Is Obama Pro-Choice or Pro-Abortion?

There is a difference between being pro-choice and being pro-abortion. In other words, “pro-choice” is not just a euphemism for “pro-abortion.” The pro-abortion position is far more extreme than the pro-choice position. I’ll refer you to an argument for that in a moment.

First let’s ask the question: Is presidential candidate Barack Obama pro-choice or pro-abortion? In his public statements he has said he is pro-choice and that no one is pro-abortion. If he didn’t know better, I’d say this is naive. But he does know better, and his own record and future policy plans demonstrate that Barack Obama is pro-abortion. In fact, he is pro-abortion in the extreme. He is pro-actively pro-abortion.

I must confess, I find it difficult to believe that any American has such extreme views and will do everything in his power to make them a matter of enforceable law. But a recent article by Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence, Robert P. George, makes the case with compelling force. If Professor George is right, then Americans who plan to vote in this election need to consider this carefully before they make their presidential choice. I urge you to read “Obama’s Abortion Extremism” at your earliest opportunity.

Here is the opening paragraph in Professor George’s chilling expose:

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Near the end of his piece, Professor George writes:

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.

Some reading this post may be thinking . . .

  • ‘Pro-choice’ . . . ‘pro-abortion,’ whatever—it’s just semantics.
  • I’m not a single-issue voter, and Obama’s strengths in other areas trump his weakness on this point.
  • I believe Obama is honest and sincere and has no hidden agendas. The Princeton professor must be the one with a hidden agenda.
  • There may be a handful of Americans who are pro-abortion extremists, and this is abhorrent and disgusting; but there’s no way a United States Senator on the cusp of winning a presidential election could possibly be this extreme.
  • This is the first opportunity to elect a person of color to the highest office in our Republic, and I’m willing to take a chance on Obama because of this unprecedented opportunity.

I assure you, we are not talking semantics here.

I understand the single-issue concern. But there are two things to say in this case. First, Obama’s unprecedented extremism on abortion is so extreme that no good he could possibly achieve as president could compensate for the permanent damage of his pro-abortion policies—not only to the unborn and the newly-born, but to many health-care professionals and women. Second, this is not a single-issue issue at all. If successful, Obama’s plan will constrain fundamental human liberties for many besides the unborn and the newly-born. Obama’s position on abortion is symptomatic of a political philosophy that is a direct threat to democratic freedom.

What about Obama’s honesty? You can’t tell whether a man is honest just by watching him on TV. You have to study his record and cross-examine his claims. Professor George does this in his article. Obama is not going to volunteer to go on television and talk about his position with this professor of jurisprudence. At most, he will make denials, not arguments that deal with the details of his record. Obama’s agenda, whatever it is, is hidden. By that I mean that he has not been candid about things we should like to know about him. If Professor George has an agenda, he at least has been clear in his claims and he has built a mountain of evidence that cannot simply be dismissed.

There is an extreme pro-abortion movement in this country. Leaders in the movement have been working a strategy for decades. They’ve raised millions of dollars. They understand the American democratic process. They have settled for small victories through less extreme advocates of a pro-choice position. They’ve patiently recruited charismatic individuals to their cause and groomed them for leadership of the movement for the next generation. It would be naive to believe anything else. The tectonic plates in this country are shifting. There is no reason why a major party candidate for the presidency could not, with the help of a minority of powerful insiders, sneak past the electorate into office with an agenda to “change the way politics is done in America,” an agenda that will challenge the moral integrity of American citizens and threaten social stability.

Barack Obama is the first black candidate on a major party ticket. Black men and women have every reason to be proud of the many black leaders, in business, in education, in politics, in the military. Every American should be proud of the progress that’s been made to break down racial barriers and ensure equal opportunity for all who share the American dream. I fully expect that we will eventually have a black president, and I welcome that prospect. I would encourage any voter who is eager to see a black person in that high office make that moment count. If Barack Obama is sworn in as President in January, that will be a historic moment, a proud moment for many black men, women and children. Many others besides will be excited and enthusiastic, and rightly so. But what will become of their pride if Obama disappoints and injects into our shared political bloodstream an ideology that threatens our core values as freedom-loving Americans?

Obama’s position on abortion and other fundamental issues has that potential. I predict, given his record, that this will be the effect if he is elected. Our social and political immune system will be tested then. But it is being tested now, as we contemplate the important choice of president in less than two weeks.

