Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Pathetic "One-Issue Voter" Canard on the Abortion Issue / John McCain's Stellar Pro-Life Voting Record


Aborted 10 weeks old preborn child

One always hears this charge about pro-lifers being "one-issue" voters, as if this is a negative, undesirable, immediately discounting, disqualifying thing.

The fact is, that there are many individual issues -- not just support for legal childkilling - that are "deal-breakers" in terms of voting for a candidate, and rightfully so. Abortion is often not considered to be one of these, but the moral logic is thoroughly flawed.

Consider some analogies: how about a candidate who has wonderful opinions on many or all issues except one small detail: he is a member of the Ku Klux Klan?

Would that not be a deal-breaker? Would one then be fully justified to not vote for him based on that one consideration alone, no matter what else he or she says? I say that it is self-evident that it is justified to think in such a fashion.

Abortion is an issue like that; indeed far worse than that. The wanton destruction of some 4000+ human beings a day by this abominable practice, and the upholding of it by politicians and judges, who are primarily responsible for its existence in the first place, legally-speaking, is altogether relevant, because we the voters who put such men and women in office and on judicial benches also directly bear responsibility for the holocaust. It's the old thing about evil prevailing when good men do nothing. If a person can't even see the intrinsic value of any human life, and the duty of government to protect that, why should we trust he or she to uphold any other lesser right?

How about another candidate who seems pretty neat except that he is an anti-Semite and believes in the worldwide Jewish banking conspiracy; that all Jews are filthy "Christ-killers" and so forth? Is that a deal-breaker? I think so. If that isn't, then what if he took the additional step of favoring the Final Solution and killing of Jews (as a literal Neo-Nazi)? That's certainly a deal-breaker, no? I can't imagine an American voting for a guy whose policies about Jews resembles Adolf Hitler.

Perhaps one might reply that my analogies are extreme? Not at all; not in the least; quite the contrary, in fact! Six million Jews were "legally" murdered by Hitler's policies. We passed that figure by 1977 with legal abortion in the US. We're now up to more than 50 million legal abortions.

One wants to distinguish abortion from races or ethnic groups being singled out, as if it were more morally defensible? That won't fly either, because we know that some women kill their children for reasons as monstrous as their being the "wrong" sex. Or they are killed for reasons like financial difficulty, as if that is more important in the scheme of things than an eternal soul and the life of a human being.

Hitler also had groups like the handicapped and retarded and mentally ill and Catholics and Communists and Slavs and Gypsies murdered; in fact, this was the precursor to the Final Solution. We're not far from that mentality at all (lest we look down our nose at Hitler and the Nazis and think we are so morally superior). We now have states that have legalized assisted suicide. We murdered Terri Schiavo against her parents' and many friends' wishes. We murder children simply because they are diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. Recently, while reading about VP candidate Sarah Palin, who decided to bear such a child, I learned (though I haven't confirmed how accurate this is) that nine out of ten women who get this information, decide to kill their child.

So we're not that different at all from Hitler. He murdered Jews because he believed the usual ridiculous conspiracy theories about them. passed down for hundreds of years in European anti-Semitic myths, fables, and old wives' tales. We murder children because they have a genetic deficiency and are not as "intelligent" as the rest of us, or because they are inconvenient or a financial burden or embarrassing or the wrong sex, or will disrupt our social standing as upright Christians (because folks would know we are sexually active and that would wreck our "good Christian" image), and so are best disposed of.

Until recently, partial-birth infanticide was perfectly legal, right up to term. Babies were partially delivered and then scissors were inserted into their skulls to remove their brains; then their skulls were crushed. Then five men on the Supreme Court declared that this should be illegal. Thankfully, they figured out (legally) what was patently obvious to any person with the most rudimentary humane and compassionate sensibility.

Which is morally worse? I think a solid moral argument could be made that our mentality and "morality" with legal abortion is even worse than Hitler and the Nazis. At least they didn't maintain the pretense of being Christians in good standing, whereas we do.

