But What About This, Barack?

(photo: AFP)

Sen. Barack Obama finally touched on abortion in the presidential debates last evening.

In last night’s debate, the Democratic presidential candidate glossed over his consistent support for abortion rights, his promise to sign into law the abortion lobby’s Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) legislation as his first act if elected president, and his commitment to nominate only pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court.

What Obama chose to highlight instead — as he generally does when speaking to a national audience rather than to Democratic Party faithful who are likelier to cheer the Illinois senator’s 100% pro-abortion rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America — was his claim that the debate over whether abortion should remain legal is not central to the goal of reducing abortions.

What really counts, Obama argued, is the implementation of social policies that allegedly will reduce the incidence of abortion whether on not there are legal restrictions on abortion.

Princeton law professor Robert George has this to say about that argument in an essay published this week entitled “Obama’s Abortion Extremism”:

“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. Studies conducted by Professor Michael New and other social scientists have removed any doubt. Often enough, the abortion lobby itself confirms the truth of what these scholars have determined. Tom McClusky has observed that 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 percent while the overall national abortion rate decreased by 9 percent.’ No one is really surprised. After all, 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 and John McCain differ on many important issues about which reasonable people of goodwill, including pro-life Americans of every faith, disagree: how best to fight international terrorism, how to restore economic growth and prosperity, how to distribute the tax burden and reduce poverty, etc.

“But on abortion and the industrial creation of embryos for destructive research, there is a profound difference of moral principle, not just prudence. These questions reveal the character and judgment of each man. Barack Obama is deeply committed to the belief that members of an entire class of human beings have no rights that others must respect. Across the spectrum of pro-life concerns for the unborn, he would deny these small and vulnerable members of the human family the basic protection of the laws. Over the next four to eight years, as many as five or even six U.S. Supreme Court justices could retire. Obama enthusiastically supports Roe v. Wade and would appoint judges who would protect that morally and constitutionally disastrous decision and even expand its scope. Indeed, in an interview in Glamour magazine, he made it clear that he would apply a litmus test for Supreme Court nominations: jurists who do not support Roe will not be considered for appointment by Obama. John McCain, by contrast, opposes Roe and would appoint judges likely to overturn it. This would not make abortion illegal, but it would return the issue to the forums of democratic deliberation, where pro-life Americans could engage in a fair debate to persuade fellow citizens that killing the unborn is no way to address the problems of pregnant women in need.

“What kind of America do we want our beloved nation to 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. It is a nation in which some members of the human family are regarded as inferior and others superior in fundamental dignity and rights. In Obama’s America, public policy would make a mockery of the great constitutional principle of the equal protection of the law. In perhaps the most telling comment made by any candidate in either party in this election year, Senator Obama, when asked by Rick Warren when a baby gets human rights, replied: ‘that question is above my pay grade.’ It was a profoundly disingenuous answer: For even at a state senator’s pay grade, Obama presumed to answer that question with blind certainty. His unspoken answer then, as now, is chilling: human beings have no rights until infancy — and if they are unwanted survivors of attempted abortions, not even then.”

The entire text of Prof. George’s essay can be viewed here.

Prof. George graciously provided a condensed version of his essay to the Register. It’s published here in our Oct. 26 issue.

— Tom McFeely