Liam Madden: There’s a middle ground in abortion debate — but you’d never know it

This commentary is by Liam Madden. He is a candidate for U.S. House.

Politicians often like to pretend that there is only good and evil. This helps them give false choices to the public. This is happening today in Vermont’s Congressional election.

Candidate Becca Balint wanted money last week, and she thought it a good fundraising tactic to ask for donations while claiming her opponent is “anti-choice.” I am the person she is trying to stick that label on. She is being incredibly misleading.

Liam Madden for Congress

Liam Madden and family

Here’s why.

To be clear, I am for protecting more than 99% of choices about abortion, i.e., for all abortion choices prior to the independent viability of the child. And like most people, even those of us who consider themselves very pro-choice, I believe there are some — rare — reasonable exceptions that should be handled by regulations at a state level. While the extremes of both sides say X% of people are pro-life, or choice … they’re both leaving out of the conversation the vast majority of us who have thoughtful considerations that enable us to see the need for some nuance and openness in the discussion.

Even concerned pro-lifers will grant exceptions for rape, incest, and if the mother’s health is in jeopardy. And even a strongly-rooted pro-choicer — like me — believes there are valid considerations to be made for children who can survive outside the mother’s womb. In fact, 86% of Americans believe that a child becomes a person when they can live outside of the mother independently, according to a YouGov poll this year.

I think Balint doesn’t understand that 86% of people is an enormous middle ground—many of whom feel dismayed by the polarized, black-and-white fundamentalism on the extremes which wants us to fit into an oversimplified binary logic of “fully against” or “fully in favor” of one side or the other.

My wife gave birth to our second son this May. It is still incredibly fresh in my heart that pregnancy—and birth—and raising young children is an enormous responsibility, one that falls on women, especially. Seeing this, living it at this moment, I would not wish parenthood to be a choice forced on anyone who isn’t ready or able to take care of their babies.  It is also fresh in my mind how elated we were in the last trimester, when the time came when we knew our baby could survive outside of the womb. Meaning, I can acknowledge that both choice over our bodies, and protecting children able to live outside the womb – are both sacred responsibilities.

At first, I realized that Balint was creating a self-serving and false narrative on this issue. Then I realized that she doesn’t think she is lying. She is just not accustomed to seeing the nuance and complexity here, so therefore, to her, someone like me can only fit in one of two boxes: either fully with her, or fully against. It’s the same style of thinking that says, “You’re either with us, or with the terrorists.” Sometimes politicians aren’t just pretending there is only good and evil on a subject, sometimes (even more in our dysfunctional and polarizing two-party system) they actually believe it. That’s even worse!

When I saw this dynamic, I realized my anger was misplaced. I realized how happy I am to be giving the middle 80% of Vermonters a voice. Those of us who can honor both choice and life are now being honored and given a choice.

Images courtesy of Public domain and Liam Madden for Congress

17 thoughts on “Liam Madden: There’s a middle ground in abortion debate — but you’d never know it

  1. Article 22 is a cowardly approach. The question everyone is tap-dancing around is the matter everyone must first answer for themselves. And then they must determine whether or not they will agree that a consensus compromise (enumerated politically) is reasonable. Specifically:

    Does an unborn child have constitutional protections? If so, when? And under what circumstances may those protections be limited (e.g., rape, incest, or any medical condition that may threaten the life of the mother or the child).

    • An “unborn child” has only the protection of the pregnant woman. If she is told her fetus has the genetic markers for Down’s Syndrome, she– and only she– has the right to say it’s her baby and demand the available prenatal services due it. And as an American citizen, she has all the right in the world to demand them

      If society decides otherwise, then its obligation is to be the surrogate– transplant the fetus into a suitable host and provide the protection and nurture for the next 18 years and nine months. It’s rather strange that the people who call themselves “pro-life” don’t explore this option. I wonder why that is.

      • Re: ” only she– has the right to say it’s her baby and demand the available prenatal services due it.”

        What available prenatal services? Available from who?

        • Well, you’re right! This is America, so she’s not entitled to any health care at all, unlike the situation in the other ten industrialized countries which provide it to all their citizens.

          We could serve America a lot better if we took care of our children. Back when I was a kid, the cross-eyed kids in our school were stupid, and we knew they were going to grow up to be just a step above the village idiot. Then opthomalogists realized that if strabismus was cured, learning curves would improve remarkably– an eye patch worn x hours daily, or remedial spectacles, would do the trick. There’s a lot of other stuff we’ve found out that will handicap our kids– 95% of prison inmates between the ages of 19 and 24 were low-birthweight babies, child development experts now know that learning disability potentials can be spotted in infants as young as four months.

          But we don’t do very much, if anything, about protecting our kids from stuff like that. As I’ve said elsewhere, “pro-lifers” don’t find personal rewards in caring for actual human life.

          • The issue at hand, though, is to decide whether or not an unborn child has the constitutional protections afforded to the rest of us. For example, when a legal controversy surrounds the well-being of, let’s say, a one-year-old child, a court will typically assign someone to independently represent the best interest of the child. Why shouldn’t that same consideration be provided to an unborn child? If a mother can determine the fate of an unborn child two weeks before the child’s birth, why shouldn’t she have the same authority two weeks later after the child is born?

            The point is, in either case, the ‘authority’ we’re discussing, be it the mother’s individual liberty or the child’s individual liberty (born or unborn) is determined by our constitutional system. Otherwise, we have anarchy. This is what we are now in the process figuring out.

