Last night Messiah College in PA hosted the Compassion Forum, for “Democratic presidential candidates to focus on the issues of faith and compassion,” according to CNN’s Campbell Brown, who emceed along with Jon Meacham, Newsweek’s religious writer.
Conversation touched on aspects of our issue. It was frustrating that neither Brown nor Meacham had the knowledge, inclination, or wit to delve beyond easy answers. There was this…
Meacham: Senator, do you believe personally that life begins at conception?
Clinton: I believe that the 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… that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision…. I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare.
Follow-ups that never were:
In that same discourse Clinton stated:
… [I]ndividuals 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.
Brown followed up with a poorly worded euthanasia/assisted suicide question, “[is it] appropriate to let someone who is really suffering choose to end their life?” to which Clinton responded:
And I don’t know that any of us is in a position to make that choice for families or for individuals, but I don’t want us also to condone government action that would legitimize or encourage end of life decisions.
Unasked follow-up questions:
Finally, re: the euthanasia/suicide question, Clinton stated:
And now we are being faced with a lot of these difficult decisions because of what the world we live in today with modern technology and so much else. And we’re going to have to come to grips with them one way or another.
If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment….
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer….