Confronted with the most brazenly pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, pro-lifers clearly have their work cut out for them after enjoying either a pro-life president or a pro-life majority in Congress for 26 of the last 28 years. President Barack Obama is an unflinching friend of the abortion industry who has supported anti-life measures that even the abortion lobby refused to endorse.
But pro-lifers shouldn’t despair. Americans are more pro-life now (in sentiment and in deed) than at any time in over a generation, and polls show large majorities of Americans oppose the extreme abortion policies of Obama and his allies.
Consider: A just-released Gallup poll found that only about one third of Americans (35%) approve of Barack Obama’s decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, which required that the over 600 groups that receive State Department taxpayer funding pledge not to promote or perform abortions abroad. Obama’s decision to force Americans to pay for international abortions drew the lowest approval rating among seven presidential actions about which Gallup surveyed over 1,000 Americans.
Pro-life advocates should view this poll as a taste of the backlash that Obama’s abortion policies could generate, a backlash that will depend upon pro-lifers’ commitment to exposing Obama’s abortion extremism.
Thus far, much of the abortion debate has focused on the Democrats’ desire to pass the Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA would over-turn almost all of the legislative successes pro-lifers have realized over the past thirty-five years, including the federal ban on partial-birth abortion and bans on public funding of abortion. FOCA has been on the liberal wish list for years. President Obama has been a co-sponsor of the legislation, and in 2007 he stated that signing FOCA would be “the first thing I’d do as president.”
Fortunately, most legislators acknowledge that FOCA probably does not have enough votes to pass. Instead, abortion forces have signaled they intend to move the abortion agenda forward by passing pieces of the FOCA agenda one at a time. As Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Wall Street Journal in December, “The Freedom of Choice Act is very important…but we have a long list of things to get done…that are really immediate concerns.”
Most of the “immediate concerns” of the abortion lobby fall into two categories: forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions, and forcing medical professionals to perform them. Not surprisingly, these are areas upon which most Americans are pro-life and with which pro-lifers can expose Obama’s extreme agenda.
President Obama wants to sell abortions at home and abroad, and he wants American taxpayers, already dealing with an economic recession, to foot the bill. In addition to his decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, Obama wants to overturn President Bush’s ban on taxpayer funding of life-destroying human embryonic stem cell research. And he is expected to work with congressional allies to continue to compel taxpayers to subsidize the nation’s largest abortion seller, Planned Parenthood, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year (even though Planned Parenthood already makes more than $100 million in profits annually).
Obama will also look to overturn appropriations amendments that prevent Medicaid and Medicare funding for most abortions and prevent the Department of Defense from paying for abortions on American military bases overseas.
Finally, Obama has said he wants taxpayers to fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). President Bush stopped funding for the UNFPA when it was discovered that it supported coercive population control measures in China, including forced abortion and sterilization, a link then Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed.
Forcing Americans to pay for abortion is extreme, but not as extreme as another of Obama’s priorities: forcing pro-life medical professionals to be complicit in abortion.
Before leaving office, President Bush issued an executive order protecting medical staff members who refuse to participate in practices they object to on moral grounds. For over thirty years, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortions. Importantly, Bush’s executive order did not create a new right of conscience but was intended only to clarify and enforce existing laws that all too often are ignored.
Bush’s regulation took effect on January 20th, and already the Obama administration has signaled it wants to reverse it, though officials are deliberating about how and when. However it is done, Obama seems intent on forcing medical professionals to participate in a procedure he calls “one of the most fundamental rights we possess.”
Another key area for pro-lifers is the judiciary. President Obama doesn’t hide his litmus test for judicial nominees on abortion, or what he calls “reproductive justice.” As a member of the U.S. Senate, Obama voted against confirmation for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. And Obama not only voted against confirmation for Justice Samuel Alito, but he was among the 25 liberal senators who tried to filibuster Alito’s nomination.
When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer which Supreme Court justices he likes, Obama named Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguably the court’s most liberal justices. With a strong majority in the Senate, which confirms presidential nominees, Obama will be able to appoint whomever he chooses, making an already left-leaning judiciary even more so for the foreseeable future.
A sign of how much abortion forces expect from Obama was evident in their reaction to Obama’s personally intervening to scrap funds for “family planning” from the House “stimulus” package. Obama supports lavish spending for “family planning,” but he no doubt recognized that it would look bad to include funds for birth control in an emergency economic “stimulus” bill. Still, with words like “stunned,” “devastated,” and “disappointed” leaders of abortion groups made plain that they have great expectations for their new president.
President Obama has said he wants to “reduce the need for abortion” and that he is not really “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.” But if you subsidize something, you get more of it. And empirical studies have found the Obama administration will likely generate an additional 125,000 abortions a year in a nation already devastated by 4,000 a day.
What’s more, by forcing medical professionals and hospitals either to be complicit in the destruction of innocent human life or to close up shop, Obama proves he’s not pro-choice, he’s pro-abortion.
Pro-lifers face their most formidable challenge in decades. But it’s not all doom and gloom. America has witnessed a 20 percent decline in the number of annual abortions since 1990 and a significant drop (11 percent according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute) in the number of abortion providers since 2000. What’s more, a recent Gallup analysis revealed that the share of Americans who consider themselves “pro-life” has risen 12 percentage points (from 33 percent to 45 percent) in the last 12 years, while the proportion of “pro-choice” Americans has fallen to 49 percent.
The challenge for pro-lifers is to place every attempt to liberalize abortion law in the context of Obama’s ultimate goal of implementing abortion-on-demand. If pro-lifers help Americans to discern Obama’s abortion extremism, they can help minimize the destruction of innocent human life that this administration is dedicated to inflicting.