            My point, regarding Article 22, is that it simply kicks the can of anarchy down the road. We should vote NO on Article 22, and then settle into the real work at hand – determining if and when a human life (born or unborn) qualifies for constitutional protection.

        • “Many times” is carrying way too much freight there.

          I have personally met couples who have adopted a child with a lifelong problem, but usually it happened because the adoption agency lied to them, and they decided they could live with it. You might have read about ten years ago of the couple who beat their newly-adopted kid on the flight back from Russia, or the couple wh five years into parenting found out their Chinese child had an incurable genetic-based disease. I’ve also met adoptive couples who realized years into parenting that they were in a mutually destructive relationship, that what they imagined parenthood would be was (sometimes homicidally) at odds with the subsequent reality.

          And of course, making a claim that not I, but “millions of couples” are begging to adopt just diverts attention from the fact that I have no more intention of adopting an “unwanted preborn human” than the 100,000,000 American couples I don’t want you to think about.

        • When friends of mine were seeking to adopt to replace their murdered child, they pulled strings and got access to the New York State binders with photos and thumbnail sketches of children who were up for adoption– thousands of them in that month alone.

          Where were the two million adoption-hungry parents for these available children? Well, it turns out that parents who adopt have standards that sometimes God Himself will not meet. They want healthy, drug-free infants who clearly have the potential for personal and social development, not trisomy-13 or -23 kids, not human vegetables who can’t even roll over, not autistic kids, not kids who have steeped themselves for 6-8 years in opposition defiance disorder, not blind kids, not kids lacking a limb or two, not kids of a different race, not kids lacking a functioning cerebral cortex.

          The notion of adoption being an effective solution is gainsaid by the existence of those folders– and that was just one state. Not all the kids were represented in those; at the time New York State had 25,000 children up for adoption. I don’t blame those infertile couples for wanting to adopt, but it’s delusional for people who call themselves “pro-life” to expect others to be more pro-life than they themselves demonstrate.

          • Your anecdotal evidence is contradicted by the studies listed in the Lifenews report.

            Yes, there are exceptions to every assertion. But when making decisions that affect everyone, both anecdotal and comprehensive reports should be weighed. For example, whatever the frequency of successful adoption today, do you think incentivizing abortion is a disincentive for adoption? And, conversely, wouldn’t incentivizing adoption be a disincentive to abortion?

            This is, for instance, and example of why the SCOTUS overturning Roe, and placing the issue with each State, is not only constitutional, but as the Founders intended. The States are, as one SCOTUS justice pointed out, the political laboratories of our Republic. Again, no one, and no State, is likely to come up with a perfect formula. But with 50 States taking unique positions, we are far more likely to learn what legislation works better for society than we do under the typical one-size-fits-all mentality that our overly centralized federal government is currently subjecting us to.

  2. Interesting that he talks nothing of assuming personal responsibility.
    Every time you are engaging in recreational sex, there is a chance that you could make a baby.
    So if you are going to do this, what are you doing to prevent making a baby?

    There are consequences for every action.
    If you were irresponsible, the solution to your failure shouldn’t be to murder a human being.

    Birth control is better and more available today that it’s ever been..
    There is really no excuse for an unwanted pregnancy anymore.
    Untold millions and millions of women have a lifetime of sex and do not have an unwanted pregnancy. If you got pregnant when you didn’t want to, that is your own failure of being responsible.

    Liam, how about you tell people having sex to grow up and act like the mature adults they are supposed to be.

    • Thanks Laura for stating what should be obvious to all. If Planned Parenthood would do it’s original job of providing and promoting use of contraceptives abortion at the scale it exists today would not be necessary. Doing so, however, would not be as financially lucrative.
      I recall the statement of a young woman in Burlington participating in a pro-abortion rally a few years back. She was worried that if abortion was restricted she’d have to use contraceptives!

    • But not only was my mother a through-and-through Catholic; she converted my father so that they could have sex without going to Hell.

      Unfortunately, if they’d used contraception, they would have gone to Hell anyway.

      If she’d abandoned her faith, she would have gone to Hell.

      So, maybe sometimes “personal responsibility” is just a way of saying, “Ha! You’re f*ked”?

  3. He’s basically saying that Blackmun got it about right in balancing the competing rights of the mother and the child. I understand his point

  4. He’s basically saying that Blackmun got it about right in balancing the competing rifts of the mother and the child. I understand his point

  5. Liam, I am confused by your statement “To be clear, I am for protecting more than 99% of choices about abortion, i.e., for all abortion choices prior to the independent viability of the child.” Are you saying that only 1% of abortion decisions are made AFTER viability ? Seems low, but can you please clarify ?

    And you failed to state your position on Article 22. What is it ?

  6. the problem, Liam, is not the survivability of the fetus outside the womb, but the NURTURE of that post-pregnancy life to help it become fully human. The histories of “wild children”– children surviving without adult support until they come in contact with human society at an older age (e.g, 5 or so and up) shows that they never achieve some very basic human skills (e.g. language and reasonably adult social interaction skills) and they die very early.

    Your personal feelings about abortion– and everybody has some repulsion toward the thought of butchered little baby bits– is just that, personal. It is natural to care more about your own need to avoid revulsion than to care about the welfare of someone else’s child for the next eighteen years.

    A good test of your level of care for human life is to ask yourself, “Am I willing to trust this stranger to take care of a baby for the next decade?” and then, having answered that, to ask yourself, “Am I willing to trust this stranger to take proper care of my household pet for the rest of its life?” You might find you have a problem if you are willing to entrust a child to someone you wouldn’t trust with your dog.

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