Social & Domestic Issues

Obama Faces Abortion Dilemma

In one of his last acts as president, George Bush declared the last Sunday that he will hold office as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. In a strong proclamation, he explained, “The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent.” With abortions on the decline and Planned Parenthood laying off workers, what kind of “change” can we anticipate from Barack Obama?

Obama faces a dilemma. As a fledgling presidential candidate untethered to moderating forces, Obama famously told a Planned Parenthood crowd that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This bill would eliminate every pro-life protection — state and federal — from parental notification to bans on federal funding of abortions. These pro-life laws clearly play a part in the abortion decline.

But other pro-abortion politicians were realizing that this hard-core trash talk didn’t win them national elections. The rhetoric changed. Hillary Clinton began, and then Obama picked it up. They now want to “reduce the number of abortions.” Don’t bother them with the details.

It’s easy enough to deduce what works. The Guttmacher Institute (an arm of the abortion industry) admits in a recent study that abortions have plunged 25 percent since 1990 to 1.2 million a year. Nearly 1-in-3 pregnant women chose abortion in the 1980s. Now, it’s more like 1-in-5.

What changed since the 1980s? Bush’s proclamation gives a good indication. First, respect human life. Second, get government to respect human life.

“All human life is a gift from our creator that is sacred, unique and worthy of protection,” he declares. “On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world.”

The declaration lists legislative accomplishments: “Promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. Banning the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act which makes it a crime to cause death or injury to a child in the womb.”

It also lists aspirations: “America is a caring Nation, and our values should guide us as we harness the gifts of science. In our zeal for new treatments and cures, we must never abandon our fundamental morals. We can achieve the great breakthroughs we all seek with reverence for the gift of life.”

But we have a new president now. What is his record?

While serving as a state senator, Obama voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. The Democratic Party platform (under his leadership) dropped the moderating words “safe, legal and rare” and added “unequivocally” to its support of abortion. Obama criticized the Supreme Court for upholding the partial-birth abortion ban. He opposed parental notification before a minor is taken across state lines for an abortion. He supports giving tax dollars to groups that commit abortions in the U.S. and in other countries. He’s appointed hard-core abortion advocates for his administration

And he co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act. Advocates claim it would simply codify Roe v. Wade. But Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) admitted, “FOCA [will] supersede all other laws,” including laws that the Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional.

FOCA would outlaw any “interference” with providing abortion, elevating abortion to a “fundamental right” on par with the right to free speech (which, unlike abortion, is in the Constitution). It would strip away the right of women to receive information on possible complications of abortion, the right of parents to protect their minor daughters, the right of taxpayers not to be forced to pay for abortions, and the right of states to pass modest regulations such as health and safety codes on abortion clinics. And that’s just the beginning.
According to Americans United for Life, FOCA would nullify over 550 laws including:

• Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

• Hyde Amendment and other limits on forcing taxpayer funding of elective abortions

• Restrictions on abortions in military hospitals

• Informed consent laws

• Waiting periods

• Parental consent and notification laws

• Health and safety regulations on abortion clinics

• Requirements that licensed doctors perform abortions

• Bans on abortion after the baby is viable. (Under FOCA, post-viability abortions are permitted for the woman’s “health,” which has been defined to mean almost anything.)

• Legal protections for health care providers and hospitals that decline to commit abortions

Studies show that states that pass regulations on abortion have fewer abortions. States that enact FOCA-type laws experience an increase in abortions.

Since FOCA is garnering negative attention, Obama and his allies in Congress may instead implement it piece by piece.

Their first actions will likely be funding international abortion groups (through an executive order) and subsidizing abortions in the U.S. (through government-funded health care programs and overturning abortion-funding bans).

What the government funds, we get more of. If Obama is sincere about reducing abortions, the least he could do is support the valuable work of pregnancy resource centers.

Pregnancy centers provide free help to women with unexpected pregnancies. Women no longer need to feel alone and with only one choice — abortion — with the thousands of gracious volunteers dedicated to helping during and after (through parenting classes and other services) their time of need.

But Obama is no fan of pregnancy centers (though he won’t say why). He was asked by RH Reality Check, “Does Sen. Obama support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers? Why or why not?”

His one word answer: “No.”

Obama’s agenda — individually or wrapped up in one neat FOCA package — would push policies that increase abortions and put abortionists back to work at Planned Parenthood. Is this the change he hopes for?


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