Barack Obama: Abortion Should Be Legal throughout All 9 Months of Pregnancy

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 — the state can legitimately say — 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.

See also:
“Abortion and Obama” – by Jonathan Last (First Things blog)

28 Responses to Barack Obama: Abortion Should Be Legal throughout All 9 Months of Pregnancy

  1. Brett January 24, 2008 at 12:12 am #

    I think Obama articulated his stance very well. This is something people need to know…he is not pro-abortion as some of you make him out to be like he’s the anti-Christ or something.

    As for the rest of the post…exactly what I would expect.

  2. Daniel Davis January 24, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    brett, the stance of pro-choice (not Obama himself necessarily) is anti-Christian. Jesus would never advocate or condone an abortion, and in our present day, He would have been a prime candidate for one.

    contrary to obama, let’s start with the premise of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    the founding fathers saw fit to separate from england to guarantee these rights to all men (granted we have come along way in making sure these rights are equally enforced for all men). well, for the founding fathers, these rights (namely LIFE) should be guaranteed because their “Creator” grants them. my how far we have fallen from this human document.

    and when you consider the “moral elements,” as obama puts it, how much more we have fallen from God’s Document when we start from a premise that no one is “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice,” a choice that leaves open the possibility and the very common reality of ending LIFE for one created by God.

    obama, when is one created according to the D of I? when is one created according to the Bible? people should be struggling with this question with their pastors, spouses and doctors; not their desire for a more “convenient” life…

    good post denny

  3. Lucas Knisely January 24, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Brett,

    So if I say, “Each person is in the best position to decide when they should die, and it should be legal for them to do so.” How am I not pro assisted suicide, suicide, and euthanasia?

    Obama is good with words, and his little tango with “Nobody is pro-abortion” is an issue of semantics. If you aren’t against abortion then you are, at the bare minimum, passively for it. Seeing as how he is running for the President of The United States, what he said makes him pro-abortion.

    According to dictionary.com “pro-abortion” means the following:
    Favoring or supporting legalized abortion

    If he is supporting a woman’s right to choose, then he is in favor of abortion being legal, which makes him pro-abortion. Obama is just redefining terms, which is dishonest.

  4. mike January 24, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    I think Obama and many others are saying “I wouldn’t have an abortion, but I can’t say it’s wrong for other people,” when they say such things (in thier minds) they are not pro-abortion only “pro-choice.”

    It stems from an athiestic view point. With out an infinite personhood declaring what is right or wrong you can have no understanding of true right and wrong. Each persons spout of thier belief, becomes only that…. a personal, individualized, opinion.
    Thus, the highest of all personal values becomes the tolerance, and defence of the values of others, perticularly those with whom you disagree.

    If his mind he is fighting for the lesser evil. If you were to ask me, before I was a Christian if I thought abortion was wrong, I would have answered a resounding “yes!” However, if you’d asked me if restricting a persons choice is equaly wrong (if not more wrong) again, you would have recieved the same answer. Obama and others are simply defending a persons choice to do something morally wrong, which, ironicly, they believe to be the morally correct thing to do.

    As Chaffer once said, “without an infinate personal referance point, each individual point becomes meaningless.”

    I guess my thrust would be that he is not “pro-abortion” instead he is anti-absolutes.

  5. Nick January 24, 2008 at 12:56 pm #

    If the unborn aren’t ‘persons’ or ‘human’ and they don’t have a right to life, how could you NOT be “pro-abortion”? If the unborn aren’t persons, why is abortion a “wrenching, difficult issue”? What possible “moral elements” are there to this issue if the unborn aren’t persons? If the unborn aren’t persons they why should we be “encourg[ing] adoption”?

    This makes no sense. If the unborn aren’t persons then their ‘termination’ and removal from the womb would be no more morally significant than getting your appendix removed! I think it’s clear that Barack Obama is just trying to placate pro-lifers with ‘moral language’. Wanting people to think he wants to restrict abortion while meanwhile passing every bit of pro-abortion legislation he can. Very dishonest.

  6. Brett January 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I think you guys are attributing beliefs to Obama that he does not hold because you have been brainwashed by right-wing politics. There were horrible things and injustices going on like this in the days of Jesus. He chose not to heal them and save them by the government or by passing laws, but by changing their hearts.

