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February 12, 2009

Pro-Lifers, It Turns Out, Were a Big Part of Obama's Winning Coalition

I was recently telling a Democratic friend about Obama's abortion balancing act. One day he repeals the Mexico City "gag rule" delighting pro-choice activists. The next week he seems intent on making it up to pro-life voters, announcing that one priority of a new faith-based council will be reducing the need for abortion.

My friend interrupted and said, "why should we care about appeasing the pro-lifers? We won."

The first reason, I said, is because Obama promised.

But then I thought about the word "we." Obviously my friend was making a realpolitick assumption that his side, the Obama coalition, was almost entirely pro-choice. But is that really true?

No. Pro-lifers made up a meaningful percentage of Obama's winning coalition. Professor John Green of University of Akron, czar of all religion-and-politics polling, reports that based on not-yet-released survey conducted in December, about a quarter of Obama's vote came from pro-lifers, defined as people "wanting serious restrictions on abortion, but not necessarily a full ban on abortions." What's more, Green will report, about one third of young voters who went for Obama are pro-life.

These findings comport with Beliefnet's own less scientific user survey.

Now obviously, pro-choicers made up an even bigger portion of his coalition. But pro-lifers comprised a surprisingly big minority.

As a point of reference, this would mean that pro-lifers made up a bigger percentage of Obama's vote than....union members, white Catholics, Jews, gays, Latinos or 18-21 year olds.

As a good Democrat, you'd never think of being so cavalier with those groups, why would you blow off the pro-lifers?

The strong showing comes in part because Obama improved with Latinos, evangelicals, Catholics, and regular church-goers. Obama doesn't have to act on abortion right away -- most of Obama's religious voters care more about the economy than abortion -- but he also shouldn't think that he can abandon his abortion reduction promises without political consequences.

(Originally posted at Steve Waldman's blog at Beliefnet.)

Comments

These pro-life voters were misled by Obama's campaign and supportive groups into thinking he wasn't really pro-abortion. Now we know otherwise and have the record to prove it -- see http://www.lifenews.com/obamaabortionrecord.html

I would have to say your sense of balance is twisted. How do you equate the impact of repealing the EO that banned funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions with promises of reducing the need for abortion? Sorry one has teeth the other is vaporware.

Thank you for pointing out this information. One of the tragic parts of the pro-life fight is the degree to which it has been politicized. Democrats are all pro Choice? Not so. Republicans all pro Life? Not so. Republicans will fix it? They haven't so far. The most tragic part of it is when the movement begins to think it is more important to criminalize than to prevent. We need to do both and embrace efforts to do both. I agree about the teeth: We need to see them on the prevention side.

"...most of Obama's religious voters care more about the economy than abortion". Personal comfort versus life. Personal comfort wins the day. Sad. Speaks volumes about some who would be called followers of Christ.

It grieves me that so many "christians" sold out to the lie. They drank the "kool-aid" so to speak. It shows how many will line up to take "the mark of the beast", too. WAKE UP PEOPLE!! There are no gray areas. You have to take a stand. It is either right or it's wrong. Black or White! Moral or Immoral! We had a president who sought God on a daily basis and the people despised him. Now we've got one who has happy hours in the White House and says everyone needs a drink and the people love him. May God have mercy on us!!

Mr. Obama's record as supporting abortion was out there before the election. It should come as no surprise that he is now implementing his beliefs. Some pro-life people were, I think, simply carried away by his rhetoric.

'Personal comfort versus life.' That is an unfair statement. I care about the economy because I care about the health and wellbeing of millions--our our country and around the globe. The greedy folk who allowed deregulation to destroy our economy have affected the lives of hundreds of millions around the globe. When Western economies on in a downturn, people who live on the edge in developping countries suffer more than we do. I also believe we much work to create a quality of life for folk so abortion doesn't seem like the only option. I believe in doing everything possible to reduce abortions but not criminalize it--look how great that's worked with drugs, for example.

If we say we are Christians, shouldn't we adhere to the teachings of the Bible when it comes to a baby and his/her right to life? As far as being tricked into thinking Obama was pro-life, does anybody check his voting record? We must research all our representatives or would be representatives from the local level on up.It was all there for us in black and white. I must say, I was also dumbfounded at the ministry that supported Obama and then preached on Sunday about following the Lord and making Him Lord of every area of our life. It is obvious that not all people are committed to Christian principles when it comes to their walk.

How profoundly the Religious Right has misunderstood Obama on abortion! And how profoundly the movement has conflated overturning Roe with being pro-life!

Overturning Roe returns the issue to the states. Say, 15 or 20 pass prohibitions: one need only cross state lines to find business as usual. Abortions decline by as little as 10% (see former Reagan attorney and Roman Catholic scholar Douglas Kmiec's thoughts at http://prolifeproobama.com/).

By contrast, reducing the perceived need for abortion by economic support to pregnant women scores a much more dramatic reduction.

We pro-lifers must decide if we'd rather be "on the right side" and continue the stalemate or join with others - including President Obama - and seriously reduce abortions.

They're not pro-lifers, and they should be ashamed. Wake up Christians. The Day is approaching.

How could people have not known Obama's views when in the Illinois senate, he supported the denial of treatment for infants born alive following abortions? Also, to say that determining when life began was "above his pay grade", shows that maybe he doesn't hear everything his pastor says or has never opened a bible. Ex 21:22,23. Obama can talk all he wants about social programs for the poor to maintain their dignity in life but that will never happen until we respect the "sanctity of life"

The handwriting is on the wall. The abortion war is lost so let's get back to New Testament basics - loving God,loving others, spreading the Gospel, edifying the saints and and caring for the needy.

"...most of Obama's religious voters care more about the economy than abortion". Personal comfort versus life. Personal comfort wins the day. Sad. Speaks volumes about some who would be called followers of Christ. - Dave Thurmond

Let's be careful. I think it's safe to say a good, heavy percentage of republicans care more about tax cuts than abortion. And they better be careful---we all better---because FOCA is about to get divided amongst bills and traded for tax cuts, and I sure hope we notice--- Lifers in both parties.

Personal comfort versus life? Which wins? Speaks volumes to this democrat who left the Republican party when she noticed the vast logical inconsistencies when it comes to life issues and Republicans, and found a much more consistent life ethic in the democrats. Death is awful and abortion is atrocious, but let's not separate abortion from other life issues: starvation, disease, death penalty, domestic gun rights, environment, poverty, health care, the orphan, the widow, the vet, the oppressed. These are all life issues. Which of these are the Republicans fighting for? Honestly?

Sure would be nice if the Republicans talked more about life issues than tax cuts. And if people who follow Jesus would stop making statements about the opposite party as if it is impossible to follow Jesus and vote the other way. That, in no way, helps stop abortions. It just brings more death to society and the body of Christ.

Instead of assassinating the character of another believer, how about we bind together to work on a consistent human life ethic? People appreciate logical consistency, and surely as we follow the author of genius, we can put together an intelligent, compassionate case for the dignity of human life. And maybe we can start with allowing each other that dignity as we have this conversation.

When it came to voting, it came down to priorities for many pro-lifers. For many, race trumped all other issues. Nearly all Americans seem to be proud that a black could achieve the highest office in the land, even if he has a history of extreme liberalism.

Ack...Mr. Thurmond, I think that's bunk. Higher unemployment is bound to lead to a higher abortion rate over time. Countless women abort babies they would otherwise love to have, because they honestly believe they can't afford to care for them. These people are not pro-abortion. But not being able to put food on the table and a roof over one's head is a deal breaker. Most people would rather not see a child born than raise a hungry, shoeless or homeless child day after day. And all the public condemnation that comes with having children you can't afford, or needing public assistance, is just another incentive to abort if you don't have the financial means to care for children. So think whatever you want, but fixing this economy and creating jobs does very much effect the abortion rate. Those who voted for Obama over the economy can't simply be accused of having selfish motives.

The Pro-Lifers that voted for Barack Hussein Obama should be ashamed of themselves!

Before the election, many people said that they were either going to vote for Obama or not vote at all because they didn't like McCain or were disappointed with the RNC. Thanks a lot guys, you helped put the most pro-death president ever to come down the pike into the White House.

Any pro-life person who voted for Obama, or didn't vote at all, should be gut wrenchingly ashamed of themselves.

defining pro-life as "wanting serious restrictions on abortion, but not necessarily a full ban on abortions," is misleading. It describes my position on the subject, and would certainly not call myself pro-life - and indeed many would berate me as "pro-choice" for attaching "if"s and "but"s to the issue.

"Pro-life" is probably more accurately defined as "viewing abortion as always morally wrong, always politically imperative and unwilling think about the issue in a nuanced, humble or thoughtful way"

I very much doubt a quarter of Obama's vote-haul could be described like that. As such, they most certainly will b ignored (as they were under Bush in thought and deed, if not word.)

