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Monday, January 24, 2011
The President and Roe V. Wade
When Barack Obama was running for President, he was described by some observers as one of the most radical candidates in the nation’s history in terms of support for abortion. Once in office, President Obama has done little to dispel that judgment. Even as the President is tracking to the middle on many issues, this is not the case when it comes to abortion.
This past Saturday, on the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the President issued a statement that is remarkable, even for presidents who support legalized abortion. The President’s statement included not one word that indicated any recognition that abortion is in any case or in any sense a tragedy. There was not even a passing reference to the unborn child. President Obama did not even use the language used disingenuously by President Bill Clinton — the pledge that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”
“Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters,” the President stated. That “fundamental principle” was not actually the principle claimed by the Supreme Court, which located the “right” to abortion with the woman, not with a family.
The President continued: “I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.” So, the President of the United States puts his high office behind his hope to “encourage healthy relationships,” but not behind any effort even to reduce the number of abortions in this country. Currently, in America one out of five pregnancies ends in abortion.
As he concluded his brief statement, the President said: “And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”
That paragraph is just a recitation of the feminist argument that was enshrined in Roe v. Wade — that women, no more than men, should be encumbered by the professional and personal limitations required by a pregnancy. That logic is enshrined as orthodoxy within the Democratic Party, and President Obama is one of its most ardent defenders.
Ever since Barack Obama emerged on the national political scene, he has been promoted and protected by a corps of preachers and religious leaders who have tried their best to explain that he is not so pro-abortion as he seems. Nevertheless, his record is all too clear — as is this most recent statement. There was not one expression of abortion as a national tragedy, even as a report recently indicated that almost 60 percent of all pregnancies among African American women in New York City end in abortion.
How can any President of the United States fail to address this unspeakable tragedy? There was no hope expressed that abortion would be rare, only the expression that he would remain “committed to protecting this constitutional right.” The only words that even insinuate any hypothetical reduction in abortion were addressed to reducing “unintended pregnancies” and promoting adoption. But no goal of reducing abortion was stated or even obliquely suggested. No reference at all was made of the unborn child. There was no lament — not even a throwaway line that would cost him nothing in terms of his support from abortion rights forces.
These words were not imposed upon this President. This is his own personal statement. It is one of the most revealing — and tragic — statements made by any political figure in our times.