Novak falsely suggested Obama was discussing abortion when he made "punished with a baby" comment

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

In his column, Robert Novak wrote, "[Sen. Barack] Obama, while asserting that 'nobody is pro-abortion,' has said that if his two daughters 'make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby,' " falsely suggesting that Obama was discussing abortion when he said that if his two daughters were to "make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." However, as video of the campaign event at which Obama made his comments shows, he was not referring to abortion but was instead referring to sex education.

In his May 26 column, syndicated columnist Robert Novak falsely suggested that Sen. Barack Obama was discussing abortion when he said that if his two daughters were to "make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." Specifically, Novak wrote, "Obama, while asserting that 'nobody is pro-abortion,' has said that if his two daughters 'make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby.' " However, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, and as CNN's video of the campaign event at which Obama made his comments shows, Obama was not referring to abortion during the remarks from which Novak lifted the "I don't want them punished with a baby" comment, but was instead referring to sex education. Additionally, CNN reported that Obama's comments were in response to "a question 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."

From the March 29 edition of CNN's Ballot Bowl 2008, which reported on Obama's comments at a campaign event that day in Johnstown, Pennsylvania:

MARY SNOW (CNN correspondent): Welcome back to CNN's edition of Ballot Bowl. This is a chance for you to hear directly from the candidates. I'm Mary Snow in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Senator Barack Obama is holding a town hall meeting right now, taking questions from the audience. Let's go straight to Senator Barack Obama; he just was asked a question 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. Here's Senator Barack Obama.

OBAMA: -- or we give them really expensive surgery and we don't spend money on the front end keeping people healthy in the first place. 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 Novak's May 26 column:

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, whose Roman Catholic archdiocese covers northeast Kansas, on May 9 called on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to stop taking Communion until she disowns her support for the "serious moral evil" of abortion. That put the church in conflict with a rising star of the Democratic Party who is often described as a "moderate" and is perhaps the leading prospect to become Barack Obama's running mate.

Naumann also took Sebelius to task for her veto April 21 of a bill, passed by 2 to 1 margins in both houses of the Kansas Legislature, that would strengthen the state's ban on late-term abortions by authorizing private lawsuits against providers. Last year, she vetoed a bill requiring explicit medical reasons for a late abortion, and she vetoed other abortion legislation in 2006, 2005 and 2003.

Those positions are necessary for Democratic politicians to pass their party's pro-choice litmus test, but Sebelius's connection with abortion is more intimate. She is allied with the aggressive Kansas branch of Planned Parenthood in a bitter struggle with antiabortion activist District Attorney Phill Kline. There is substantial evidence she has been involved in what pro-life advocates term "laundering" abortion industry money for distribution to Kansas Democrats. Kansas is the fiercest state battleground in the abortion wars, making Kathleen Sebelius the national pro-choice poster girl.

[...]

In her 2006 abortion veto statement, Sebelius declared: "My Catholic faith teaches me that life is sacred. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong." Yet, a year later, Sebelius invited [George] Tiller and his staff to a party at the governor's mansion. She thanked Tiller for his generosity in helping to finance her election and Morrison's. Last May, Sebelius was featured at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in Kansas City.

Obama, while asserting that "nobody is pro-abortion," has said that if his two daughters "make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." Would Sebelius, an avowed Catholic, change her running mate's view that a baby is a punishment? When Naumann told the Kansas City Star this month that Sebelius must confess "scandalous behavior that has misled people into dangerous behavior," the governor's spokeswoman responded that "receiving Communion has not been a problem in the past for her." An answer came last week from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, in his online column, reproving "verbal gymnastics, good alibis and pious talk about 'personal opposition' to killing unborn children."

Posted In
Elections
Person
Robert Novak
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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