Christianity Today has an interview with Senator Barack Obama on its website. Among other things, the conversation takes up the issue of abortion. In short, Obama thinks it should be legal for a woman to kill her unborn baby any time during her 9 months of pregnancy. His position is a defense of the status quo, which was set in 1973 by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton). On this issue, Obama is not the candidate for change.
Christianity Today: For many evangelicals, abortion is a key, if not the key factor in their vote. You voted against banning partial birth abortion and voted against notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. What role do you think the President should play in creating national abortion policies?
Senator Obama: I don’t know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it’s very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren’t expressing the full reality of it. But what I believe is that women do not make these decisions casually, and that they struggle with it fervently with their pastors, with their spouses, with their doctors.
Our goal should be to make abortion less common, that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible. There is a range of ways that we can educate our young people about the sacredness of sex and we should not be promoting the sort of casual activities that end up resulting in so many unwanted pregnancies.
Ultimately, women are in the best position to make a decision at the end of the day about these issues. With significant constraints. For example, I think we can legitimately say â€” the state can legitimately say â€” that we are prohibiting late-term abortions as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health. Those provisions that I voted against typically didn’t have those exceptions, which raises profound questions where you might have a mother at great risk. Those are issues that I don’t think the government can unilaterally make a decision about. I think they need to be made in consultation with doctors, they have to be prayed upon, or people have to be consulting their conscience on it. I think we have to keep that decision-making with the person themselves.
I think it’s disingenuous for Obama to say that he opposed the ban on partial birth abortion because it didn’t have “an exception for the mother’s health.” The key word there is “health.” The partial birth abortion ban that the Supreme Court upheld last year did have an exception for situations in which the life of the mother is at risk (read it here). But that exception was not enough for Obama. He wants an exception for the mothers “health,” which Doe v. Bolton defines so broadly that it includes emotional and psychological “health.” Thus, Doe’s “health” exception means that a woman can legally have an abortion for pretty much any reason throughout her entire pregnancy.
Obama knows this, and he’s using rhetoric here to lead readers of Christianity Today to believe that he would favor some restrictions on abortion, but that is in fact not the case at all. This is one of the most cynical statements I have seen from Senator Obama.