Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

The Disappearance of Obama’s Abortion Reduction Plan: One Political Theory

At the Saddleback Forum, Obama boasted, accurately, about how he’d stuck a sentence into the Democratic platform encouraging support for women who wanted totake a baby to term instead of having an abortion. Pro-life progressives hailed that sentence as a great victory and sign that he might be able to win over moderate evangelicals and Catholics with this new “third way” approach.
Then, the first abortion ads put out by the Obama campaign, didn’t mention abortion reduction.
Last week, they put out a second abortion ad, this one trying to deal with the charge that Obama supports infanticide. They had two different (not mutually exclusive) ways they could have gone: Show themselves to be abortion moderates by emphasizing abortion reduction, or show McCain to be an anti-abortion extremist by emphasizing the Republican platform. The Obama campaign chose the second path. Again, no mention of abortion reduction.
Meanwhile, I picked up a copy of the Obama campaign’s “Plan to Renew America’s Promise.” Though it mentions reducing unintended pregnancies, it dropped the sentence about helping women carry babies to term.
My uninformed theory on what’s happened:there was always a tension for them between two goals: 1) appealing to pro-choice moderate women and 2) appealing to pro-life moderate evangelicals and Catholics. They’ve now concluded:
Winning moderate evangelicals is hopeless and, it turns out, centrist Catholics just dont care all that much abortion. Given that, it makes more political sense to reach out to those pro-choice women.
Of course this obviously leaves them open to charges that they didn’t believe in abortion reduction all that much in the first place.

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Steven Ertelt

posted September 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Steven, the real reason for any lack of a concrete plan in how to reduce abortions is that Obama never really wanted to reduce abortions.
In July 2007, before Obama was a household name, he told Planned Parenthood that the first thing he would do as president is sign the so-called Freedom of Choice Act into law. (
This bill hasn’t gotten much attention in the elections, but it is one that proves how completely out of touch Obama is with mainstream America.
This bill would not only make unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy the national law, but it would overturn every state abortion limit in all 50 sattes.
So if your state has laws like no taxpayer funding for abortions, parental notification, bans on partial-birth abortions, etc, this Obama-backed bill would overturn them all. Gone. Erased. Unenforcable.
All thanks to Mr. “Pro-Choice, I Want to Reduce Abortions,” Obama.
Obama claims to want to have common ground with pro-life advocates but undoing the laws that have dropped the number of abortions to historic lows (see and shows he is NOT serious about reducing abortions. This abortion reduction talk is a ploy to get votes from the 69 percent of Americans who are pro-life or want more limits on abortions using the same ole bait and twist politics. (
–Steven Ertelt

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Douglas Johnson

posted September 22, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Of course this obviously leaves them open to charges that they didn’t believe in abortion reduction all that much in the first place.

Look, Obama’s “abortion reduction” spiel was never anything more than a public relations product cooked up at liberal think tanks, especially Third Way, where veteran pro-abortion activists (and I mean people whose previous jobs were with Planned Parenthood and the like) specialize in developing strategies to help hard-core pro-abortion politicians camouflage their positions.
The real Obama is firmly committed to an agenda of hard-line pro-abortion policies that, if implemented, would greatly increase the numbers of abortions performed.
For example, by conservative estimate, there are more than one million Americans alive today because of the Hyde Amendment, which cut off federal funding for abortion starting in 1976. Some of them are probably turning out for the Obama “Faith, Family, Values Tour” meetings. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute (linked to Planned Parenthood) and NARAL admit that the Hyde Amendment (and the similar policies adopted by many states) have resulted in many, many babies being born who otherwise would have been aborted — indeed, the pro-abortion groups periodically put out papers complaining about this.
So, the Hyde Amendment is a proven “abortion reduction” policy, big time. Yet Obama, of course, advocates repeal of the Hyde Amendment — and he also wants to enact a mandatory national health insurance program that would also mandate coverage of abortion on demand. As a state legislator, he voted directly against limits on public funding of elective abortions. So much for “abortion reduction.”
Moreover, pro-life state laws — for example, women’s right to know laws, waiting periods, and parental notification laws — are saving countless lives, but Obama is a cosponsor of the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (S. 1173), which would invalidate virtually every federal and state limitation on abortion. Don’t take my word for it — read what Planned Parenthood said about it, here:
On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Obama has also voted directly against parental notification requirements twice, out of two opportunities, during his short time in the U.S. Senate. A recently released study by Michael New, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, found that laws requiring notification to or consent of one parent prior to a minor’s abortion have reduced the minor abortion rate, in states that have enacted such laws, by approximately 13.6 percent (even though these laws have court-mandated judicial bypass provisions). In states that enact laws requiring the involvement of both parents, the in-state minor abortion rate dropped by about 31 percent.
Obama even advocates repeal of the national ban on partial-birth abortions, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007 on a 5-4 vote. Indeed, one of the major purposes of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” according to its prime sponsors, is the nullification of the ban on partial-birth abortions.
Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life

