A philosophical shift has taken place in the abortion rights movement. After confronting either a pro-life president or a pro-life majority in Congress for 26 of the last 28 years, abortion advocates have now secured sympathetic majorities in all three branches of government.
And change in government has brought change to a movement that’s moved beyond working to secure a woman’s right to choose abortion. Its new goal is much more audacious - to coerce others into violating their consciences and participating in the murder of innocent human life. It’s a shift from merely being “pro-choice” to being “pro-abortion.”
This fundamental shift is personified most vividly in President Barack Obama. And it is exemplified most strikingly in his ambition to enact policies that would force millions of pro-life Americans to pay for and perform abortions.
Mr. Obama has made that ambition clear in the opening weeks of his presidency. On his fourth day in office, Mr. Obama overturned the Mexico City Policy, which required organizations that receive federal funds not to promote or perform abortions overseas. Now that this policy has been overturned, every American taxpayer is on the hook for abortions America exports to women in poor countries.
On the same day, Mr. Obama said he “looks forward” to giving taxpayer dollars to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which promotes abortion overseas. President Bush stopped funding for UNFPA when it was discovered that it had supported coercive population control tactics in China, including forced abortion and sterilization. If forcing American taxpayers to underwrite forced abortion practices in developing nations is not “pro-abortion,” what is?
Barack Obama also wants to continue using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the abortion industry to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. And he recently replied “no” when asked if he supports continuing federal funding for pro-life pregnancy resource centers, which provide women positive solutions to crisis pregnancies.
Finally, President Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, which prevents Medicaid and Medicare funds from going to abortions in most cases and has been in effect since 1976, and many experts expect abortion to be covered under any national health care plan produced by the Obama administration.
Mr. Obama’s blanket support for taxpayer-funded abortion comports with his belief that abortion, or what he calls “reproductive justice,” is “one of the most fundamental rights we possess.” But it conflicts with any authentic definition of choice, as well as the views of most Americans.
Polls consistently show that taxpayer funding of abortion is opposed by between 60 percent and 70 percent of Americans, including, apparently, Vice President Joe Biden. On “Meet the Press” in 2007, then a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden said he opposed public funding of abortion because it would “promote” abortion, rather than just permit it. Mr. Biden reiterated this view on the same show last fall, when he said, “I don’t support public funding… because that flips the burden. That’s then telling me I have to accept a different view.”
Polls also find overwhelming public support for the right of physicians not to perform abortions. And for more than 30 years, federal law has prohibited recipients of federal grants from forcing medical professionals to participate in abortion.
But those laws have often been ignored and health-care professionals pressured into violating their consciences. This reality led President Bush to issue an executive order called the Provider Conscience Clause, which reaffirms the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their consciences. President Bush’s conscience regulation took effect on Jan. 20.
As a senator, President Obama signed a letter opposing the regulation. Last Friday, administration officials started the process of overturning it.
If the Bush conscience provision were overturned, the result would be reminiscent of what happened in Massachusetts after its Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and adoption agencies were told not to discriminate against same-sex couples. Catholic Charities was forced to choose between closing its doors and violating one of the church’s most fundamental teachings. The upshot was that children in need of adoption were deprived of the state’s most effective adoption service.
In the same way, overturning the conscience provision would compel pro-life ob-gyns and other medical personnel either to relocate to freer jurisdictions or to leave the profession altogether. Either way, the burden would be felt most heavily by women who rely on the compassionate care of pro-life medical professionals.
Campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama promised to help end the bitter cultural wars that have tainted the last few decades of politics. In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama calls abortion “undeniably difficult,” “a very difficult issue,” “never a good thing” and “a wrenching moral issue.” Mr. Obama refers to himself as “pro-choice” and has said repeatedly, “I’m not pro-abortion.” But President Obama’s actions belie the sincerity of his declarations.
Americans hold differing views on abortion and under what circumstances it should be permitted. But Americans can agree there is nothing “pro-choice” about compelling taxpayers to pay for abortion. Nor is it “pro-choice” to force health-care workers to abandon their consciences at the clinic door. That’s exactly where they need them.
Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families. Daniel Allott is senior writer at Americans Values.