Veteran Democrat David Carlin knows what he is going to do if Illinois Senator Barack Obama becomes his party’s presidential nominee. He is going to vote for presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Senator John McCain. "Any Catholic who takes the abortion issue seriously will not vote for Obama," said Carlin, who served as majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate in 1989-90.
Pro-life leaders describe Obama – who is now the heavy favorite to defeat New York Senator Hilary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination – as the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in American history. "Based on his record he appears to be the most pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the presidency," said David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. "It’s hard to be more pro-abortion than Hilary Clinton, but he seems to have managed to do that."
Obama has promised that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that if enacted would prevent any federal, state or local government entity from restricting access to abortion. O’Steen said this indicates that to Obama, "the most important thing facing America is to promote abortion."
Both Clinton and Obama currently have 100% ratings from NARAL for their pro-abortion voting records in the US Senate. But unlike Clinton, Obama has opposed legislation to protect babies who are born alive following unsuccessful abortions. In 2002, Clinton voted in favor of the Federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was approved unanimously by the US Senate. Obama was not sworn in as a US Senator until 2005, but he opposed similar state legislation in 2001 while serving as an Illinois state senator. Obama argued against such legislation specifically on the grounds that it might undermine the right to abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy.
"Whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a 9 month old – child that was delivered to term," Obama warned during debate over three state bills that would have offered protection to babies who are born alive after unsuccessful abortions. "That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place."
Former US Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is scathing in his assessment of Obama’s opposition to born-alive legislation. "That’s pretty doctrinaire – that’s about as pro-death as you can get on the abortion issue," said Santorum. "He’s a candidate who is not just for abortion, but also infanticide in order to protect the right to abortion."
Santorum said Obama is continuing to affirm his embrace of abortion on the campaign trail. He cited remarks the candidate made at a March 29 town hall meeting in Johnstown, PA. At that meeting, in response to a question about sex education for children, Obama argued in favor of educating young children about using contraceptives. "Look I’ve got two daughters, nine years old and six years old," Obama said. "I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby." Said Santorum, "To view a child as a punishment under any circumstances, to me shows that this is not a man who values life, who respects the dignity of human life."
Obama’s campaign office did not reply to questions about his position on abortion and other life issues that the Register submitted by e-mail. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that a child has a right to be considered a gift, not as a punishment: "A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. …A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged ‘right to a child’ would lead. In this area only the child possesses genuine rights…[including] the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception" (No. 2378).
O’Steen said Obama’s position on life issues is a stark contrast to McCain’s. He noted that McCain has a 100% pro-life record on abortion in the US Senate, has voted against a Senate resolution to express support for Roe vs. Wade and has stated that he believes Roe should be reversed, supports parental notification and opposes the use of taxpayer funds to facilitate abortion.
Perhaps the most significant difference between Obama and McCain is their position on judicial appointments. Obama has indicated that if elected president he intends to make it a priority to nominate pro-abortion judges. In contrast, in a speech May 6 at Wake Forest University, McCain pledged to nominate only lawyers with "a proven commitment to judicial restraint." He attacked Obama’s "judicial activism" and was particularly critical of the Democratic candidate for voting against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
While McCain did not refer directly to abortion in his speech, opposition among Senate Democrats to the Roberts and Alito nominations centered largely on fears that if confirmed, the two judges might overturn Roe v. Wade and other federal decisions supporting abortion rights. Said McCain, "Somehow, by Senator Obama’s standard, even Judge Roberts didn’t measure up. And neither did Justice Samuel Alito. Apparently, nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers, and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it – and they see it only in each other."
In response to the speech, Obama’s campaign said McCain would nominate judges who would threaten abortion rights, associated Press reported May 6. "What’s truly elitist is to appoint judges who will protect the powerful and leave ordinary Americans to fend for themselves," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.
Santorum, who earlier in the campaign cycle was critical of McCain’s pro-life commitment primarily because the Arizona senator does not oppose embryonic stem-cell research, said McCain’s speech "was a home run from my perspective." Said Santorum, "It hit all of the salient points, and it should give a lot of comfort to pro-lifers."
Paying the Piper
Carlin predicted that Obama "would certainly" apply a pro-abortion litmus test on all judicial appointments if elected. And Carlin said abortion is only one of a number of areas where Obama, even more than Clinton, is advancing positions that appeal primarily to the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party. "His support is among the secularist wing of the Democratic Party," said Carlin, who teaches sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island. "He’s beholden to that wing of the party, the most extreme wing of the party, the "moral left" of the party. And if they put him in office, you know, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’" Added Carlin, "So I think if he gets elected as president, it’s going to be a very, very bad time for pro-life Catholics."
Copyright © 2008 Circle Media, Inc., National Catholic Register
Tom McFeely is based in Victoria, British Columbia
For Further Study
11 FAQ about Abortion See Babies in the Womb Learn More About Abortion I regret my abortion Hope After Abortion What is an Abortion?
Books - Is the Fetus Human? by Eric Pastuszek and Prolife Answers to Prochoice Arguments by Randy Alcorn and Three Approaches to Abortion by Peter Kreeft