Rhetoric and abor­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Barack Obama re­ceived the en­dorse­ment of NARAL Pro-Choice Amer­ica two weeks ago. Both the likely Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, Mr. Obama, and the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, John McCain, are flip-side ver­sions of one an­other on the abor­tion is­sue: Each man’s rhetoric (or lack thereof, in some cases) does not match his record.

Mr. Obama’s record on abor­tion is rad­i­cal and ex­treme — even by the stan­dards of his own party. He voted against a ban on par­tial-birth abor­tion and crit­i­cized the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion to up­hold the ban; he voted against pro­hi­bi­tions on tak­ing a mi­nor across state lines for an abor­tion; and most ap­palling of all, he voted against pro­vid­ing le­gal pro­tec­tion for ba­bies who sur­vive an abor­tion. Mr. Obama’s in­abil­ity to rec­og­nize the in­hu­man­ity of his po­si­tion stag­gers pro-lif­ers: Par­tial­birth abor­tion is in­fan­ti­cide be­cause the baby’s brains are ex­tracted dur­ing birthing. Mr. Obama does not even sup­port pro­vid­ing le­gal pro­tec­tion for ba­bies who sur­vive an abor­tion. For his un­bend­ing pro-choice stance, the Illi­nois sen­a­tor re­ceived a 100 per­cent score from NARAL in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

How­ever, Mr. Obama has shrewdly an- tic­i­pated his vul­ner­a­bil­ity in a gen­eral elec­tion on this is­sue and has taken mea­sures to ap­pear more mod­er­ate. He has re­peat­edly stated that he seeks com­mon ground with pro-lif­ers — es­pe­cially in find­ing ways to re­duce the num­ber of abor­tions. He thus sup­ports sex ed­u­ca­tion that in­cludes a cur­ricu­lum on ab­sti­nence. He formed a Na­tional Catholic Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, that con­sists of prom­i­nent Demo- cratic pro-lif­ers, in or­der to sig­nal more tol­er­ance in his party. He also cospon­sored an abor­tion-pre­ven­tion bill in Jan­uary 2005. He even has a Pro Life Obama group on his Web site con­sist­ing of pro-life sup­port­ers; they ap­plaud his com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing the num­ber of abor­tions. Hence, Mr. Obama has put a sil­ver glove on a bar­baric vot­ing record.

Mr. McCain, on the other hand, has been just as shrewd but in the com­pletely op­po­site sense. He has a stal­wart pro-life vot­ing record; this in­cludes delet­ing fam­ily plan­ning grants from spend­ing bills, op­pos­ing Med­i­caid funds for abor­tions in cases of rape or in­cest and fa­vor­ing ab­sti­nence-only sex ed­u­ca­tion. It is no won­der that Planned Par­ent­hood has given him a zero life­time rat­ing.

Yet Mr. McCain has done his pro-life work qui­etly — and at times has sought to de­lib­er­ately cam­ou­flage his record. He was quoted in The Wash­ing­ton Post say­ing that “it’s not so­cial is­sues I care about.” Many pro-lif­ers won­der whether his heart is in their cause. We do, too. Mr. McCain would be wise to align his rhetoric with his deeds.

None­the­less, vot­ers have a stark choice in con­trast­ing rhetoric with re­al­ity on the abor­tion ques­tion: Mr. Obama speaks loudly but leaves the help­less to die; Mr. McCain says lit­tle but ex­tends a mer­ci­ful hand.

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