. That would definitely be murder. But the woman whose body cannot stand the burden of bearing children, and if she tries, she will most likely die a gruesome, painful death, and the child will most likely be lost as well…her getting an abortion…I’m not sure what to think. Is that wrong? In such a case, which life so you save? Can we make broad, general statements there? I think not.

  3. Having some personal experience on this subject, this is what I have to say:
    I was 3 months pregnant before I knew I was pregnant. My periods were not “normal” as my other female friends experienced but hey, 2 -3 days a month was just fine with me. It wasn’t until that 3rd month that my body started talking to me. I had been in an auto accident that had put me in the hospital …in traction and under a lot of muscle and pain relievers. Back then (29 years ago) we didn’t have the luxury of the home pregnancy test that’s available to us today. Being a full-time student at Memphis State and my husband working for a trucking company, part-time, we were not eligible for any medical insurance coverage and money was tight–so I went to one of the “family clinics” in mid-town who offered FREE pregnancy testing. Only thing I didn’t realize is that they also performed abortions….right there! I was sitting in a room with several other girls who appeared to be my age, some younger, when a nurse came in and one-by-one would tell us the outcome of the test. Some girls immediately started crying. When the nurse got to me, she said “Your test is positive, you ARE pregnant” and without taking a breath or pause, said “do you want to keep it?” KEEP IT?? I didn’t know what she was asking me (I used to be really naive) I remember looking at her as if SHE was the one who needed a doctor and then very emphatically telling her YES! as I got up and left. I made an appointment with my OB that day and was “fortunate” there was a cancellation so she saw me immediately. I remember talking to my doctor that day about everything.–from being worried about the medicine I had been on and how that might affect the baby inside me to still working on my undergraduate degree and not having any money to pay for what I perceived to be an astronomical cost that lay ahead of us. Her only concern was the medicine I had been taking. Together, we looked it up in one of her medical books and saw all the side affects…the worst being that it could cause deformation in unborn fetuses. I remember having to drive home and then sit there all night and wait for my husband to get off work early the next morning. When most women break the news to their husband about the upcoming birth of their child, it’s usually one of exhilaration…mine was with a heavy heart. We both prayed about what to do but we knew what we HAD to do and that was to trust in God and obey. And because of our faith, I say that’s why God blessed me with a 2-hour labor, from the start of the first sign to the delivery of a 6lb 3oz “perfect” little boy. In fact, my doctor who had been so wonderful to me throughout all that “drama” didn’t make it there in time to deliver him! But God continued to bless me 3 more times with perfect little boys and fast labors! So when asked should we listen to “expert medical” advice or to Him, THE ONE who knows everything about us–I’ll continue to put my faith in Him. He still has a better track record than the advice I’ve received from several doctors!!!

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