Obama’s promise to pro-lifers

E. J. Dionne is a liberal columnist, but as a Catholic he has a guilty conscience over abortion. Other progressives do too. Dionne is calling on Barack Obama to carry out his promise to find common ground with pro-lifers and to do things to reduce the number of abortions. From Obama’s Promise to Pro-Lifers:

“There surely is some common ground,” Obama declared toward the end of the third presidential debate.

He argued that “those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’ ” Obama added: “Nobody’s pro-abortion.”

Once he assumes office, Obama might be tempted to forget that moment, issue the pro-choice executive orders that the abortion rights movement expects and move back to the sagging economy. But doing this would be both politically foolish and a breach of faith with the pro-life progressives who came to Obama’s defense during the campaign. They argued that Obama truly was committed to reducing the number of abortions. He shouldn’t turn them into liars.

Rep. Tim Ryan, a pro-life Democrat from Ohio, stumped all over his state urging Catholic groups and others on his side of the abortion question to put their faith in Obama’s pledge. He’s confident Obama will keep it.

In moving quickly, he says, Obama would “show that there is a new politics by acting on one of the most divisive issues of the last 30 years.” . . . He should not lose his chance to make cultural warfare a quaint relic of the past.

What do you think of the prospects of (1) Obama reaching out to the pro-life cause (2) stopping the culture war with measures that still allow abortion?

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.

  • Manxman

    For the person who believes that human life is destroyed in abortion, often for immoral, dubious reasons, and that God hates the shedding of innocent blood, there can be no end to the cultural war for him.

    I suspect that Obama’s education program for our youth will have nothing to do with addressing the root cause for abortion – the lack of sexual virtue in America. He’d have a lot more credibility if he spoke in those kind of terms, and such a thing would be a much more honest type of reaching out to people who see abortion as a symptom rather than the root problem. But no – his program will probably be the old Planned Parenthood teach little kids about contraceptives and the condom on the banana schtick that liberals say is the only effective way to keep Americans from generating unwanted fetuses.

    Obama’s a smooth talker, but he hasn’t fooled me yet.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    As to your #1: Remains to be seen.
    As to your #2: He wishes…
    I might ask what people might expect of a politician who posits ambiguous or possibly conciliatory claims on the issue as he campaigns, but who’s voted consistently non-ambiguously on that issue? One who’s addressed abortion as not merely an unfortunate but necessary aid for the disadvantaged or for victims of sexual crimes, but as a way of avoiding the ‘punishment’ of an unplanned baby, regardless of a woman’s economic or social status (his own daughters)?
    The sting for the pro-life sector is that Obama casts his position on abortion as he sees fit–perhaps as an audience expects–then expects to be seen as a compromiser, when he may be no more than an opportunist.
    His fuzziness only satisfies those who are pro-abortion; they’re more willing to buy the rhetoric that more will mean less, since there will always be some. Meanwhile, pro-lifers see themselves as being undercut by a skillful politician and rhetorician.
    Many who didn’t vote for Obama claim they’re willing to wait and see and given him all sorts of benefits of all sorts of doubts. But wanting to trust someone isn’t at all the same as actually trusting him.

  • Ruthie

    Obama pledged to sign the freedom of choice act on his first day as president. He is not pursuing middle ground. Shame on Rep. Tim Ryan….he knows better.

    Obama will pursue more contraceptives for teens and children and start sex ed earlier. Nevermind that 75% of moms having abortions say they were using birth control when they conceived. Manxman is right—we need to pursue sexual chastity, but that will not happen w/ this administration.

  • Mary

    If his understanding that “sexuality is sacred” means he is against promiscuity, then I reckon that’s a good start for a cultural shift since he is such a prominent figure and role model. (Not saying he is MY role model, but doubtless he is one for others.)

    I can certainly see him as a cultural leader, and we can pray he leads well and in a good direction.

  • CRB

    Well, with the President-elect’s self-identification as one who believes in Jesus, would he not tackle each and every problem this country faces with a wisdom based upon Jesus words: “Without Me you can do nothing.”?!

