Saturday, May 23, 2009

Obama and Abortion Reduction

Here is a story from Wendy Wright of "Concerned Women of America" about her experience at a meeting of groups who were called together by the White House to talk about "finding common ground."

"Two days before President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame, I was at the White House for one of the meetings that he spoke about. About twenty of us with differing views on abortion were brought in to find “common ground.” But the most important point that came from the meeting was perhaps a slip from an Obama aide.

It revealed that what many people believe -- including high-profile pro-life leaders who support Obama -- is sorely wrong.

Ask nearly anyone, “What is Obama’s goal on abortion?” They’ll answer, “Reduce the number of abortions.” A Notre Dame professor and priest insisted this in a television debate after Obama’s speech. The Vatican newspaper reported it. Rush Limbaugh led a spirited debate on his radio program the next day based on this premise.

But that’s not what his top official in charge of finding “common ground” says.

Melody Barnes, the Director of Domestic Policy Council and a former board member of Emily’s List, led the meeting. As the dialogue wound down, she asked for my input. I noted that there are three main ways the administration can reach its goals: by what it funds, its messages from the bully pulpit, and by what it restricts. It is universally agreed that the role of parents is crucial, so government should not deny parents the ability to be involved in vital decisions. The goals need to be clear; the amount of funding spent to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions is not a goal. The U.S. spends nearly $2 billion each year on contraception programs -- programs which began in the 1970s -- and they’ve clearly failed. We need to take an honest look at why they are not working.

Melody testily interrupted to state that she had to correct me. “It is not our goal to reduce the number of abortions.”

The room was silent.The goal, she insisted, is to “reduce the need for abortions.”

Well, this raises a lot of questions. If you reduce the need, doesn’t it follow that the number would be reduced? How do you quantify if you’ve reduced the “need”? Does Obama want to reduce the “need” but not the number of abortions? In that case, is he okay with “unneeded” abortions?" Read the rest here.

This was no slip; it is policy. During the run-up to the presidential election, Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, with others, made an effort to get the Democratic Party Platform changed to be more moderate on abortion. They thought that surely reducing the number of abortions would be sensible common ground. They were stonewalled and, although the Clinton era language of wanting abortion to be "safe, legal and rare" was removed, this was what replaced it:

"The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family
planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education
help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the
need for
(p. 50)

Now the need for abortions could be reduced a lot without one single less abortion being performed. It is strictly up to the choice of the mother. The ideological position is firm: they are not in favor of legalized abortion just because some women feel forced into it, but because they believe it should be a "right" to kill an unborn child one does not want - period.

The Obama apologists insist that he wants to reduce the number of abortions and they may sincerely believe that; in fact they may have a serious need to believe it. For all I know, maybe even Obama in some corner of his mind believes it. But his party platform and the officials he appoints to key positions, and every policy decision he has made so far in his presidency all indicate that it is only the need that they want to reduce, not necessarily the actual number. He must be judged by action, not words. Talk is cheap.

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