Will the pro-life people care about being lied to?
Will Democrats care the Media misrepresented Obama?
Do Democrats care that they lie to each other?

I don't think so because of how Hillary was treated;
I am glad they threw her a hush puppy (put her in the cabinet but made her feel really bad about it) seriously DIDN'T SHE REALLY DESERVE to be the Democrat Party presidential candidate? --She paid her dues.--
If her friends or if the powerful Democrats were loyal or honest people she would have been.

So this should be a wake up election to many voters.
If you are a Christian then vote for the conservative candidate and know who it is!

And as far as any Democrat having a loyal support base remember the Democrats dumped their favored
hardworking girl candidate for a male person that got most of his money from out of the United States--- they will dump you too.

If anyone will vote for a candidate who is for butchering a baby that survived an abortion --live and well-- why wouldn't they abort you and your vote?

Hillary was against this procedure but Obama was for it. As a matter of fact Obama is one of maybe 2 or 3 elected officials who is for this procedure in the whole USA.

Use to be if you made it to the border then you were safe...what is the border on abortion?

I thank Hillary for voting for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. It shows she can think for herself and I am glad she did! You should thank her too even though it may have caused the Democrats to abort her!

Dear Christianity Today;

I am a born again Christian and a Deomcrat and a President Obama supporter. I, to, widh he had taken a stronger stand on abortion. However we must realize that being prolife means more than just being anti-abortion. I take the stand that the Catholic Church takes on pro-life, thast the prolife argument is a "seamless garment". It consders everything from life in the womb to unnecesary war to captital punishement. So many times the people who take the anti-abortion position say one must take the whole conservatie position without questioning it. I strongly disagree with this position. I don't think one can be truly pro-life if someone supports a war that was started on a lie of Wepons of Mass Distruction such as we did in Iraq. I don't think one can be truly pro-life when we live in a country that has one of the highest capital punishment rates among industrialized nations.

My jaundice observation is that "Pro-life" activists seem remarkably self righteous, and without curiosity, that certain sort of intellectual integrity and empathy for my young adult students.

If you don't bother to get the sociology right, your activism may well result in good intentions gone seriously awry, such as, maybe, an increase in infanticide and abandoned newborns, and perhaps even in the maternal death rate despite medical advances.

I'm old enough to remember the time before "Roe v Wade." I don't want my students to have to deal with the smug, stifling, destructive viciousness of Bible Belt society. It was not a Golden Age of morality, far from it, and I'm not much nostalgic for it.

If I sound "bitter," I worked hard to get that way and I'm grateful that I made the effort. I may have lost something I wish I still had, but I gained something far more precious...a radical understanding of the Golden Rule. Would that I practiced it better.

On second thought about nostalgia, I do like Ellington/Strayhorn and Mid Century Modern.

An article relavant to this issue:

The Coming (Phoney) War between Barack and Benedict
http://www.pccmonroe.org/Ecumenism/2009.01.08.htm

An excerpt:

. . . If there is going to be a war between the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the Obama administration, it will be a phoney war. The always politically expedient pope and his bishops cannot even bring themselves to deny the mass to the likes of Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, or Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, let alone excommunicate them from the church! When it comes to the pope and his bishops, Mr. Obama has nothing to fear. In fact, Obama can thank the Vatican for helping to elect him to the presidency in the first place! And for all we know, he did just that when he made it a point to call Pope Benedict soon after his electoral victory. . . .

Prolifers knew Obama would support women's right to choose whether or not to continua a pregnancy, but that doesn't mean his administration won't work to lower abortion.

Increasing access to contraceptives, helping people work their way out of poverty and safe sex education in schools will all help lower abortion rates.

I don't believe women owe any reverence to any growths in or on their bodies if they wish to remove them, but I hope more women can be spared the expense and hormonal turmoil of abortion, not to mention the barrage of rather unbiblical judgement from people who cannot mind their own business.

Pro lifers need to get one. Obama's SCOTUS picks will protect Roe, imperfect as it is, for a generation. Find a new wedge issue, kids!
Voting for a medical procedure-- something politicians should never be in a position to do in my opinion-- does not mean they support it. That vote means they are unwilling to tell a doctor what to do. Hillary voted against medical freedom out of political fear, and instincts like that are why she's not our current president.