All posts from “Abortion”

May 3, 2012

Oklahoma Supreme Court: Personhood Amendment is Not OK

The decision may be a bellwether for future court challenges.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected earlier this week an initiative that would have defined a fertilized egg as a person, unanimously agreeing that the personhood initiative was “clearly unconstitutional.”

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The court's decision comes on the heels of the defeat of a personhood bill in the state legislature, where Republican leaders kept the bill from coming up for a vote before it adjourned last week.

The decision is not binding on any other state, but it could be a bellwether for future court challenges. Compared to other state courts, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is a moderate court, far from the more liberal courts of Hawaii and the northeastern states but also more moderate than the conservative courts in the South.

The unanimous verdict, however, is important. Even the most conservative members of the court agreed that the personhood initiative violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent and was therefore unconstitutional.

The decision likely means that other state courts will also decide that other personhood legislation and initiatives are unconstitutional.

Continue reading Oklahoma Supreme Court: Personhood Amendment is Not OK...

March 16, 2012

Texas Medicaid Funding Cut Over State’s Planned Parenthood Exclusion

The decision comes as states mull ultrasound laws.

The federal government announced this week that it will phase out federal support for the Medicaid Women's Health Program (WHP) in Texas, responding to the state’s decision to exclude from the program Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated with abortion providers. The WHP provides family planning, health screenings, and birth control to about 130,000 low-income women who are enrolled in WHP in Texas. About half of Texas enrollees would not be able to use their current health providers under the new Texas rules.

Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters that the federal government did not have a choice. "Medicaid law is clear," Mann said. "Patients, not state government officials, are able to choose the doctor and health care providers that are best for them and their family."

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The WHP decision comes on the heels of a January decision by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift an injunction against a mandatory sonogram law in Texas. The Court ruled that a state law requiring a sonogram could go into effect while a lawsuit was considered in the district court. The law has received particular scrutiny because the requirement of an ultrasound would mean that women with early pregnancies would need a vaginal probe to conduct the ultrasound.

The cartoon Doonesbury has made the state's recently enacted law the focus of this week’s storyline. Artist Garry Trudeau traces a woman's experiences attempting to receive an abortion in Texas. Some newspapers have refused to run the cartoons because they equate the sonograms with rape.

Continue reading Texas Medicaid Funding Cut Over State’s Planned Parenthood Exclusion...

February 22, 2012

Updated: Virginia, Other States Mull Ultrasound Laws

The governor backed off his unconditional support for the legislation.

The notable surge in pro-life legislation from 2011 continues this year with a number of bills pending at the state level.

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Virginia’s General Assembly has made national headlines in recent weeks for several of its abortion-related bills. The most notable bill is one that would require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. The House and Senate approved their versions of the legislation, and Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell previously expressed full support for the bill. But support appears to be waning in recent days after a large protest outside the Virginia State Capitol.

Proponents argued the ultrasound requirement would allow women to be better informed prior to having abortions. But opponents argued that the requirement imposes unnecessary costs and would be invasive, calling it state-sanctioned rape. Women considering abortion during the first trimester (when 80 percent of abortions occur) would need to have a vaginal probe for a doctor to view the fetus. The House put off a vote approving the final version of the bill, and McDonnell has backed off his unconditional support for the bill. He gave Republican legislators an amendment stipulating that the test be an abdominal ultrasound, according to The New York Times.

Legislators in at least three other states are considering ultrasound legislation. Both Pennsylvania and Illinois Houses have bills up for debate that require ultrasounds prior to an abortion, while a bill before Oklahoma’s state Senate would require women to listen to a fetus’ heartbeat before the procedure.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Senate began its 2012 legislative session by easily passing a bill that states life begins at the moment of conception. The bill’s author, Sen. Brian Crain (R-Tulsa) says the bill asserts that Oklahoma is “pro-life.” The bill drew international attention after Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Holdenville) proposed an amendment that would have made men wasting sperm an act against unborn children. Oklahoma legislators are considering a House Joint Resolution that would send the Personhood issue to a state vote.

At least 11 other states have similar “Personhood” amendment bills, according to The Times. Efforts in Utah have been dropped. Mississippi Republicans are trying to add a Personhood amendment to the November ballot, even though voters defeated a similar amendment last fall. In a surprising twist, the full Virginia Senate killed its version of a Personhood bill on Friday by voting to send it back to the Senate Education and Health Committee.*

Georgia’s state House is considering a bill that would limit the time a woman could have an unimpeded abortion to 20 weeks (down from 26 weeks) and remove exceptions for abortions after 26 weeks for reasons involving mental health. Proponents argue the bill would prevent late-term abortions to fetuses who can feel pain. But opponents say 20 weeks is not late enough because some pregnancy complications do not surface until later.

And in South Dakota, lawmakers have proposed new legislation that aims to clarify the state restrictions on abortion passed last year. The law requires women to undergo counseling at a pregnancy help center and wait 72 hours after an initial consultation before having an abortion. Physicians who perform abortions are also required to provide counseling on all the risk factors related to abortion. Opponents argue the newest bill tries to strengthen the restrictions so it can stand up in court. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against last year’s law, and a federal judge suspended most of the law from taking effect until the challenge is decided.

*This story has been updated.

February 3, 2012

Pro-Life Advance and Setback as Va. Focuses on Abortion

State Senate passes ultrasound bill, but committee kills bill ending abortions at 20 weeks.

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For only the second time since the Civil War, Republicans control both houses of Virginia’s General Assembly, and the state’s abortion laws might change drastically because of it.

On Wednesday, the state Senate narrowly passed a bill that requires an ultrasound for women seeking an abortion, signaling the probable passage of the bill into state law.

Twenty-one people in the 40-member Senate approved the bill, which mandates an ultrasound but does not require the woman to view the image. Proponents argued the requirement is important because it determines the fetus’s gestational age; opponents said the requirement imposes unnecessary costs and acts as a “thinly veiled attempt” to restrict abortion access. The House of Delegates is expected to pass the measure, and Governor Robert McDonnell has already said he will sign it into law.

Meanwhile,a bill that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks failed to make it out of the Health and Education Committee in the Senate Thursday, effectively stalling it. Other bills still in the Assembly’s consideration include giving legal rights to fetuses from conception on, ending subsidies for poor women to abort fetuses with serious birth defects, and requiring insurers that cover abortions to also offer policies that do not.

Should the sonogram bill pass, Virginia would join six other states with similar laws. Last month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound, have the patient listen to the fetal heartbeat, and give a detailed description of the fetus. Under the law, a woman cannot decline hearing the description except in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormality.

The January ruling by a three-judge panel overturned a lower court decision that said the law was unconstitutional because it forced doctors to be the “mouthpiece” of the state’s ideological agenda. Proponents argue the law ensures women are fully informed before deciding to abort. The Center for Reproductive Rights said it would appeal for a rehearing by the entire Fifth Circuit.

January 27, 2012

Marking Four Decades of Abortion Politics

CBS responds to backlash over coverage of March for Life, demonstrating contentious public opinion.

Like every year since 1974, pro-life demonstrators participated in this week’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. to protest the Supreme Court's decision. Organizers hope that the march brings focus to the issue of abortion, but they are often dismayed by event coverage. This year, pro-life activists were particularly upset with coverage by CBS, which posted a slideshow that initially only featured images of those protesting the March for Life. CBS has since changed the content so that it now includes photos of pro-life participants.

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The backlash over coverage highlights the contentiousness that surrounds abortion nearly four decades after Roe v. Wade. The country has seen significant changes in abortion politics over the past four decades, and today slightly more Americans lean in a more pro-life direction.

At the time of Roe, few Americans had given much thought to abortion as a political issue, candidates rarely mentioned it, and political parties did not consider putting an abortion plank in their platforms. It was not until 1984 that the Republican and Democratic parties took clear opposing positions on abortion. Today, however, nearly all Democratic members of Congress vote in favor of pro-choice legislation and nearly all GOP candidates are consistently pro-life on abortion. Republican and Democratic parties often use the issue as an ideological litmus test.

Continue reading Marking Four Decades of Abortion Politics...

October 24, 2011

Is Cain Able to Move Past Abortion Controversy? Pat Robertson Says ‘Lay Off’

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain continued to clarify his position on abortion this past weekend. Controversy over Cain’s position began last week when he said he was pro-life in all circumstances but that government should stay out of a woman's decision. With social conservatives asking for clarity, Cain's opponents used the controversty as an opportunity to chip away at Cain's lead in the polls.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) made the most of Cain controversy during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on Saturday. Perry emphasized his record on pro-life causes in Texas, giving a thinly veiled attack on Cain.

“Being pro-life is not a matter of campaign convenience; it is a core conviction” Perry said. “It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision. If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro-having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too."

After a segment on Cain, Pat Robertson suggested today on The 700 Club that the Republican primary base has to “lay off” forcing their leaders into positions. The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008 but has said he will not endorse a candidate this cycle.

“Now whether this did it to Cain I don’t know, but nevertheless, you appeal to the narrow base and they’ll applaud the daylights out of what you’re saying and then you hit the general election and they say ‘no way’ and then the Democrat, whoever it is, is going to just play these statements to the hilt,” he said. “They’ve got to stop this! It’s just so counterproductive!”

Continue reading Is Cain Able to Move Past Abortion Controversy? Pat Robertson Says ‘Lay Off’...

October 5, 2011

As Economic Concerns Remain High, Mitt Romney, Others Tackle Abortion

Life ethics issues like abortion have not defined campaign debates so far, with economic issues taking the lead and hot-button topics like Social Security and immigration also taking center stage. In an interview with Mike Huckabee on Fox News, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tackled abortion over the weekend, calling himself “pro-life” and later earning praise from Pat Robertson.

“[It would] be wonderful if everyone in the country agreed with you and me that life begins in conception and that there’s a sanctity of life that’s part of a civilized society and that we’re all going to agree there should not be legal abortion in the nation,” Romney said. “But I don’t think that’s where we are right now. But I do think where the majority of the American people would go is say let the states make the decisions.”

Romney's position on abortion as governor of Massachusetts took a similar stance toward state's rights. As governor, he protected his state's pro-choice laws, pledging he would not impose his views on the majority. However, he also said during his time in office his personal views “evolved and deepened” to become more conservative.

Over the weekend, Romney said he would “absolutely” have supported a a constitutional amendment to establish the definition of the beginning of life as conception, but that it would not have made it past the 85 percent Democratic state legislature.

Romney stopped short of saying he would support such an amendment as president.

“I’d make sure the progress that’s been made to provide for life and to protect human life would not be progress that is reversed,” he said.

He said as president he would specifically appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would “have a conviction to follow the law and not create the law from the bench,” with an eye to reversing Roe v. Wade and returning decisions about the legality of abortion back to the individual states.

The forum appeared to signal a deliberate shift toward addressing socially conservative voters on Romney's part. Agreeing to an interview with Huckabee was an interesting choice for Romney, since his Mormon faith was one point of controversy between the two rivals in 2008.

Continue reading As Economic Concerns Remain High, Mitt Romney, Others Tackle Abortion ...

August 24, 2011

VP Joe Biden Stirs Debate on China's One-Child Policy

Vice President Joe Biden in China last weekend prompted renewed controversy over China's one-child policy, in remarks that seemed to condone the government rule.

"Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I’m not second-guessing -- of one child per family," Biden told a crowd Sunday at Sichuan University, the keynote speech of his four-day trip to China.

Condemnation of Biden's remarks came swiftly from human rights groups and the pro-life sector, as well as from several political leaders. Many perceived Biden's comment as a softening of the U.S. diplomatic stance toward China's policy, which mandates that most families limit themselves to only one child and prioritizes male children above female.


Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called the remark “pandering” on the SBA List blog. “Vice President Biden should be doing much more than second guessing the policy, he should be outright condemning it,” Dannenfelser said.

Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff sought to clarify Biden’s comment in a statement reported by the conservative news site The Daily Caller on Tuesday evening. “The vice president believes [China’s coercive birth limitation policies] practices are repugnant,” she said.

Biden's remarks came in response to a question about U.S. debt. Biden compared the U.S. “baby boom” to China's one-child policy in that both have created an unsustainable problem. "The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people,” Biden explained to the Chinese audience.

“He was arguing against the one-child policy to a Chinese audience,” Barkoff explained in the statement. “[Biden] also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable.”

Continue reading VP Joe Biden Stirs Debate on China's One-Child Policy ...

July 15, 2011

Map: Record Number of State Abortion Laws in 2011

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States have enacted a record number of state laws restricting abortion in 2011. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, reports that in the first six months of this year, there have been 80 state laws that restrict abortion.
The number of laws passed is more than double the number of laws in any previous year (the previous record was 34 restrictions in 2005). Many of these laws included multiple restrictions on abortion, resulting in over 100 new policies designed to lower abortion in the states.
Overall, 19 states have enacted some restriction on abortion. The most common restriction was to limit abortion coverage in health plans that will be offered in the health exchanges (eight states). These exchanges are part of President Obama’s health insurance reform passed last year. Other popular changes included bans on the use of telemedicine, changing abortion reporting rules, and requiring a fetal ultrasound before performing an abortion.

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Geographically, most of the restrictions occurred in the band of states between the rockies and the Mississippi River. Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Utah, and Nebraska enacted major provisions to restrict abortion. Few restrictions were enacted on the Pacific coast or New England.
The reason for the geographic pattern is the parties that control the legislatures. After the 2010 election, Republicans made gains in most states; the Democratic Party lost legislatures and governorships in many states. Abortion restrictions were much more likely to pass in states where Republicans controlled both the legislature and the governorship. Republican states were 10 times as likely to enact a law restricting abortion than a Democratic state. GOP states were four times as likely to do so than states with divided government.

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June 9, 2011

Poll: Americans Ambivalent on Abortion

People tend describe themselves as either pro-life or pro-choice. But a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that the average American still holds conflicting views on abortion nearly 40 years after Roe v. Wade. Evangelicals remain much more opposed to abortion than other Americans, but they, too, often do not fit neatly into pro-life or pro-choice camps.

PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox said, “For some time now, Americans have held a stable tension between two views: majorities both say that abortion is morally wrong and say that it should be legal in all or most cases. The binary ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels don’t reflect this complexity.”

On the poll's simplest, straightforward abortion question, a majority said abortion should be legal. PRRI found only four-in-ten said abortion should be illegal. However, few took a consistently pro-life or pro-choice position. Only 19 percent said abortion should be legal in all circumstances; 14 percent said it should be always be illegal. That leaves nearly two-thirds approving abortion in some cases but not in others. These results a similar to those by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. A similar question by Gallup finds fewer in the middle category, but overall the pattern is the same: most Americans approve of abortion in some, but not all, circumstances.

Among religious groups, white evangelicals stand out as being against abortion. Less than one-third (29 percent) said abortion should be legal; two-thirds believe it should be illegal. Support for the legality of abortion is much higher among other Protestants and Catholics.

This, however, is only part of the story. When asked abortion should be available to women in their community, 37 percent of evangelicals agreed. A majority of non-Latino Catholics and black Protestants said abortion should be available. Over 70 percent of Mainline Protestants and those unaffiliated with religion took this view.

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Continue reading Poll: Americans Ambivalent on Abortion...

April 8, 2011

Is the Possible Government Shutdown Dispute Really Over Abortion?

As the deadline looms to pass a funding measure or shut the government down, budget negotiations took a familiar twist today as some suggested that the debate hinges on abortion funding. The government cannot directly fund abortions, but many social conservatives say that funding other Planned Parenthood services ends up allowing it to provide abortions. A similar issue became a central issue in the health care debates last year until the final compromise.

The New York Times ran with with a early headline, "No Deal Overnight on Federal Budget as Abortion Remains Sticking Point" and a corresponding editorial that blames the Republicans' refusal to bend based on the issue on abortion. The Wall Street Journal says, "Abortion Returns to Center Stage." Businessweek says, "Abortion, Spending Divide Leaders Trying to Avert Shutdown."

However, most of the people making the case that the issue revolves around abortion appears to come from Democrats. The Hill reports that House Speaker John Boehner rejected claims that abortion is the central issue.

“There’s far more than one provision that’s holding up any agreement, I can tell you that,” Boehner said.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post tweeted, "I don't know if the shutdown is really hung up on Planned Parenthood. But if public perceives it is, GOP is toast."

