"Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.
Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals - even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.
What is going on here?"
So begins a recent article by Professor Robert George which seeks to lay out in plain terms Senator Obama's stance on a whole host of life-related issues. And lest there are pro-life, pro-Obama Catholics and Evangelicals who are reading this post and cringing at George's blunt language, here is a link that shows what Senator Obama says in his own words, and here is a link to a Reproductive Health site in which Obama's campaign staff answer questions about his reproductive health rights policy.
The purpose of this post is not to attack Senator Obama or to tell anyone how they should vote on November 4th. That is a matter of personal conscience. Rather, the purpose of this post is to set the facts straight on what Senator Obama believes when it comes to life issues; it has been as much a personal search for real answers to my own questions as it has been a post to inform our readers. I have done my best to post links so that you can see where I have found my information, and have tried to leave any personal opinions out of the discussion.
All of us must vote with fully formed consciences on election day, and in addition to prayer, this involves making sure that we understand as fully as possible the stance of the candidates on important issues. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago reminds us that some issues are more fundamental than others; namely, in order for a society to be just, it must protect by law the most innocent of its members, especially those who are incapable of defending themselves. One cannot attempt to advance the common good when this basic first principle is not met. Yet there are some pro-life Catholics who are willing to overlook Senator Obama's strongly pro-abortion stance, and they use the following line of reasoning:
It is unlikely that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court, therefore:
A pro-life president wouldn't be able to affect real change on the abortion issue anyway, therefore:
It is okay to vote for a pro-abortion president, because he can't do anything to make things worse than they already are, and there are other social justice issues that he will stand up for.
Here are my observations:
According to a recent Newsweek Op-Ed article by George Weigel, the legal argument surrounding Roe vs. Wade is not over. The Supreme Court has shown a willingness to uphold laws that regulate abortion clinics or ban certain forms of abortion, and a vote for Obama would essentially be a vote to undo all of the hard work that has been done over the past 35 years since Roe vs. Wade.
Here is Senator Obama's record:
- He believes that abortion is a fundamental right essential for women's equality, meaning that government must guarantee access to abortion in law and by financial assistance.
- He has said that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would eliminate all federal and state regulation of abortion, allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Parental notification for minors would be gone. FOCA would also eliminate state laws that allow a "conscience clause" for pro-life doctors who do not want to perform abortions.
- He supports federal funding for abortion and opposes the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of taxpayer money for abortion. In the words of his campaign, Obama "believes that the federal government should not use its dollars to intrude on a poor woman's decision whether to carry to term or to terminate her pregnancy..."
- He opposes continued funding for crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-based education
- He condemned the ban on partial-birth abortions because it did not include an exception for the "health" of the mother. However, the evidence indicates that there is no obstetrical situation in which a partial birth abortion is the only way to protect the health of the mother.
- As IL state senator, Obama opposed the 2003 "Infant Born Alive Protection Act," which would require immediate medical attention for infants born alive after a failed abortion procedure, even though it contained language identical to the federal act that was unanimously passed by Congress. According to the Annenberg Political Fact Check, "earlier versions of the bill, in 2001 and 2002, had met with opposition from abortion-rights groups, which contended that they would be used to challenge Roe v. Wade. Because the bills accorded human rights to pre-viable fetuses (that is, fetuses that could not live outside the womb) as long as they showed some vital signs outside the mother, abortion-rights groups saw them as the thin edge of a wedge that could be used to pry apart legal rights to abortion."
Many people believe that Senator Obama is likely to win the presidential election in November, and Senator McCain even recently poked fun at himself at the Alfred E. Smith Catholic dinner in New York. However, Obama's popular vote hovers at just below 48%, putting him practically neck-to-neck with McCain. Why the discrepancy? In a recent article, Father Raymond J. DeSouza asks, "Given the number of factors in his (Obama's) favor, and his explicit desire to make room for Catholic voters, religious voters and pro-life voters in his campaign, the substance of his abortion policy is extreme and counter-productive...So why does he adopt it?" He answers: "Voters can only conclude that Mr. Obama believes in his policy sincerely."
In summary: By gathering evidence from Senator Obama's record, his own words, and the words of his campaign staff, it seems that he is proud to be strongly pro-abortion. He believes that reproductive health rights are fundamental rights that should be funded by the government without restriction, and the evidence suggests that several things would change if he becomes president. I only outlined a few of them here. First, all of the restrictions on abortion would be lifted, allowing abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. Federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-based education would be discontinued. The partial birth abortion ban and other similar limits to abortion would likely be overturned. The list goes on and on.
Some people would point to Obama's social policies, such as healthcare for all, and say that these will actually reduce the number of abortions by reducing social pressures on downtrodden women. However, countries with socialized medicine (such as Sweden) have abortion rates identical to those in the United States, and only 23% of abortions in the US are reportedly performed for financial reasons (see here). And Obama would discontinue funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which seek to materially and emotionally assist women who want to consider the option of carrying their babies to term. The facts don't add up in Senator Obama's favor.
So, this is what I have discovered in my research. Please feel free to comment, but please remember to keep your comments civil and for the sake of productive and lively debate.
Mary, Mother of Humility, pray for us!