So I ask those who use the "one-issue" canard: if you would vote for a pro-abortion politician, on what grounds would you not vote for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis? What is the huge moral difference? You'd vote for a person who would uphold and maintain the murder of some one and a half million preborn children a year, but not for a man who caused roughly the same number of murders in about four years time? In fact, Hitler was more pro-life than pro-death Democrats and Republicans, because he was opposed to the abortion of Germans. Hitler the politician was evil but Democratic candidates who sanction murder of helpless, innocent children are not when they take that stand? On what grounds?

We can overlook that "small flaw" based on their positions on other issues? I don't think so. It is moral and intellectual suicide to do so, and the death of Christian culture.

Any number of similar issues are also deal-breakers: how about a candidate who favors sex between adults and infant children? Or one who sees nothing wrong with rape or wife-beating? Or one who wants to kill everyone over 80? Or one who wants to kick all Native Americans / Indians out of the country (Jews have often been kicked out of nations, such as in Spain and England), or to kill all American Indians (as some generals in the late 19th century actually favored)? Or one who wants to re-institute slavery or deny the vote to women or black people, or bring back child labor? These are all deal-breakers, and in my opinion, abortion is a bigger deal-breaker than any of them, by far: more than all of them put together, because of the monstrous evil involved. It's the defining moral issue of our time, just as slavery and the "Indian problem" and civil rights were in their time. It's no morally better than the ancient Carthaginians sacrificing their babies regularly to Moloch in big ovens.

If any issue qualifies as "one issue" that disqualifies a candidate, it is societally-sanctioned murder of innocents. And if anyone challenges you, my fellow pro-lifers reading this, as some sort of troglodyte "one-issue voter", immediately ask them if they would vote for Hitler, or Stalin (who starved ten million Ukrainians, among other delightful activities), or Mao (responsible for about 60 million deaths), or Pol Pot, and then challenge them to make the moral distinction between those Holocausts and the abortion Holocaust. They cannot, I assure anyone. It's impossible to do from Christian ethical principles.

And, by the way, I happen to like Obama personally and think he has many admirable qualities (something that I think of no Democratic presidential candidate going all the way back to JFK), but I would never vote for him in a million years, because he is for the culture of death and the death of innocents. Christians don't vote for Herod, do they?

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Further exchanges on the CHNI board (dialogue opponent's words in blue):

Thanks for your reply, and for accepting mine as not a "personal attack" (which is always the danger in these sorts of discussions). I don't have the slightest desire or motivation to judge individual souls and hearts in this regard. I'm strictly talking about the ideas and moral / ethical principles involved, as I see them, hopefully in accord (as I completely desire them to be) with Catholic teaching.

I'm not going to reply to every single point, just a couple issues...first somewhere above you not only put down a Democratic (ie: party) world view, but also the Libertarian world view.

I think libertarianism, rightly understood, or at least in its current guises, is quite contrary to Christianity at a fundamental level. This tendency is, I think, the wave of the future, and elements of it have infiltrated both major parties.

Who's left to vote for then? We MUST vote for a Republican to prove our morality and our stance against abortion?

I never stated that, though I could make an argument that a vote for McCain would be most advisable from traditional Christian presuppositions. My argument was to shoot down the (rather absurd and indefensible, IMO) rationale for voting for childkillers.

I think that in a presidential election, realistically, there are two choices. I argue (here I go getting embroiled in undesired "controversy" again!) that no consistent Christian who abides by traditional Christian morality could in good conscience (i.e., thoroughly considered, which usually isn't the case for most voters, sadly) vote for Obama, if there is a halfway reasonable, acceptable Republican alternative. McCain is that. If one accepts the premise that abortion is by far the most important issue at stake in the election and the future, then the choice is clear: McCain. If one doesn't think that, then I'd love to hear their reasoning and reply to my previous post. If I cared hardly at all about the place of abortion in the current moral and political climate (or about national and international security and peace), then I would probably vote for Obama, since he seems a likable and intelligent guy, as I've already noted. But childkilling is (as I've argued) a deal-breaker. We mustn't vote based on personalities or appearances, but on principle.

My argument is that one cannot vote for Obama, given pro-life goals. One could vote for McCain, based on those. One can go third-party, but to me that is just a game, and throwing away a vote. Or one can not vote for President. That's at least better than voting to sustain the abortion holocaust and our atrocious culture of death. Abstaining from a vote is far different from positively voting for an evil thing and thus becoming part of that in some sense.

