- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pro-life activists say Sen. Barack Obama’s abysmal record on abortion issues is reflected by his remark that he would not want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” if they were to make a “mistake” as teenagers.

“He would want his own grandchild aborted. It shows a real callous disregard for human life,” said David Osteen, executive director of National Right to Life. “This is a window into his soul.”

The criticism follows continued scrutiny of Mr. Obama’s longtime relationship with a pastor known for racially incendiary sermons, as national polls show him in a neck-and-neck race with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said the candidate’s comment should not be interpreted as condoning abortions.

“What Senator Obama said and what he believes is clear: Children are ‘miracles,’ but we have a problem when so many children are having children,” he said.

“Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about values and morals to help make sure they are not treating sex casually. And while he understands the passions on both sides of this difficult issue, Senator Obama believes we can all agree that we should be taking steps to reduce the number of teen pregnancies and abortions in this country.”

Mr. Vietor also tried to lay to rest questions about Mr. Obama’s familiarity with a 1960s book linked to his church — “Black Theology and Black Power” by James H. Cone — that espouses anti-white views.

“Senator Obama didn’t read this book,” Mr. Vietor said. “What is clear is that The Washington Times is more interested in rehashing an old story and playing ‘gotcha’ games than seriously covering this campaign.”

Trinity United Church of Christ, where Mr. Obama has worshipped for two decades, publicly declares that its ministry is founded on the book, which advocates “the destruction of the white enemy,” The Times reported yesterday.

Pro-life groups have long criticized the record of Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, who has voted against legal protection for babies who survive botched abortions and against prohibitions on taking a minor across state lines for an abortion.

His “punished with a baby” comment Saturday at a town hall in Johnstown, Pa., reignited the outrage.

“It is just shocking to hear it come out of someone’s mouth,” said Charlene Bashore, director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation PAC. “I can’t say it is surprising since he has a radical stance on abortion. … By all indications, he does consider an unplanned pregnancy to be a punishment.”

Responding to a question about HIV/AIDS and sex education, Mr. Obama said he supports a curriculum that includes abstinence and contraception.

“I’ve got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” Mr. 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. So it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”

Pro-life activists say Mr. Obama’s abortion views will hurt him in a general election matchup with presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

It also could hurt his run against Mrs. Clinton in the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania, which has a large bloc of Democratic pro-life voters, they say.

“It’s hard to be more pro-abortion than Hillary Clinton, but Mr. Obama seems to have found a way to do it,” said Mr. Osteen.

Pro-life groups note that both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama voted against Senate bills in 2006 that would have made it illegal to take a minor across state lines for an abortion.

Mr. Obama, as an Illinois state senator, voted against a bill that would have guaranteed medical care for babies who survive abortions rather than letting them die. Mrs. Clinton voted for a similar measure in 2001.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) called on Mr. Obama to recant his comment, saying it stigmatizes babies conceived by teenagers and “provides an excuse for aborting them.”

“Our society would take a dangerous step backward from the Judeo-Christian belief that we are all created equal if we were to treat one class of humans — those born to teenagers — as a curse,” CWA President Wendy Wright said. “Senator Obama should clearly recant and not sidestep this issue. No baby is a ‘punishment.’ ”

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