Skip to comments.A matter of life: In almost every way, McCain, Obama on opposite sides of America's abortion divide
Posted on 06/20/2008 9:45:56 AM PDT by Caleb1411
Long before Sen. Barack Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination, the candidate mused about the first thing he would do as president.
At a Planned Parenthood gathering in Washington, D.C., last July, Obama told supporters of America's largest abortion network: "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."
The purpose of the pro-abortion legislationfirst introduced in the Senate in 1989is clear: "To prohibit, consistent with Roe v. Wade, the interference by the government with a woman's right to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy." The bill has never passed Congress, but its intention is sweeping: Nullify most abortion restrictions already in place, and cut off attempts at further restrictions.
Obama's support for the bill doesn't come up much on the campaign trail. The candidate rarely mentions abortion outside of pro-abortion gatherings, and downplays the volatile issue to mixed crowds.
On the other side of the stump, Sen. John McCain is talking about abortion more than he has in the past. The presumptive Republican nominee is taking pains to point out his pro-life voting record, especially to some skeptical pro-life supporters.
In a campaign season dominated by the economy, the war, and the price of gasoline, pro-abortion and pro-life groups agree on one thing: The stakes in the abortion debate remain high, and the two presidential candidates largely represent opposite ends of the spectrum.
Obama spelled out those stakes on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade: "With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade."
The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) agrees and recently endorsed Obama, calling him "a fully pro-choice candidate." The group gave Obama a 100 percent rating for supporting pro-abortion legislation in Congress.
NARAL gives McCain a zero percent rating for his "extreme anti-choice record," and asks for donations to help defeat his campaign.
One mile south of NARAL's Washington, D.C., headquarters, National Right to Life (NRTL) is adamant as well. The pro-life groupwhich endorsed Fred Thompson last yearnow supports McCain, citing his voting record in Congress. Not surprisingly, it vigorously opposes Obama, also citing his voting record. NRTL president David O'Steen told WORLD: "I don't see how one could take a more pro-abortion position than Obama."
Examining the candidates' voting records reveals the kinds of policies each would likely support as president. Obama in the U.S. Senate has supported funding for overseas groups that promote or perform abortions and has opposed parental notification laws.
When he was an Illinois state senator, Obama instead of voting "yes" or "no" on abortion bills often voted "present." In 1997 Obama voted "present" on two bills banning partial-birth abortion. In 2001 he voted "present" on two parental notification bills. He voted "present" three times on bills aimed at protecting infants who survive abortions.
Pam Sutherland, president of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said her group worked with Obama and a handful of other Democratic senators on the voting strategy. Sutherland said the tactic allowed senators to withhold support for pro-life bills without creating a record that could hurt them with voters. "A 'present' vote was hard to pigeonhole, which is exactly what Obama wanted," she told ABC News.
Despite voting "present" on the pro-life bills, Obama expressed strong opposition to them, saying they didn't include exceptions for the health of the mother, and that they would hold doctors criminally responsible for performing such abortions. Obama condemned the Supreme Court's decision last year to uphold the federal ban on partial-birth abortions, calling it an attempt to "steadily roll back the hard-won rights of American women."
In presidential debates, Obama has said he believes that states could legitimately put restrictions on some late-term abortions, but added, "The broader issue here is: Do women have the right to make these profoundly difficult decisions? And I trust them to do it."
McCain in the U.S. Senate voted for the partial-birth abortion ban, parental notification laws, banning abortions in military medical facilities, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and dozens of other pro-life measures. NRTL's O'Steen told WORLD: "McCain has an absolutely solid and consistent pro-life voting record."
But the record isn't flawless. Some pro-life groupsincluding NRTLhave ardently disagreed with McCain-sponsored campaign finance laws that curtail attempts by nonprofit groups to influence voters toward particular candidates 60 days before an election.
A bigger problem for McCain among pro-life voters is his support for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Pro-life groups oppose the research that requires destroying frozen embryos, and they express consternation over McCain's support of allocating tax dollars toward the work.
Late last year, McCain told WORLD that he believes life begins at conception, but "the Bible also tells us to heal the sick," and he remains firmly committed to funding the research. O'Steen said NRTL disagrees with McCain on the embryonic stem cell issue, but that his overall voting record remained strong enough for McCain to win its support.
One other bump McCain might face: In 2000 the senator strongly argued for a change to the pro-life GOP platform, which calls for a human life amendment to the Constitution. McCain said it should include exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Republicans have resisted the change, and McCain hasn't indicated he'll push for it this year. But the issue could put the candidate in an awkward position this summer.
If the candidates' voting records reveal what they might do as president, so do their public statements. McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned, and has indicated he would nominate judges sympathetic to that view.
Obama has made abortion-related promises as well: In addition to supporting the Freedom of Choice Act, the senator opposes any constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He says he would defend Roe v. Wade and nominate justices who would do the same. He would also promote federal funding for sex education for teens, as well as funds for a public information campaign about "emergency contraception."
It's unclear how much Obama's abortion views will surface during the campaign, but it's clear that he doesn't plan to change those views: "On this issue," he told the Planned Parenthood gathering, " I will not yield."
