How pro-abortion is Obama?

Robert George is one of the giants of contemporary thought, an ethicist and political theorist at Princeton who is always worth listening to. In this article, he shows that while some people might be considered “pro-choice,” Barack Obama is actually “pro-abortion” and to an extent few of us probably realize. Dr. George also dismantles the arguments that Obama’s position on abortion should make no difference in whether a person should vote for him, that Republicans haven’t ended abortion so Obama’s election won’t matter, and that Obama’s policies will result in fewer abortions. I know some of you faithful readers believe these things, but would you read Dr. George’s entire essay and tell me if you still feel that way? Thanks. Excerpt:

Let us assume that there could be a morally meaningful distinction between being ”pro-abortion” and being ”pro-choice.” Who would qualify for the latter description? Barack Obama certainly would not. For, unlike his running mate Joe Biden, Obama does not think that abortion is a purely private choice that public authority should refrain from getting involved in. Now, Senator Biden is hardly pro-life. He believes that the killing of the unborn should be legally permitted and relatively unencumbered. But unlike Obama, at least Biden has sometimes opposed using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion, thereby leaving Americans free to choose not to implicate themselves in it. If we stretch things to create a meaningful category called ”pro-choice,” then Biden might be a plausible candidate for the label; at least on occasions when he respects your choice or mine not to facilitate deliberate feticide.

The same cannot be said for Barack Obama. For starters, he supports legislation that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest. The abortion industry laments that this longstanding federal law, according to the pro-abortion group NARAL, ”forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes instead.” In other words, a whole lot of people who are alive today would have been exterminated in utero were it not for the Hyde Amendment. Obama has promised to reverse the situation so that abortions that the industry complains are not happening (because the federal government is not subsidizing them) would happen. That is why people who profit from abortion love Obama even more than they do his running mate.

But this barely scratches the surface of Obama’s extremism. He has promised that ”the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” (known as FOCA). This proposed legislation would create a federally guaranteed ”fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including, as Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has noted in a statement condemning the proposed Act, ”a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons.” In essence, FOCA would abolish virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens working in the health-care industry-protections against being forced to participate in the practice of abortion or else lose their jobs. The pro-abortion National Organization for Women has proclaimed with approval that FOCA would ”sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.”

It gets worse. Obama, unlike even many ”pro-choice” legislators, opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois legislature and condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this heinous practice. He has referred to a baby conceived inadvertently by a young woman as a ”punishment” that she should not endure. He has stated that women’s equality requires access to abortion on demand. Appallingly, he wishes to strip federal funding from pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that provide alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need. There is certainly nothing ”pro-choice” about that.

But it gets even worse. Senator Obama, despite the urging of pro-life members of his own party, has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. In fact, Obama has opposed key provisions of the Act, including providing coverage of unborn children in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and informed consent for women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their child. This legislation would not make a single abortion illegal. It simply seeks to make it easier for pregnant women to make the choice not to abort their babies. Here is a concrete test of whether Obama is ”pro-choice” rather than pro-abortion. He flunked. Even Senator Edward Kennedy voted to include coverage of unborn children in S-CHIP. But Barack Obama stood resolutely with the most stalwart abortion advocates in opposing it.

It gets worse yet. In an act of breathtaking injustice which the Obama campaign lied about until critics produced documentary proof of what he had done, as an Illinois state senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. This legislation would not have banned any abortions. Indeed, it included a specific provision ensuring that it did not affect abortion laws. (This is one of the points Obama and his campaign lied about until they were caught.) The federal version of the bill passed unanimously in the United States Senate, winning the support of such ardent advocates of legal abortion as John Kerry and Barbara Boxer. But Barack Obama opposed it and worked to defeat it. For him, a child marked for abortion gets no protection-even ordinary medical or comfort care-even if she is born alive and entirely separated from her mother. So Obama has favored protecting what is literally a form of infanticide.

You may be thinking, it can’t get worse than that. But it does.

For several years, Americans have been debating the use for biomedical research of embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (originally for reproductive purposes) but now left in a frozen condition in cryopreservation units. President Bush has restricted the use of federal funds for stem-cell research of the type that makes use of these embryos and destroys them in the process. I support the President’s restriction, but some legislators with excellent pro-life records, including John McCain, argue that the use of federal money should be permitted where the embryos are going to be discarded or die anyway as the result of the parents’ decision. Senator Obama, too, wants to lift the restriction.