    Funny isn’t it? We think all we have to do is get the right person in office…Jesus didn’t give a crap because that’s not how people’s hearts are changed. Same thing today

  7. Ken January 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    So, Brett–it’s NOT the socially responsible thing to elect a man after God’s own heart? Or the closest thing to that we can get?

    Speaking just for myself, I am fully aware that politics is not the way to reform a nation. But that does not mean we may simply turn a blind eye to it.

  8. Bryan L January 24, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Ken,

    Who says Obama is not a man after God’s own heart? Just because he doesn’t fall exactly where you might on a political issue doesn’t mean his faith isn’t real.

    Bryan

  9. Ken January 24, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    Bryan–You’d have to do some major eisegesis to find the statement “Obama is not a man after God’s own heart” in my post above. I responded to Brett, who seemed to me to decry Christian involvment in the political process by observing that Jesus in his earthly ministry did not work through government.

    Of course he didn’t. I don’t know many Christian who would dispute that. That wasn’t his mission, after all. But you and I have a different calling–we are to work out following Christ in the time and place in which we have providentially been put. Since we live in a representative democracy, we have a duty and responsibility to use our votes wisely and in a manner that will please God.

    It has been my experience that where a man’s heart is hard with respect to safeguarding human life at all stages of development that he is liable (not guaranteed, but liable) to compromise in other important areas. I personally do not use abortion as a bellwether issue but it certainly is at the top of my list of concerns and has corresponding weight when I make my decisions.

  10. Daniel Davis January 24, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    brett, Jesus was not involved in government. the Jews were ruled by Rome. we, however, have a hand in our government and those who are elected. the Bible says that we are to respect government, who does not wield the sword for nothing. a righteous government rewards those who do good and punishes those to do evil. in our context, by our votes we are wielding that sword. how would Jesus vote? and believe me, i am very cynical of politics, and i too know that politics does not save. no brain-washing here, but heart cleansing by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. the Gospel of Jesus Christ saves, but we are not to turn a blind eye to the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed. are not potentially aborted babies in this camp??

    bryan l: obama is supporting a right to take life, in other words, murder. this is so much more than a “political issue,” it is a moral issue. yes, people of faith can be misguided, and i cannot judge his heart, but i can judge his stands and decisions according to the Word of God. on abortion, his stance does not follow God’s heart.

  11. Bryan L January 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm #

    Ken,
    Sorry it appeared that you were drawing that line. Let’s be honest though, it’s not uncommon to hear people say they can’t understand how someone can be a Democrat and a Christian, some even go so far as to say you can’t. I assumed you were in this camp. Sorry.

    Daniel,
    I understand what you are saying but that is not what i was objecting to. See my comment above for what I was objecting to. You don’t seem like you follow this type of reasoning so I don’t really have anything to say.

    Thanks

  12. Ken January 24, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    S’okay, Bryan. Ironically, I am a registered Democrat! Our state’s primary rules force me to make a party declaration, and it’s such a blue state that all the important statewide elections are decided (more or less) in the Democratic primary. In political persuasion, I am much more independent than anything else, although the national Democratic Party platforms haven’t given me much to work with in recent years.

  13. Bill January 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    I think it’s somewhat like saying “while I’m personally opposed to slavery and would never own a slave, I can’t say it’s wrong for others to own one.” Harsh? Well, African-Americans were considered somewhat like those in favor of abortion “rights” now consider the unborn….non-persons.

    I think Obama wants his to have his cake and eat it too. I would respect him more (though not disagree with him less) if he had the courage of his convictions.

  14. Lucas Knisely January 24, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Brett,

    You said:
    I think you guys are attributing beliefs to Obama that he does not hold because you have been brainwashed by right-wing politics.

    No. A thousand times no. Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean they are mindlessly following theologians and politicians that you disagree with. I laid out plainly how Obama is “pro-abortion” by the basic definition of the word. If you accept and follow his redefinition of the term, “pro abortion”, then perhaps you should re-think labeling us “brainwashed”.

