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BY Robert P. George
is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of president
of the United States.
Yet, there are Catholics who
aggressively promote Obama’s candidacy and even declare him the preferred
candidate from the pro-life point of view.
This is a spectacular error of
Sen. Obama would repeal the Hyde
Amendment, which protects pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions
that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of
rape or incest. The abortion industry laments that this longstanding federal
law, according to the pro-abortion group NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action
League), “forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to
carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes
instead.” In other words, a whole lot of people who are alive today would have
been exterminated in utero were it not for the
Hyde Amendment. Obama has promised to reverse the situation so that abortions
that the industry complains are not happening (because the federal government
is not subsidizing them) would happen.
this barely scratches the surface of Obama’s extremism. He has promised that
“the first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” (known
as FOCA). This proposed legislation would create a federally guaranteed
“fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy,
including, as Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has noted in a statement
condemning the proposed act, “a right to abort a fully developed child in the
final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons.” In essence, FOCA would abolish
virtually every existing state and federal limitation on abortion, including
parental consent and notification laws for minors, state and federal funding
restrictions on abortion, and conscience protections for pro-life citizens
working in the health-care industry — protections against being forced to participate
in the practice of abortion or else lose their jobs. The pro-abortion National
Organization for Women has proclaimed with approval that FOCA would “sweep away
hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.”
It gets worse. Obama opposed the ban
on partial-birth abortions when he served in the Illinois Legislature and
condemned the Supreme Court decision that upheld legislation banning this
heinous practice. He has referred to a baby conceived inadvertently by a young
woman as a “punishment” that she should not endure. He has stated that women’s
equality requires access to abortion on demand. Appallingly, he wishes to strip
federal funding from pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers that provide
alternatives to abortion for pregnant women in need.
But it gets even worse. Sen. Obama
has not endorsed or offered support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, the
signature bill of Democrats for Life, meant to reduce abortions by providing
assistance for women facing crisis pregnancies. In fact, Obama has opposed
key provisions of the act, including providing coverage of unborn children in
the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and informed consent for
women about the effects of abortion and the gestational age of their children.
This legislation would not make a single abortion illegal. It simply seeks to
make it easier for pregnant women to make the choice not to abort their babies.
Even ultra-liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy voted to include coverage of unborn
children in SCHIP. But Barack Obama opposed it.
It gets worse yet.
In an act of breathtaking injustice which the Obama campaign lied about until
critics produced documentary proof of what he had done, as an Illinois state
senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born
alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to
kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to
viability. This legislation would not have banned any abortions. Indeed, it
included a specific provision ensuring that it did not affect abortion laws.
(This is one of the points Obama and his campaign lied about until they were
caught.) The federal version of the bill passed unanimously in the United
States Senate. But Barack Obama opposed it and worked to defeat it. For him, a
child marked for abortion gets no protection — even ordinary medical or comfort
care — even if she is born alive and entirely separated from her mother. So
Obama has favored protecting what is literally a form of infanticide.
You may be thinking, it
can’t get worse. But it does.
For several years, Americans have
been debating the use for biomedical research of embryos produced by in vitro
fertilization (originally for reproductive purposes) but now left in
a frozen condition in cryopreservation units. President Bush has restricted the
use of federal funds for stem-cell research of the type that makes use of these
embryos and destroys them in the process. I support the President’s
restriction, but some legislators with excellent pro-life records, including
John McCain, argue that the use of federal money should be permitted where the
embryos are going to be discarded or die anyway as the result of the parents’
decision. Sen. Obama, too, wants to lift the restriction.
But Obama would not stop there. He
has co-sponsored a bill — strongly opposed by McCain — that would authorize the
large-scale industrial production of human embryos for use in biomedical
research in which they would be killed. In fact, the bill Obama co-sponsored
would effectively require the killing
of human beings in the embryonic stage that were produced by cloning. It would
make it a federal crime for a woman to save an embryo by agreeing to have the
tiny developing human being implanted in her womb so that he or she could be
brought to term. This “clone and kill” bill would, if enacted, bring something
to America that has heretofore existed only in China — the equivalent of
legally mandated abortion. In an audacious act of deceit, Obama and his
co-sponsors misleadingly call this an anti-cloning bill.
But it is nothing of the kind. What it bans is not cloning, but allowing the
embryonic children produced by cloning to survive.
Can it get still worse? Yes.
Decent people of every persuasion
hold out the increasingly realistic hope of resolving the moral issue
surrounding embryonic stem-cell research by developing methods to produce the
exact equivalent of embryonic stem cells without using (or producing) embryos.
But when a bill was introduced in the United States Senate to put a modest
amount of federal money into research to develop these methods, Barack Obama
was one of the few senators who opposed it. From any rational vantage point,
this is unconscionable. Why would someone not wish to find a method of
producing the pluripotent cells scientists want that all Americans could
enthusiastically endorse? Why create and kill human embryos when there are
alternatives that do not require the taking of nascent human lives? It is as if
Obama is opposed to stem-cell research unless it involves
killing human embryos.
This ultimate manifestation of
Obama’s extremism brings us back to the puzzle of his pro-life Catholic and
evangelical apologists. They typically do not deny the facts I have reported.
Each fact is a matter of public record.
But despite Obama’s injustices
against the most vulnerable human beings, and despite the extraordinary support
he receives from the industry that profits from killing the unborn, some Obama
supporters insist that he is the better candidate from a pro-life point of
They say that his economic and
social policies would so diminish the demand for abortion that the overall
number would actually go down — despite the federal subsidizing of abortion and
the elimination of hundreds of pro-life laws. The way to save lots of unborn
babies, they say, is to vote for the “pro-choice” candidate. They tell us not
to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against
funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience
protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research.
They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the
Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion and human cloning and embryo
killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn.
This is delusional.
We know that the federal and state
pro-life laws and policies that Obama has promised to sweep away (and that John
McCain would protect) save thousands of lives every year. Planned Parenthood’s
own statistics show that in each of the seven states that have FOCA-type
legislation on the books, “abortion rates have increased while the national
rate has decreased.” In Maryland, where a bill similar to the one favored by
Obama was enacted in 1991, he notes that “abortion rates have increased
by 8% while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9%.” The
message clearly conveyed by policies such as those Obama favors is that
abortion is a legitimate solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies — so
clearly legitimate that taxpayers should be forced to pay for it.
But for a moment let’s suppose,
against all the evidence, that Obama’s proposals would
reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with
taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed
under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic
majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing
the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in
which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny
humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient
human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives
saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion — even if we take a
delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.
Barack Obama’s America is one in
which being human just isn’t enough to
warrant care and protection. It is an America where the unborn may legitimately
be killed without legal restriction, even by the grisly practice of
partial-birth abortion. It is an America where a baby who survives abortion is
not even entitled to comfort care as she dies on a stainless steel table or in
a soiled linen bin.
When asked by Rick Warren when a
baby gets human rights, Obama replied: “that question is above my pay grade.”
But his record reveals his true answer: Human beings have no rights until
infancy — and if they are unwanted survivors of attempted abortions, not even then.
The efforts of Obama’s Catholic
apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate don’t even amount
to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in
American history is not the way to save unborn babies.
Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of
Jurisprudence at Princeton University.
He is a member of the President’s
Council on Bioethics.
George wrote a longer version of this essay for