September 6, 2009
More dialog with Scott Munsterman on abortion
Last week I published here my interview with South Dakota gubernatorial candidate Scott Munsterman. I won't repeat his strong pro-life position and statements here but will assume you have read the earlier interview. Over the weekend he and I sat down face to face to talk about some of this at another level. And, since then, I'm now about 70 pages into his 175 page book… A Vision for South Dakota (pdf alert on this download). Thanks to Scott for giving me a signed copy. I told him my pro-life friends are gravitating to Dennis Daugaard and he welcomes me to closely compare the two of them, which I will do.
Phoeey to those of you who wish I'd talk about something other than abortion. I do, just not here. I'm trying to stay focused on the LIFE issue on this blog. In his 175 page book, Munsterman only spends three pages talking about abortion in South Dakota. (In those pages he does not talk about ending it only that we tried. Mainly what's there are really good paragraphs about abstinence and adoption.) I'll leave it to the other bloggers to engage him on all the other issues. I will say this, Munsterman stands a head taller than any other gubernatorial candidate in terms of having spent the last two years writing and articulating a clear and coherent, Conservative strategy and vision for our state's future. He's got great ideas on building communities, education, the economy and the budget, health care and energy. I'm impressed with what I know about his accomplishments as mayor of our state's fifth largest city. And, specific to my areas of concern, I'm impressed with the centrality of his faith. My sense also is that he knows who he's working for… God and us. This awareness is rare anymore, on both sides of the aisle.
The first ten pages of his book are one page outlines and summaries of his top ten goals. He gets extra points with me for addressing the LIFE issue in Goal #1. However as I state below, what he says is insufficient, in my view, and I hope we hear more from him. Here's his first statement in the book (p. ix) on abortion which, I suggest, also sums up what he writes later (pgs 10-11).
Even though there are strong views on the abortion subject, it is time we came together as a people around other important missions we can all agree upon to embrace. As a good friend of mine says, "It is time to move off of the extremes and make it about people not ideals." Let's focus on connecting loving parents with children in need through a South Dakota Hero Initiative.
To start off, I'll be admittedly too picky - - a bit of a cringe factor for me that he refers to abortion as a "subject." Killing children isn't a subject like taxes or education. It's an anathema, a horror, an evil. I want Scott to explain what he means by "extremes" because I think "extreme" is dismembering living South Dakota children without anesthesia. If those, including both he and I, who want to stop it are "extreme" then I interpret his statement as a concession that we tried that and now we need to move on. He has told me we need to proceed with the right strategy at the right time to end abortion in South Dakota. I was hoping to read something encouraging about relentlessness with regard to fighting for the right to life for our state's most vulnerable citizens. Wilberforce is the hero here (as I've written elsewhere)…
Wilberforce introduced anti-slavery bills every year for eighteen years. It took another twenty-six years until all the slaves were actually freed from the evil that imprisoned them. Wilberforce continued his efforts until a bill declaring all slaves were free throughout the British Empire was passed. He died four days later. All told he invested fifty years of his life in this redemptive process.
Again, in person Munsterman communicated his commitment to continue fighting for LIFE. I get a different impression in the book. He notes "this issue has polarized friends and families across this state" and his concern is to come back together and move on to things we can agree on. I say let's do both 1) things we can agree on and 2) fight for that which is right regardless of how polarizing it is… especially if innocent human life is at stake. Standing before the Author of Life, I assure you, saying you thought ending abortion was too polarizing an ambition to pursue won't be sufficient. Perhaps to the dismay of fiscal conservatives, God is more attuned to our treatment of the "least of these" than he is our ability to cut spending and lower taxes.
On page ten he begins; "we must accept that we cannot all agree about what is, or is not moral." Scott?! The same could have been said about the disputed morality of the slave trade and the less-than-human status of blacks. I'm sure the first black president is glad this nation fought it out and did not accept the fact that some people thought some people were less than human. Science and now the US Court of Appeals confirms conception produces a biological human. Last I checked, there is no moral wiggle room on taking innocent human life and I can't accept, ever, those who seek to justify it.
The line about making it about people, not ideals is fine as long as we don't lose sight of the fact that stopping abortion IS about letting PEOPLE live. And, that it IS a death-for-profit-ideology that is killing people in South Dakota right now, and exploiting women. Ideologies kill people. I think he agrees with all this, but this paragraph frustrates me, obviously.
His last sentence in that summary paragraph about connecting loving parents with children in need through a South Dakota Hero Initiative is all about adoption. He explains this more fully on pages 10-11.
It's time for us as a state to come together and lend a hand in support of getting our children into loving homes. Both pro-life and pro-choice organizations can work together toward solutions by promoting and encouraging adoption…. Senator John Thune wrote that "Adoption creates heroes every day." A solution: establish a South Dakota hero Initiative. State law can lend it's efforts by eliminating red tape and even create incentives for loving parents who wish to adopt children.
Agreed! Let's do it. And, the churches ARE doing it and would love the state's help. But it's not enough. It's a key part of it, but it's not enough. To sum up Munsterman's two-pronged approach to the problem of crisis pregnancies and unwanted children…
1) "championing abstinence until marriage" including "establish a young adult commission in each school district" to "help them understand their dilemma's in life" and "work together with them to set a new direction for their future."
2) Make adoption easier.
These are great. But not enough. Unplanned pregnancies will still happen and abortion will remain a form of retroactive birth control. Scott, add two more things to your plan. I propose 3 and 4.
3. Support the Lampstand Project - the network of churches that exist in every county in our state - churches of all flavors willing to come alongside women in crisis pregnancy. Abortion IS NOT NECESSARY in South Dakota because there are people to help in tangible ways.
4. Be RELENTLESS in strategic legislative initiatives to end abortion as a form of birth control in our state - South Dakotan's care about their children.
a. Educate and open the state's eyes to the economic costs and impact of 35 years of dead South Dakota children. Show who profits into the hundreds of millions from abortion.
b. Help awaken the state to the historic opportunity it's been given - that South Dakota could be to the ending of abortion what Alabama was to the ending of segregation. (Moving here 15 years ago I detected a state with a low self-esteem. Scott, South Dakotan's need to hold their head up high that this state is more strategic than any other state in ending a national holocaust.)
c. Expose and have a zero-tolerance policy for the out-of-state abortion cartel dumping millions here to keep their illegal shoddy chop shop open. Strictly enforce every law and penalize every slight violation. Make abortion "doctors" behave like real doctors.
d. Restate the reasons for our state's rejection of embryonic stem cell research and hold fast on that position.
I love this line also on page 10… "The young people of this state must be taught from a young age that they are the future and that they are valuable." New question: does that mean you think we should stop teaching them in schools the theory that they are just the next random mutation in an unguided evolutionary process? But back on point, to me it comes down to… when do SD kids become our state's future and valuable? I think Scott would say "at conception." Then, Scott, let's be relentless in fighting (as Sen. Tim Johnson hypocritically said in his welcome back speech) that each person be afforded "the opportunity to reach their full potential in life."