Jay Newton-Small of Time magazine reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a rider that would enable governors to do what they want with Title X funding, a $327 million program which provides grants for clinics like Planned Parenthood that most conservative governors would defund.

Reid was asked by CNN's Brianna Keilar if he'd offered Boehner more money to drop the Title X rider. He said he had, but that Boehner had turned him down. This surprises me as I've always been under the impression that Boehner was using the policy riders as leverage for more cuts -- that he never really expected to move the needle on abortion, climate change or health care reform. The brouhaha over the riders must be taken with a grain of salt as it behooves Dems to portray Boehner as obsessed with "extreme" riders rather than negotiating in good faith on funding the government. Given that even Michele Bachmann called on Boehner to drop the riders and just pass a "clean" one week extension to give negotiators more time*, I'd be surprised if the only issue at play here is truly Title X.

*Bachmann voiced support for dropping riders for a bill that would insure that military paychecks continue in the event of a government shutdown. Her office made clear Friday that she does not support stripping riders that deal with abortion from the main 2011 continuing resolution bill that is now being negotiated by Boehner, Reid and Barack Obama.

Update: Boehner insisted again today that the debate is not over abortion and said, “Stay tuned. Keep the faith,” National Journal reports.

The lawmaker said Boehner reiterated that the hold-up is spending cuts, and not policy riders, contrary to what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D.-Nev., has suggested. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., explicitly asked the speaker if the hold-up was “women’s rights” and Boehner said it was not.

Some conservative groups are suggesting that abortion does remain an issue. “The President has singled out Planned Parenthood, a significant financial and political supporter for special attention and protection,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List said in a statement.

Talking Points Memo reports that some Republican lawmakers are urging Boehner to drop the social issues discussion.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) another pro-life conservative echoed his call on MSNBC Thursday, saying the GOP should "move on."

"I'd like to defund Planned Parenthood, but I understand that Republicans don't have complete control of the elected government," Toomey said. "I think what we should do is cut spending as much as we can, get the policy changes that we can, but move on, because there are other, bigger battles that we are fighting."

The post also raised the question over whether the tea party is putting more prominence on fiscal issues over social issues.

March 30, 2011

Ohio's 'Heartbeat Bill' Advances to House, Divides Pro-Life Groups

A state committee approved a bill for the full Ohio House that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat could be medically detected.

The bill has divided pro-life supporters, with Ohio Right to Life opposing the bill. Janet Folger Porter, director of Faith2Action network and a former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life, hopes the bill creates a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Here's more from the Associated Press:

Porter has led a charge to line up a host of high-profile supporters for the bill. They have included Cincinnati physician Jack Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee and founder of the International Right to Life Federation, and Phil Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values led the charge to ban gay marriage, among others.

But Porter doesn't have the support of Ohio Right to Life, which fears the legal challenge she seeks could jeopardize other abortion limits in Ohio and expand access to legal abortions.

"As drafted, our position has been very clear. This bill had numerous negative consequences and unintended consequences," said Ohio Right to Life executive director Mike Gonadakis. "It's the right idea at the wrong time. Timing's everything in the pro-life movement."

Gonadakis said an unsuccessful court challenge that makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court could end up overturning Ohio's informed consent law, which mandates that a physician must meet with a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure and that the woman must be given certain information and sign a consent form. He said the group has consulted its lawyers and will continue to share their thoughts with House members in hopes of blocking a vote by the full chamber.

The bill's future is unknown, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, said yesterday he had not decided whether to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"I don't have any plans for it at this point," he said. "I have a list of friends who helped me draft anti-abortion laws in the '80s and '90s, so I'll be calling them tonight. I want to talk to someone who teaches this in law school."

Gov. John Kasich has not taken a position on the measure, said the governor's spokesman, Rob Nichols.

The article also lists the bill's key provisions. An updated article suggests that Republicans tabled Democrat proposals that would exempt women in cases of rape or if their health was at risk. Across the nation, pro-life groups appear divided on "personhood amendments," defining the unborn as "persons" from the moment of conception.

March 22, 2011

S.D. Requires 3-Day Waiting Period, Pregnancy Center Visit Before Abortion

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law today that makes the state the first to require women seeking abortions to first undergo counseling at pregnancy centers. The law also establishes that a woman must wait three days after an initial visit with an abortion provider before the procedure can be done, the longest waiting period in the nation.

The Associated Press reports that Planned Parenthood will challenge the law.

The law, which takes effect July 1, says an abortion can only be scheduled by a doctor who has personally met with a woman and determined she is voluntarily seeking an abortion. The procedure can't be done until at least 72 hours after that first consultation.

Before getting an abortion, a woman also will have to consult with a pregnancy help center to get information about services available to help her give birth and keep a child. The state will publish a list of pregnancy help centers, all of which seek to persuade women to give birth.

A Guttmacher Institute employee told the New York Times that more than half of the states have introduced legislation that restricts health insurance coverage for abortion, requires an ultrasound, or that bars abortion after 20 weeks.

Many states require counseling from doctors or other clinic staff members before an abortion to cover topics like health risks. What makes the new South Dakota law different is that the mandated counseling will come from people whose central qualification is that they are opposed to abortion.

Earlier this month, New York City passed a bill requiring centers to disclose whether they provide abortions or emergency contraception, make referrals to organizations that do, and if they have a licensed medical provider on site. The Alliance Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit against the city.

CBS reports on how states are testing the limits of Roe v. Wade.

The anti-abortion rights movement last year found itself in a set of circumstances that have all worked to advance their agenda. Most importantly, states across the country elected new, emboldened conservative politicians. Hundreds of anti-abortion rights legislators and a net of 12 new anti-abortion rights governors were elected, according to Americans United for Life.

Meanwhile, a set of news-making events in the past year — such as the passage of health care reform and video of the conservative “sting” on Planned Parenthood — galvanized conservative activists. National leaders are more vocal than ever on the issue. And a possibly sympathetic swing vote now sits in the Supreme Court.

Americans United for Life has a map on its website showing legislation in other states.

March 3, 2011

NYC Passes Bill Requiring Pregnancy Center Disclosure on Abortion

The New York City Council passed a bill yesterday requiring centers to disclose whether they provide abortions or emergency contraception, make referrals to organizations that do, and if they have a licensed medical provider on site.

Last year, a Maryland county approved a regulation requiring pregnancy centers that do not have licensed medical staff to post a sign in the waiting room. A federal judge struck down the regulation, writing that the requirement violated the centers' right to free speech.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the New York City measure. Here are more details on the law from the Wall Street Journal:

Opponents cited a federal judge’s ruling that struck down a similar bill in Baltimore as proof that this type of legislation violates the centers’ constitutional rights to free speech. The opponents of the bill pledged to file a lawsuit immediately after Bloomberg signs it into law.

The legislation would require all pregnancy-service centers to disclose whether they provide abortions, emergency contraception and prenatal care, or make referrals to organizations that do. Centers would also be required to disclose if they have a licensed medical provider on site.

Under the legislation, the information would have to be posted in English and Spanish at the centers and in advertisements. A center employee might have to make the disclosure orally if, for example, a client asked for an abortion.

The advertising company that put up a billboard sponsored by Life Always removed it last week. The billboard, located a half-mile from a Planned Parenthood center, showed a black girl in a pink dress that said, “the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”

In other abortion-related news, prosecutors intend to pursue the death penalty against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor charged with killing a patient and seven babies at his abortion clinic.

David Gibson reported earlier this week that the FBI in New York arrested Theodore Shulman, a radical pro-choice advocate who threatened pro-life activists.

Ohio is considering a law that would ban abortion if a heartbeat can be medically detected. Members of Ohio's state House watched ultrasounds given to two pregnant women yesterday.

February 18, 2011

House Votes to Block Federal Aid for Planned Parenthood

The House voted 240-185 today to block federal funds for Planned Parenthood, Politico reports.

Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) introduced the bill, arguing that that cutting off federal funds would cut off their ability to perform the abortion (federal funds may not be used for abortions).

“What’s clear to me, if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion. We then have a much better opportunity to move forward to be a society that says yes to life.”

Planned Parenthood estimates it received a quarter of the $317 million in Title X funds appropriated last year. They use the money for pelvic exams, breast exams, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling, among other things.

The vote comes after Lila Rose's Live Action released several undercover videos filmed at Planned Parenthood.

The amendment is not expected to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

February 18, 2011

Obama Admin. Changes Bush 'Conscience' Provision for Health Workers

The Obama administration has changed a George W. Bush provision that was created to allow health workers to opt out of services they find objectionable on religious grounds, Rob Stein of the Washington Post reports. The change maintains the provision that allows workers to refrain from performing abortions.

The Health and Human Services Department eliminated nearly the entire rule put into effect by the administration of President George W. Bush during his final days in office that was widely interpreted as allowing such workers to opt out of a broad range of medical services, such as providing the emergency contraceptive Plan B, treating gay men and lesbians and prescribing birth control to single women.

Calling the Bush-era rule "unclear and potentially overbroad in scope," the new, much narrower version essentially leaves in place only long-standing federal protections for workers who object to performing abortions or sterilizations. It also retains the Bush rule's formal process for workers to file complaints.

President Bush had announced the provision, supported by the Christian Medical Association (CMA), just before leaving office. Before he took office, Obama had expressed objections to the provision.

The Health and Human Services Department said in a statement:

The administration strongly supports provider conscience laws that protect and support the rights of health care providers, and also recognizes and supports the rights of patients. Strong conscience laws make it clear that health care providers cannot be compelled to perform or assist in an abortion. Many of these strong conscience laws have been in existence for more than 30 years. The rule being issued today builds on these laws by providing a clear enforcement process.

Dr. J. Scott Ries, CMA's vice president, said in a statement that the decision "threatens to make the situation far worse for patients across the country who depend on faith-based health care."

The administration has made changes in a vital civil rights regulation without evidence or justification. The administration presented no evidence of any problems in healthcare access, prescriptions or procedures that have occurred in the two years since the original regulation's enactment that would justify any change in this protective regulation.

The executive order puts the burden back on Congress to enact conscience provisions for health care workers. HR 358, the Protect Life Act, (see Tuesday's post) includes language identical to that found in Bush's executive order.

The House is expected to vote today on whether Planned Parenthood should receive federal funds. CT will be posting a story on evangelicals' attitudes towards the federal budget shortly.

(This post has been updated at 1:30 p.m.)

February 15, 2011

'Protect Life Act' Advances in the House Despite Questions over Terms

On Friday the House of Representatives Health Subcommittee approved the Protect Life Act (HR 358) that would put into law a ban on federal funding of abortion in last year's health care law. The bill is nearly a copy of a similar measure in 2009. However, the small differences from the original measure make the bill a heightened issue.

The Protect Life Act uses the Stupak-Pitts amendment that would have explicitly banned any connection between federal funds and abortion services. The amendment passed the House, but it was not included in the final version of the Affordable Care Act. The new bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.), would codify the ban that is currently included as an executive order signed after the act was signed into law.

Addressing both abortion and the act, the bill was bound to be a flashpoint, but it became even more controversial because of small changes to the original Stupak-Pitts language that said federal funds could not be used for abortion except to save the life of the mother or "unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest." In the new bill, the language was changed to the mother's life and "if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest."

The replacement of “rape” with “forcible rape” and limiting incest exclusion to minors raised the level of controversy surrounding the bill. Pitts removed the new language. The bill that passed the subcommittee used the language used for the Stupak-Pitts amendment and other federal funding restrictions.

The bill also explicitly includes language from the “Weldon Amendment” and applies it to the act. The amendment prohibits the federal government from discriminating against any doctor, hospital, or other health care provider who does not perform, refer, or provide for abortions.

This, too, is politically contentious, but it was made more so by a final provision that linked it to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The act requires hospitals to examine and provide stabilizing treatment. The Protect Life Act would extend conscience provisions to the act.

For pro-choice groups, the possibility that a doctor could refuse to provide abortion services necessary to stabilize a woman's condition gave reason to rename the Protect Life Act the “Let Women Die” Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Laura Murphy said, “We may not all feel the same way about abortion, but we can agree that hospitals should not abandon a woman whose life may be at risk. Congress has no place telling hospitals that they are free to endanger the life of a woman in need of emergency care.”

Pitts’ spokesman Andrew Wimer told The Hill, “NARAL and other abortion rights groups have vigorously opposed any conscience protection legislation. It is no surprise that they would attack the Protect Life Act with the same old talking points.”

Americans United for Life's Anna Franzonello told CT that the bill's provisions are reactions to recent efforts by the ACLU and other groups to question whether hospitals should provide abortions. She said the AUL believes health care providers have the right to provide care without doing abortions.

"The amendment should not be necessary by the letter of the law, but there are groups that are trying to misuse emergency treatment law to coerce health care providers into providing abortions," Franzonello said.

There are no claims that women may actually need an abortion to have their health stabilized (EMTALA also applies to what the act calls the “unborn child”). The new language may, for both sides of the debate, be more symbolic than anything.

February 4, 2011

Senate Pro-Life Democrats: Extinct or Endangered?

The Senate rejected an effort by Republicans to repeal last year's healthcare law on Wednesday, failing on a straight party line vote, 51 to 47 with every Democrat opposing repeal. Whether you consider pro-life Democrats extinct or endangered depends on one's view of the healthcare law passed last year.

For many pro-life groups, the healthcare law is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. For instance, pro-life Democrats in the Senate are now “extinct,” according to LifeNews.com. For Democrats who supported the bill, however, the law does not fund abortion and the executive order signed by the President ensures this prohibition.

Of the 53 Senators in the Democratic coalition, three are more pro-life than pro-choice, according to the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC): Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA). Each senator has a long pro-life record. Nelson and Casey voted in favor of the healthcare bill. Manchin, who is new to the Senate, joined Nelson and Casey in voting against a motion this week to repeal the healthcare law. The repeal failed on a party-line vote, 51-47.

For pro-life groups, this was a vote against the movement. LifeNews.com political blogger, Andrew Bair, said, "The U.S. Senate lost its last-standing pro-life Democrat today when Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia betrayed his long-held pro-life convictions to vote against the repeal of the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law."

Manchin said he does not support all parts of the healthcare law, but he would rather work to fix the bill rather than adopt the “repeal and replace” approach of Republicans.

“I don’t think that throwing out the good parts of this bill, like helping seniors afford prescription drugs or ending discrimination against people with preexisting conditions, makes good common sense. That’s why I have repeatedly said that we should make every effort to work together on repairing this bill before we start talking about repealing it,” Manchin said.

Nelson said he voted against the repeal because it was bad for his state.

“I continue to support the health reform law because it is the right thing to do for Nebraska. There are a lot of good parts in the bill and some that I will work to improve,” Nelson said. “The repealers already have health care. But they’re ready, willing and eager to take it away from hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans.”

The healthcare law is now* the litmus test pro-life groups like the National Right to Life Commission uses to differentiate between pro-life and pro-choice legislators. Pro-choice groups, such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, do not consider healthcare to be an abortion-related issue.

Nelson cosponsored the Nelson-Hatch amendment to the health-care bill last year, which was the Senate version of the Stupak amendment. The amendment would have expressly banned funding for abortion. The amendment failed, but it was supported by Casey and several other Democrats.

Nelson and Casey supported other pro-life efforts in the Senate, including efforts to allow states to designate an embryo a beneficiary of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, to prohibit funding to United Nations Population Fund, expressly permitting crisis pregnancy centers eligible for funding under the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education, and codifying the right of health-care workers to deny abortion counseling or other family-planning services if doing so would violate their beliefs.

Nelson voted in favor of an effort to return the “Mexico City Policy” (which pro-choice groups call the “global gag order”), which banned funding to groups that promote or endorse abortion. Casey, however, opposed this policy.

In the House of Representatives has a larger coalition of pro-life Democrats than in the Senate. Even with the number of pro-life Democrats in the House cut in half as a result of the November election, around 12 percent of Democrats in the House Democrats vote pro-life. In the Senate, NRLC ratings suggest six percent of Democrats are pro-life.


Editor's note: *The sentence has been corrected.
Due to an editing error, National Right to Life Committee was originally listed incorrectly.

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.

0128obamasotu.jpg

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.


Continue reading Abortion: Not Part of the State of the Union, Responses...

January 21, 2011

Abortion Opponents See Political Openings

Abortion-related news is heating up just before tomorrow's 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The political mood this year is quite different from 2009 after President Obama's inauguration and in 2010 close to Scott Roeder's conviction of killing late-term abortion Dr. George Tiller, the Associated Press reports.

Republican governors who oppose abortion were elected in Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Just after its repeal of the health care law, House Speaker John Boehner unveiled the No Tax-Payer Funding for Abortion Act on Thursday, Politico reports.


On Wednesday, Pennsylvania doctor was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran stories of women who were left scarred by their experiences in the clinic.

In 2001, Davida Johnson changed her mind about aborting her 6-month fetus after seeing Gosnell's dazed, bloodied patients in his recovery room, she said. But in the treatment room, Gosnell's staffers ignored her protests, smacked her, tied her arms down and sedated her into unconsciousness, she said. She awoke no longer pregnant.

Weeks later, she said, she was diagnosed with a venereal disease that she believes she contracted from unsterilized equipment Gosnell used. Now, she can't carry a baby to term and said she has miscarried four times since her abortion.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) is in the spotlight for remarks in made in an interview with Christian News Service. He said, "The question is -- and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer -- is that human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no. Well if that person, human life is not a person, then, I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, 'we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.'" He stood by his remarks in an interview with Fox's Greta Van Susteren.

CT previously covered some strategies to watch in 2011. President of Americans United for Life Charmaine Yoest said in a statement that state-based approaches are “changing the momentum towards life at the state level. We are seeing a cultural shift toward protecting life and rolling back the tide of unrestricted abortions that Roe v. Wade produced.”

Politico's Sarah Kliff reports that Republicans are placing a high legislative priority on the abortion issue.

“This is a very serious threat,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told POLITICO in a Thursday morning interview. “These folks have just taken office and this is what they’re focusing on…Based on what we’re seeing, just few days after the start of Congress, we’re absolutely ready for a very serious fight.”

AUL released a ranking of how states deal with abortion, euthanasia and other issues. The top five states were 1: Oklahoma, 2: Louisiana, 3: Pennsylvania, 4: Arkansas and 5: Texas. Sitting at the bottom were New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii, California, and Washington.

December 30, 2010

Pro-life Efforts to Watch in 2011

Although November’s mid-term elections halved the number of pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, there are hopeful signs for pro-life legislation in the New Year.

January will mark the beginning of the arguably most pro-life House ever,” according to a statement released by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the bi-partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has stated that “he wants to be the most pro-life Speaker ever” and Americans United for Life chose Boehner for an award.

The House will likely tackle the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 5939) in the upcoming legislative session. Introduced by Smith and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in July, Smith said the bill is designed to protect conscience clauses in health care nation-wide. Protecting existing conscience rights remains a high priority in 2011. The Alliance Defense Fundsays that the Obama administration “wants to dismantle” a rule passed by the Bush administration in 2008 that prohibited recipients of federal money from discriminating against healthcare professionals refusing to participate in procedures, such as abortion, for reasons of conscience.

Prohibiting the use of federal money to support abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, will also appear on the legislative agenda. The Title 10 Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (HR 614), co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), would prohibit all federal assistance to organizations performing abortions during the period of assistance. Pence said that the act would close the loopholes in the Hyde Amendment, which allows federally-funded organizations to perform abortions if such procedures are separately funded. In June,the Government Accountability Office foundthat over $1 billion in taxpayer money went to pro-abortion organizations in the past 8 years.

Various states are also expected to tackle pro-life issues in 2011. According to an unreleased NARAL Pro-Choice America analysispreviewed to Politico, the number of anti-abortion governors rose from 21 to 29 in the November election, and the number of states with governments where the governor and the majority legislature are both considered anti-abortion increased from 10 to 15.

In states ranging from Iowa to Tennessee, where anti-abortion legislation has often stalled in committee, anticipation is building that a change in leadership could change the prospects for pro-life legislation as well. Kansas provides one example, where current Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson vetoed a measure preventing the re-establishment of a late-term abortion clinic in the state (following the death of George Tiller and the subsequent closure of his clinic in Wichita). However, Parkinson’s replacement, Governor-elect Republican Sam Brownback, told supporters he would sign any pro-life bill that made it to his desk.

Following Nebraska’s lead—the state passed a late-term abortion ban this year based on the concept of fetal pain—pro-life organizations expect more states to challenge abortion laws by proposing restrictions related to fetus age. Several states, including Kansas, New Jersey, and South Carolina, considered bans on post-viability abortion (abortion past the age a fetus is considered able to live outside the womb) in 2010, according to Americans United for Life. Typically, the “post-viability” age is considered to be between 21 to 28 weeks (Roe v. Wade established viability as “about” 28 weeks); Nebraska’s ban sets the restriction back to 20 weeks. “[F]rom our perspective, if we aren't bucking up against Roe, we're not doing our job,” said Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin. "So we did our job in Nebraska and now it's time for the other states to do their job."

Other possible state legislation proposing abortion restrictions will likely include laws requiring an ultrasound to be shown to the patient prior to an abortion--such as the one passed by Oklahoma this year--and measures responding to this year’s federal health care reform that would ban insurance coverage of abortion at the state level.

November 23, 2010

Barbara Bush: Housekeeper Kept Fetus in a Jar

President George W. Bush's mother is disputing her son's account that she showed him a fetus in a jar.

"No, the truth is I didn't put it in the jar. ... Paula put it in the jar," she said, referring to the Bushes' housekeeper, Paula Rendon, according to Rachel Slajda of Talking Points Memo.

"I was shocked when she gave it to him," she told Larry King on CNN. "Memories dim a little bit." She said she gave permission to her son to use the anecdote in the book.

"You had different views on pro-life?" King asked. "I don't remember," she said.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Barbara Bush suggested that the Republican Party should drop an anti-abortion plank from its national platform. Earlier this year, Laura Bush reiterated her position that abortion should remain legal.

November 8, 2010

Bush: Seeing Mother's Miscarried Fetus Shaped Philosophy of Life

President George W. Bush writes in his new memoir, Decision Points, that Bush’s mother showed him a fetus in a jar, according to the New York Post.

After Barbara Bush had a miscarriage, she saved the fetus in a jar and she "said to her teenage kid, 'Here's the fetus,' " Bush is expected to tell NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview airing this evening

The episode contributed to Bush’s pro-life stance. “There's no question that affected me, a philosophy that we should respect life,” Bush said.

"There was a human life, a little brother or sister," Bush told the "Today" host during the sit-down to promote his tome, which hits stores tomorrow.
Bush said his mother gave him special permission to recount the private story in print.
But "the purpose of the story wasn't to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view," Bush insisted to Lauer.
"It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Bush said he personally approved waterboarding as a technique.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique (waterboarding) against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives.

“Former President Bush should be ashamed of his decision to torture detainees,” said Rev. Richard L. Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “His decision to allow the use of torture was both illegal and immoral. And his excuse that the use of waterboarding ’saved lives’ is wholly inadequate and unjustifiable. U.S.-sponsored torture has cost innumerable lives of both American soldiers and civilians, because it has inspired extremists to commit acts of terror against us. It has cost us dearly. Torture does not make us safer; it makes us more of a target.”

The interview with Lauer will be shown on tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

November 3, 2010

More Pro-Life Dems Axed

Democrats lose over half of their pro-life members.

For pro-life Democrats, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad election day.

When Bart Stupak (D-MI) and his coalition of pro-life Democrats cast their vote for the final health care bill in the House, they were called turncoats by some, profiles in courage by others. Today, most of them have a new label: unemployed.

All told, three out of five members of the Stupak coalition will not return in January. Stupak and four others opted not to run for reelection. Alan Mollohan (WV-1) was defeated in the primary. Another sixteen lost in the general election yesterday.

The ones that retained their seats did so because they faced little serious opposition. Sanford Bishop (D, GA-2) was one exception. In August and early October, Bishop was viewed as fairly secure. Recent polls, however, had showed him trailing his opponent by five points. Bishop hung on last night, winning his south Georgia district.

Pro-life groups took aim at several of Stupak's coalition. The efforts paid off. Steve Driehaus(D, OH-1) and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D, PA-3) lost, as expected. James Oberstar (D, MN-8) was thought to be a stronger candidate, but he also lost. Jim Oberstar (D, MN-8) was the rare member of the Stupak coalition to win despite active campaigning against him by pro-life and pro-family groups such as CitizenLink.

But the losses of pro-life Democrats was sometimes unrelated to the health care vote. In fact, Democrats with rock solid pro-life voting records who also opposed the health care bill did worse than those in the Stupak coalition.

Such causalities from yesterday include:

-- Bobby Bright (D, AL-2)
-- James Marshall (D, GA-8)
-- Ike Skelton (D, MO-4)
-- Travis Childers (D, MS-1)
-- Gene Taylor (D, MS-4)
-- Lincoln Davis (D, TN-4)

In addition, Charles Melancon (D, LA-3) opted not to run. The pro-life Democrats remaining in the House after the election are

-- Daniel Lipinski (D, IL-3),
-- Douglas McIntyre (D, NC-7)
-- Heath Shuler (D, NC-11)
-- David Boren (D, OK-2)

In the Democratic caucus, there were (at most) 50 pro-life members, members who would be willing to cosponsor and vote for many pro-life bills. Starting in January, that number will be just 20. And of these, only a handful would be considered pro-life by national pro-life organizations.

Editor's note: See more details in the story posted on our website today.
This post has been updated to reflect that Charles Melancon is from Louisiana.

November 2, 2010

Colorado Rejects Personhood Amendment

Colorado voters weighed the legal definition of “personhood,” voting on an amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would define the term “person” as applying "from the beginning of the biological development of that human being." The Denver Post reports that the measure was failing by a 3-to-1 margin, the same as the 2008 vote on a similar amendment.

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The measure has drawn both support and criticism from unusual sources. Amendment 62 is endorsed by Pam Tebow, the mother of famously pro-life football star Tim, but opposed by the Colorado Eagle Forum as a threat to “all pro-life laws enacted in the last 40 years, including the Hyde Amendment.”

Colorado defeated a similar measure in 2008 with 73 percent voting against an amendment defining the term “person” to begin at “the moment of fertilization.” CT asked thinkers and leaders to weigh in on personhood amendments here.

November 2, 2010

Pro-Life Democrats Continue to Falter

We’re focusing on Democrats who supported a ban on abortion funding in the health care reform law but voted for the final bill. There were 32 of these Democrats running for re-election. About half of the candidates faced tough fights for reelection.

Where They’re Losing

Ohio and Pennsylvania were not kind to the Democrats we’re tracking.

In Pennsylvania, Christopher Carney (D, PA 10), Kathleen Dahlkemper (D, PA 3), and Paul Kanjorski (D, PA 11) went down in defeat. Dahlkemper had a strong pro-life record, but her vote on health care raised the ire of pro-life groups, targeted by both CitizenLink and the Susan B. Anthony List.

Ohio voters called home similar Democrats where Charles Wilson (D, OH 6) and John Boccieri (D, OH 16) were also defeated. Steve Driehaus (D, OH 1) is likely to be defeated, too. Driehaus made headlines when he filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission over a campaign billboard by the Susan B. Anthony List. The billboard said Driehaus supported federal funding of abortion. Driehaus said the billboard was false. The case was not decided before the election.

In West Virginia, two of the three representatives were pro-life Democrats. One, however, never made it past the Democratic primaries. Alan Mollohan (D, WV 1) was defeated by Mike Oiverio, who is also pro-life. This race is still too close to call.

In the 3rd District, Nick Rahall defeated his Republican opponent Elliott Maynard. Rahall has a long pro-life voting record, but he upset pro-life groups when he backed the final version of the health care bill. As a result, West Virginia Right to Life and National Right to Life endorsed his opponent.

The pro-life Democrats did not do better further south.

Jim Marshall (D, GA 8) is one of two Georgia pro-life Democrats packing up his office. Unlike the other Democrats we're watching tonight, he had a 100 percent vote record on pro-life issues, according to Americans United for Life Action. He lost to Republican Austin Scott. Sanford Biship (D, GA 2) also lost. His pro-life record is weaker than some of the other Democrats we're watching, but he did vote for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to eliminate federal funding of abortion in the health care bill.

Incumbent Bob Etheridge may lose his seat in North Carolina's 2nd District in an election that proved to be much closer race than expected. However, Heath Shuler (D, NC 11) who had a near-perfect pro-life record, according to Americans United for Life Action (including opposition to the final health care law) won handily.

Where They’re Winning

The election did indicate that Democrats who cast pro-life votes can win. One of the places they were safer were in districts with higher Catholic or urban populations. Democrats kept seats in New England such as Richard Neal (D, MA-2), Michael Michaud (D, ME 2), and James Langevin (D, RI 2). Pro-life voting Democrats held by Silvestre Reyes (D, TX-16), Timothy Ryan (D, OH-17), Michael Doyle (D, PA-14), Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9), Jim Cooper (D, TN-5), and Jerry Costello (D, IL-12). Democrats are also expected to keep pro-life leaning districts in California.

Where They’re Waiting

With races still close to call, we’re still waiting for final results from a number of races. Most of these, however, appear to be going against the Democrats.

Bob Etheridge (D, NC-2)
Christopher Carney (D, PA-10)
Ciro Rodriguez (D, TX-23)
Dale Kildee (D, MI-5)
Henry Cuellar (D, TX-28)
James Oberstar (D, MN-8)
John Boccieri (D, OH-16)
John Salazar (D, CO-3)
John Spratt (D, SC-5)
Paul Kanjorski (D, PA-11)
Solomon Ortiz (D, TX-27)
Steve Driehaus (D, OH-1)

Hopefully, we’ll know more by daybreak.

November 2, 2010

Pro-life Democrats See Cuts

We're keeping a close eye on races involving pro-life Democrats. If the results go as expected, the number of pro-life votes from Democrats could be cut in half. We're particularly interested in the election outcomes of those who supported the final version of the health care law.

There are 33 House races involving Democrats who voted for the original Stupak-Pitts Amendment (which would have banned abortion funding in the health care bill) and final passage of the health care bill (which did not include the Stupak-Pitts amendment). About half of these are facing tough fights tonight.

Two of the first districts with results may prove to be bellwethers for these pro-life Democrats. Joe Donnelly (D, IN-2) narrowly won his bid for reelection despite being the target of pro-life groups, including CitizenLink. The district, which includes South Bend, was targeted because it was a close district that could go Republican. Further south, Indiana's 9th district proved to be a easier ground for the GOP. Republican Todd Young defeated incumbent Democrat Baron Hill who has represented the district for five terms.

Other results coming in are in districts that were leaning strongly toward the Republicans. In 2008, Tom Perriello (D, VA-5) won the district by less than one thousand votes. In this midterm election, the former human rights lawyer did not pull out another squeaker. Robert Hurt, the Republican, easily won the 5th District back for the GOP.

There are still a dozen close races yet to be called. Votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other eastern states should be counted soon.

May 21, 2010

Evangelicals Push `Theology of Sex,' Abortion Reduction

The National Association of Evangelicals on May 20 launched an initiative to reduce abortions by promoting a "Theology of Sex" for churches and pledging to find common ground with opponents on abortion.

"There's a sense that, whatever our laws are, abortion is a problem because of the underlying issues of how we treat sex," said Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the Washington-based umbrella organization.

NAE leaders have concluded that churches are not doing a "good job" of teaching about sex and marriage and should better address the high percentage of cohabiting unmarried young adults, including many evangelicals.

"Addressing that subject will do a lot, we think, to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and the number of abortions," Carey said.

Continue reading Evangelicals Push `Theology of Sex,' Abortion Reduction...

April 20, 2010

Oklahoma Passes Several Abortion Bills

The Oklahoma Senate has passed five abortion-related bills, including one that would require women seeking an abortion early in their pregnancies to undergo vaginal ultrasound. The Associated Press reports that the bill was earlier declared unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one subject.

The Tulsa World reports that one of the bill would require a woman to have an ultrasound within an hour of an abortion. Another bill that was passed would require women seeking an abortion to report information about themselves (such as marital status, education, reason for abortion) to be displayed statistically on a website.

The AP explains further background and more information on the other bills.

At least three states require ultrasounds before all abortions, but no other states require vaginal ultrasounds or that doctors to describe the image to women.

... [Governor] Henry vetoed the ultrasound requirement in larger bill two years ago, arguing it had no exclusions for victims of rape or incest. But his veto was overridden when anti-abortion Democrats joined with Republicans. The bill was later ruled unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one subject. The bill passed Monday also has no exceptions. Henry has not indicated whether he will sign it.

It passed 35-11 Monday with several Democrats voting with Republicans. Of the five women in the Senate, all Democrats, two voted for the bill and three voted against.

The other abortion measures would require women to complete a lengthy questionnaire before receiving an abortion, mandate certain signs be posted in an abortion clinics and prevent so-called "wrongful-life" lawsuits in cases where a parent might argue that a child with birth defects or other problems would have been better off aborted. Another bill would prohibit state insurance exchanges, created under the new federal health care law, from covering abortions.

April 14, 2010

Nebraska Adds Abortion Restrictions

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a law yesterday banning most abortions 20 weeks after conception or later. The law is the first to restrict abortions on the basis of fetal pain, according to The New York Times.

The question of fetal pain, experts said, is one of intense, unresolved debate among researchers and among advocates on both sides of the abortion question.

Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation at National Right to Life, said that scientific evidence related to the capacity for pain had not been heard by the Supreme Court, and that it opened a new legal question.

“You need five votes,” Ms. Balch said. “I think there are five on the current Supreme Court who would give serious consideration to Nebraska’s claim.”

A late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was killed in Kansas last year. The Associated Press reports that the bill is partially aimed at Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a late-term abortion provider who said he would continue Tiller's work in Nebraska.

Heineman also signed a separate law that would require health care workers to screen women for possible physical or mental risks before performing an abortion.

March 26, 2010

Dem. Pro-life Group is Dissenting Voice

When the House sent a sweeping health care bill to President Obama Sunday, most of the nation's leading pro-life groups slammed it as a proposal that would liberalize the nation's abortion laws and increase the abortion rate.

But Democrats for Life America and its executive director Kristen Day were casting a dramatically different message, arguing that the bill was not only pro-life but that the nation's abortion rate likely would decrease.

For months, Democrats for Life had been working on the same side of organizations such as National Right to Life, the Family Research Council and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in trying to ensure that the health care bill maintained the status quo on abortion law and did not federally fund the procedure. Yet when Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan announced a deal Sunday that lent his support if Obama pledged to sign an executive order, Democrats for Life was the only group not disappointed. It sent out a press release hours later saying it was "proud to support this historic health care legislation."

"The goal was always to pass a health care reform bill," Day told Baptist Press. "All these [pro-life] members and Democrats for Life supported health care reform, and the point of contention obviously was the abortion issue.... We're proud that this health care legislation passed and we're proud of the work that Bart did. We appreciate that the president signed this executive order that says the Hyde Amendment is the law of the land."

The Hyde Amendment -- which must be renewed annually -- prevents Medicaid from funding elective abortions. President Obama signed the bill, named the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law Tuesday.

Generally, groups that oppose abortion have divided into two camps in theorizing how the bill will impact the nation's abortion rates. National Right to Life and others argue that the nation likely will see an increase in abortions because lower-income women who currently are uninsured will be able to use tax subsidies to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion, making the procedure affordable and more accessible. (The new law's allowance of tax dollars to go toward insurance plans that cover elective abortions is a break from longstanding policy.) Democrats for Life, though, says the abortion rate likely will decrease because uninsured women who previously would have had an abortion for financial reasons will be less likely to do so because they and their baby now have insurance coverage.

Continue reading Dem. Pro-life Group is Dissenting Voice ...

March 24, 2010

Liberty University to File Suit to Halt Health Care Legislation

Liberty University has announced that it will file a lawsuit challenging the federal health care legislation.

"Congress does not have unlimited authority to regulate private actions,” Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, said in a statement. “If the Constitution does not give Congress the power to act, then Congress cannot act. Congress clearly lacks the constitutional authority to force individuals to have, or private businesses to provide, health insurance.”

Alex Isenstadt of Politico reports that thanks to the health care debates, abortion is poised to make a political comeback.

The Family Research Council, which has already spent nearly $2 million this cycle backing anti-abortion candidates across the country, is now considering wading into battles against anti-abortion Democrats like Pennsylvania Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper, Virginia Rep. Thomas Perriello, Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth and West Virginia Reps. Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall — all of whom voted for the health care bill Sunday.

... NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan told POLITICO that the lesson learned from the health care battle was that the abortion-rights movement, which has lacked the votes needed to shut down abortion funding language from anti-abortion Democrats throughout the health care reform push, needs more allies in Congress.

William McGurn writes about the death of the pro-life Democrats for the Wall Street Journal as Kathleen Parker looks at Stupak's fall from pro-life grace for the Washington Post.

President Obama will sign an executive order today that says that existing limits on the federal funding of abortion will remain under the new legislation. The event will be closed to the news media. The New York Times reports that Representative Bart Stupak (D-Michigan and Senator Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania) will attend.

March 12, 2010

Democrats Plan to Push Health Care Despite Some Opposition on Abortion

Democratic leaders plan to push through the Senate's version of the health care bill with or without the support of pro-life Democrats, the Associated Press reports.

That strategy would leave in place the Senate language on abortion. It would allow health plans receiving federal subsidies in a new insurance marketplace to cover abortion, provided they pay for it only with money collected from policyholders. The House bill would have prohibited health plans receiving subsidies from covering abortions.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., has been pushing for the stricter House provisions, saying that he and a dozen or so abortion opponents would vote against the health care bill if the Senate language is retained. But the leadership appears to be moving to call his bluff.

However, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said he doesn't believe they have enough votes to pass the legislation by President Obama's March 18 deadline.

"I don't see how they're going to get the votes to pass healthcare, no matter what procedure they use, if they want to do it by March 18th," Stupak said last night on Fox News. "I don't see it."

Yesterday, a group of progressive evangelicals sent a letter to the House in support of the Senate's version of the bill, saying that the "longstanding restrictions on federal funding of abortion have been maintained." The group included President of Evangelicals for Social Action Ron Sider, President of Sojourners Jim Wallis, pastor of Northland Church Joel Hunter, and David Gushee, chair of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. Tobin Grant writes more at CT about how other advocacy groups are addressing health care.

March 5, 2010

Pro-Life Leaders Fight Health Care over Taxpayer-funded Abortion

Updated: Friday, March 5, 12:30 p.m.

President Obama, calling for a vote on health-care legislation by mid-March, has upped the stakes for his presidency over so-called Obamacare, which prolife leaders say will provide for the biggest expansion of abortion services in American history. (See analysis of the Senate and House bills below.)

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, put out an urgent video message early this morning and is featured in the Wall Street Journal's Friday edition.

Here are excerpts from Yoest's commentary:

It's now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion.... The president's latest proposal mirrors legislation that has passed the Senate, which doesn't include a Hyde Amendment, and would inevitably establish abortion as a fundamental health-care service for the following reasons:

• It would change existing law by allowing federally subsidized health-care plans to pay for abortions and could require private health-insurance plans to cover abortion.
• It would impose a first-ever abortion tax—a separate premium payment that will be used to pay for elective abortions—on enrollees in insurance plans that covers abortions through newly created government health-care exchanges.
• And it would fail to protect the rights of health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions.

Continue reading Pro-Life Leaders Fight Health Care over Taxpayer-funded Abortion...

March 1, 2010

Utah's Abortion Bill

Lawmakers in Utah recently approved a bill that would criminalize pregnant women who arrange to have an illegal abortion, and the bill now awaits the governor's signature or veto. The bill was introduced after pregnant teenager allegedly paid a man to kick her stomach when she was seven months pregnant. Here's more from The New York Times.

But critics say legislation inspired by an unusual, perhaps even freakish criminal case, could open up a vast frontier around the question of intent and responsibility and give local prosecutors huge new powers to inquire about a woman’s intentions toward her unborn child.

For example, if a pregnant woman gets into a vehicle, goes on a wild ride way over the speed limit without wearing a seatbelt and crashes and the fetus is killed, is she a reckless driver? Or is she a reckless mother-to-be who criminally ignored the safety of her fetus?

Under the bill, a woman guilty of criminal homicide of her fetus could be punished by up to life in prison.

... At least 38 states have laws against fetal homicide, generally intended to create additional penalties when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed. And two states, Delaware and New York, also have laws specifically making self-abortion a crime. Both laws were passed before the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Other items from the news:

-- The Supreme Court declined to hear a lower court decision that Ten Commandments display on public property in Oklahoma must go, according to the Associated Press.

-- Nicholas Kristof writes about World Vision's Richard Stearn's new book in his latest column for The New York Times. Here's his conclusion.

If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality.

Kristof also wrote about evangelicals in 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, again in 2003, yet again in 2003, and in 2002.

-- The New York Times devotes an editorial to the house on C Street affiliated with the Fellowship, arguing that it should not receive tax exemptions as a religious organization.

-- Former President George W. Bush told a crowd at the Fort Worth Christian School that his faith sustained him during during his years as president.

"I don't see how I could be president without prayer," he said, according to the Associated Press. "The prayers of the people ... sustained me, comforted me and strengthened me in a way I could have never predicted before becoming president, and for that I am extremely grateful."

February 11, 2010

Clinton Hails Adoption Home That No Longer Exists

In her keynote address at the National Prayer Breakfast last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke openly about Mother Theresa's 1994 prayer breakfast speech when she condemned abortion. After the address, Mother Theresa told Clinton she should start a home for babies, which Clinton said she accomplished after cutting through some red tape. Here's how Clinton told the story:

We began to talk, and she told me that she knew that we had a shared conviction about adoption being vastly better as a choice for unplanned or unwanted babies. And she asked me – or more properly, she directed me – to work with her to create a home for such babies here in Washington. I know that we often picture, as we’re growing up, God as a man with a white beard. But that day, I felt like I had been ordered, and that the message was coming not just through this diminutive woman but from someplace far beyond.

...Finally, the moment came: June, 1995, and the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children opened. She flew in from Kolkata to attend the opening, and like a happy child, she gripped my arm and led me around, looking at the bassinets and the pretty painted colors on the wall, and just beaming about what this meant for children and their futures.

World magazine reporter Emily Belz tried to track down the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children and found that it no longer exists.

According to a pastor at the church next door to the home’s former location, the adoption ministry failed to take off because the Roman Catholic nuns who ran it weren’t allowed to care for babies without medical personnel on site. “I’m not sure the legal thing that came down upon them, but they realized they needed to expend their energies in another way,” said Maureen Freshour, who along with her husband, David, pastors Chevy Chase Baptist Church and lives nearby. Freshour has stayed in touch with the nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order who ran the home and said that the remaining three or four sisters have moved to another house in Washington, where they are ministering to the homeless.

December 8, 2009

Breaking: Senate Rejects Abortion Restrictions in Health Bill

Majority leader Harry Reid may not have the necessary votes to move health-care reform bill to passage without key prolife Dem.

The Washington Post and ABC News reported just a few minutes ago that the Senate defeated Senator Ben Nelson's amendment that would have restricted abortion coverage in insurance policies purchased by people receiving federal subsidies under the Senate's proposed health-care reform bill. The amendment was defeated 54-45.

Nelson had threatened to filibuster the bill unless the abortion restrictions were added. Without Nelson's vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may not have the necessary votes to move the bill toward passage. Reid hinted that he may try to find another way to satisfy Nelson's concerns and win his vote.

November 18, 2009

Abortion Remains Central in Health Care Debates

Debates over whether the federal government should fund abortion became central in passing final health care legislation after the House passed the Stupak amendment, which bans funding abortion. “The simple math in the House suggests the health bill wouldn't have passed without the votes of the moderates who came to the ‘yes’ side after the Stupak amendment,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some pro-choice critics of the amendment say that it goes far beyond previous limits placed on federal funding of abortions, diminishing the legal standing of abortion based on Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice advocates are determined to stop the bill from passing the Senate with the amendment attached. Tuesday, the pro-choice Center for Reproductive Rights launched a new ad aimed at warning viewers that Congress could “ban abortion coverage millions of women already have.”

The Conference of Catholic Bishops is pushing back against pro-choice lobbyists in order to retain the amendment, denying in a recent assessment that the Stupak amendment would affect existing access to abortion because it only applies to the use of government money and not private insurance options. (The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio also break down the terms of the amendment and agree that the affect of the amendment will be minimal.) The Los Angeles Times noted that the Catholic organization, which has been lobbying the federal government to provide universal health insurance for the past three decades, wielded significant influence in the addition of the amendment because the organization will not support a bill that covers abortion.

Continue reading Abortion Remains Central in Health Care Debates...

November 5, 2009

C. Everett Koop's Letter Shuts Down Reid's Office

His letter was protesting federally funded abortion under health care legislation.

An unstamped letter from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop caused a security scare when Capitol Police shut down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s for 45 minutes office yesterday.

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Koop's letter, addressed to Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, protested federal funding of abortion in health care legislation.

"More specifically, I am troubled about the possibility of federal dollars being used to pay for elective abortions and Americans being forced to subsidize them," Koop wrote. "I firmly believe that strong protections must be included in this legislation so that health care providers are not forced to participate in abortions against their will."

Roll Call reports that the letter was stampless with "C. Everett Koop" written in the upper-left corner, and staffers reported it as a suspicious package to the police.

Reached at his home Wednesday, Koop confirmed that he wrote a few “beautifully typed” pages on his views of the health care legislation. The fact that it caused a Capitol Hill scare is “nonsense,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware that sending a hand-delivered letter was an offense,” he said, later adding: “I did it over a weekend. I don’t have a lot of secretarial help and I’m 93.”

Continue reading C. Everett Koop's Letter Shuts Down Reid's Office...

October 1, 2009

Study: Support for Abortion Dips

A new survey suggests that fewer Americans support abortion than in recent years, and the country appears evenly divided on the issue.

The survey (pdf) found that 47 percent say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 44 percent believe it should be illegal all or most of the time. Surveys in previous years showed that 54 percent of Americans supported legal abortion while 40 percent thought abortion should be illegal.

68 percent of white evangelical Protestants who attend church on a weekly basis cited religious beliefs as the main influence on their opinions about abortion. For those who support legalized abortion, 11 percent cited religious as the primary influence for their stance while 53 percent of Americans who say abortion cited religion.

Other findings include:
--An increase in Americans favor reducing abortion, from 59 percent in 2005 to 65 percent this year.

--The abortion debate has declined in importance for liberals while opposing abortion has grown more important for conservatives.

--One of the largest declines in support for abortion were among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly.

--Support for abortion went down nine points among Democratic men but did not change among Democratic women.

--About three-in-ten Americans think that President Obama will handle the abortion issue well, while four-in-ten are unaware of his position. About two-in-ten are concerned that Obama will go too far in supporting legalized abortion.

The survey of 4,013 adults was conducted from August 11-27 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

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Continue reading Study: Support for Abortion Dips...

August 5, 2009

AP: Proposed Health Insurance Would Allow Abortion Coverage

Proposed health care legislation could allow a new government-sponsored insurance plan to fund abortions, the Associated Press reports.

Pro-life groups want specific restrictions on a health care plan that offers abortion, and a measure was passed, then reversed last week in a House committee.

The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange.

The Democratic health care legislation as originally introduced in the House and Senate did not mention abortion. That rang alarm bells for abortion opponents.

Since abortion is a legal medical procedure, experts on both sides say not mentioning it would allow health care plans in the new insurance exchange to provide unrestricted coverage.

It would mirror the private insurance market, where abortion coverage is widely available.


Continue reading AP: Proposed Health Insurance Would Allow Abortion Coverage...

July 27, 2009

Pro-life Leaders Urge Action Against Abortion Health Care

If you tried to log on to the Stop the Abortion Mandate webcast Thursday night, your connection may have timed out like mine did. According to moderator David Bereit 36,187 people were all trying to stream the live event at the same time.

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Recent media coverage of the debate about abortion and health care reform may have heighted interest in the webcast. (Christianity Today has blogged about it here and here).

Pro-life leaders participating in the webcast included Kristen Day of Democrats for Life, James Dobson of Focus on the Family (with a pre-recorded message), Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), but not former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. His absence after originally being included in the list of participants was not explained, although he blogged against universal health care on the same day.

Webcast speakers focused on abortion. "What you probably haven't heard is that the health care bill being advanced by Democrats is the abortion industry's dream come true," said Dobson, who opened the presentation with his pre-recorded statement. He continued:

The health care bill will force taxpayers to fund a huge abortion industry bail-out, even though the majority of Americans oppose abortion. In addition, it will mandate that virtually every American will be coerced into a health plan that covers abortion, and it would require that health care providers that are opposed to abortion violate their own consciences by performing abortions at the risk of losing their own jobs. It will be a disaster for the sanctity of human life and an assault on the moral values of every American who is forced to support the killing of babies.

Continue reading Pro-life Leaders Urge Action Against Abortion Health Care...

July 22, 2009

Abortion Weighs Down Healthcare Debate

President Obama said the public should become less focused on whether abortion would be covered under federal healthcare in an interview with Katie Couric last night.

KATIE COURIC: Do you favor a government option that would cover abortions?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know-- the-- the-- the-- what I think is important, at this stage, is not trying to micromanage what benefits are covered. Because I think we're still trying to get a framework. And my main focus is making sure that people have the options of high quality care at the lowest possible price.

As you know, I'm pro choice. But I think we also have a tradition-- of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of-- you know, government funded health care. And, you know, my-- you know, rather than wade into that issue at this point-- I think that it's appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted by the abortion debate at this station.


(h/t Kathryn Jean Lopez)

Continue reading Abortion Weighs Down Healthcare Debate...

June 10, 2009

U.S. News: Pregnant Women Support Act May Have White House Support

A Congressional aide told Dan Gilgoff that the White House is leaning towards supporting the Pregnant Women Support Act, which aims to reduce abortions by providing support to low-income pregnant women.

"I don't want to get in to reading the tea leaves on the White House's position or strategy for this issue, but I would call their interest in the Pregnant Women Support Act significant," the aide told him.

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission endorsed the bill sponsored by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), which would, among other things:

Continue reading U.S. News: Pregnant Women Support Act May Have White House Support...

June 3, 2009

Blaming Pro-lifers for Tiller's Death

As activists and journalists try to make sense of George Tiller's murder, some are trying to link the pro-life movement with the killing while others are trying to separate the two.

"People have a right to disagree about abortion, but it's impossible to separate today's tragedy from the violent language that has been directed for years at doctors like George Tiller," a statement from People for the American Way states. "Those who have inflamed emotions and dehumanized their opponents around the issue of abortion should take pause before they continue such dangerous rhetoric."

The L.A. Times responds by saying that Tiller's killing should not be exploited for political gain.

"It's unfair to ask antiabortion activists to muffle their message because it might inspire an unbalanced individual to commit an atrocity," the editorial concludes.

Continue reading Blaming Pro-lifers for Tiller's Death...

May 31, 2009

Late-term Abortion Doctor Shot Dead in Church

George Tiller, one of the few doctors to perform late-term abortions, was shot to death today in a church in Kansas.

Tiller, 67, was shot in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was a member. According to the Wichita Eagle, he was serving as an usher at the church and handing out bulletins to people going into the sanctuary minutes before being shot. A 51-year-old male suspect was arrested about three hours later.

The New York Times offers more background on Tiller.

Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortions since the 1970s, had long been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue of abortion, particularly in Kansas, where abortion opponents regularly protested outside his clinic and sometimes his home and church. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent but recovered.

He had also been the subject of many efforts at prosecution, including a citizen-initiated grand jury investigation. In the latest such effort, in March, Dr. Tiller was acquitted of charges that he had performed late-term abortions that violated state law.

Several pro-life groups have issued statements condemning the killing.

Continue reading Late-term Abortion Doctor Shot Dead in Church...

May 17, 2009

Obama Addresses Abortion, Religion, and Race at Notre Dame

President Obama addressed abortion for the first time since his election during his speech to Notre Dame graduates today.

"So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term," Obama said to applause.

"I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away," Obama said. "No matter how much we may want to fudge it ? indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory ? the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable." He called for a respectful debate with "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words."

Obama re-told his conversion story of how he worked as a community organizer with church members. "I found myself drawn ? not just to work with the church, but to be in the church," he said. "It was through this service that I was brought to Christ." Obama also noted his African American race and the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Here are some clips edited by the Associated Press:

Here's a video from Politico where a person in the audience starts to heckle Obama:

The full text of Obama's prepared remarks continue after the jump.

Continue reading Obama Addresses Abortion, Religion, and Race at Notre Dame...

May 15, 2009

Gallup: More Americans 'Pro-Life' Than 'Pro-Choice'

A new Gallup poll suggests that for the first time in more than 10 years, more Americans are calling themselves pro-life than pro-choice when asked about abortion.

More Republicans increasingly calling themselves pro-life, a shift from 60 percent to 70 percent, while there was no significant change among Democrats. The poll conducted May 7-10 suggests that Catholics and Protestants are also becoming increasingly pro-life.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center also suggested that fewer Americans support legalized abortion, but the survey did not use language like "pro-choice" or "pro-life." In that survey, 46 percent of Americans supported legalized abortion while 44 percent said it should be illegal. Both surveys suggests a shift in abortion views, but it's unclear whether the words pro-life or pro-choice effected the Gallup poll outcome.

A separate poll conducted by CNN April 23-26 suggested that 49 percent of Americans consider themselves pro-choice while 45 percent of them consider themselves pro-life.

May 8, 2009

CatholicVote.org's New Video

Fox agrees to air new pro-life ad.

CatholicVote.org, which received praise and panning for its "Imagine" video, has just put together a new offering as part of its "Life: Imagine the Potential" campaign. Organizer Brian Burch says the Fox network has agreed to air the ad during the finale of "American Idol." Like "Imagine," this one is well worth your 60-second investment.

April 27, 2009

Citing Obama Invitation, Catholic Lawyer Rejects Notre Dame Medal

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Citing the University of Notre Dame's decision to host President Obama at its May 17 commencement ceremony, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon has declined to accept the school's prestigious Laetare Medal and to speak opposite Obama at commencement. In a letter sent this morning to Notre Dame president John Jenkins, Glendon, a pro-life Harvard Law School professor, writes:

"A commencement . . . is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision - in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops - to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."

The "settled position" Glendon mentions is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2004 request that Catholic institutions "not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles" and that such persons "should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Glendon also expresses concern that Notre Dame's decision could set off a "ripple effect" among U.S. Catholic universities.

President Jenkins released a brief response Monday: "We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible."

Glendon's entire letter is below. See Francis Beckwith's response to Notre Dame's decision here, and Richard Mouw's and David Dockery's responses here.

Continue reading Citing Obama Invitation, Catholic Lawyer Rejects Notre Dame Medal...

April 22, 2009

Clinton Drilled on Abortion, Torture

The House Foreign Affairs Committee took a turn today when Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about abortion.

Smith asked why she had recently praised Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, according to Emily Belz at World.

Smith: Sanger was an unapologetic eugenicist and racist who said "the most merciful thing a family does for one of its infant members is to kill it." And said on another occasion, "eugenics is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."

Clinton didn't respond to the Sanger quotes at first, but later in the hearing when questioned again on the matter, she said in all humans (she used Thomas Jefferson's slave holding as an example) "there are things we admire and there are things we deplore."

Smith asked whether the administration would be promoting abortion in places like Africa, under the umbrella of "reproductive health."

Clinton: We happen to think family planning is an important part of women's health - and that reproductive health includes access to abortion?.We are now an administration that protects the rights of women including the rights to reproductive health care.

Inglis asked Clinton why she didn't condemn forced abortions on her trip to China. "They heard me say it already," she said, referring to a trip 14 years ago.

Inglis: Don't we have to speak with moral authority when we engage countries like China?
Clinton: Yes, we certainly do. It is a broad engagement that we have with large and complex countries. There is always and must be a moral dimension to our foreign policy.
Inglis: When you're in China next, I hope you'll speak to these issues.

Farah Stockman at The Boston Globe reports that Clinton was also asked about torture.

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, repeatedly asked Clinton whether the administration would declassify documents that former Vice President Dick Cheney has said paint the CIA interrogators in a more heroic light and show the important information produced from the interrogations.

Clinton said she had no knowledge of such documents. "It won't surprise you that I don't consider him a particularly reliable source," she said, to some laughter.

April 13, 2009

Sebelius Received More Money from Abortion Doctor than Disclosed

Adding more fuel to the fire, President Obama's health secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius received nearly three times as much money from an abortion doctor than she disclosed, according to the Associated Press.

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Sebelius has already angered conservatives for her pro abortion stances. She told the Senate Finance Committee that she took money from from George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider, who was acquitted last month of charges that he performed 19 illegal late-term abortions in 2003.

She told the committee that she received $12,450 between 1994 and 2001 from Tiller. But Erica Werner at the AP reports that Tiller gave at least $23,000 more from 2000 to 2002 to a political action committee while Sebelius was state insurance commissioner so she could raise money for Democrats.

The Finance Committee was expected to vote this month on forwarding Sebelius' nomination to the full Senate. There was no immediate indication from committee Republicans that her omission on the Tiller contributions would upset that timing.

The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which is opposing Sebelius' nomination, circulated the campaign finance documents showing the discrepancy in what Sebelius told senators. The records were reviewed Monday by the AP and their accuracy was verified by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.

Continue reading Sebelius Received More Money from Abortion Doctor than Disclosed...

March 25, 2009

Conservatives Talk Abortion Reduction with White House

Leaders from several prominent conservative Christian groups met Tuesday with the head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to discuss ways to reduce abortions.

Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright sought the meeting with Joshua DuBois, executive director of the revamped White House office.

"It was cordial and there's an opportunity for future meetings," Wright said after the meeting, which lasted more than half an hour. "He did seem interested in the kinds of programs that are helping women and children."

Conservative Christian groups have criticized the Obama administration for early policy actions such as opening federal funding to embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups, and moving to rescind conscience protections for health care workers.

Wright, who called the freedom of conscience "fundamental to the American way of life," said she brought up the conscience issue with DuBois and several White House staffers who attended the meeting. They also discussed programs that encourage men to be good fathers.

Continue reading Conservatives Talk Abortion Reduction with White House...

March 25, 2009

Planned Parenthood to Honor Hillary Clinton

Even though her job description focuses on foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton will participate in a domestic political event to receive an award from Planned Parenthood Friday night.

"The 2009 Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Margaret Sanger Award, the organization’s highest honor, will be presented to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been a champion of women’s health and rights throughout her public service career," according to the release.

Politico's Ben Smith says it signals a "continuing the Obama administration's forceful, if understated alliance with abortion-rights groups."

March 19, 2009

One Cheer for Jim Wallis

Sojourners spokesman worries about linking health care reform with abortion.

At First Things, Keith Pavlischek writes:

Jim Wallis has announced in a public interview:

Making abortion provisions part of healthcare reform will kill healthcare reform. . . There are a number of people who believe this is an issue of deep moral conviction and conscience and there are firewalls that if they are breached will really destroy common ground.

"You have to know a little bit about Wallis to understand why this might be important. This past weekend, the New York Times has reported that President Obama has carefully cultivated relationships with at least five influential ministers - all described as evangelical "centrists" - for private sessions of prayer and occasional political advice. One of these is Jim Wallis. As Joe Loconte says in his Weekly Standard article, "Obama's Prayer Warriors", the label "centrist" is not entirely accurate."

March 18, 2009

Abortion Remains Dividing Point for Obama Observers

President Obama wants to reduce the "need for abortion", but one of his cheerleaders David P. Gushee published a column with USA Today titled, "Mr. President, we need more than lip service":

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"Mexico City, conscience clause, Sebelius, embryonic stem cells. In each case, I have been asked by friends at Democratic or progressive-leaning think tanks not just to refrain from opposing these moves, but instead to support them in the name of a broader understanding of what it means to be pro-life. I mainly refused."

David Gibson calls Gushee's column "buyer's remorse."

Christian conscience requires me to make this case even if it has no chance of prevailing in American society. And if we lose on abortion, as it appears we will lose for a long time to come, Christian conscience requires me to ask the government not to require citizens to pay for procuring services that violate their sacred beliefs.

... And if we lose there, then the entire relationship between religious faith and American society will move into a period of profound crisis.

President Obama, we need more than lip service on these crucial issues. Bring the transformational change your promises led us to hope for.

Gushee isn't the only one dealing with frustration. Frank Page, a member of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships' council, said he hasn't been pleased with some of Obama's policies.

Continue reading Abortion Remains Dividing Point for Obama Observers...

March 12, 2009

Michael Steele Takes Heat after Abortion Remarks

RNC Chairman Michael Steele is creating a big fuss after his interview with GQ where he said women have the right to choose abortion.

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Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice.

You do?
Yeah. Absolutely.

Are you saying you don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
I think Roe v. Wade - as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
The states should make that choice. That's what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?
Absolutely!

Politico's Ben Smith reports that Steele put out this statement:

I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.

I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a "choice" before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.

But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.

Charmaine Yoest, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life Action responded:

"I think it is very troubling for a public figure, of either party, particularly one who presents himself as pro-life, to describe the abortion issue as being a matter of 'individual choice,'" That is language straight out of Planned Parenthood's messaging playbook," Yoest said she hadn't heard from the RNC. "There are millions of pro-life Americans, Republican and Democrat, who are looking for leadership on the life issue and they will find Mr. Steele's comments disturbing and demoralizing."

Steele also called homosexuality and individual choice, but his comments on abortion are taking the most heat.

Do you think homosexuality is a choice?
Oh, no. I don't think I've ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there's a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can't simply say, oh, like, "Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being gay." It's like saying, "Tomorrow morning I'm gonna stop being black."

So your feeling would be that people are born one way or another.
I mean, I think that's the prevailing view at this point, and I know that there's some out there who think that you can absolutely make that choice. And maybe some people have. I don't know, I can't say. Until we can give a definitive answer one way or the other, I think we should respect that.

March 2, 2009

Kathleen Sebelius & Obama's 'Abortion Reduction' Challenge

In the fight over whether to confirm Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, traditional pro-lifers will focus on Sebelius's views on late term abortion and other legal restrictions.

Interestingly, pro-life Democrats have continued with an argument they began raising during the campaign: that what matters is not whether one supports legal restrictions but whether one reduces the number of abortions. Catholics United, a liberal pro-life group has launched a pre-emptive strike praising her for cutting the abortion rate by 10%.

Pro-life progressives pushed this line during the campaign, earning both the mockery of traditional pro-lifers and, apparently, the votes of some pro-lifers (a surprising number of whom voted for Obama.)

Here's the rub: abortion rates seem to be most influenced by economic factors. Abortions go up during hard economic time. That means the number of abortions will likely go up under Obama. If Democrats set up abortion reduction as the standard, what will they say if the numbers go up under Obama?

UPDATE: Abortion seems to be shaping up as a big element in the Sebelius fight.

Operation Rescue here attacks her links to the "abortion cartel"

Faith in Public Life and other pro-life clergy praises her for reducing the number of abortions in Kansas

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

February 27, 2009

Obama Seeks to Roll Back Pro-Life Conscience Protection

President Barack Obama has taken another step in advancing his pro-choice agenda. The Chicago Tribunereports that today, the new administration "will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows health-care workers to deny abortion counseling or other family-planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs."

Last month, Obama overturned the Mexico City policy, which prevents taxpayer money from going to groups that provide abortions overseas. The conscience protection that Obama seeks to overturn has stood for more than 30 years.

Supporters say the change is necessary to protect women's health.

Continue reading Obama Seeks to Roll Back Pro-Life Conscience Protection...

February 25, 2009

North Dakota to Vote on Personhood Bill

person.jpg

The North Dakota House approved a bill that would define a fertilized human egg as a person, and The Washington Times reports that a Senate vote could come as early as next week.

Valerie Richardson writes that last year, personhood ballot measures in Colorado and Montana were defeated, but five states - Alabama, Maryland, North Dakota, Montana and South Carolina - have introduced personhood legislation. The bill doesn't necessarily have full support from those you might expect, though.

Continue reading North Dakota to Vote on Personhood Bill...

February 20, 2009

"Imagine" Viewpoint Discrimination?

CNN follows NBC in rejecting pro-life ad for prime time.