On the record Comparing candidates' life-related votes
1. Codify state health care option for unborn children.
Amendment to codify states' option to cover unborn children in SCHIP program, and define an unborn child as any phase of development in the womb
McCain: Yes; Obama: No
2. Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007
Mandated federal funding for embryonic stem cell research
McCain: Yes; Obama: Yes
3. Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
Bill requiring abortionists to notify at least one parent before performing an abortion on a minor from another state
McCain: Yes; Obama: No
4. Funding for overseas pro-abortion groups
Amendment to nullify federal policy prohibiting federal funds for overseas groups that perform or promote abortions
McCain: No; Obama: Yes
5. Partial-birth abortion ban
Bill to ban partial-birth abortions, in which a baby is partially delivered before killed
McCain: Yes; Obama: * Not yet in U.S. Senate
This is just such an important issue to most of us....it’s one of the reasons that we need to vote MCCain.
I sure know mcCain’s not perfect but Obama has no morals at all.
Dispicable human being
What McCain will do if he becomes president is another matter. Who can trust anything he says? Some people feel it does not matter since he will lose in Nov.
He switches positions all time from breaking his marriage vows to declaring himself a conservative. He flip flops and lies too much to be trusted. Amnesty is the one consistent position.
Still aren't seeing the light, are you? It's those 4 votes, as some FReepers have repeatedly pointed out out to you, that disqualify McCain as a pro-lifer. A .997 batting average just doesn't cut it in their league.
McCain’s actually batting .966, even worse in the FR all-or-nothing league.
Stanek told me her testimony did not faze Obama.
In the second hearing, Stanek said, I brought pictures in and presented them to the committee of very premature babies from my neonatal resuscitation book from the American Pediatric Association, trying to show them unwanted babies were being cast aside. Babies the same age were being treated if they were wanted!
And those pictures didnt faze him [Obama] at all, she said.
At the end of the hearing, according to the official records of the Illinois State senate, Obama thanked Stanek for being very clear and forthright, but said his concern was that Stanek had suggested doctors really dont care about children who are being born with a reasonable prospect of life because they are so locked into their pro-abortion views that they would watch an infant that is viable die. He told her, That may be your assessment, and I dont see any evidence of that. What we are doing here is to create one more burden on a woman and I cant support that.
And we're supposed to believe there's insufficient evidence to favor McCain over Obama on this issue?
Now that you’ve revealed your anti-McCain agenda, why not explain it further?... On a pro-life thread. Do you think Romney would be more pro-life than John McCain? The Mittster is not the nominee running against Obama. Do you see some way to get Ron Paul into the nominee seat and remove McCain? Sorry, that won’t happen either. Do you actually entertain as possible that Bob ‘I worked for the ACLU’ Barr could become president rather than get Obama elected? Do you think American conservatives need the Libertarian punishment, to herd us into line? [You have a posting history one may consult, BTW.]
I have stated quite clearly that I think installing a leftist like McCain as the titular leader of the Conservative movement would be suicidal. I hope this saves you the time of having to research my thoughts on McCain.
McCain is not pristine on the Right to Life movement. He even intercedes on behalf of Congressmen that are consumate abortion supporters against organizations trying to end abortions in this nation.
So while John votes one way, he joins Demcrats to sign letters, files amicus briefs, and whatever else moves him at any given moment to defeat right to life.
Is he better than Obama on the subject? Sure. Is he worth voting for? No.
No federal government entity will be pushing Conservative agenda under McCain. Instead the Republican Party will spend it’s time backing his plays, giving him all their votes to pass many of the same things Obama would.
This man has soiled himself on every issue.
Saved me?... Don’t vote for McCain and help elect the socialist empty suit, Barry Obama. Your ilk saves no one and yet you hold yourself in such high regard. The facyt that McCain can change his positions and is showing some signs of that makes zero impression on the self-righteous such as yourself. Got a perfect candidate to beat Obama? ... I didn’t think so. Marginalize yourself some more for us ... it is instructive.
Wow, what a barbaric A-Hole!
The baby is OUT, lying there on the table, and saving its life is
“creat[ing] one more burden on a woman and I cant support that”
Thank you so much! I had lost that link when I changed laptops. How revealing that exchange is, eh? And she claims to be a ‘fiathful’ Catholic. She’s an embarrassment to my ‘true Catholic’ friends.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I disagree with McCain-Feingold, but that was what this was about, NOT about abortion rights. His principle about free speech was wrong, but to abandon it because of a specific issue would also be wrong.
Anyway, your list is impressive, although I'm not sure why we are supposed to fault John McCain for voting for a supreme court nominee that was nominated by Ronald Reagan, unless you think RR was some RINO.
Charles, the best of Presidents have staff members that aren’t up to par. Perhaps Reagan should have known better with regard to Kennedy, but that’s where the Senate comes in.
They are given the review process for a reason. I will admit to Kennedy being somewhat of a gray area, because I haven’t studied his history. The fact of the matter is, John McCain voted to affirm four of the five worst sitting SCOTUS justices today.
If Kennedy were the only one John had voted for, I grant your arguement makes a lot of sense. Him voting for Ginsberg, Breyer, and Souter on top of Kennedy opens him up to ridicule for voting for all of them.
As for John remaining faithful to McCain/Feingold, he had no stake in the court battle where he filed an amicus brief.
His bill had passed, as I understand it, and he had no call to enter into this case at all.
Just because a person passes some legislation, they aren’t obligated to file an amicus brief for any case that involves it. And John choice of this case to interject his opinion on is disturbing.
Why would he chose to file an arguement against a Right to Life anti abortion organizion? What was the impetus? He could have looked the other way. There was no call for him to be involved that I know if.
If you can provide a reason, perhaps I’ll revise my opinion on it.
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