But Obama would not stop there. He has co-sponsored a bill-strongly opposed by McCain-that would authorize the large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical research in which they would be killed. In fact, the bill Obama co-sponsored would effectively require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning. It would make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be brought to term. This ”clone and kill” bill would, if enacted, bring something to America that has heretofore existed only in China-the equivalent of legally mandated abortion. In an audacious act of deceit, Obama and his co-sponsors misleadingly call this an anti-cloning bill. But it is nothing of the kind. What it bans is not cloning, but allowing the embryonic children produced by cloning to survive.

Can it get still worse? Yes.

Decent people of every persuasion hold out the increasingly realistic hope of resolving the moral issue surrounding embryonic stem-cell research by developing methods to produce the exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos. But when a bill was introduced in the United States Senate to put a modest amount of federal money into research to develop these methods, Barack Obama was one of the few senators who opposed it. From any rational vantage point, this is unconscionable. Why would someone not wish to find a method of producing the pluripotent cells scientists want that all Americans could enthusiastically endorse? Why create and kill human embryos when there are alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves killing human embryos.

This ultimate manifestation of Obama’s extremism brings us back to the puzzle of his pro-life Catholic and Evangelical apologists.

They typically do not deny the facts I have reported. They could not; each one is a matter of public record. But despite Obama’s injustices against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn (which should be a good indicator of where he stands), some Obama supporters insist that he is the better candidate from the pro-life point of view.

They say that his economic and social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall number would actually go down-despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn babies, they say, is to vote for the pro-abortion-oops! ”pro-choice”-candidate. They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.

This is delusional.

We know that the federal and state pro-life laws and policies that Obama has promised to sweep away (and that John McCain would protect) save thousands of lives every year. Studies conducted by Professor Michael New and other social scientists have removed any doubt. Often enough, the abortion lobby itself confirms the truth of what these scholars have determined. Tom McClusky has observed that Planned Parenthood’s own statistics show that in each of the seven states that have FOCA-type legislation on the books, ”abortion rates have increased while the national rate has decreased.” In Maryland, where a bill similar to the one favored by Obama was enacted in 1991, he notes that ”abortion rates have increased by 8 percent while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9 percent.” No one is really surprised. After all, the message clearly conveyed by policies such as those Obama favors is that abortion is a legitimate solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies – so clearly legitimate that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it.

But for a moment let’s suppose, against all the evidence, that Obama’s proposals would reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion-even if we take a delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • J in FW

    Then why is Obama gaining in the polls amongst Catholic voters? May God wake up the sleeping Church!

  • Bruce

    Why do I have the feeling we’re about to read a chorus of “Why do you Christians focus so much on abortion when you are silent about other evils?”

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  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m certainly not who you are asking to comment, but thanks for printing out this whole quote. I hope a few Obama-mama’s read it too.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Apparently there’s some greater good or hidden strategy in Obama’s ideas that many of us fail to recognize, unenlightened as we remain.
    Some of his supporters here have held that aborted babies are simply victims of economics. Saying that women are driven by selfish motives or by total disregard for the nature of life itself is rigid and lacks compassion.
    I’ve come to think the Rohrshach test is the answer to why Obama appeals as he does: one can believe anything yet support him, not necessarily because one thinks he believes likewise, but that he can or will bring it about, sort of sideways. He sees a Big Picture they don’t–maybe they see it darkly, as through a glass–but they trust him to realize it for them, and in the process, manifest their own hopes and dreams, whether they be gay marriage, the rich turned empty away, abortion for whatever reason at whatever stage, a kinder, gentler, more diverse America, lower taxes on the only Americans who matter [me and people like me], less abortion due to economic security, an end to war [through quitting the fight], ushering in peace through greater understanding of one another, more liberalism, more conservatism, less abortions thru the availability of more abortion, more money thru higher taxes (though less taxes on me and people like me–and quite possibly a check)…
    It’s really quite an exercise in not having to think outside oneself, or see past one’s nose, or having to plan past the first Tuesday in November.
    Yet here we stand, us single-issue people, clogging the free-flow of the better vibe.
    But Obama people fail to realize that, for them, there’s only a single issue as well: Obama. He’s all that matters. In the end, he’s all they’ve got.
    On him rides everything they hold dear.
    Come to think of it, it’s not Obama himself I find disturbing so much as the utter mental and moral gymnastics–or, in some cases, the moral stupor–of so many who root for him.
    I truly believe they are lost to him.

