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Thursday, February 21, 2008
Here is a great explanation on why it MATTERS who the president is on the issue of abortion.
What if I told you the only significant influence the President has on the economy is in selecting the Chairman of the Federal Reserve?

While the role of the president in "managing the economy" is often overstated, most serious voters would rightly dismiss such a narrow claim as absurd. Yet how often do we hear the similarly daft assertion that the only significant role the president plays in advancing the pro-life agenda is nominating Supreme Court justices?

The fact is that the president has a limited but substantial and broad-based role in protecting life and defending the most vulnerable in society. Here are five examples of why it matters that the president is pro-life:

1. Preserving the Pro-Life Riders -- Each year pro-life provisions or "riders" are attached to the annual appropriations bills which prevent public funds from supporting abortions, abortion providers, or abortion promoters. The pro-life riders are attached to funding legislation and typically come up in the appropriations process or Department of Defense reauthorizations
Examples of pro-life riders include:

- The Dickey-Wicker provision which prohibits federal funding for research that harms or destroys human embryos.

- The Kemp-Kasten Amendment which prevents funding from going to those who support or participate in a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

- The Hyde-Weldon provision which offers conscience protections for health care entities that refuse to provide or encourage abortions. It requires federal funds to be withheld from any state that discriminates against a hospital, insurance provider, or individual doctors and nurses for refusing to participate in abortion.

- The Mexico City Policy, first enacted by Ronald Reagan and later reinstituted by George W. Bush, which prohibits USAID (foreign aid) money from going to any organizations that promote or perform abortions.

- Other provisions that are more specific include bans on funding for: abortions for federal prisoners, abortion in the District of Columbia, abortions through the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, abortions through Peace Corp, and abortion through the international HIV/AIDS bill.

2. Filing of amicus briefs in cases before the judiciary -- Where a case may have broader implications, amicus curiae briefs are a way to introduce those concerns, so that the possibly broad legal effects of court decisions will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case. Both John Roberts, as a Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General, and Samuel Alito, as Assistant to the Solicitor General, submitted briefs defending the pro-life cause. Reagan's Solicitor General Charles Fried also called for Roe to be reversed in a brief. While the briefs themselves rarely decide the outcome of a particular case, they are useful in limiting the scope of a particular legal change or interpretation.

3. Issuance of executive orders -- Executive orders help direct the operation of officers within the executive branch. They also have the force of law when made in pursuance of certain Acts of Congress, when those acts give the President discretionary powers. For example, on the 4th day of the Clinton presidency, Jan. 23, the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Bill Clinton signed, in a televised Oval Office ceremony, a series of executive orders undoing the pro-life policies of the Reagan-Bush era. The orders repealed the Mexico City policy, repealed prohibition on federally-funded clinics referring for abortion, lifted the ban on military abortions, and lifted the ban on fetal tissue research.

4. Selection of political appointments -- The President fills many political appointments that have a direct and significant impact on the pro-life cause. Examples include Health and Human Services (responsible for enforcing the Hyde Amendment, etc.), the FDA (e.g., approval and regulation of abortifacients), and the State Department (which sends multiple delegates to UN conferences like CEDAW and Population and Development, where the international battle for human dignity is waged).

5. Using the "bully pulpit" -- The term "bully pulpit" comes from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a wonderful platform (Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb) from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. As Reagan showed, there is simply no better single platform for advocating the pro-life cause than from within the Oval Office.

Christians have an obligation to the most vulnerable members of our society to elect politicians who have both a robust view of human dignity and the temerity to govern accordingly. We betray this duty when we downplay the role the executive branch in advancing the pro-life cause. Judges and legislators matter; but presidents matter too.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »