Pro-choice Obama repels evangelicals

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‘08 ISSUES:

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.”

Issues ‘08: The Washington Times takes a close look at an important issue every day before the elections.

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.

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About the Author
Julia Duin

Julia Duin

Julia Duin is the Times’ religion editor. She has a master’s degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...

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