  • J in FW

    If “He’s all that matters. In the end, he’s all they’ve got,” what will happen if he turns out to be just a political hack as some have described him to be, what will happen to people’s faith should Obama win? How hopeless will people become?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    J: God only knows.

  • Bruce

    While you’re at it, read George’s recent column responding to Obama’s debate comments about his opposition to the “born alive” bills.

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.16_George_Robert_Obama%20and%20Infanticide_.xml

  • The Jones

    That “collective shame” article really struck a chord emotionally and morally. This one just scares the living daylights out of me.

  • CRB

    What I’ve wondered about for quite some time:
    Is there a corollary between the claim that “one who believes in evolution cannot be a Christian” and “one who believes that babies can be killed cannot be a Christian”? Just wondering more and more as this campaign goes on.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Apparently there’s some greater good or hidden strategy in Obama’s ideas that many of us fail to recognize, unenlightened as we remain.”

    No, it’s just your ordinary hell-spawned evil masquerading as “hope.”

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  • Anon

    Jefferson said something rather like “I fear for my country when I recall that God is just, and His justice will not sleep forever.”

  • CRB

    #15 Anon and others: Something pertinent to Anon’s comment above
    http://issuesetc.org/ondemand.html

    See Dr Uwe Siemon-Netto interview on Issues Etc. It is quite sobering in his remarks about the future of this country!

  • Booklover

    He is King Herod.

  • Michael the boot

    Booklover @ 17,

    “He is King Herod.” Last time I checked, King Herod was supposed to have ordered the deaths of all male children. How is Obama guilty of this simply by supporting abortion rights? I would think you should lay that responsibility on those people getting abortions. He hasn’t ordered – nor do I believe he will order – anyone to KILL children. Making ridiculous statements like this doesn’t help your cause.

  • Anon

    Jesuitical causistry from an atheist. huh.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Read the article, Little Boot. He’s done more than ‘support abortion rights.’
    ‘Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability. This legislation would not have banned any abortions. Indeed, it included a specific provision ensuring that it did not affect abortion laws.’
    This exceeds simply ‘supporting abortion rights.
    Also:
    ‘…the bill Obama co-sponsored would effectively require the killing of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning. It would make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be brought to term. This ”clone and kill” bill would, if enacted, bring…the equivalent of legally mandated abortion. ‘
    I find the ‘King Herod’ moniker completely appropriate, except for the different methods of killing, different reasons for killing, and the sex being killed. In Obama’s case, he is completely non-preferential as to sex. Males and females alike can be slaughtered, to infinity.
    Yes, the scope of potential killing is different too. Herod was only concerned with his tiny kingdom, and one period of time. With Obama’s ideas enacted, the killing could possibly never stop, till the Lord Himself stops it.
    So, yeah. I’ll grant you…there’s some differences between the two.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    PS: At least Herod was honest about what he was doing, and why.
    Obama prefers that we either accept his obfuscations or believe his lies.
    As to *why* he’d be for any of this, I don’t know that he’s ever said.
    What reasons do you suppose one could give in favor?

  • Patrick Kyle

    Obama’s obfuscations are expected given the influence of Alinsky, who advocated lying(among other subterfuges and manipulative acts) to gain advantage in wresting power from your adversaries. He lied, straight faced to the Public during the debate when McCain tried to pin him to the wall on abortion.

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  • Susan aka organshoes

    Still, it’s unjust to simply blame Obama for lying, without giving equal blame to those who either overlook his lies (which means overlooking the truth), excuse them, or choose to believe them.
    In the end, it’s on the voter, not the candidate.
    Anyone who dismisses abortion as just a ‘single issue’ doesn’t see all the evil that abortion is, and all the evil it effects–has already manifest.
    Anyone who thinks pro-life is just about saving babies doesn’t know what truth is.
    Christians are called to be wiser than this.

  • Michael the boot

    Anon @ 19,

    It’s casusitry, Anon. Learn to spell.

    I’ll quit trying to convince you I transcend the term “atheist.”

  • Michael the boot

    Susan,

    I’m very troubled by all the conspiracy theorists hanging out on this blog. Not even the things you quoted showed how Obama would ORDER the killing of children. He wouldn’t COMMAND his army (he doesn’t even have HIS army, it’s OUR army!) to destroy the children. Many people here think he’s always lying. You have no proof of that, though, you just have your opinions. Which are based on…well, I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

    The reason Obama HAS given for supporting things like this has been that it is in the interest of the mother’s health. Which McCain said is just radical-talk for “any old thing they want to SAY is in the interest of the mother’s health.” Right. Like people who are pro-choice WANT all the babies dead.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    It’s a bit thickheaded to hold that permitting the death of an accidentally living baby and commanding the kiling of that baby are so different that it makes a difference.
    He actually said he’s in support of a ban on partial birth and late-term abortions, but with considerations for the life and health of the mother.
    But he’s also said that calling in medical assistance to a baby born alive (what I call ‘an accidentally living baby’) in a late-term abortion procedure would be burdensome to the mother and to the doctors.
    I would consider that proof that he’s not telling the truth, in one of those statements.
    He said he didn’t vote against a bill in Ill. that protected accidentally living babies because it didn’t have the mother’s health exception. Guess what? A mother’s health justification for partial birth abortions has never been found. There is no reason for the procedure that involves the mother’s health .
    But he also said he voted against it because it threatened abortion overall. But it didn’t.
    I’d say that’s proof he’s lied about his actions, his position, and about the law.
    As for any commands to kill babies: no one needs to be so base as to issue a decree in his own name these days, like Herod did. Nowadays, he can write it into a law, somewhat anonymously, that any human embryo produced for the purposes of biomedical research must not be allowed to be implanted and come to term. It’s whole purpose is to die.
    So, yes he can! Yes he can order death for the innocent!
    Yes, he can!

  • Michael the little boot

    Susan,

    “So, yes he can! Yes he can order death for the innocent! Yes, he can!”

    Come on, Susan. You’re better than that. And smarter. I’m no Obamahead, so your use of the catch-phrase doesn’t have any effect on me.

    I don’t understand why you think the things he actually says are masking things you can’t actually find. You’re making spurious connections, in other words.

    “He actually said he’s in support of a ban on partial birth and late-term abortions, but with considerations for the life and health of the mother…But he’s also said that calling in medical assistance to a baby born alive (what I call ‘an accidentally living baby’) in a late-term abortion procedure would be burdensome to the mother and to the doctors.” So you’re unhappy with him because he understands this isn’t a black and white issue, that it is difficult for everyone involved. Yes, it means death for the baby involved, and that is just as much a difficult issue. You find it to be the ONLY issue, which leaves out the parents, the doctors, etc.

    Beside the fact that “partial-birth” is not a medical term, but a political one – coined in 1995 by the National Right to Life Committee – where are you getting your “facts” about it never being a medical necessity to preserve the health of the mother? It’s pretty much a radical claim to say “always” or “never,” so I’d like it if you could provide something concrete.

    You must know someone I know, or you wouldn’t have been able to accurately say I’m thickheaded. I totally am. My skull is big and thick. I think it’s my part-Irish ancestry, but I’ve never had a genetic test done…

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  • Susan aka organshoes

    Partial birth is an accurate term.
    Intact dilation and extraction is the medical term, but a term which effectively conceals that which actually occurs. (Control the language, you control the behavior.)
    The aim of the procedure is the end of pregnancy *and* the death of the baby. A woman who could endure a late-term abortion procedure could easily endure a normal live birth. But she chose not to. She wants the end of two things: the pregnancy and the pregnancy’s result (babies).
    Most common reasons for the procedure are fetal abnormalities, the youth of the mother, extreme stress (exams, depression, relationship breakups), a change in economic circumstances, or the death of the father who was the breadwinner.
    See this article:
    http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/pbafact10.html
    Dr. Robert George, the author of the article Dr. Veith cited, claims there has never been proof of any medical justification for the procedure; that killing the baby does nothing to alleviate any medical condition of the mother. She’d as easily and safely have given birth to a live baby.
    And yet see how the cookie crumbles: the anti-abortion people are the ones being crass and insensitive.

  • http://www.yahoo.com seth burk

    it says right there in the constitution. that it protects the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. from what i understand about that is that abortion was covered as illegal, right in the founding of our nation. and now obama thinks by abolishing restrictions to abortion, that it would go down? ha! shows how flipping screwed up he is, i say he isn’t fit to be president. or be anyone of consequence.


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