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January 28, 2011

Abortion: Not Part of the State of the Union, Responses

Presidents have often included some mention of abortion in their State of the Union addresses. This week, President Obama broke from this tradition.

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His speech on Tuesday featured both big ideas and specific policy proposals. It did not, however, include any nod to pro-choice groups.


Abortion was notably absent Republicans' responses, too. The official Republican response by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) only alluded to abortion when he said that one responsibility of government was "to protect innocent life."  He did not reference any specific policies.


Tea party leader Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), who is pro-life, also remained mum on the issue during her alternative GOP response to the SOTU.


Ashley Horne of Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink said, “What I would have loved to see was the GOP to give a little more attention to the life issue. The GOP rode in on a wave of pro-life voters. This is why they're here. Pro-family, pro-life voters, the conservative movement ushered them in. And for good reason."


The House of Representatives is expected to take up several pro-life bills, including the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This bill would permanently ban the prohibition against using federal funding to pay for abortions. Currently, the ban must be renewed each year, and the ban on federal funding for last year's health care law is an executive order.


Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the president spoke little about strengthening families.

“President Obama recognized the important role of parents in the educational achievement of their children. President Obama himself has set an example as a father and husband. However, the agenda he has pursued and articulated tonight does not strengthen the kind of family children need: one with a Mom and Dad,” Perkins said.

Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, said he hoped that Democrats and Republicans could come together to work on issues that both sides find problematic, including the economy, unemployment, Social Security, banking, immigration, health care, federal deficit, and the war in Afghanistan. To solve these, said Wallis, both parties need to listen to each other.

“Until we have listened long enough, carefully enough, and respectfully enough to the legitimate concerns of the other side, we will never accurately understand the issues, problems, disagreements, and ways we can find possible common ground — or, at least, the necessary compromises," Wallis said. "Even when there are clear clashes of interests that must be debated, won, or lost, it is still helpful to understand what those differences really are.” 

The Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) listed its own legislative agenda for the coming year. Many of its top issues were excluded from the SOTU and the GOP responses. In addition to abortion, the ERLC wants Congress to pass a federal constitutional marriage amendment and block “the homosexual agenda.” 

The ERLC expects the current Congress to be friendlier to its policies than the previous one. ““We spent most of our time resisting liberal efforts to undermine biblical values. Regrettably, we could not stop them all. Some of those losses were significant. Yet we remain encouraged. Many of the efforts to undermine biblical values failed. Southern Baptists stepped up when called on. Millions of Christians prayed,” wrote the ERLC.

The ERLC also listed other issues that were included in the SOTU, including immigration reform. Last year, immigration reform bills failed to become law despite lobbying efforts by the ERLC, the National Association of Evangelicals, and other faith-based groups. Obama spoke on the need for immigration reform such as those that were in the DREAM Act, a bill that would let minors who are illegally in the U.S. become citizens if they join the military or finish college.

Faith in Public Life's Dan Nejfelt said Obama's remarks show that faith-based groups had an influence on the policy process.

“After the heartbreaking defeat of the DREAM Act, one can be forgiven for being less than optimistic about immigration reform's political prospects in the near future,” said Nejfelt. “But a mention in the State of the Union at the very least signals that the faith community's effort to keep the issue on the agenda when politicians wanted to sweep it under the rug has made a difference.”


Comments

It would be nice to see both parties to make comprise legislation on these issues, and there are some that will get done, but they are too far apart on so many issues that it would literaly take a miracle from God to get these issues settled. I'm not going to hold my breath!

To borrow a line from way back in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid!" I live in Florida, a state with rougly 12% unemployment and the third most foreclosures in the nation. I have a master's degree and no full-time job. My younger cousin graduated from college in 2009 and still has not found a job. I have two friends that graduated with law degrees and all the debt that goes with that. It took one over a year to find a job and the other is currently working in a grocery store, still looking for a job in law. I do not care if the gays can marry, if the illegal Mexicans can go to college, or about the never ending abortion debate. It's the economy, you bunch of stupid idiots. Why don't you start pressing the President on that!

I am also a college graduate with a year of graduate work, over fifiteen years of experience, etc., etc., etc. Where are the jobs the Republicans promised us?

Gee, I'm sorry, but it's the Democrats who promised you jobs, including the current president who has spent over a trillion dollars, and has been an abysmal failure. His spending has been unprecedented, yes, even compared to Bush, and there is nothing to show for it except for even greater joblessness. The unemployment rate under Bush was approximately 5%. So the problem was caused by the Democrats and Obama'a attempts to fix-it by stimulating the economy by giving away trillions of dollars to banks, etc with nobody following the money and how it was being used, has greatly magnified our problems.

On 60 minutes recently, they even admitted that the unemployment rate in California is actually closer to 30%. It's probably the same in Nevada.There are huge tent cites around many cities in California with thousands of people in each of them. Do you think it helps you find a job when there are 25 million illegal aliens in the country taking away our jobs? But neither party so far, has done anything to stop them or send them back. I hope in the 2012 election we get a Republican who will take care of the border problem, and then if they sent them back to their home countries, you would see a lot of jobs opening up, and we will have a safer society, because the extremists are also coming through the Mexican border. Over a third of the prisoners in our jails are illegal aliens. It has been reported that Mexico has even opened up their prison doors so the prisoners could immigrate to our country. Studies have shown illegal aliens take far more than field jobs, they take a lot of jobs that would be great for college graduates. You get a wide range of people and jobs when you're talking 25 million people. My college age kids are in the same boat.

And lastly, blame the Democrats who have been in control of Congress since November 2006. That's over 4 years, plenty of time to have made changes. It's funny that you continue to blame the other party rather than the one that has been in power for the last several years! Write to them and tell them to do something! Unless people start realizing the real danger we are in safety-wise with extremists coming into our country, and more than 25 million people here illegally, we also will be in danger of not having enough food and water for all of the people. There will be rioting here just like there has been in Europe and Russia. As for those who consider themselves more Christ-like, and think we can embrace all these people who came here illegally, Father Malachi Martin wrote many, many years ago about the dangers of the social gospel, which is not the gospel that Paul preached. In Galatians chapter 1, Paul warned strongly about replacing the Gospel that was preached with anything else.