Religion and Politics in the US

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Religion or Politics – Which is to blame for the ongoing issue of abortion in the United States?

abortion_2nd_opinion

2014 marked 41 years since the famous Roe v. Wade case, where the Supreme Court decided to establish a woman’s constitutional rights to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. Despite this result, however, Michael Lipka indicates; “abortion remains a divisive political issue.”[1] This statement is exemplified in the cartoon above; indicating the interference of politics in the act of abortion, thus suggesting one of the reasons for its ongoing debate.

Why is it so difficult to come to an agreement over abortion? Is it right or wrong? Is it the woman’s right? When does ‘life’ truly begin? These are the questions pondered repeatedly by so many Americans. The fact of the matter is the wide scope of different attitudes and beliefs that formulate the United States. Take the Republican Party for example; generally anti-abortion, and generally supported throughout the Southern and Mid-Western states. Opposing them are the Democrats; more pro-abortion and generally gaining support from the East and West Coasts, particularly various states among the New England region.[2] Arguably, it is these two parties that are causing such a regional divide in America, thus adding to this ongoing disagreement on abortion. mapFurthermore, Michael Lipka suggests from research that 75% of New Englanders say abortion should be legal in all/most cases. However this figure dropped to only 40% when the same question was asked in the South Central States[3], therefore further highlighting the different attitudes as a result of the Republican and Democratic parties. The views of these two parties certainly express very different views on abortion, whilst taking the same approach of intertwining the subject matter into political matters.

Sarah Palin, a politician and Republican is a prime example of extreme ‘pro-life’ views. In 2006, Palin declared that even if her own daughter had been raped, she would still oppose an abortion. Obama, on the other hand, a Democrat, has been named by some as “The Most Pro-Abortion President Ever.”[4]On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obama expressed his utmost views on abortion, stating; “government should not intrude on family matters”[5], whilst also claiming he was remaining committed to policies and programs that help “unintended pregnancies”[6]. It is complete opposite attitudes such as these that are causing this large regional split in politics in the United States. It also happens to appear, that the supporters of the Republicans often tend to be people who put greater emphasis on religion on their political decisions. This therefore leads us into another great factor in the United States that interferes with the debate of abortion; religion.

Whilst the cartoon displays a strictly political aspect of the abortion debate, religion undoubtedly is also a highly important factor that intertwines with politics to add to America’s “growing regional divide.”[7] In the journal ‘Reproductive Health Matters’ a paper from ‘Conscience’ is referenced in reviewing ‘Catholic bishops, abortion, and partisan politics in the US.’ It suggests that the “political agenda of US Catholic bishops over two decades has centred on the single issue of abortion and established them in a politically partisan role in which abortion appears to be the main ethical issue of importance to the Catholic Church.”[8]This article is thereby providing evidence for the involvement of religion in US politics and by stating “over two decades” is displaying further proof of how ongoing this issue is. Additionally, it is also expressed that the bishop’s opposition to abortion may still lead them into supporting a Republican presidency[9], thus exacerbating this idea that the Republican Party expresses views that are of higher importance to religion and the religious population of the United States, exemplified by Geographic’s, as the Republican party achieves much support arguably from the states in the ‘bible belt’. This is further supported in ‘Religion in American Life’, where it states; “opposition to abortion could be politically advantageous”[10], and additionally expressing “pro-choice candidates were narrowly defeated by candidates promising to outlaw abortion”[11]. These religious attitudes have thus been intensified in US politics and become a large driving force behind the votes for either the Democrats or Republicans.

The question of why abortion is such an ongoing issue in the United States ultimately as we can see comes down to religion and politics. Whilst the cartoon expresses a solely political aspect of interference, it is the compounds of religious and political beliefs that intertwine to create such a divisive issue. In my opinion, in terms of which one; politics or religion, proves greater difficulty within the abortion debate, I would suggest politics. This is purely based on the fact that abortion is generally at the stem of Politicians arguments and the split that it creates is exemplified through evidence of the Republican and Democratic parties. However, there is cause to argue that religion is the deeper driving force, particularly as the two parties are arguably split mainly due to matters of religion and the views they provide, with more states being in the ‘bible belt’ being Republican as an example. If you ask me, abortion has been the subject of political and religious debate for years, and will continue to be due to the wide spectrum of strong views provided through both religion and politics individually, as well as intertwined.

[1] Lipka, Michael; ‘5 facts about abortion’, http://www.pewresearch.org, Jan 22nd 2014

[2] Google image of rep. demo. Map 2012

[3] Lipka, Michael; ‘5 facts about abortion’, http://www.pewresearch.org, Jan 22nd 2014

[4] Anthony, Susan B.; ‘Obama: The Most Pro-Abortion President Ever’; www.sba-list.org (http://www.sba-list.org/suzy-b-blog/obama-most-pro-abortion-president-ever)

[5] Obama, Barack; ‘Statement by the President on Roe. V Wade Anniversary’ , The White House; Office of the Press Secretary; www.whitehouse.gov , Jan 22nd 2012

[6] Ibid

[7] Lipka, Michael; ‘5 facts about abortion’, http://www.pewresearch.org, Jan 22nd 2014

[8] “Reproductive Health Matters”; ‘Catholic bishops, abortion, and partisan politics in the US’, 1993-2010, volumes 1-18, http://www.jstor.com

[9] ibid

[10] Butler, Jon, Wacker, Grant &Balmer, Randall; ‘Religion in American Life a Short History’, Oxford University Press, page 395

[11] Ibid

 

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This entry was posted on December 3, 2014 by in Uncategorized, Vol 2, 2014/15.
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