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posted September 23, 2008 at 6:36 am

Mr. Johnson’s propaganda aside, there really are people who seek to increase the number of abortions. I ran into one on the first and last occasion I visited a Unitarian-Universalist congregation. The minister’s homily was a proud announcement she had recently had her second abortion; the first was a right of passage but the second was a joyful celebration of her right to choose.
That minister was at best sick. To the extent that kind of “preaching” gains currency, National Right to Life would perform a public service to oppose it. But, Mr. Johnson, you’re just plain wrong here. Please encourage choosing pregnancy instead of operating as a wing of the Republican party by niggling here and there on the mechanics of abortion.

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posted September 23, 2008 at 8:15 am

I find that Obama’s approach to all issues is one of a ‘consensus builder’ meaning he looks for the win/win situation- the place where all parties have common ground and work from there. (this common sense approach is what I find so appealing about seeing him as President. ‘Maverick’ to me means impulsive and unpredictab) In the case of abortion, Obama has long expressed his belief that continuing to fight over the morality of abortion/choice keeps us from doing anything all. At least we can all agree that reducing the need for abortions is a step forward and much better than standing still.
Obama, unlike many in the Democratic party, supports ‘Community and Faith-based initiatives’ and this is where we as a community can benefit from an Obama administration and step up ourselves to advance the support of women who choose to carry to term.

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posted September 23, 2008 at 8:55 am

It really annoys me how “Christian” folks have the audicity to point fingers at Obama…well I’m a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight…
If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you’re ‘exotic,
Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.
If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow , Trig and Track, you’re a “maverick”.
Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.
If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first
black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive
that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law
professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with
over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human
Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a
state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the
Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veterans Affairs
committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.
If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and
6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the
governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to
become the country’s second highest ranking executive.
If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2
beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.
If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the
proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other
option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen
daughter ends up pregnant, you’re very responsible.
If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a
prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community,
then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent
America ‘s.
If you’re husband is nicknamed ‘First Dude’, with at least one DWI
conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age
25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska
from the USA , your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.

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Marvin Davidson

posted September 23, 2008 at 2:35 pm

In response to JustMoi.
True Christians do not pass judgement on others, but turn to the wisdom of God which surpasses all. I’m afraid who you speak of is relying on their own wisdom.
This world is in trouble, & worldly philosophy is forced to minimize difficulty because it has no real answers.
The outcome of this election will be just as the Lord God intended it.
(1 Corinthians 2:27-29) But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
True clarity only comes through the Lord Jesus Christ.

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posted September 23, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Please see link to article by mr. o’bama on politics and religion.
When you are dealing with someone who practices deceit, who elevates it to an artform, you can not take at face value anything he writes, or says, or even does. Because he has to deceive himself first and then even he no longer recognizes what is truth and reality. mr. o’bama’s sentiments are weighty; they would not be any less so if he really believed them. I agree with much of what he wrote. It is a pity he does not.
yor bro ken

