Wash. Post's Gerson suggested Obama should "come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions" -- even though he already has

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson suggested that Sen. Barack Obama should "come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions -- support for pregnant women, abstinence education, the responsible promotion of birth control." In fact, Obama has advocated the policies Gerson mentioned: "education" that "include[s] abstinence" and "information about contraception."

In his April 2 Washington Post column, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President Bush, claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's "record on abortion is extreme," citing as evidence Obama's claim "that he would not want his daughters to be 'punished with a baby' because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life." Gerson went on to write that Obama "could take the wise counsel of evangelical Democrats such as Amy Sullivan and come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions -- support for pregnant women, abstinence education, the responsible promotion of birth control." Gerson failed to note, however, that in the same remarks in which he said that he "would not want his daughters to be 'punished with a baby,' " Obama advocated the "policies" Gerson suggested he "come out strongly for" -- specifically, "education" that "include[s] abstinence" and "information about contraception."

Gerson also claimed that Sen. Bob Casey Jr.'s (D-PA) endorsement of Obama "recalled another dramatic moment in Democratic politics. In the summer of 1992, as Bill Clinton solidified his control over the Democratic Party, Robert P. Casey Sr., the senator's father, was banned from speaking to the Democratic convention for the heresy of being pro-life." As Media Matters for America has noted, several Democrats who opposed abortion rights spoke at the 1992 convention and at every subsequent convention.

CNN reported on March 29 that Obama, responding to a question at a campaign event "about how his administration, if he's elected, would deal with the issue of HIV and AIDS and also sexually transmitted diseases with young girls," said, in part:

OBAMA: So, when it comes to -- when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence only -- should include abstinence education and teaching that children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.

You know, so, it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions. That will be important, number one. Then we're still going to have to provide better treatment for those who do have -- who do contract HIV/AIDS, because it's no longer a death sentence, if, in fact, you get the proper cocktails. It's expensive. That's why we want to prevent as much as possible.

From Gerson's April 2 Washington Post column:

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.'s endorsement of Barack Obama last week -- "I believe in this guy like I've never believed in a candidate in my life" -- recalled another dramatic moment in Democratic politics. In the summer of 1992, as Bill Clinton solidified his control over the Democratic Party, Robert P. Casey Sr., the senator's father, was banned from speaking to the Democratic convention for the heresy of being pro-life.

[...]

But Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.

[...]

Having endorsed partial-birth abortion, Obama has little room to maneuver on the broader issue. But he does have some. He could take the wise counsel of evangelical Democrats such as Amy Sullivan and come out strongly for policies that would reduce the number of abortions -- support for pregnant women, abstinence education, the responsible promotion of birth control. An organization called Democrats for Life has proposed the creation of a "95-10 Initiative" in which states and the federal government would work toward the reduction of abortion rates by 95 percent within 10 years. That would be a unifying national goal.

Posted In
Elections, Health Care, Reproductive Rights
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Michael Gerson
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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