[Marxism] Obama with bipartisan mainstream on limiting abortion, "abstinence"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 17 00:24:30 MDT 2008

Obama shifts emphasis on reproductive rights, "abortion reduction" has some
limitations, and an update on Sen. Grassley's investigation of
Sarah Posner | July 9, 2008 | web only  
1. Obama's Evolution on Late-Term Abortion Coincided with His Campaign's
Pushback Against Wright, Muslim Rumors. 

Barack Obama set off a firestorm last week with his comment to Relevant
magazine editor Cameron Strang about abortion: 

"I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to
restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict,
well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that
'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother." 

Setting aside Obama's misread of Supreme Court precedent and subsequent
suggestion that women choose abortions because they are feeling "blue," his
progressive base was surprised to hear that he had "repeatedly said" that
states can restrict late-term procedures. 

A review of news coverage of his position on late-term abortion shows that
Obama only began to emphasize his support of a ban this year and did so in
religious media outlets and settings and on Fox News. 

Obama, a longtime supporter of reproductive rights, has long been a critic
of the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding the
federal ban on the late-term intact dilation and extraction procedure (which
did not include an exception for the mother's health). In 2007 he said that
the "ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative
majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman's medical
concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient," but
did not say he would support a ban if it contained an exception for the
mother's health. He continued to critique the Carhart decision throughout
last summer, calling it "a concerted effort to steadily roll back"
reproductive rights. 

Yet by January of this year, battling back against the Jeremiah Wright tapes
and the Muslim rumors, Obama took to religious news outlets to prove his
Christian credentials -- he shifted emphasis and began talking about his
support for late-term abortion bans. He told Christianity Today that "I
think we can legitimately say -- the state can legitimately say -- that we
are prohibiting late-term abortions as long as there's an exception for the
mother's health." And in April, Obama told Fox News' Chris Wallace that "I
strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I
have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to
protect the health of the mother." 

By June, in his meeting with 30 Christian leaders, Obama was asserting that
the health exception would be limited to "physical" rather than "mental"
health, the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian
Leadership Conference told me, an emphasis that Rodriguez said he welcomed. 

2. "Abortion Reduction" and the Democratic Party Platform. 

I spoke this week with the Rev. Tony Campolo, a spiritual adviser to Bill
and Hillary Clinton, and a member of the Democratic Party Platform
Committee. Campolo, an advocate for an "abortion reduction" plank in the
party's platform, said he was speaking for himself and not the party or the
committee (which has not met yet). Campolo emphasized health care and
economic solutions for adult women but backed away from comprehensive sex
education for teenagers, because of pressure on elected officials from the
religious right. 

Campolo advocates improving the economic lot of poor adult women by
requiring Medicaid to provide contraceptives, raising the minimum wage,
providing universal health care, day care, and paid parental leave --
measures that would improve women's lives in general, notwithstanding their
effect on abortion rates. But offering contraceptives through Medicaid to
teenagers would be "extremely difficult" to sell and "would open up the
Democratic Party to frontal attack by conservative Republicans," he said.
And Campolo favors federally funded abstinence programs, not just to prevent
pregnancy but because "everyone has to understand that sexual acts are not
just feel-good experiences," but ones with a "spiritual dimension. ... We
have to explain why we're saying no, in terms that transcend religiosity." 

3. Obama on Abstinence and Abortion Reduction: Teach Kids Sex is "Sacred." 

Campolo's discussion of abstinence and the spiritual side of sex didn't seem
that far off from what Obama told Relevant last week: 

"If we are continuing what has been a promising trend in the reduction of
teen pregnancies, through education and abstinence education giving good
information to teenagers. That is important -- emphasizing the sacredness of
sexual behavior to our children. I think that's something that we can
encourage. I think encouraging adoptions in a significant way. I think the
proper role of government. So there are ways that we can make a difference,
and those are going to be things I focus on when I am president." 

Obama got kudos from Planned Parenthood in 2007 for co-sponsoring Prevention
First, a bill that would fund comprehensive sex education. But when Obama
starts talking instead about abstinence to Christian magazines, he's going
down a dangerous path. If he wins in November, and if evangelicals can claim
a role in his victory, what will they expect from his administration, given
that he talks about "the proper role of government" in the same breath with
"the sacredness of sexual behavior" and abstinence? 

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