Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Like several other presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama won a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America last year. He is a consistently pro-choice legislator, much to the approval of his party’s leadership and backers. His pro-choice voting record was virtually as complete back when he was an Illinois state senator: Between 1997 and 1998 and again in 2001, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council gave him a rating of 100 percent. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is among his donors this presidential election cycle.

A pro-lifer at last week’s forum in New Hampton, Iowa, asked: Why is there so much outrage over Michael Vick’s abuse of dogs when thousands of babies are being aborted each day with very little discussion? Mr. Obama began his nuanced response: “The issue of abortion, I don’t think has gone away.

“People think about it a lot, obviously you do and you feel impassioned. I think that the American people struggle with two principles: There’s the principle that a fetus is not just an appendage, it’s potential life. I think people recognize that there’s a moral element to that. They also believe that women should have some control over their bodies and themselves and there is a privacy element to making those decisions. I don’t think people take the issue lightly. A lot of people have arrived in the view that I’ve arrived at, which is that there is a moral implication to these issues, but that the women involved are in the best position to make that determination. And I don’t think they make it lightly. I don’t think they make it callously, so I reject a comparison between a woman struggling with these issues and Michael Vick fighting dogs for sport. I don’t think that’s sort of how people perceive it.”

Mr. Obama then proceeded to discuss the need to reduce unwanted pregnancies and enhance educational efforts, including promoting abstinence until marriage, as “an area where there should be some agreement.”

This is designed to soften the hard edge of the pro-choice position for voters in the middle, who tend to be conflicted about abortion. Indeed, Mr. Obama left the impression that he is personally conflicted on the subject.

But his record as a legislator is consistently the opposite of what pro-lifers prefer.

After Mr. Obama’s remarks, the audience applauded, and the discussion moved on to the next subject. We won’t learn until next year whether Iowa voters discover that his rhetoric does not match the reality.

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