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Vasu Murti

posted September 23, 2008 at 11:46 pm

Abortion reduction IS middle ground.
Instead of packing the courts with conservatives, I think pro-lifers should be pushing for a Constitutional Amendment to extend human rights to the unborn. The central issues in the abortion debate are the “personhood” or moral status of the unborn, and the extent of individual and marital privacy.
Stephen Douglas has been quoted as having said in debate with Abraham Lincoln that human slavery be resolved through the democratic process. Let the people decide: if they “want slavery, they shall have it; if they prohibit slavery, it shall be prohibited.”
Whether or not democracy is the ideal form of government is not the issue here, but since we live in a democracy, what is wrong with Douglas’ statement? It was through the democratic process that we gave women the right to vote, gave 18 year olds the right to vote, and even attempted the Equal Rights Amendment. Isn’t this how we should extend human rights to the unborn? Isn’t this how we should give rights to animals?
Pro-lifers compare Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott decision of 1857. In both cases, rights were denied to an entire class of humans based upon an arbitrary criterion, such as developmental status or the color of the skin. The conclusion author Paul Nowak draws from this in Guerilla Apologetics for Life Issues is that the Supreme Court is not infallible.
Roe v. Wade was decided in part by denying rights to the unborn, but also by assuming a right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut assumed a right to marital privacy regarding the use of contraception) not clearly spelled out in the Constitution.
Can we overturn Roe without overturning Griswold?
Is the solution to the abortion crisis to pack the Court with conservatives who might also oppose things like church-state separation (in the Newdow case regarding the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, Justice Scalia had to excuse himself from the case, because he doesn’t believe in complete church-state separation) and deny us contraception and a right to privacy (Griswold)…or is the solution to enact a Constitutional Amendment to extend human rights to the unborn?
And again, as Paul Nowak says, the Supreme Court is not infallible. The views of the Court are constantly changing. In 1986, the Supreme Court upheld a sodomy law. A few years ago, they reversed themselves, which outraged the religious right, but pleased lesbians and gays, the parents and friends of lesbians and gays, and political liberals.
I cannot understand how pro-life liberals and pro-life Democrats, most of whom respect the private nonviolent behavior of consenting adults, most of whom support church-state separation, and most of whom support contraception and better sex education as the most effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancies, would want to align themselves with pro-life conservatives and pro-life Republicans in order to pack the courts with conservatives in the hopes of eventually overturning Roe v. Wade.
It’s my conviction that we do have a fundamental right to privacy, and I cannot advocate putting the women of America unwillingly under electronic surveillance, probing their past without their consent, denying them contraception, or even going through their personal effects (although the Fourth Amendment does protect us against unwarranted search and seizure). There must be a better way.
Until we pro-life Democrats have enough numbers to change our Party platform to one calling for a Human Life Amendment (as is the case with the Republican Party), I think we should be advocating: easy access to contraception; better, more comprehensive sex education; real social support for pregnant women and children; and reasonable restrictions on abortion (e.g., a ban on partial-birth abortion, parental notification or consent, 24 hour waiting periods, informed consent or “women’s right to know” laws, etc.)
Doing this would dramatically reduce the abortion rate, which would please both pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike within our Party. It would also be consistent with Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” position. If “safe, legal and rare” becomes the new mantra in the Democratic Party with regards to abortion, I will consider it real progress from the 1970s, when pro-choice bumper stickers read: “Abortion is every woman’s choice.”
Again, instead of packing the courts with conservatives in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, I favor grassroots activism and educating the American public about when human life begins, prenatal development, etc. in order to get them to eventually support a Constitutional Amendment to extend human rights to the unborn.

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Wylde Kaard

posted October 3, 2008 at 10:59 am

Lovely what we’ve come to. A nation that uses abortion for birth control… or at least the Liberals want us to.
I won’t use the term Democrat, because not ALL Democrats are pro-abortion. I live in New York, and a black gentleman I work with (a friend I have known for more than twenty years) has told me how he has heard of young women using abortion as birth control, rather than taking the time to get ‘the pill’. Apparently, it’s simpler, and they don’t have to pay for it.
There are women who do that over-and-over again, and the costs, I am certain, have already started to pile up. All this ‘FOCA’ would do is make the situation much, much worse. They’re already trying to hand out condoms to kids… to teach young children who shouldn’t be sexually active about how to ‘handle the situation’ if they should be, and how to go about getting an abortion if they get pregnant!
What happened to parents being able to be parents? Kids these days ARE going to be sexually active whether we like it or not, and making it possible for them to get abortions without parental consent is only going to fan the fire to greater strength.
Obama scares me. They’re talking about making a man who is essentially a ‘junior’ senator President of these United States when he shows the decision-making capabiity of a five-year old… whatever Power there is out there, help us all before we destroy ourselves.

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