I’m currently listening to Fred Thompson on Meet the Press.  I’ll admit right now that I haven’t followed Thompson much.  I was initially very interested in the ’08 race, and while I still find myself on my knees about the event next year, I haven’t had much time recently to continually research the multitude of candidates.  That being qualified, I was surprised and disappointed by many of his answers to Tim Russert.

I was happy to hear him make it quite clear that he believes abortion is morally wrong.  A few years ago, he said that he didn’t know if life began at conception, and since he wasn’t sure of it, he didn’t want to pass laws assuming it did, and therefore impose his shaky beliefs on others.  Many things can be said in response to that– it seems obvious to me that if we don’t know if life begins at conception, we should probably play it safe and assume it does.  If you were about to blow up a building and didn’t know for sure if someone was in the building, you would probably play it safe and not blow it up.  So if we don’t know if a human life is present at conception (which is a bunch of hooey, by the way), shouldn’t we assume it is, rather than play the odds and chance killing a human life?  Anyway, I will give him kudos for his response when questioned about that today — he said that his position since then has changed, especially after seeing the sonogram of his own child.  After he saw that sonogram, he realized it was his child and that his child was alive.  Since then, he has held that life begins at conception.

Okay, so he has that going for him.  But then I began to get disappointed.  While he thinks abortion is the taking of a human life, and he wants to see Roe v Wade overturned, he does not think that there should be a law passed by the national government to outlaw abortion, nor does he even believe there should be a statement that affirms the 14th Amendment should be applied to the unborn.   He believes the abortion issue should be left up to the states, and the states should be free to make pro-abortion laws.  Usually, I’m all for putting things back to the states.  As Thompson just said in the interview, “The less government, the better.”  I agree.  But in this issue, I don’t know how you can reconcile in your head that abortion is killing a human life (which Thompson just said he believes) and at the same time, agree that the states should be allowed to pass pro-abortion laws.  Yes, in former days, our country was more of a confederation of independent states with their own governments, all united by a weaker central government.  Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.  Some issues are too grave, too dangerous to the common good, and, given the way our government has evolved, should be defined by the national government.  Slavery was left up to the individual states, and look where that got us (that is a subject for a future post).  Although I am a firm believer in states’ rights, I believe with the way our government is now organized, and because the abortion issue is a danger to our society, the Courts must make a definite statement against abortion.  No one objects today to the 13th Amendment, which the US Congress passed to abolish slavery.  I don’t think we need an additional amendment to abolish abortion.  I believe the Constitution already prohibits abortion,  and if the Supreme Court will affirm that, overturning Roe v Wade, then abortion will be prohibited across the country.  States can not be free to make abortion laws for themselves, because such laws would be unconstitutional.

Thompson said that he thinks abortion is morally wrong, but does not think it is good legal practice to pass a law that makes it a criminal act.  I am not sure if he is against the idea of state laws outlawing abortion, or only a broad national law.  He did speak contemptuously of the idea of jailing young women who, finding themselves in bad situations, procure abortions.  Yes, it is a horrible thought.  But we must be willing to help these women.  They are not being helped — they are being abused.  The cycle of abuse continues as they are fed contraceptives and easy abortions to attempt to solve problems.  We can’t just look at the prohibition of abortion as leading to the jailing of women.  Instead, we must realize that it would force our society to help them, to reach out to their needs, and  to not just use abortion as band-aid for grave social ills.  We can’t refuse to pass laws against murder because young people who already find themselves in bad situations would go to jail for it.  Thankfully, our country doesn’t have a problem jailing young men who beat their wives, even if they find themselves in bad situations.  People should be punished for transgressions and be helped to overcome these issues.  I don’t see how the answer to any crime is to ignore it.

Thompson also said that the government should not have gotten involved with the Terri Shiavo case.  I don’t have time to get into this now, but I will say this… while I am a firm believer that less government is better, I do believe that the purpose of the government is to serve the common good according to the principles of justice. (Read Plato.)  That being said, I think the state of Florida had every right to step in to save an innocent woman’s life.  The problem with our society is that we recognize the rights of some individuals, but completely disregard others’ rights.  Michael Schiavo apparently had the right to kill his wife, but his wife did not have the right to live.

That’s all I’ll say about that, before I get off on some tangent more than I already have.  I find many of Fred Thompson’s views troubling.  I am looking for a candidate that can reconcile hard, objective truth with good legal practice.  It was clear from his interview that he is seeking solid legal ground, and I’m happy with that.  I’m not asking for someone to pass virtuous laws that are bad laws.  One of the biggest problems with Roe v Wade, except for the obvious moral problems, is that it is simply a bad law.  It is a decision with holes so big, any competent lawyer can walk through them.  I want good, solid laws.  I want a candidate who knows the Constitution and listens to it.  However, it was also clear from his interview that he was unsettled over how to reconcile his moral beliefs with legal practice.  And that I find troubling in a presidential candidate.