Brian Burch of CatholicVote.com says CNN has rejected the group's "Imagine" ad for broadcast during the president's State of the Union address next Tuesday. Previously NBC rejected the video, which links the pro-choice Barack Obama with a strong pro-life message, for airing during the Super Bowl. Executives at both networks cited concerns with the content of the ad: NBC that it doesn't run issue ads during the Super Bowl, and CNN because the ad suggests that Obama is pro-life. In an e-mail today to supporters, Burch disputes CNN's conclusion:

This is absurd. Our ad does not suggest that Barack Obama is pro-life. Instead, our ad presents nothing but facts. President Obama, like every human being, began as an unborn child. Because he was born, he was able to become the President of the United States.

CNN and others simply don't like the obvious conclusion of our ad - there was no ‘choice' for abortion back in 1961. Thankfully, we had laws then safeguarding unborn children -- laws that protected the life of a future president who tragically is unwilling to fight for those same protections today.

February 18, 2009

Pope Gives Pelosi a Stern Reprimand

Pope Benedict XVI lectured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the "dignity of human life" at a private meeting today, a decidedly less cordial reception than is frequently given many
U.S. leaders.

pope.jpg

Pelosi, D-Calif., describes herself as an ardent Catholic but raised eyebrows last year by saying "doctors of the church" disagreed on when life begins and that abortion "continues to be an issue of controversy" in the Catholic Church.

The comments earned her a public scolding from a number of U.S. bishops, who said the church has believed abortion is wrong since the first century.

The wording of a Vatican statement suggests she received another reprimand from the pope over her support for abortion on Wednesday.

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law," the statement read, "and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

Conservatives were already nervous that a papal photo-op would enable Pelosi, and other Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, to say that Catholics can reject church teaching on abortion and remain in good standing.

Instead, the Holy See used the encounter to make its disapproval clear, releasing an official statement on what was discussed – a relatively rare step, especially when the visitor is not a head of state.

Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, had earlier said the only photo she wanted to see was one of Pelosi "in the confessional line."

But after the pope's stern rebuke, Brown said she hopes U.S. bishops will be more willing to deny Communion to abortion-rights politicians like Pelosi. "We encourage our bishops and priests to emulate the same courage exhibited in Rome," she said.
Pelosi.jpg

In her own statement Wednesday, Pelosi made no mention of the papal lecture.

"It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI today," she said. "In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel."

The papal reception for Pelosi was notable for its contrasts with the warm welcomes given to former President George W. Bush, who shared the Vatican's "culture of life" ideology even as he rejected church overtures not to invade Iraq.

Yet it would have been hard for Benedict to snub Pelosi altogether without straining diplomatic relations with the United States, since her position puts her second in line to the presidency after Vice President Joe Biden, also a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

Pelosi, whose grandparents were Italian immigrants, is on a week-long tour of Italy with fellow lawmakers. Included in her delegation is Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who has led an effort among Catholic Democrats in the House to create room to disagree with the church on abortion.

DeLauro recently spearheaded a letter to the pope from nearly 50 House members, asking for "clarification" on why the pope lifted the excommunication on a schismatic bishop who not believe 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

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.)

February 9, 2009

12 States Weigh Ultrasound Abortion Bills

Lawmakers in 12 states are considering bills that would offer or require ultrasounds before a woman gets an abortion, the Associated Press reports.

The states include Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Americans United for Life has state-by-state analysis and recently ranked states based on abortion laws (informed consent, parental involvement, provider requirements), recognition of the unborn (fetal homicide, born alive infant protection), bioethics (cloning, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization), end of life (assisted suicide), right of conscience clauses (healthcare providers and insurers can opt out of abortion).

Best States
1. Pennsylvania
2. Louisiana
3. South Dakota
4. Oklahoma
5. Mississippi
6. Texas
7. North Dakota
8. Nebraska
9. Arkansas
10. Indiana

Worst States
50. California
49. Hawaii
48. Vermont
47. New Jersey
46. Connecticut
45. Nevada
44. Oregon
43. New York
42. Washington
41. Illinois

January 23, 2009

Obama Overturns Mexico City Policy

President Obama signed an executive order called the "Mexico City policy," which reverses a ban on funding international groups that provide abortions.

Ronald Reagan first implemented the policy that prohibited the U.S. from funding programs that offer abortion overseas. Bill Clinton reversed the policy in 1993 while George W. Bush restored it in 2001.

The Associated Press writes, "Obama signed it quietly, without coverage by the media, late on Friday afternoon, a contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week."

Abortion opponents are sending their outraged press releases while progressives are essentially saying "at least he didn't do it yesterday."

Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of AUL Action: "What a terrible way to begin a new administration: with an abortion business bailout that will exploit women in developing countries for political ends. We should not export the tragedy of abortion to other nations, and we certainly shouldn't do so via the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners: "I am encouraged that President Obama’s first action on abortion was to release a statement supporting a common ground approach to reducing abortion, even as he also reiterated his policy of supporting legal choice. Even more significant was his decision not to issue an executive order rescinding the 'Mexico City policy' on the day of the anniversary of the Roe decision and the annual March for Life."

Obama has spoken several times on the desire to reduce unintended pregnancy, but he reiterated his support for Roe v. Wade yesterday on the Supreme Court decision's anniversary.

January 22, 2009

March for Life Targets Obama

Washington -- Abortion opponents had the luxury of having a president on their side for eight years in a row. That changed two days ago.

President Obama was a major theme during today's March for Life, where tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall and made their way to the Supreme Court on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Several participants held signs with references to President Obama, like "The audacity of hope: overturn Roe." One sign called for the Catholic church to excommunicate pro-abortion candidates, and several of the signs advocated for people to fight the Freedom of Choice Act.

Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the new house Republican Conference Chairman, was one of the first speakers at the rally. The event is annual, but this year is different. Pence, an outspoken Christian, said that the challenge this year was to encourage abortion opponents who may be discouraged about recent elections. Here was more of our conversation today:

Does a new administration change the significance of the March for Life?
I think so, although as I said today, the abortion movement seems to be gathering strength in Washington D.C., life is winning in America. As I said from the podium every day, every hour, compassion is overcoming convenience, life is defeating despair and hope is defeating a lifetime of regret.

The march comes off of the inauguration. Does that make a difference?
I think it does. I’ve spoken at eight previous marches for life. This is my ninth, and in all of the previous eight, we’ve been celebrating pro-life victories in the ballot box, either for the presidency or for Congress. But in the recent years, now the challenge is to encourage people who may be discouraged by the outcome of recent congressional elections and the presidential election. What I sought to do from the podium is to assure people that the men and women who are gathered there and the pro-life minority in congress will continue to labor on behalf of the sanctity of life.

We will continue to fight to oppose any effort to use taxpayer dollars to promote abortion at home or abroad. I said we are going to defend Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy, and I introduced legislation that would deny federal funding to any Planned Parenthood of America. The largest abortion provider in America should not be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X.

The Mexico City Policy would be an executive order that would rescind in effect the prohibition of foreign aid going to organizations that promote or perform abortions. That would be profoundly disappointing to millions of American taxpayers, including many pro-choice Americans who still don’t think we should be using tax dollars to subsidize abortions.

Do you think Obama will push for The Freedom of Choice Act?
We think it’s a very real possibility. I take President Obama at his word and in the middle of his last campaign he said it was his desire to sign the Freedom of Choice act as one of his first official acts. So we’re prepared to take the battle to the American people.

Do you predict Obama's presidency could galvanize the pro-life movement or be more discouraging?

If anything, the fact that we’ve had a pro-life president the last eight years and for most of that time had pro-life majorities in Congress has probably bred a certain amount of complacency. But now, with expanded abortion rights majorities in Congress and the most pro-abortion president in America’s history in the White House, I believe it will galvanize millions of pro-life Americans to become politically active and turn the tide for life.

How does this march compare to previous marches?
The crowd was immense. The thing I’m most proud of is that Congressman Chris Smith told me moments ago there was the largest turnout of House Republicans in his memory. We had roughly 20 members of the House of Representatives there today. I expect he’s made about 36 of these marches in his life, so that was a great encouragement to me.

Obama has talked about reducing number of unintended pregnancies.
Well we heard the language of safe, legal, and rare during the 1990s from a president who rescinded the Mexico City policy and oversaw a pro-abortion administration. We’ll take a wait and see approach. We hope President Obama will pursue policy that will mitigate abortion, but we’ll remain determined that the only way forward is to elect a pro-life majority to the House and the Senate, elect a pro-life president and send Roe v. Wade to the ash-heap of history where it belongs.

Photo courtesy of Mike Pence's office.

December 3, 2008

Planned Parenthood Offers $25 Gift Certificates for Abortions

Oh my insensitivity:

This year, for the first time, Planned Parenthood of Indiana is offering holiday gift certificates for that certain someone in your life who may want a breast exam, a pap smear or perhaps not want another life in their life.

Calling them an "unusual yet practical gift this holiday season," the organization is selling gift certificates in $25 denominations, redeemable at any of the group's 35 statewide locations for their services, including health screenings, birth control and abortion services.

A Planned Parenthood website page notes that a standard women's health exam costs $58 while abortions in the first trimester can run from $350 to $900.

There's even an online page to order the certificates if you know someone in Indiana who desires such services.

According to Ms. magazine, an official of the Hoosier Planned Parenthood group explained:

"People are making really tough decisions about putting gas in their car and food on their table, so we know that many women especially put healthcare at their bottom of their list to do."

I'm speechless. Really. This is the most mindblowing marketing maneuver I have ever heard of.

Your comments are welcomed.

(Originally published at The God Blog.)

November 5, 2008

As the Country Goes, So Goes California

California completes the trend nationwide: abortion ballot measures lose, marriage measures win.

Both were tight: with 92 percent of the ballots counted, California's parental notification measure failed by less than 500,000 votes (out of nearly 10 million).

Proposition 8, which revokes same-sex marriage, is even tighter, winning by 363,639 votes (a 3.6 point margin). This is going to be a huge story today, since it's the first time that a state has barred same-sex marriage after allowing it.

Not close at all was California's measure regulating livestock confinement, which passed by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

November 4, 2008

Anti-Abortion Initiatives Fail in Two States

Voters in Colorado and South Dakota failed to pass two anti-abortion initiatives, MSNBC reports.

As CT previously reported, Colorado's amendment 48 would have amended the state constitution to define "person" as "any human being from the moment of fertilization."

South Dakota's initiated Measure 11 would have barred abortion, except if the mother's life is at risk, and in cases of rape or incest. A 2006 abortion ban also failed.

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November 3, 2008

Obama's Abortion Straightjacket

Should he win, Obama will need to early on figure out how to get out of a political straight jacket of his own making: on abortion. His challenge will not be traversing the political parties but two Democratic constituencies who both worked hard for him and want very different things.

For the last few months, pro-life progressives have pushed hard the idea that Obama would help reduce the number of abortions through common ground efforts to help women avoid pregnancy or carry babies to term.

One group ran ads in battleground states explaining that Democrats could reduce abortion more than Republicans. Another argued against banning abortion as imprtactical and said abortions could be reduced if policies provided medical and financial care that would help women "choose life."

Pro-life progressives have publically assured voters that Obama would be committed to reducing the number of abortions.

On the other hand, Obama said early in the campaign that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a fairly radical bill that would wipe out state abortion restrictions. Pro-choice groups have worked hard for Obama, too, and take that commitment seriously.

How will he bridge that gulf?

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

October 29, 2008

The Courts, Under Which Administration?

The New York Times published an article today that shows how President Bush's 61 court appointment have affected decisions that include abortion and the First Amendment.

Charlie Savage writes about how doctors in South Dakota challenged a law that required them to inform women that abortions "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit voted 7 to 4 to allow the statute to take effect, the majority arguing that it is objectively true that human life begins at conception, and that the state can force doctors to say so.

Savage also includes a case about how a city in Utah had placed a monument of the Ten Commandments in a public park, but rejected a request to place the "Seven Aphorisms of Summum" in the same park. Judge Michael W. McConnell argued that it should be fine for the city to accept only the monument whose message it favored.

According to the article, a Barack Obama victory could create a Democratic majority by 2013; If John McCain wins, Republicans could have majorities on all 13 circuits.

October 17, 2008

Who's Funnier?

John McCain and Barack Obama poked fun at themselves and each other at the Alfred E. Smith dinner, an annual charity event of the Catholic archdiocese of New York.

The speeches are really fun to watch as the candidates turned off their jabbing tones.

At one point, McCain said, "? maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade."

On a more serious note, McCain praised Smith for his pro-life stance. "Your comfort for the sick and needy, your belief in the dignity of life, especially your gallant defense of the rights of the unborn. I'm proud to count myself as your friend and ally."

Obama followed McCain's messiah mention with, "Contrary to the rumors that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-el to save the planet earth."

Update: The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson notes that John Kerry was not invited to the same event in 2004 because he supports abortion rights.

October 8, 2008

Whatever Happened to Gay Marriage as the Ultimate Wedge Issue?

A few years ago it looked like opposition to gay marriage was going to equal or surpass abortion as the ultimate wedge issue - a device capable of defeating Democrats in all but the most-liberal districts.

And yet consider this:

-The topic didn't come up in Tuesday's debate
-There's not been a single McCain-Palin ad on gay marriage.
-John McCain did not mention it in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
-Sarah Palin did not mention it in her convention acceptance speech, either.
-Of the 57 speeches listed on McCain's Web site, I couldn't find a single mention of the gay marriage issue.

What happened?


For starters, the topic has less currency because there are fewer referendums on state ballots. While 11 states considered ballot initiatives in 2004, only three are this year. That means fewer campaign dollars and volunteer hours focused on the issue.

More important, public opinion has shifted. Social issues in general have become less important to voters as the economy has worsened. The new Twelve Tribes study by Beliefnet and the University of Akron, showed that percentage of people listing moral issues as most important is now half what it was in 2004.

But that's just part of the explanation. After all, abortion is getting significant attention. The Catholic bishops, for instance, have been far more vocal opposing abortion than gay marriage. It's not like social issues have completely disappeared.

Rather, while the public hasn't much changed its views on abortion, it has on gay rights. For instance, in 2004 48% of "Convertible Catholics" supported civil unions or gay marriage. In 2008, 61% do. Among Moderate Evangelicals, the percentage was 33% in 2004, 42% in 2008.

Just as important, young people have starkly different views on gay issues than their parents. Most surveys show this but it's particularly striking among evangelical Christians, who are just as anti-abortion as their parents but significantly more supportive of gay rights. The Barna Group asked "born again Christians" if they believed that "homosexual lifestyles" are a "major problem" The results show a stunning shift by age:

Age
18-41 -- 35%
42-60: -- 52%
61+: -- 71%

With support for gay marriage or civil unions rising, conservative politicians have to be careful where and how they push this issue.

Though McCain approved a Republican platform that called for a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, he routinely contradicts that view by saying he wants it left up to the states. When McCain and Palin do discuss their opposition to gay marriage it's now usually accompanied by a statement of tolerance towards homosexuals.

Political strategists realize there are still large numbers of people who view gay marriage as a major threat. But now, candidates must appeal to them without alienating moderates or younger voters.

Since abortion seems to work just as well as ever among culturally conservative voters like moderate evangelicals, they figure: stick with that.

Adapted from Steven Waldman's "Political Perceptions" column at the Wall Street Journal Online.

October 7, 2008

Huck, Culture Warrior

Remember back to the Republican primaries, when Mike Huckabee campaigned as a new kind of evangelical candidate, adding issues like the environment, education, and poverty to the hot-button agenda of God, guns, and gays?

That big-tent Huck seems to be in much shorter supply now. An email the Arkansas governor just sent out soliciting donations for his political action committee--whose beneficiaries include John McCain and Sarah Palin--asks fors $5 for each of these five red meat issues:

1. Protection of Human Life 2. Traditional Marriage 3. Tax policy that doesn't punish people for working, but rewards them 4. 2nd amendment rights 5. Supreme Court and Federal Court judge selection

Is this more evidence that the "new kind of evangelical voter" story has been overplayed? Or just that Huck is changing his tune a bit?

(Originally posted at Beliefnet's God-o-Meter)

September 22, 2008

The Disappearance of Obama's Abortion Reduction Plan: One Political Theory

At the Saddleback Forum, Obama boasted, accurately, about how he'd stuck a sentence into the Democratic platform encouraging support for women who wanted to take a baby to term instead of having an abortion. Pro-life progressives hailed that sentence as a great victory and sign that he might be able to win over moderate evangelicals and Catholics with this new "third way" approach.