  15. Bryan L January 24, 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    Brett,

    I have to agree with Lucas about assuming that everyone here who disagrees with you is brain washed. Many come to their beliefs after believing just the opposite and then looking into the issues and studying them more. Let’s be a bit more charitable towards each other.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  16. jeremy z January 24, 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    Did any of you see the sermon/speech Obama did at Dr. King’s church on 1/20?

    check it out: http://jeremyzach.blogspot.com/

  17. Tony January 30, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    My concern for all of those who are mislead by Obamas statements are that you fall in to a politicians campaign semantics. Obama tip toes around the issue of abortion like a three year old who stole some cookies! I find that you can not be a fence rider on this issue, and his comment that people “fervently” consider this choice and struggle with it is a complete and absurd lie. Statistics show that most of these people don’t do it for health concern, but for a reason of birth control, most aren’t making intelligent decision because most do it because of fear that they can’t go on with life with another human being as apart of it; all the while not realizing the promise of adoption. This is ridiculous that people who are the most untrustworthy; political candidates, can with just a few simple words change or influence our opinions and lead people to believe they know truth…the ONLY truth anyone of us needs is in a single book the BIBLE…and I am pretty certain that is very clear on the issue!

  18. Mark S January 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    I think you have to give the American people the right to choose abortion because while the Pledge of Allegience states, “One nation under God.” this just isn’t the case. I’m a firm believer in separation of church and state. This country was founded with the freedom for its citizens to practice any religion they choose without persecution. The pro-life stance seems to stem from a Christian belief system. Not everyone in the United States is Christian. It would not be fair to the atheists, agnostics, and followers of other religions to have the views of one religion dictate their freedoms. Take religion out of the equation. Religion itself is a choice. I understand the need of some people to be missionaries, but you can’t force religion down everyone’s throat, and the my-way-or-die mentality is no better than the terrorists we’re fighting. Encourage adoption whenever possible and promote abortion as a last resort. Strive to influence the decision, but don’t destroy the right to choose.

  19. keith January 30, 2008 at 7:31 pm #

    “the ONLY truth anyone of us needs is in a single book the BIBLE”.

    Tony, the bible is far from the truth. You may need a book, but I certainly don’t.

    “obama is supporting a right to take life, in other words, murder. this is so much more than a “political issue,” it is a moral issue. yes, people of faith can be misguided, and i cannot judge his heart, but i can judge his stands and decisions according to the Word of God. on abortion, his stance does not follow God’s heart.”

    This issue has nothing to do with god,taking one’s life, or “murder” as you call it. It only has to do with every pregnant female. Daniel Davis, you sir, do not sound like a pregnant female.

    IF YOU WANT A COUNTRY RUN BY RELIGION, MOVE TO IRAN.

  20. Daniel Davis January 31, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    this isn’t just a right to choose between an apple and an orange – this is the purposeful ending of human life.

    Christians must stand up for life and the world knows it too. the world does not allow murder, they just fuzz on what constitutes murder.

    and you can’t take religion out of the question – everyone believes in something. atheism is just a religion that atheists want to push on everyone else: no God.

    legislation does not change the heart, you are right about that. but that has not stopped people in the past from passing moral legislation because God has ordained government and law to direct the actions of man toward good works and away from evil. and abortion is an unspeakable evil…

  21. Daniel Davis January 31, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    keith, i do not want a country run by religion, i like the 1st amendment just the way it is. so, i will not be moving to iran.

    but advocating against abortion does not mean i want a theocracy. in keeping with the foundation of this nation, and the vast majority of its citizens, i am all for the right to choose (freedom, as it is called) on so many things, provided that such a choice does not impinge upon the rights/choices of others. i am not allowed to choose to steal something from you. why not? because it just isn’t right – i’ve taken something that belonged to you. our secular government has legislated that, although we all know it to be true without government law.

    herein lies part of the problem: a woman’s choice for abortion impinges upon the implicit/inherent choice of a baby for life. if you want to say a baby would choose otherwise, why don’t you ask one. can’t get a straight answer? then perhaps we should give him/her the benefit of the doubt.

    so, i hope you won’t mind that i stick around in the ole US of A, taking a stand against abortion. being a pregnant female or not makes no difference when my conscience screams against the practice of abortion, and i pray to God that yours would too.

    you sir, do not sound like a fetus/infant…anymore. are you glad you are still around? i am glad your pregnant mother didn’t choose otherwise. can you say the same for me?