  • Don S

    There is no question that Obama will roll back Bush’s Executive Orders regarding funding of abortions as soon as he takes office, just as Clinton did. As he does so, he will issue the typical platitudes that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”, and say that he really wants to work with pro-life advocates to reduce the incidents of abortion in America. Unless the Senate can stop it through filibuster (which I doubt because there are too many “pro-choice” Republican senators who won’t support such a filibuster), the Freedom of Choice Act will pass and be signed into law by Obama in 2009. There’s your outreach.

    As for the second question, the pro-abortion side is always willing to impose measures that they claim will reduce abortions. They are more explicit sex ed classes in the public schools, and more distribution of condoms and other birth control devices. That’s their outreach.

  • Sam

    Sarah Palin’s a firm opponent of sex ed, and look at her daughter. Like it or not, abstinence-only education simply does not work as effectively at preventing pregnancies as does sex ed.

  • Ruthie

    Sam, Bristol Palin was taught sex ed at her school.

  • Don S

    Sam @ 7 confirmed my point @ 6.

  • Greg

    Sexual education if it does not promote abistenance and condemn non-marital sex only gives the impression of state approval of fornication. Such a policy will further undermine the moral order. The comman ground people are asking us to promote evil as a way of doing good. We need to overcome evil with good and not be overcome by evil.

  • Sam

    What was the point @6?

    Ruthie, what is your source? News reports that I read of AK’s curricula said that little more than human physiology legally can be taught there.
    In any event, abstinence-only education works only if people choose to abstain. But if one chooses not to, and Christian kids are virtually no different here, better to undertand how to prevent a pregancy.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Why would anyone think Obama would “compromise” on the issue of abortion? First, it’s the sort of issue that inherently lacks scope for compromise. Second, Obama in opposing mercy for for infants born alive during an abortion has made his radical position abundantly clear.

    I’ll be glad when Obama of necessity will have to take clear policy stands on vital national issues. Presidents don’t get to abstain 131 times on issues, as Obama did as a senator in Illinois. We will get attempts to fudge issues, though as president he will be rather hard put to pull this off.

    This business of safe, legal, and rare abortions has become an ordinary canard.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Peter Leavett pretty much closed the case.
    And amen.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    So, abstinance only sex-ed doesn’t work and putting condoms on bananas doesn’t work. What are we to do? Honestly, what can be done to actually make people believe that “sex is sacred.” So is Holy Communion and I take that every week. What is meant that “sex is sacred?”

    I think that pro-lifers need to put more energy into helping women rather than Roe vs. Wade. Even if it is overturned, abortions are still going to happen. Let’s get to the root of the problem!

    Oh, and let’s make adoptions less complicated and expensive!

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Sarah in maryland said:
    ‘I think that pro-lifers need to put more energy into helping women rather than [overturning, I presume?] Roe vs. Wade.’
    Who’s to say we aren’t going about both, Sarah? And shouldn’t we?
    Does anyone think that all at-risk cases will be resolved in favor of the unborn, regardless of laws or efforts? Just as abortions will always occur, so will babies born but unwanted. Would to God that were not so.

  • Eugene

    What do you think of the prospects of (1) Obama reaching out to the pro-life cause (2) stopping the culture war with measures that still allow abortion?

    1) This is typical politicalspeak that would help ease the conscience of left-leaning Catholic and evangelical voters. Nothing in Obama’s political history can suggest that he is serious about reducing the number of abortions. In fact I expect him to take measures to make sure that more not less abortions occur. It fits well with his humanist agenda. The global warming hoax will also come into play as well. The secular humanist will ask “How can we continue populating the earth while the people who already inhabit it are taxing it beyond it’s ability to sustain us?” This will be how the humanists will spin the moral argument on abortion, if they are not doing so already.

    2) The only thing that will stop the culture war will be a legal affirmation that life begins at conception and that life is entitled to all the legal protections that life outside the womb is entitled to; nothing more and nothing less. Just as there could be effective compromise with slavery in the 1850′s and 60′s, neither also can there be any compromise on the sanctity of life. I think Abraham Lincoln, were he alive today, would apply the same rationale to abortion as he did to slavery. It must be all one thing or all the other.


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