The point of the vote is not to "prove" anything other than a commitment to the most important issue of our time: upon which quite arguably the whole future course of our society and civilization depends.

Ok, let's say I give up my position...I cannot vote for Obama . . . your assuming then that that leads me to vote for McCain, not a good use of logic. :D

It's not a simple logical equation, but one that takes into consideration what our choices in this situation are, and how they affect the future of our country. Considering all that, I think McCain is the choice to make. What's so terrible about him, anyway? I always thought opposition to him (in Republican ranks) was excessive.

I still cannot because he holds NONE of the other values that I adhere to....

Really? That bad, huh?

nor can I vote for a third part because I don't support any of their views what do I do? Just not vote?

That's better than voting to sustain the abortion holocaust. You can still vote for more local politicians and participate in the process.

I suppose I'd be accused of withdrawing from society, or trying to scorn my rights, freedoms whatever.

I think there is an argument to be made for not voting for the choices presented, in some cases.

I have a feeling the answer I'd receive is, "well since none of them hold to your values, vote for the guy that will end abortion"....

That gets back precisely to the "one-issue" canard that I have written about. The argument needs to be dealt with. Perhaps you have in the other posts that I haven't yet read.

hence, I'm forced to vote for McCain.....except I don't believe he will end abortion at all. This turns into circular logic.....

He likely won't end abortion, I agree. I've said for many years that only a literal revival will do that. But he won't promote it. And that is extremely important.

The problem is, someone else can use logic and reason to come to a completely different conclusion than you do, on just about ANY subject.

People come to all kinds of conclusions. But these things have to be discussed reasonably. We don't just say "people have different opinions, therefore:
A) none have more validity than others.

B) all are equally worthless.

C) it's all relative and there is no truth.

D) we can't decide what is true and right based on reason, and it is a hopeless, futile exercise.
I utterly reject all that. Truth can indeed be known through reason. God gave us a brain and a conscience and a revelation and Church tradition and Church to assist us in that task.

Atheists use logic and reason to come to the conclusion there is no God. Now, I know you'll say their logic is faulty, but that's what they'll say about us.

So what? People can say lots of things. Truth is out there to be ascertained and accepted. If you don't believe that, why are you bothering to even engage in this dialogue? You must believe there is some hope of resolution or else why bother? McCain vs. Obama would then be literally no different of a choice from vanilla vs. chocolate, or a wool vs. down coat: a pure matter of taste.

The point is just because you or anyone uses logic to draw a conclusion doesn't make it the RIGHT conclusion. (ie: atheists never seem to grasp that concept, that logic can draw multiple conclusions) Logic in the end is a human endeavor prone to our pre-disposed beliefs, fears, etc...

All logic is, is the relationship between ideas. Logic utilizes premises, which are themselves disputable. Christians have certain starting-points, as does natural law, upon which Christianity builds. Fundamental to these are the right to life, or the intrinsic value of human life, made in God's image. People instinctively know that it is wrong to kill, even a preborn baby. If they truly knew what was involved, virtually anyone would be against it. That's why people vigorously oppose any depiction of what abortion is. They KNOW what it is. Arrival at premises is a human endeavor; I totally agree, but logic is not. It is what it is, and it is the necessary building block of all thought and especially of communication of thoughts and ideas.

The point I was trying to make, even though I didn't come right out and say it, but I might as well now, is this: the pro-life crowd had absolute control of the gov't for 4 years, and they did NOTHING for the pro-life cause.

Whether that is true or not has no bearing whatsoever on the rightness and wrongness of voting for folks who will positively promote and uphold childkilling. I would deny it, though. Prohibition of partial-birth infanticide is not nothing. It's extremely significant and a rare victory at the High Court level. That came about in large part because of the new Supreme Court Justices that President Bush appointed.

I do not believe McCain will do anything either.

So because he supposedly won't, we put in an advocate?

I believe that all these politicians take up the pro-life stance to dupe all of us pro-life people to vote for them...they get elected, do nothing, except take away all our civil rights, start wars, drive Mexicans into slavery for the corporations, and bring the world to the brink of a Depression worse than the 1930's all the while we still hope they're going to do something about abortion....yet they never do. it's a scam!