Then, the first abortion ads put out by the Obama campaign, didn't mention abortion reduction.

Last week, they put out a second abortion ad, this one trying to deal with the charge that Obama supports infanticide. They had two different (not mutually exclusive) ways they could have gone: Show themselves to be abortion moderates by emphasizing abortion reduction, or show McCain to be an anti-abortion extremist by emphasizing the Republican platform. The Obama campaign chose the second path. Again, no mention of abortion reduction.

Meanwhile, I picked up a copy of the Obama campaign's "Plan to Renew America's Promise." Though it mentions reducing unintended pregnancies, it dropped the sentence about helping women carry babies to term.

My uninformed theory on what's happened:there was always a tension for them between two goals: 1) appealing to pro-choice moderate women and 2) appealing to pro-life moderate evangelicals and Catholics. They've now concluded:

Winning moderate evangelicals is hopeless and, it turns out, centrist Catholics just dont care all that much abortion. Given that, it makes more political sense to reach out to those pro-choice women.

Of course this obviously leaves them open to charges that they didn't believe in abortion reduction all that much in the first place.

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

September 11, 2008

'The Worry'

André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, is worried about Sarah and Trig Palin. Here's The Globe and Mail:

[Some Canadians] fear Ms. Palin's emergence as a parental role model sends a different message. As a vocal opponent of abortion, Ms. Palin's widely discussed decision to keep her baby, knowing he would be born with the condition, may inadvertently influence other women who may lack the necessary emotional and financial support to do the same, according to André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

Dr. Lalonde said that above all else, women must be free to choose, and that popular messages to the contrary could have detrimental effects on women and their families.

"The worry is that this will have an implication for abortion issues in Canada," he said.

In other words: If your unborn child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, you should abort, lest another mother see evidence that the child is a blessing and be influenced to keep her own unborn Down Syndrome child.

Fortunately, Krista Flint, executive director of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, counters such nonsense: "We know overwhelmingly the message families get is 'Don't have this baby, it will ruin your life,' and I don't think people would look at Sarah Palin and see a ruined life. Regardless of politics, I think it's a good example."

Unfortunately, it's Lalonde rather than Flint who's more likely to be counseling women when they get back their prenatal screening for Down Syndrome.

September 3, 2008

Conception

No comments on abortion from Sarah Palin tonight (at least according to the prepared remarks; she's speaking now). But it sure came up a lot tonight from the podium.

"America's hope is in a seasoned, strong leader in this dangerous world ... a President who knows in the core of his soul that human life begins at conception," said Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams.

Mike Huckabee had a similar comment: "It is not above John McCain's pay grade to grasp the simple fact that human life begins at conception, and he is committed to protecting it."

And GOP Chairman Michael Steele told the crowd, "John McCain knows we must empower working families and stand with them against the erosion of our constitutional rights, the corruption of our school systems, the weakening of our families and the taking of human life - born and unborn."

August 30, 2008

The Best Thing About Sarah Palin

The choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate has all sorts of interesting political implications, which are being diced and parsed as I write. But I'm more interested in the long-term cultural implications of the choice of Palin, whether the McCain?Palin ticket wins or loses in November, for one of the most vexing horizons of impossibility in our culture: the abortion rate among unborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Upwards of 85 percent of parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome elect to terminate the pregnancy, according to several studies in the peer-reviewed journal Prenatal Diagnosis. A 1999 British study in that journal found the termination rate to be between 91 and 93 percent. When I was a teenager in the 1980s, I remember seeing many people my age and younger who had the distinctive facial and behavioral characteristics of Down children. These days I rarely see a Down Syndrome child at all.

What is peculiar about Down Syndrome as a reason for termination is that, plainly put, you rarely meet a Down Syndrome "sufferer" who is notably unhappy. The condition has a range of manifestations, some more disabling than others, but many, many persons with Down Syndrome thrive as children and adults, even if they may not have the same range of capabilities as you or I do.

The fact that this syndrome has become a reason for termination is evidence of the terrible power of culture. A culturally neutral artifact (prenatal diagnosis of congenital diseases) combined with a culturally tragic artifact (elective abortion) begins to make it plausible that parents should avoid the challenges and risks of a Down pregnancy by ending it. The decreasing number of children born with the condition begins to make it more difficult to imagine that "normal" families can absorb the stresses of raising such a child, and undermines public support for public programs that support families who have made that decision. Which, over time, makes carrying a Down Syndrome baby to term ever more inconceivable, leading to increased rates of termination, leading to decreasing plausibility . . . until one day the burden of bringing a Down Syndrome child into the world is seen as so grave that less than 10 percent of parents take the risk.

But Sarah and Todd Palin have done it. I cannot think of any other public figures in my adult life, at least of the prominence they are about to enjoy or endure, who have made this decision. They will cause many, many families to reconsider the horizons of the possible. Their public example could very well lead to a cultural sea change - a dramatic shift in the "horizons of the possible." That phrase from my book is no metaphor. Those horizons are so real that, for a future generation of children and their parents, they are quite literally a matter of life and death. For this reason, which utterly transcends politics and this year's election, the sudden prominence of the Palins is, in the deepest sense, an extraordinary act of public service.

(Cross-posted from Andy Crouch's Culture Making.)

August 28, 2008

The Abortion Line

I'm just watching on TV. Sarah Pulliam is actually at Invesco. But it sure seemed like the abortion line got a lot of applause.

August 28, 2008

The 'Traditional Values' Part of Obama's Speech

Not a lot of God talk in Obama's speech tonight, but there will be talk about abortion, same-sex marriage, and traditional values (as well as a promise to "end our dependence on oil from the Middle East" in ten years). From the prepared remarks:

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

August 28, 2008

What it means to be a pro-life Democrat

Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois finds it very challenging to be a pro-life in a party that unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade. He is one of 17 Democrats given 100 percent pro-life rating by the National Right to Life Committee, and we spoke at a Democrats for Life reception earlier this evening.

What obstacles do you face as a pro-life Democrat?
It’s always a difficult issue for a pro-life Democrat, because the Democratic Party is not going to have a pro-life platform. It’s not going to happen. It’s very unfortunate, but I think it’s very important for the Democratic Party to have pro-life party. As some of my pro-life Democratic colleagues say, it’s no use preaching to the choir. You have to go out and evangelize. We just have to keep working on fellow Democrats. It’s a tough position to be in. I think the party from the top and leadership has been much more open to pro-life Democrats. Unfortunately, there are still some groups really trying to get rid of pro-life Democrats. I had a tough primary. I people come up to me and ask me, ‘what are you doing in the Democratic Party?’ The pro-choice groups gave funding to my opponent.

Why are you a Democrat?
I believe in so much of what the Democrats stand for, basically standing up for middle class families, for working people. I believe the government does have a role in some important areas of our society, helping to protect the environment, helping to protect workers, seniors. I think there are some places where they should be involved and I think it’s much better with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party. But it’s not easy being a pro-life Democrat. So t’s not easy in the Democratic party. I have a lot of a pro-life constituents, too.

Why are you pro-life?
Because I believe life begins at conceptions. It comes from my faith as a Catholic. I don’t think it’s the only place that it comes from. Ever individual has to make a decision about when life began. Why draw a line somewhere else? We were all once an embryo. With the proper conditions, the natural conditions, I think an embryo becomes a child. That’s where we all started from, and that is where I think the line should be drawn. I think drawing lines in other places leaves room for where do we draw that line? I believe in the sanctity of life and it’s something I feel very strongly about.

I truly believe that the Democratic Party, especially now, has a better view of the future and where we should be going, but it’s not perfect. I’m willing to, when I think the Democratic Party is wrong, I’m willing to say it. I’m willing to speak up and willing vote for what I think is right.

What about Barack Obama?
I wish Barack Obama were pro-life. He’s not. I don’t have any expectation that in the future the Democrats are going to have a pro-life presidential candidate. Its disappointing to me, but I am a Democrat and will support the party.

August 28, 2008

Any Movement on Abortion?

Reader Fred Tennedy writes:

"how can you not realize that the Democratic plank is more pro-abortion than it has been? Any "pro-lifers" who think they are getting even a crumb are truly deceived!"

I think that for pro-lifers the platform was one step forward, one step back. The step forward was language promoting policies that will help make it easier for women to carry a baby to term. The step back was the strengthened advocacy for Roe v. Wade and (arguably) the loss of the "safe, legal and rare" language.

But I will say this: I've never seen so many pro-life Democrats being given platforms to speak. The opening interfaith service featured a vivid declaration against abortion by the lead speaker, Bishop Blake. The official DNC Faith Caucus panel featured a strong speech from former Rep. Tim Roemer advocating a 95% reduction in abortion. Bob Casey, the son of the man who was blocked from the 1992 convention for his pro-life views, had a prime time speech last night (though not about abortion). There's a Democrats for Life event later today, and Catholics in Alliance just released an interesting study making the case for a Democratic-style abortion reduction agenda.

Now, none of this will mean much if Obama himself doesn't get fully behind this (especially given the controversy over the Born Alive bill). He made some positive comments about it at the Saddleback forum. The next test will be whether the campaign actually issues a plan for reducing abortions and whether he and Biden push the idea more persistently.

This article is cross-posted from Steve Waldman's blog at Beliefnet.

August 27, 2008

Democrats for Life practice what they preach

A couple of the people involved with Democrats for Life went a couple of blocks over and cut potatoes at the Denver Rescue Mission for a dinner for the homeless.

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Earlier this afternoon, the group met to talk about ways to preserve life from conception to natural death.

The Rocky Mountain News has an update on the state's plans for the homeless.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless ditched plans to hand out 500 movie tickets and to visit the Denver Zoo, museums, and other cultural centers.

"But the DNC plan caused a public flap, and a volunteer told the Rocky in July that it 'sounds like another way to get rid of them,'" Denise Malan writes.

Malan writes that the coalition is hosting a lunch and three events this week to register homeless people to vote and to raise awareness about homeless issues.

Photo of Kristen Day, President of Democrats for Life, by Sarah Pulliam for Christianity Today.

August 27, 2008

Rep. Shuler wants more diversity in the platform

Rep. Heath Shuler spoke with me about the Democratic platform on abortion for about 40 seconds after the Democrats for Life Forum.

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Shuler is a pro-life Democrat and a new Congressman from North Carolina.

"Obviously reducing the number is very important. There are other issues that I have a lot of difficulty with.

But I think with the panel we have today, and what I feel the influence of the blue dog members – Lincoln Davis and Bob Casey – we can strengthen that.

My hope is to say that within the platform of the Democratic Party, there is diversity and that we do have people who are pro-life."

Photo by Sarah Pulliam for Christianity Today.

August 27, 2008

Democrats for Life event focuses on pregnant women

The Democrats for the Life event turned into mostly a couple of speeches on taking care of pregnant women.

Sen. Bob Casey from Pennsylvania drew a crowd of media behind him, but his speech did not not really address abortion.

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A few of Casey's remarks: "One area where I think we can bring both sides together, in my judgment, the only way we can bring sides together is to come together on a central priority ... and that priority is pregnant women. What our government and society should do is show solidarity with a woman who is facing a crisis pregnancy. If the law of the land is that a woman has a choice to make, that she has a constitutional right to have an abortion. We ought to also make sure that she has the choice to carry that child to term."

Rep. Heath Shuler, a Baptist from North Carolina said, "The Democrats have it right when it comes from birth to natural death. Whether or not women have access to health care, that's pro-life. We have to make sure all children, unborn or throughout the entire life, that they can count on Congress on this issue."

Rep. Lincoln Davis, a Southern Baptist from Tennessee, spoke on the reduction of abortion.

"It is a blessing to know that at least for the first time our Democratic platform ? has made abortion reduction as a major part of the platform," Davis said. "We need to start giving assistance to those ladies ? who see no hope other than abortion."

Photo of Casey by Sarah Pulliam for Christianity Today.

August 27, 2008

New abortion study released

New research shows that women who live below the poverty level are more than four times likely to have an abortion than women above 300 percent of the poverty level.

The study was released by the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good today. Alexia Kelly, executive director for the organization, presented the results to about 50 people who showed up for the Democrats for Life event this afternoon.

Three-fours of the women cited having a job, child care, or education as a factor for having an abortion, Kelly said.

The study of the U.S. 50 states from 1982 to 2000 finds that benefits for pregnant women such as employment, economic assistance to low-income families, quality child care and removal of state caps on the number of children eligible for economic assistance in low-income families has reduced abortions. However, permitting Medicaid payments for abortions increased the abortion rate.

Joseph Wright, a political science professor at Penn State University, and Michael Bailey, a American government professor at Georgetown University conducted the study.

August 27, 2008

Democrats for life and Democrats for choice

I'm about to go into the Democrats for Life event where pro-choice Democrat Bob Tuke & pro-life Democrats Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Lincoln Davis will speak.

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I ran down to the convention center to look for examples for some of the abortion protesters I've seen holding megaphones and posters of bloody babies.

Instead, volunteers for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice were handing out stickers with the slogan "Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice!"

I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but their event is almost at the exact same time as the Democrats for Life group.

Photo by Sarah Pulliam for Christianity Today.

August 26, 2008

Shaun Casey's evangelical outreach

Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary is coordinating evangelical outreach for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign. As he walked to a meeting, we spoke about how the religious outreach at this convention is different from 2004.

"It’s completely different in the sense that there were only sort of side groups talking about religion, and here it is the party itself at the heart of what it’s doing. That’s a radical departure.

What did you think about the interfaith service?
You heard a variety of views, clearly no screening of the speakers. You heard a variety of positions taken and embraced. It showed the diversity of the Democratic Party and its openness to evangelicals, there were mainliners. It was an accurate reflection of the diversity of the party.

What do you think about the Democratic platform on abortion?
It’s something that evangelicals ought to take quite seriously that the Democratic Party has made a commitment to reducing the number of abortions without reverting to criminalization. Based on my conversations with evangelicals, I think that resonates, I think a lot of evangelicals find that attractive, they find that helpful and hopeful, and it’s a reflection of who Sen. Obama is.

Barack Obama’s sympathetic, he’s open to evangelical voices, he’s serious about global poverty, domestic poverty, global climate change. I think a lot of young evangelicals will find that very, very attractive."

August 26, 2008

Little mention of abortion from Sen. Bob Casey

Sen. Bob Casey barely mentioned abortion during his speech tonight at on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

In 1992, former Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey Sr. wanted to discuss his opposition to abortion but was denied a speaking slot. His son barely touched on the subject in his speech tonight.

"Traveling around Pennsylvania, and looking around this room, I have no doubt that is exactly what we're going to do. So now let us work together, with a leader who, as Lincoln said, appeals to the better angels of our nature. Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I'm speaking here tonight is testament to Barack's ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him."

August 26, 2008

God-o-Meter Talks to Bob Casey Jr. Before Tonight's Convention Speech

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr's landing a prime time speaking slot at the Democratic convention is another step in the party's campaign to burnish its image among pro-lifers. Casey's dad, then-Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey, was famously denied a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic convention because of his pro-life views. Casey Jr. called God-o-Meter to talk about his role at the convention and to give a little preview of tonight's speech:

Many pro-life Democrats were pushing for the opportunity for you to speak at the convention because of what it would represent symbolically, since your father was famously denied a speaking role at the 1992 convention over his pro-life views. Were you pushing for a speaking slot for that same reason?

We were invited to speak by Senator Obama's campaign and were grateful for the opportunity. But when you're in your first 18 months in the Senate, you shouldn't expect it. So I didn't ask.

Did your father's experience color your own reaction to learning that you'd been accorded a speaking role during prime time?

Everybody remembers 1992, but I also have memories of the 1988 convention, when [my father] did speak about the economic struggles our state had. So I think about more than one convention. What happened in 1992 is something people are talking about, the subject of a lot of discussion, but it's important to look ahead and not just recollect about the past.

Does your inclusion on tonight's speakers' lineup send a message that the Democratic Party has changed on abortion?

The fact that I'm speaking is really a testament to Senator Obama's willingness to reach out to people who disagree with him even on important issues. It's emblematic of his ability to put coalitions together on an issue and to bring all sides together. He's not just talking about that, but acting.

Do you see signs that pro-life voters are getting that message?

It's hard to tell. A lot of what will come before voters between now and Election Day. Most of the hard work of a campaign like this and most of the weighing that voters do when they decide who to vote for will come after the convention. That's the real decision period and the time for the really hard work.

