Written by Kerby Anderson
The Democratic and Republican Conventions have concluded, and the elections of 2012 are in full swing. In order to be an informed voter, you need to consider many aspects of a candidate including their character, their stand on the issues, and much more. The following is a brief comparison of the two major party platforms on key social issues.
Abortion and the Sanctity of Life
D: The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman's decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.
R: Faithful to the "self-evident" truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage.
Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions-gender discrimination in its most lethal form-and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
D: President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to supporting family planning around the globe to help women care for their families, support their communities, and lead their countries to be healthier and more productive. That's why, in his first month in office, President Obama overturned the "global gag rule," a ban on federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provided information about, counseling on, or offered abortions. And that is why the administration has supported lifesaving family planning health information and services.
R: The United Nations Population Fund has a shameful record of collaboration with China's program of compulsory abortion. We affirm the Repub- lican Party's long-held position known as the Mexico City Policy, first announced by President Reagan in 1984, which prohibits the granting of federal monies to non-governmental organization that provide or promote abortion.
We renew our call for replacing "family planning" programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.
Definition of the Family
D: We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
R: The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children.
We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so.
We will enforce and defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Armed Forces as well as in the civilian world.
D: Public education is one of our critical democratic institutions. We are committed to ensuring that every child in America has access to a world-class public education so we can out-educate the world and make sure America has the world's highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. This requires excellence at every level of our education system, from early learning through post-secondary education. It means we must close the achievement gap in America's schools and ensure that in every neighborhood in the country, children can benefit from high-quality educational opportunities.
The Democratic Party understands the importance of turning around struggling public schools. We will continue to strengthen all our schools and work to expand public school options for low-income youth, including magnet schools, charter schools, teacher-led schools, and career academies.
R: Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level. Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a personal and cultural identity. That is why education choice has expanded so vigorously. It is also why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America.
D: The Affordable Care Act ensures that women have access to contraception in their health insurance plans, and the President has respected the principle of religious liberty. Democrats support evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education.
We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
R: We pledge to respect the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard the independence of their institutions from government. We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and of our country's Judeo-Christian heritage, and we affirm the right of students to engage in prayer at public school events in public schools and to have equal access to public schools and other public facilities to accommodate religious freedom in the public square. We assert every citizen's right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious symbols, or submitting to government-imposed hiring practices. We oppose government discrimination against businesses due to religious views. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault and condemn the State blacklisting of religious groups which de- cline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights.
D: We believe accessible, affordable, high quality health care is part of the American promise, that Americans should have the security that comes with good health care, and that no one should go broke because they get sick. Over the determined opposition of Republicans, we enacted landmark reforms that are already helping millions of Americans, and more benefits will come soon.
At the same time, the Affordable Care Act is not the end of efforts to improve health care for all Americans. Democrats will continue to fight for a strong health care workforce with an emphasis on primary care. We remain committed to eliminating disparities in health and will continue to make sure families have access to mental health and substance abuse services. We will strengthen Medicaid and oppose efforts to block grant the program, slash its funding, and leave millions more without health insurance. We will continue to invest in our public health infrastructure - ensuring that we are able to respond to emergencies and support community-based efforts to prevent disease.
R: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-Obamacare-was never really about healthcare, though its impact upon the nation's health is disastrous. From its start, it was about power, the expansion of government control over one sixth of our economy, and resulted in an attack on our Constitution, by requiring that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance. We agree with the four dissenting justices of the Supreme Court: "In our view the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."
Congressional Republicans are committed to its repeal; and a Republican President, on the first day in office, will use his legitimate waiver authority under that law to halt its progress and then will sign its repeal. Then the American people, through the free market, can advance affordable and responsible healthcare reform that meets the needs and concerns of patients and providers.
D: President Obama appointed two distinguished jurists to the Supreme Court: Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Moving forward, we will continue to nominate and confirm judges who are men and women of unquestionable talent and character and will always demonstrate their faithfulness to our law and our Constitution and bring with them a sense of how American society works and how the American people live.
R: Despite improvements as a result of Republican nominations to the judiciary, some judges in the federal courts remain far afield from their constitutional limitations. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. Judicial activism which includes reliance on foreign law or unratified treaties undermines American law. The sole solution, apart from impeachment, is the appointment of constitutionalist jurists, who will interpret the law as it was originally intended rather than make it. That is both a presidential responsibility, in selecting judicial candidates, and a senatorial responsibility, in confirming them. We urge Republican Senators to do all in their power to prevent the elevation of additional leftist ideologues to the courts, particularly in the waning days of the current Administration.
About the Author
Kerby Anderson is president of Probe Ministries International. He holds masters degrees from Yale University (science) and from Georgetown University (government). He is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics in Plain Language, Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope and Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times. His new series with Harvest House Publishers includes: A Biblical Point of View on Islam, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design and A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare. He is the host of "Point of View" (USA Radio Network) heard on 360 radio outlets nationwide as well as on the Internet (www.pointofview.net) and shortwave. He is also a regular guest on "Prime Time America" (Moody Broadcasting Network) and "Fire Away" (American Family Radio). He produces a daily syndicated radio commentary and writes editorials that have appeared in papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
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