Some talk the talk and don't walk the walk, of course. But much of what you claim is simply typical Democratic boilerplate rhetoric that I don't buy. Abortion is the issue most of us care about the most and it is important to convey the rationale behind Catholic "one-issue" voting on this. People need to think through the issue in relation to how we vote. Catholics need to understand the Catholic worldview in order to sensibly accept it and consistently live it.

Of course I think abortion is a grave issue, and maybe the most important one for our country.

Then (with all due respect) I think your arguments fail, per my original post.

But someone else put it to me this way, I'd rather do SOMETHING about all the secondary issues, than continue to do nothing about the primary one (abortion) as well as nothing about the secondary ones.

But that is based on the false premise that nothing has been done, which is manifestly false (the partial birth abortion ban and two new pro-life Justices being two clear examples).

I used to be a big McCain supporter, but I no longer am because I do not believe him or trust him any more.

Why is that? Sounds pretty fickle to me.

And I simply do not think they're going to do a thing about abortion either. Which is why I believe we need to take up the abortion issue through other causes and means, rather than the courts.

So you think the ban on partial birth infanticide was irrelevant and unimportant, because it was a legal measure? We can do a number of things (I've written about it, shown pictures, made philosophical arguments, have gotten arrested in rescues, infiltrated abortuaries, prayed and picketed at the death camps, etc.), but it doesn't follow that legal avenues should be avoided. Legal abortion came to us through law and abortion will have to be made illegal once again. One can't avoid law.

Abortion will only end when people's hearts change, not when the law does. The law changes, abortions will continue . . .

It is supremely important that law again protects the right to life and the right of the innocent. That won't end all abortion, but it will very likely end a great proportion of abortions, just as there are less abortions in areas where they are not readily available.

The pro-life movement has been doing it one way for longer than I've been alive, and it's failed, even though for the past 30 years pro-life presidents of one sort or another have been in office nothing gets done....the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. What makes anyone think "THIS time" around the result will be any different? Remember McCain will be president, not Sarah Palin.

What do you suggest then? It is a forsaking of ethical and political responsibility to despair that nothing can be done when clearly many things have occurred that give us hope. If, for example, we could replace two pro-death Justices with two pro-lifers, we could have a 6-3 or 7-2 majority on the Court and have a real, concrete chance of completely overturning Roe. This is not a pipe dream; it is a definite possibility in the near future. One election can affect the High Court for a generation. We mustn't give up now. Now is the time!

I really should have known better than to try and reach across on this issue and explain how a good Catholic can come to this conclusion....

I think your reasoning fails. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can have more hope that things are slowly changing, and be convinced to vote for a person who will help that to happen.

remember, your own Church teaches that a Catholic can vote for a pro-choice candidate under certain conditions,

Those (relatively rare) conditions are not met in the McCain-Obama matchup.

and all I was trying to show is that because someone chooses to do so, it doesn't make them a vile wretch of a person, stupid, or anything else...

That has not been my argument. I think your reasoning fails at every turn when you argue like this, not that you are immoral. I think you're much better than your reasoning, which basically defaults to the usual pro-choice position, if you properly scrutinize it. You oppose abortion. I think you can be persuaded of the rightness and solidity of the position I and many other traditional Christians are arguing.

it just means they're doing there best to do what they think is best just like you are, they just have a different opinion and draw different conclusions than you....but since I'm logically inferior, what the heck do I know? :D

If you are truly confident in your position, then you can dismantle my initial argument on the "one-issue" thing. I eagerly await that attempt. Failing that, I think you and millions of other serious, committed Christians who think similarly have some serious pondering to do about the positions you have staked out. I believe in the power of righteousness and truth and justice and persuasion, and I obviously think they are on my side in this debate or I wouldn't put so much energy into my presentation.

You're free to try to convince me otherwise, too. Thus far, you haven't done so, just as I have failed in my attempt with you. But praise God that we have a mind and a conscience given us by God in order to have these discussions and to seek truth.