  22. ptg February 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    Obama offers hope, but not to the unborn.

  23. Sarah April 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    As a Christian who believes not enough people in the world, try to imitate Jesus, because they are way too busy judging if anyone else is….

    I have to say that I am quite disappointed in your need to post this article, with all of your negative ‘opinions’ entangled in the mix…

    Christians need to stop allowing pastors and bloggers to ‘tell’ them what to think and feel and allow Jesus to take over and help them discern truth, for themselves…

    Some so called Christians hinder others, by trying to be the middleman to God…Their is no middle man…

    What Christians are supposed to be is ‘love’ Jesus came to spread ‘love’, not hate, violence, discord….

    Churches wonder why so many children who grow up in the church, are running from God…It’s not God, they are running from, it’s man’s interpretation, it’s man’s need to make God about rules and regulations, instead of the ‘relationship’ it is…

    God is love, don’t you forget it…Don’t you forget that we aren’t supposed to judge others, don’t you forget the other sins we commit like idolatry, impatience, harshness, rudeness, envy, hate, jealousy, not treating your body like a temple, so on and so forth. And don’t you forget that ‘all’ sins are the same in God’s eyes…It doesn’t mean one sin isn’t more deplorable than another, it just means that we aren’t any better if we’re not ‘helping’ someone else, not having ’empathy’ for them, when we judge them, instead of look at what we can do, to make this world a better place.

    God doesn’t warn us of sin, because he wants us to just follow him and do what he says. God warns us of sin, because sin ‘hurts’ us, it steals our joy, makes us ill and keeps us from wonderful life he’s planned for us. God warns us, because he loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with him…

    Please make sure you are not ‘hindering’ those searching for God….Please show them love and understanding and leave your opinions at God’s feet…

  24. Sarah April 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Just want to make sure everyone realizes when I say their is no middleman, I am speaking of ‘earthly’

    Every Christian knows Jesus is the middleman~:)

    Sarah

  25. jamie September 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Obama articulated his position well. To extract that he supports women having abortions at 9 months is ridiculous! What a distortion. He is simply saying it’s not government’s position to decide, its the woman and her doctor WHEN it comes to the life of the mother. You guys sound a lot like the saduccees and pharisees right about now.

  26. Michael May 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    I have struggled for a long time with whether I should beat my child. I talked to my pastor and he gently told me I shouldn’t. I decided that I know what to do best in this situation and so I have been beating my child daily.

    First of all, note that the scenario I just described is completely made up. This is just what I see in Obama’s explanation. Does a woman’s struggle with the issue justify an abortion? If you think a fetus is a human, then the answer is ‘no’.

  27. Michael May 3, 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    Jamie, if you read some articles on the Roe v. Wade case, you will see that the justices said the health of a woman is broad and includes emotional health and other things (like financial health). Any woman can say pregnancy causes emotional stress and physical harm (because it is stressful to be pregnant and it is physically demanding).

  28. Sarah May 4, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    I’m not sure how a person chosing to beat their child, in spite of the advise from the preacher, is relevant to Obama’s stance on allowing a woman to chose, but whatever…

    Before abortion was legal:
    A woman gets pregnant who isn’t capable of motherhood, she’s too overwhelmed and kills herself, thus kiling the fetus, sticks a hanger inside of her thus killing herself and the fetus or has a baby that she someday beats or kills, because she’s just not well enough.

    Now that abortion is legal:
    A woman gets pregnant, has a decision to make, she either has a child and keeps it or puts it up for adoption or ends the pregnancy. but BECAUSE she has viable access to proper education and resources now, she can get proper guidance on he choices and have access to information and protection so she’s not in the same situation all over again.

    I am grateful that abortion rates are going down, that women feel comfortable with being able to speak to someone about how they are feeling and that many, many Americans realize that no matter how difficult a decision abortion is, only GOD can judge the woman who has one….

    I love Jesus! I am not an advocate for abortion, but I know God can change hearts and minds…I know God can do things that none of us thought or imagined…

    Trust God…pray for women who are in various situations and faced with this difficult decision and unless you’re without sin, do NOT judge these women!

    Sarah~:)
    Tucson, AZ

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