No one of us as individuals will ever have the kind of power a President Barack Obama would have to directly and profoundly influence abortion policy in this country. But we do make the decision whether Obama is invested with that kind of power and opportunity as one individual to transform our culture. And the outcome will be our responsibility.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

9 Responses to Is Obama Pro-Choice or Pro-Abortion?

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Gary,

    That’s an excellent question. Also, Obama will find (if he didn’t already know) that he’ll be using his office as a bully pulpit for various causes—many of them liberal, I’m afraid.

    -Doug

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  2. Gary says:

    Rick Warren should have followed up Obama’s response “that question is above my pay grade.” with something like, “Shouldn’t we err on the side of safety until we know for sure?” Would he walk on a frozen lake if he did not know if the ice was thick enough to support him?

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  3. Paul says:

    As I’ve said before, “Any individual who supports legislation or a Constitution that permits the free choice to take unnecessarily the lives of innocent, defenseless (unborn) human persons is not morally equipped for the office of the presidency of the United States (this is not to say that being “morally equipped” is sufficient criteria for the office, but it is certainly necessary criteria).” See http://inchristus.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/why-i-cant-vote-for-obama/ for the full argument.

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  4. Credo says:

    I just don’t get this phenomenon. Pro-life republicans voting for Obama? I wonder if it’s the rhetoric employed by Obama and his supporters [in the media]. I feel that if I am against Obama (thus for McCain) that I am backwards, weird, neanderthal, etc. Obama is so intelligent, nuanced, etc. Pro-lifers, as an “organism”, seem to have only been able to take the rhetorical blasts for so long. Now we want to seem nuanced, too. Of course, there are many other psychological reasons for this move, but I am not a psychologist and I do not play one on TV (just blogs).
    I am so distressed about this and I am very thankful for Doug and folks like him who have some sway over young pro-lifers that are being pulled into the rhetorical trap.

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  5. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Alex,

    Obama is more pro-life? The evidence for this? “Obama will address the causes of abortion.” So he wants to have a sit-down with all the women contemplating abortions and chat with them, without pre-conditions? I don’t think so.

    There are really two things to say about this: (1) What exactly are the causes of abortion, according to Obama, and how does he plan to addess them? (2) Look closely at the agenda of Planned Parenthood and bear in mind that Obama is an outspoken supporter of this group. Does that look pro-life?

    Here’s another for good measure: (3) Maybe the messiah’s solution is sterilization. It’s been tried before.

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  6. Alex says:

    Doug,

    I’ve been advancing the ‘if you’re pro-life, you oughtn’t vote Obama’ argument and the George piece made my argument seem entirely incomplete. George’s piece, I think, is a knock down argument for any pro-lifer wavering on whether to vote for or against Obama. I know ‘knock-down’ arguments are rare-breeds, but if they aren’t extinct, this is surely one.

    Many of my pro-life friends sent me as a supposed rebuttal to arguments like George’s the following rebuttal: Obama is more pro-life than McCain because Obama will address the causes of abortion rather than the myopic pro-life policy which only wishes to criminalize the practice.

    Of course, there are obvious problems with this reasoning. Criminalizing abortion would, it seems, drastically reduce the number of abortions. The means of reduction often use abortion (the abortifacient, morning-after pill … ahem… “emergency contraception”). The desire to reduce abortion is necessary but is not sufficient to be pro-life.

    I’m curious to hear the sort of way you’d address this common rebuttal.

    Many thanks for your measured rhetoric and careful reasoning.

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  7. Doug Geivett says:

    Thanks, Gary. The additional link to Levin is helpful.

    You ask about my claim that Obama’s pro-abortion position is symptomatic of a repugnant political philosophy. To be brief, I draw attention to Obama’s intention to establish and enforce laws that require pro-life health-care professionals to participate in abortion practices as extreme as the ones Obama supports—this despite their moral principles.

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  8. Gary says:

    I enjoyed your post, Doug. Particularly telling was Obama’s response during the last Presidential debate regarding his opposition to the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The Robert George & Yuval Levin article on this, entitled, “Obama and Infanticide” can be found at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.16_George_Robert_Obama%20and%20Infanticide_.xml

    I would love for you to expand on your statement, “Obama’s position on abortion is symptomatic of a political philosophy that is a direct threat to democratic freedom.”

    What is the nature and end of this political philosophy and what is the philosophical sequence behind it? Is it Immanuel Kant’s hard agnosticism, to relativism, to pluralism?

    On my view, freedom once stood for the opportunity to choose the good now it seems a growing crowd is changing it to mean license to do whatever one desires regardless of harm to others. Frightening stuff.

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  9. Brent says:

    Reading the George piece left me stunned, to say the least. I knew some of the information but was ignorant of the depth of his abortion roots. Thanks for posting this, Doug.

    Like

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