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I didn't even read all of David A's first post, (I stopped when it started comparing someone who'd vote for Obama, as though they'd be voting for Hitler) I later understood the point he was trying to get across, I just don't find that style fruitful, because I have no wall or barrier that needs to be broken down to try and "get through" . . . and so I found it offensive to the 'nth degree. Also considering my close personal ties with people of Jewish heritage, I found the offensivness was even greater. (sorry!, I did understand the point though)

With all due respect and no offense intended at all, you certainly did not (in its totality), if this is how you respond, because you have seriously misunderstood the nature of the reductio ad absurdum argument. Thus you are personally offended, when there is no need or reason whatsoever to be offended by a mere argument. Perhaps you are offended because the argument hit you between the eyes and you have not as yet effectively countered or overcome it (haven't even tried, from where I sit)? That often makes people offended and/or angry. But the argument is what it is, and I think it is strong, and stands. Logic is what it is. I didn't invent it. Christian ethics (pro-life in this case) are what they are and all I was doing was building a case based on them, as far as I am concerned.

If I am to be unpopular for presenting those (here or anywhere else), and thought to be harsh and brazen or insensitive or what not, so be it. I refuse to water down such a supremely important point as the Christian objection to childkilling. The abominable ugliness and horror of such an evil thing does not lend itself to nicey-nicey Sunday school type rhetoric of opposition; sorry. We're talking about the murder of more than 50 million human beings. I understand that you oppose it too. I'm talking about the impossibility of even talking about such things in some "vanilla" warm fuzzy fashion that won't offend anyone. It can't be done, not if it is strongly opposed, as I do oppose it.

You want to talk about and object to style and presentation; I am howling in agony over the KILLING and how it is (in the final analysis) sustained by the votes of Christians who say they are (and indeed are) pro-life. I'm sure I could always be more charitable than I am (which is pretty much true of all communication whatever), and I am happy to apologize for my manifest shortcomings, but my argument and the truth therein is what still nevertheless must be overthrown, regardless of how miserably I have presented it, insofar as I (unfortunately) haven't avoided stepping on toes and offending.

Now this is the dialogue I was looking for.

I'm delighted that you found it [with another board participant]. Your response was not what I was looking for, either, because you didn't grasp the nature of my argument and have shown no desire to reply to it; only to put it down based on extraneous considerations like style. You're under no obligation to respond, of course, publicly or privately, but please understand that if you want to merely go after how I presented it, which is entirely secondary to the point at hand, that I will understandably feel that I should make some response in defense of what I have done, because now the discussion has become unfortunately about me (the presenter) rather than about abortion and the 2008 vote (the issue at hand). And I will always object to that because it derails good discussion and undermines the potential constructiveness of any such discussion. It's a form of the good ole ad hominem fallacy.

This has also been an issue for me, but for me....abortion is already legal. It's not like Obama is going to make it legal for the first time, it already is.

Therefore we should cease opposing it? That would be like an opponent of the Iraqi War maintaining that the war is already here, so we might as well cease opposing it or worrying about the position of McCain who favors it. It will go on anyway, and so McCain's position on it is irrelevant to whether he should get our vote or not. Is that the type of reasoning you wish to employ? The analogy seems to me a perfect fit.

And remember, Obama can do nothing but put new judges on the bench,

Exactly. That power, exercised by President Bush was precisely what got the grisly practice of partial-birth infanticide made illegal. It's supremely important, and one huge reason why we must defeat Obama.

it's the judges job to interprete the constitution.

And liberal judges will do that, assuredly, all the way to inventing completely new "rights" previously unknown.

I don't know if it's considered sinful, it might be....but to me, it's just not responsible [to not vote], when so many people in the world do not have the right to vote, to refuse to do so, when we do have that right, is like a slap in the face of people in countries who cannot.

So who will you vote for? No need to answer; just consider it in your own mind.

Heck, it's almost impossible to tell the Dems apart from the Republicans these days anyway....which is why I used Jesse Ventura's phrase, "2 party dictatorship"! :)

This is the usual libertarian rhetoric that you have obviously picked up (no doubt from Ron Paul, since you mentioned him, and others). Needless to say, I thoroughly disagree with it. There are very clear differences. This is not the place or time to discuss those but I could go on for hours about it, as a former liberal and pro-choice person myself, and close observer of American politics for at least 25 years now.

Well, it did, and often does seem like an attack on who I am, especially when people start bringing up suicide, Alzheimer's patients, and the like. As if I personally believed in all these things, simply based on who I punch the hole on the ballot for.

