- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008



As the November elections swiftly near, Sen. Barack Obama promises to find “common ground” on abortion. Prospects for this meeting of minds are ever dimmer. Confronting this issue is no longer above Mr. Obama’s pay grade when at least 30 percent of Americans say abortion will affect their vote in this very close election.

Anita Dunn, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, tells the New York Sun (Aug. 29): “Senator McCain has a more radical anti-choice position than even George W. Bush, and we’re going to make sure that voters across the country understand that.”

Stripped out of the Democratic Party platform is an assurance we used to hear from President Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” However, in an attempt to reach pro-life Democrats, the platform also includes: “The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care… and caring adoption programs.” But, in stronger language than previous Democratic platforms, Mr. Obama’s party “strongly and unequivocally” supports Roe v. Wade and pledges to oppose any efforts to “weaken or undermine it.”

Moreover, Mr. Obama is a cosponsor of the “Freedom of Choice Act” that, contrary to a Supreme Court’s decision, will make partial-birth abortion (a prelude to instant infanticide) legal again. Mr. Obama and his party are also against the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayers’ dollars to pay for abortions.

So, while the Democratic Party platform graciously permits a woman to carry a child to term, it strictly removes any and all impediments to abortion. Indeed, its standard-bearer, while in the Illinois state legislature, voted to block a bill requiring the doctor performing an abortion to notify at least one parent before proceeding on a girl of minor age from another state.

On the equally uncompromising Republican side of this war, its platform affirms that “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life that cannot be infringed.” It goes further, bringing back a pledge to add “a human life amendment to the Constitution,” and the platform supports legislation to make the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws” apply to unborn children. (Conceivably, that amendment would also apply to a baby born alive after a botched abortion, although Mr. Obama has repeatedly rejected protections for those children.)

Mr. McCain, while heralding a strong pro-life voting record, does, however, make exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the mother. Gov. Sarah Palin does not accept rape and incest exceptions. Mr. McCain has even pledged that, in nominating justices for the Supreme Court, their views on abortion would not be “a litmus test” for his decisions.

In the past, Mr. McCain urged that those three exceptions to abortion be included in the party platform, but he didn’t when he spoke in St. Paul. Mr. McCain told Glamour magazine on July 30 that he “had not gotten into the platform discussions.” (Reported by Katharine Seelye in the Aug. 1 New York Times.)

Indeed, Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio, one of six Christian conservative organizers in that state who met with Mr. McCain in June says, according to the Sept. 3 New York Times: “‘For me this election is primarily about the next Supreme Court appointments.”

Mr. Burress said that Mr. McCain “won him over,” the Times reported. Mr. Burress added that “John McCain, unlike most politicians, will not be bullied, threatened, paid off or pressured into changing his position” concerning Supreme Court appointments.

But has Mr. McCain now changed his position on no “litmus test” for Supreme Court nominees?

Clearly, the generals on both sides of the abortion wars during this presidential campaign will stand firm. And Mrs. Palin is unshakably pro-life, while Sen. Joe Biden has (The Nation, Nov. 26, 2007) “100 percent ratings from Planned Parenthood.” And, of course, Planned Parenthood is ardently supporting Mr. Obama.

An Aug. 25 editorial, “Planned Parenthood targets blacks,” in the Washington Times notes that one-third of all abortions performed by Planned Parenthood in 2007 were on blacks, and a majority of Planned Parenthood’s clinics are in minority neighborhoods.”

Since I am pro-life, I have often quoted a previous black candidate for the presidency, who, before he decided to run for that office, said: “Don’t let the pro-choicers convince you that a fetus isn’t a human being. That’s how the whites dehumanized us… The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong.”

That powerful preacher was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who later became pro-choice. He supports Mr. Obama. Opposing Mr. Obama is conservative black Los Angeles minister, the Rev. Jesse Peterson. Protesting outside a Planned Parenthood office in April, he told the crowd: “Before you go to bed tonight, more than 1,500 babies will be killed in a black woman’s womb.”

No matter who is elected president, this war will not cease.

Nat Hentoff’s column for the Washington Times appears on Mondays.

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