How did you decide what you're going to speak about in your limited time tonight?

I'm speaking with about ten other governors, about the economy and about what I know about Barack Obama personally and about his ideas and his personality. That'll really be the focus of almost every speech at the convention. And also trying to bring people together. If Democrats are going to make the case that they can bring the country together, it's important to bring our party together.

Will your speech address the life issue, which is what many in the party identify you with?

Yes, it will. But it's mostly a night and an opportunity when we've been invited to focus on the economy and frankly what a lot of folks are struggling with in Pennsylvania. But certainly not only that. There's been a lot of discussion about '92, but there is an obvious disagreement I have with Senator Obama and we want to make sure that people understand that difference of opinion.

One of the things that's missing in this important debate in American politics is candid and honest talk about disagreements and an honest effort to try to find common ground. It's much easier to say you don't agree with someone and to continue fighting and discontinue the dialogue. It's much harder but it's important to be honest and show respect for others that we disagree but to actually work to bring the sides together.

One way to do that, and neither party has done enough on this, is to be very supportive of pregnant women. And the Pregnant Women Support Act is the only vehicle and the best vehicle to do that. It's a challenge to the left and a challenge to the right and helps not only bring the sides together but provides affirmative options for women. When a woman becomes pregnant, for most women that's a time of happiness and joy and they look forward to bearing a child. But to some it's a crisis because they don't have the economic wherewithal and the support they need. And a lot of women feel all alone and we don't do enough to show solidarity with them. As Pope John Paul II said, we should show radically solidarity with the woman facing these challenges. This piece of legislation is the one vehicle in American government for bringing the sides together and for providing women with options.

But is Senator Obama supporting it?

He's spoken about it. I have gotten to know him on the campaign trail and he spoke about the concept when he was at Rick Warren's church. So I believe he will be supportive. We have not talked directly about the bill but it's something I will be discussing with people in both parties. It's going to take a lot of work.

Also check out God-o-Meter's interview with Senator Casey in the run-up to the Pennsylvania primaries in April.

This article is cross-posted from Beliefnet's God-o-Meter.

August 26, 2008

Faith caucus interrupted by abortion protester

Susan Thistlewaite, president of Chicago Theological Seminary, spoke at the first faith caucus and said, "I’ve been a pastor for 30 years, and I’m in favor of choice." One person shouted "Yeah!" and a few people clapped.

She then said she was in favor of a women being able to terminate a pregnancy if the other choice is not having health care or being able to provide adequate education.

A man stood up and yelled, "Are you saying it’s convenient to murder a child? Does that child have a choice?"

He was ushered out before she finished.
"I am proud of our Democratic platform because it is innovative on common ground," Thistlewaite said. "What kind of a choice can you make if you have no pre-natal care? Common ground for common good means you are not alone."

August 26, 2008

Who's on Tonight: Not Just Clinton

All of the buzz today is on Hillary Clinton's big speech tonight (and, to a lesser extent, Bill Clinton's speech tomorrow night).

But this is also a fascinating night at the Democratic podium for a several other reasons. First, this is the night of Bob Casey Jr.'s address. It's an important symbolic moment because of the decision in 1992 to deny then-Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey Sr. a speaking spot at the convention. Casey had wanted to talk about his opposition to abortion. Some suggest that the invitation to Casey Jr. demonstrates a Democratic Party that's more open to prolifers. Others say he's not as prolife as his father was.

It's unclear whether Casey will talk about abortion, but a few hours before his speech you'll almost certainly hear the subject come up as Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards addresses the convention. A big difference: Casey is speaking in prime time. Richards is on around 4 p.m. (Casey also has a much better slot than Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Casey's opponent in the tumultuous 2002 primary race for governor. Reckon that has more to do with Casey's strong support for Obama over Rendell's major backing of Clinton than it does with either's views on abortion.)

Another speech tonight that could be more conservative or more religious than usual: that of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. The United Methodist minister did very well among evangelicals in 2006.

Mara Vanderslice and Eric Sapp won't be speaking tonight, but their presence will be felt. Their old organization, Common Good Strategies, is credited with helping Strickland, Casey, Kansas Gov.Kathleen Sebelius, and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm -- all of whom are speaking tonight -- win election in 2006 by emphasizing their religious backgrounds. All the podium is missing is Sen. Sherrod Brown (Oh.) and Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), but if they did that they'd probably have to make one of those video tributes to Vanderslice. (Vanderslice is now with the Matthew 25 Network. Sapp is at the Eleison Group.)

August 26, 2008

Archbishop of Denver not pleased with Democrats' new abortion language

Evangelicals like Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter quickly praised the new Democratic platform on abortion a month ago, but Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput is not impressed. This is what he told me tonight at the vigil in front of Planned Parenthood.

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"I think [the Democrats] committed themselves without any doubt to choice on the matter of abortion, and I don't think that's a start.

I think caring for women who want to have their children is essential. That's a given. That isn't a step in the right direction, that's where we should all be standing from the beginning.

I stand with that with great enthusiasm, but it doesn't distract me from the fact that platform still allows for abortion and the destruction of unborn human life.

"Bishop Charles Blake did a marvelous service for all of us, and especially to the Democratic Party. He reminded us in the midst in social justice, one of the most important social issues is the protection of human life."

August 26, 2008

Thousands march around Denver Planned Parenthood

More than 2,000 people marched around a new Planned Parenthood Clinic in Denver tonight instead of following the Democratic National Convention.

Alveda King, a niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput spoke to the crowd before they lit candles and circled the gated clinic.

Alveda King's mother conceived her daughter when she was a freshman in college. She had wanted to get an abortion, but Martin Luther King Sr. told her mother she could not abort her baby.

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"This little baby human girl was allowed to live," she said to the cheering crowd.

King later aborted two of her children.

"People say, ?Aren't you embarrassed and ashamed to stand up and say you had abortions?" King said. "I'd be more embarrassed if I didn't tell you, because it is wrong, and without the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, I would not have been forgiven. Jesus Christ said, ?Go and sin no more.'"

She then praised Bishop Charles Blake's pro-life message at the interfaith gathering yesterday.

"He delivered some very startling and surprising words. They expected the rhetoric that always proceeds. But he began to tell the audience, ?I am a pro-life Democrat.' We want to commend those men and women and say that life is a civil right, life is precious, and that it transcends politics."

King wrote a guest column last week for the Denver Post, calling abortion an "industry of racism. She does not plan to vote for Sen. Barack Obama unless he changes his stance on abortion.

"People in every party should say, ?We're for life,'" she told Christianity Today. "They should not be held captive by politics in the battle and the struggle."

August 24, 2008

Interfaith keynote addresses abortion

The keynote for the interfaith gathering is a pro-life pastor who did not shy away from the abortion issue in his address. Maybe it was just me, but I felt the room tense up as soon as he called himself a pro-life Democrat.

Here are some of the remarks from Bishop Charles E. Blake, presiding prelate of the Church of God In Christ, Inc. and pastor of West Angeles Church of God In Christ.

"Surely we cannot be pleased with the routine administration of millions of surgically terminated pregnancies. Something in us must be calling for a better way. We know that our party will acknowledge the moral and spiritual pain because of this disregard for the unborn. Those of us who support the Democratic Party support it because the Democratic Party supports more of the positions that are relevant to the lives of our people, the people of America in general, and the people in the world. Others loudly proclaim their advocacy for the unborn, but they refuse to recognize their responsibility and the responsibility of our nation, to those who are born. (standing ovation) Senator Obama and all of us should follow up and elaborate on his stated intention to reduce the number of abortions (interrupted by clapping) … We should support him in this endeavor."

August 24, 2008

Interfaith gathering interrupted by anti-abortionists

The start of the DNC's interfaith gathering was less than peaceful.

One man stood up and said, "Obama supports the murder of children by abortion." He was quickly booed and ushered out.

After the choir sang, another man stood up after a choir song and said, "Abortion is murder."

Between songs, a third man said, "Obama is a baby killer." The crowd began chanting "Obama. Obama. Obama."

August 23, 2008

Biden's Abortion Record -- Pro-Choice Centrist

Below is a collection of the ratings of Joe Biden by various abortion-related groups.

Here's the bottom line: Biden is a pro-choice centrist on abortion. What does that mean? He votes consistently with the pro-choice forces on most matters, and is a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade -- but he departed from pro-choice orthodoxy on two of the biggest abortion issues:

--Unlike Obama, he opposes federal funding for abortion, arguing that has pro-choice views should not be imposed on others. "I still am opposed to public funding for abortion," he said on Meet the Press in 2007. "It goes to the question of whether or not you're going to impose a view to support something that is not a guaranteed right but an affirmative action to promote."

--Unlike Obama, he voted for the ban on late term abortions.

On most other issues - stem cell research, banning abortions on military bases, etc - Biden supported the pro-choice position.

Now for the ratings:

Biden got a 60% rating from the National Abortion Right Action League in 2007 and a 36 in 2003. (NARAL's ratings for Biden are very confusing. One part of the website lists him as having a 60% rating, another part says he has a 75% rating but was absent for five of the six votes. ) In 2006 he apparently got a 100% .

The National Right to Life Committee gives him a consistent zero.

Democrats for Life gives him a 33%

In earlier years, he got lower ratings from the pro-choice groups and higher ratings from the pro life groups, for instance , he got 34% in 1997 from NARAL and a 41% from the National Right to Life Committee.

This article is cross-posted from Steve Waldman's blog at Beliefnet.

August 22, 2008

Donald Miller to Give DNC Benediction

The author will replace Relevant founder Cameron Strang, who pulled out of the prayer earlier.

Best-selling author Donald Miller will give a benediction Monday night at the Democratic National Convention. He replaces Relevant Magazine founder and CEO Cameron Strang, who decided not to give the benediction at the Democratic National Convention as previously planned.

Christianity Today featured Miller on its cover in June 2007, and his spirituality book Blue Like Jazz has sold more than one million copies.

"Don is one of the top names among young evangelicals," said Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for the Barack Obama campaign. "We didn't think he would do it. We're just ecstatic. I love Blue Like Jazz myself. I think it sends a huge signal that someone who's is helping to lead off the conventions is an evangelical of his calibre."

I spoke to Miller this morning.

Why did you choose to accept the invitation?
Somebody calls you and asks you to pray, you do.

You get three minutes to pray? Have you thought about what you're going to pray?
I've not written the prayer yet, but I really wanted to hone in on the theme of unity, even unity between Republicans and Democrats. In the convention, as we highlight our differences that we wouldn't forget that we're unified, we have more in common than we don't. That's the focus of the prayer.

Cameron Strang was in that slot before and said that people perceived the prayer as showing favoritism. Are you worried you'll receive the same reactions?
I'm not. I'm a registered Democrat. While that's perceived as black or white, or hostile toward the Republican Party, I grew up in the Republican Party. I even attended as a kid the Republican National Convention when it was in Houston when Bush Sr. was running against Clinton. I changed parties about five years ago. I really felt like the Republican Party was taking advantage of the evangelical community by throwing us abortion and gay marriage, really not giving the heart of Christ more thought. I felt like it was the party of the extremely wealthy and they needed this conservative base in order to get a majority and so they pandered to us.

(The rest of the Q & A is posted after the jump.)

Continue reading Donald Miller to Give DNC Benediction...

August 19, 2008

Would McCain choose a pro-abortion candidate?

Vice presidential candidate guessing games continue

Sen. John McCain told the Weekly Standard last week that he would consider a pro-abortion candidate, but Fox News reports today that has ruled out former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Republican National Committee officials told Fox today that McCain is no longer considering Ridge, who supports abortion rights. McCain has announced that he will announce his running mate Aug. 26, the day after the Democratic National Convention ends.

Fox reports that senior McCain advisers and aides have told RNC officials that McCain "got the message" last week that choosing a running mate who supports abortion rights would not be helpful.

The National Review reported yesterday that the McCain campaign had called state Republican officials around the country the last couple of days to weigh consequences of a pro-choice running mate.

The Associated Press reports that McCain's top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential pick in 2000 who now is an independent.

Sen. Barack Obama may announce his running mate this Saturday. His short list includes Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.

August 16, 2008

More on Obama and abortion

CBN's David Brody interviewed Sen. Barack Obama right after the Saddleback forum, and when he asked about the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, Obama became pretty heated.

"They have not been telling the truth ... I have said repeatedly that I would be completely support of the federal bill, which is to say that you would provide assistance to any infant that was born. ... That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. It was trying to undermine Roe v. Wade."

Brody will post the full video later tonight.

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

McCain on stem-cell research, abortion, marriage, and evil

Conservative evangelicals have raised John McCain's support of embryonic stem-cell research in opposition to his candidacy.

McCain addressed it briefly in his response to Rick Warren's "worldview questions." "For those of us in the pro-life community, this is a great struggle. … I’ve come down on the side of stem cell research, but I’m wildly optimistic that skin cell research … will make this debate an academic one."

Rick Warren: At what point is baby is entitled to human rights?
John McCain's answer: At the moment of conception. I have a 25 year pro-life record in congress, in the senate. This presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment to you.
Warren's answer: We won’t go longer on that one.

Warren: Define marriage.
McCain: A union between man and woman, between one man and one woman. The court overturned the definition of marriage. I believe they were wrong. I’m a federalist. I believe states should make that decision. That doesn’t mean that people can’t enter into legal agreements, that they don’t’ have the rights of all citizens.

When asked a question on evil, McCain said, "If I have to go to gates and hell and back, I will get Osama Bin Laden."

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 16, 2008

Obama on abortion

Pastor Rick Warren posed a question on abortion to Sen. Barack Obama.

Warren asks, "At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?"

Here is some of Obama's answer:

"Whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade.

"Let me speak more generally about the issue of abortion. One thing that I am absolutely convinced of is there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. ... I am pro-choice...not because I'm pro-abortion. But ultimately I do not think women make these decisions causally.

"I am for limits on late-term abortion.

"If you believe that life begins at conceptions, and you are consistent in that belief, then I can’t argue with you on that. That is a core issue of faith for you. What I can do is say are there ways to work together to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
As an example of that is, how do we provide the resources for women to keep a child? … Have we given them the options of adoption?"

This is cross-posted from CT's liveblog.

August 12, 2008

Obama's Squandered Opportunity on Abortion -- and How He Could Turn It Around

Earlier today I listened in on a phone press conference with leading pro-life religious liberals called by Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners. (Click here to listen to the call.) They were praising the new draft Democratic Party abortion plank which advocates government policies to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. (Click here to read the new plank and the 2004 platform). Wallis called it a "real step forward," while Rev. Joel Hunter called it "a historic and courageous step."

What am I missing? It seems to me that, on balance, if you're pro-life this platform is about the same as the 2004 platform -- slightly better in some ways and, actually, slightly worse in other ways.

Continue reading Obama's Squandered Opportunity on Abortion -- and How He Could Turn It Around...

August 12, 2008

Not pro-abortion

In their proposed new platform language, the Democrats toss a bone to the pro-life community by spelling out ways to make abortion rarer:

We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

Brody, who's got the old and new text side by side, is somewhat impressed--but claims that the proof of the pudding will be whether the Democrats in general and candidate Obama in particular say they're prepared to sign on to concrete anti-abortion measures such as parental notification. I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. Douglas Kmiec, who as Obama's most prominent conservative Catholic supporter had a hand in the new language, contends that it represents a significant (if not, by his lights, sufficient) move. Naturally, his erstwhile friends on the right don't think so, and are contemptuous of him for making the case. They recognize that the language will enable Obama and party to make the case that they are not, as the pro-life community always puts it, "pro-abortion."

Continue reading Not pro-abortion...

August 11, 2008

A Balancing Act

Abortion has created a semantics battle for the Democrats' platform drafting committee as the writers try to perfect the language before the convention later this month.

Eric Zimmermann over at The New Republic writes that the party does not want to anger feminists, many of whom were upset at Hillary Clinton's defeat. But "... ongoing outreach efforts to religious voters and swelling ranks of pro-lifers in Congress mean that the abortion-reduction message will likely persist," he writes.

David Brody at CBN posted the new platform:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive 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 abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

This is compared to the Democrats' current platform on abortion:

Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

Evangelicals Tony Campolo, Joel Hunter, and Jim Wallis will respond to the Democratic Party's platform on abortion tomorrow.