Written by Drew on April 7th, 2008

In my Ethics class, I teach my students that punishment involves the following five elements.

  1. Punishment must involve pain, harm, or some other consequence normally considered unpleasant.
  2. The punishment must be administered for an offense against a law or rule.
  3. The punishment must be administered to someone who has been judged guilty of an offense.
  4. The punishment must be imposed by someone other than the offender.
  5. The punishment must be imposed by rightful authority (Olen and Barry, Applying Ethics, 320-231).

During a Q&A session in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Barack Obama responded to a woman’s plea to “stop these abortions.” After giving the typical Democratic response that we have to trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, he elaborated on his belief that sex education ought to be taught in public schools.

Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.

What did he mean by “punished with a baby”? Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but as far as I know, he hasn’t retracted his words. It appears that Senator Obama really does think of some pregnancies as punishment, which means he believes a baby is “harm” inflicted on a guilty person by a rightful authority.
Is he saying babies bring “harm” to their mothers? Does he mean that irresponsible, premarital sex is morally wrong? Does he defer to God, the rightful authority who “inflicts” women with pregnancies? All these conclusions are based on the textbook meaning of the word “punishment” in the context of his statements in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps this is yet another election-year gaffe. But one ought to be more careful when he is addressing a subject as sensitive as abortion. Words mean things, and I believe Senator Obama’s words reveal a moral deficiency, not only in his own thinking but also in one of the major platforms of the Democratic party. For those who promote abortion as a woman’s right, pregnancy is punishment; babies are painful consequences of bad behavior.
I prefer David’s outlook–they are gifts from God (Ps. 127:3-5). No Democrat or Republican is going to change my mind on that.

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Anonymous says:

    Outstanding post.

  2. Russell Smith says:

    I think I kind of want to find this guy on judgment day and stand BEHIND him in line.

    It’s great to be a Christian and to understand what great blessings children really are regardless of the circumstances.

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