Obama’s Pro-Choice Stance Repels Some Young Evangelical Voters

October 30, 2008 at 2:57 am Leave a comment

Abortion is the key issue keeping many social conservatives and religious voters – especially young ones – from supporting pro-choice Democrat Barack Obama for president, leaving most of them to throw their support to his pro-life Republican opponent, John McCain.

A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll of voter attitudes, released last week,
showed that two-thirds of Catholics and white evangelical Protestants
of all ages oppose funding for abortions for poor women overseas.
Seventy percent of all evangelicals – with slightly larger majorities
among those younger than 30 – say abortion should be illegal in most or
all cases.

These same groups – which make up half of the American electorate –
also supported the “Mexico City policy,” which forbids U.S. funding for
organizations that perform abortions overseas. The largest bloc of
supporters were young evangelical Christians at 69 percent.

Pollster Anna Greenberg acknowledged the intractability of the issue
on Oct. 23, at a National Press Club forum sponsored by the United
Nations Foundation and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

“While young evangelicals – and the public – have become more
liberal on other social issues like gay marriage,” she said, “we do not
see the same movement towards a liberal position on abortion.”

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, has pledged to repeal of the Mexico City
policy and cut domestic restrictions on abortion, a stance that the
Republican Party has tried to highlight in various ads.

Foremost among them is a video clip of Mr. Obama’s July 17, 2007, vow to make abortion rights a centerpiece of his presidency.

“The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice
Act [FOCA],” he said, a statement that got him a rousing ovation at a
Planned Parenthood Action Fund gathering.

Referring to two fellow legislators, he said, “We fought in the
Illinois State Senate against restrictive choice legislation – laws
just like the federal abortion laws, federal abortion bans that are
cropping up.”

In 2001, 2002 and 2003, Mr. Obama, then an Illinois state senator,
opposed three legislative efforts to give legal protection to any child
who survived an abortion. Mr. Obama has denied this, but on Aug. 25,
the independent group FactCheck.org dissected the senator’s voting
record to show that he indeed voted against legislation to protect such
children.

FOCA, which has been simmering in Congress since 1989, would
overturn dozens of state laws mandating parental consent. It would
remove limits on Medicaid funding of abortions, eliminate informed
consent for women who are considering the procedure, allow
partial-birth and other late-term abortions, and end state requirements
for counseling, waiting periods or ultrasounds before an abortion.

Mr. Obama has a 100 percent approval rating from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s foremost abortion provider.

“Barack Obama supports women’s health, has reasonable policies on
comprehensive sex education, supports what works with kids and helps
them make healthy choices,” said Laura Meyers, president of the Planned
Parenthood Action Fund of Metropolitan Washington.

Mr. McCain has a 0 rating from the group. Even so, he does not line
up with all pro-life positions because he would allow abortion in cases
of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life.

When asked – during an Aug. 16 forum at Saddleback Church in Lake
Forest, Calif. – when life begins, the senator from Arizona responded,
“At the moment of conception.” To audience applause, he added, “I have
a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate.

“And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies.”

Mr. Obama hedged on the question, saying the answer is “above my pay grade.”

He said the rate of abortions did not decline during the eight years
of the Bush administration. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, however,
reported that 108,600 fewer abortions were performed during President
Bush’s fifth year in office (2005) than during President Clinton’s last
year (2000). The data used allowed each president significant time in
the office for any effects to take shape.

In September, the Guttmacher Institute said the rate of U.S.
abortions – 2.1 million a year or 5,753 a day – is at its lowest level
since 1974.

All this keeps it a front-and-center issue in U.S. politics.

“I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad
decision, that I support a woman – the rights of the unborn – that I
have fought for human rights and human dignity throughout my entire
political career,” Mr. McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2007.
“To me, it’s an issue of human rights and human dignity.”

The two men parried on the topic during the third presidential
debate at Hofstra University on Oct. 15, when Mr. Obama said he
supports legal restrictions to late-term abortions, as long as there is
a “health of the mother” exception.

“He’s ‘health for the mother,'” Mr. McCain responded sarcastically.
“You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in
America to mean almost anything.”

Neither of the candidates differ significantly on stem-cell
research, the other hot bioethics issue of the day. Mr. Obama supports
federal financing of embryonic-stem-cell research and co-sponsored the
2005 Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which Mr. Bush vetoed.

Mr. McCain’s position is more nuanced. Although he too supports
federal financing for experiments on cells that would otherwise be
discarded by fertility clinics, he also opposes the creation of embryos
for research. He told Catholic News Service in January that he hopes
the issue will become theoretical, given advances in obtaining stem
cells from skin cells.

Source: Washington Times

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