I specifically and definitely distanced myself from all such charges, but you were still offended.

I get corrected, and rightfully so, for stereotyping various groups of Christians, yet this was stereotyping of political view points. I don't fit any one mold, and most people would be surprised to find out what I believed about many issues as I am truly an Independent type of voter.

Good, then you are more likely to be open to persuasion in these matters.

See, I DO believe McCain will do just that.

Bomb Iran and start a new war? Well, we'll soon find out if he gets elected, won't we? No one is less eager to start a new war than a veteran and a POW. The same was said of President Reagan, and he started no new war. He did end the Cold War, though, remarkably enough.

I wish there was a 3rd party guy I could vote for . . .

There is always someone, or you can write in a person, but I think it is a waste to do so.

I hope everyone can forgive me for taking this too personally, I just have had poor experiences in the past, and simply took the discussion too much to heart, as I always do.

Understood. No problem. If you find me so terribly offensive personally (as you have indicated to some extent), we need not interact. There are plenty of others here with whom you can have a constructive discussion, if I am not to your taste. Different strokes . . . I've said my piece. You can have the last word.

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You're a good apologist and good at polemics, but often times polemics have the opposite effect you're trying to achieve.

Absolutely. Can't win 'em all. The apologist knows that as well as anyone. Other times I succeed in persuading. On this issue, I'm delighted to convince even a single person, because a lot of individual persons who decide to cast a pro-life vote will add up eventually to a changed society, and more lives will be saved. Lives (like souls) are saved one at a time, as Mother Teresa used to say.

Technically, though, my words were not merely "polemics": with the negative image that that description is commonly thought to convey. It was a particular type of argument with a "fancy" Latin name, that has a long history. Because you didn't grasp the nature of the argument, I submit, you reacted as you did. You now say you haven't even heard of the argument before, which precisely reinforces my observation.

It's okay, of course, to not know something. We all are constantly learning tons of things. Hopefully, as we go along, we all become more aware of what we don't know. Then once we have become acquainted with it, we can avoid similar errors in reaction to such arguments in the future. Believe as you will about the 2008 vote (I said you could have the last word, and this is simply a few clarifications of what I wrote), but I hope that at least you (and perhaps some others who are reading this) will learn from this encounter, to better understand the nature of the argument that I was making, for future reference if you encounter another weirdo like me who actually self-consciously makes such arguments.

seriously I do not know what an ad hominem, or any of these latin phrases you've thrown around mean....I'm just a normal person trying to explain myself, not a professional debater

Ad hominem means literally "to the man". It means in logic the fallacy of going after a person or his style rather than dealing with his arguments. It has many forms. In this instance, both you and [name] chose to critique my style and supposed excessive harshness rather than actually interact with the reasoning I used and my actual argument. That's classic, textbook ad hominem.

I believe I explained what reductio ad absurdum ("reduction to absurdity") meant in my initial post. It is an argument that is designed to show that the logical result of a position leads to absurdity (and outcomes not desired by the person who holds the premises), in hopes that the person will then reconsider or retract it. I use this technique a great deal in my writing, as did, for example (among many others), G.K. Chesterton, whose writings I am making my way through at present in preparation for a compilation book of his aphorisms.

He constantly used it, and noted himself that it was often misunderstood, because people are usually not taught how to rationally argue or how to interact with opposing arguments anymore. What he wrote in the 1920s about that is every bit as true today, sadly.

The cardinal sin in any such argument is the mere mention of the name Hitler. I should have known better (in the pragmatic sense of expectations for success and how things are usually perceived and received). The argument would have worked just as well without mentioning him, and indeed, I gave several other examples that worked equally effectively to show, in my opinion, that there are positions that are deal-breakers and that immediately discount a politician.

As soon as that horrific name is introduced, however, many folks completely lose sight of the nature of the argument being made and get emotional and think they are being equated with Nazis, which, of course, was as far from my point as east is from west. It's not an equation of one's opponent with a demon; it is the reductio ad absurdum, which is directed towards the proposed logical outcome of his premise and position, not him as a person, or his character, or ridiculously supposed Nazi-like beliefs, etc.

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I provide some hard facts and documentation about McCain's pro-life credentials, shown in his voting record, in a combox below (also a second follow-up one).

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