Monday, September 29, 2008


Now that I'm back and have had a chance to catch my breath, let's talk about abortion, shall we? Won't that be fun?

There are a number of un-subtle ads out there on both sides that portray each presidential candidate's position as about the most extreme you can have.

Instead of looking at each candidate's opponent's portrayal, let's look at what the candidates' supporters say about their records.

Senator McCain's record, according to the National Right to Life PAC, includes the following:

John McCain supports overturning Roe v. Wade. He voted against an amendment that read, “It is the sense of the Senate that the decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade was appropriate and secures an important constitutional right; and such decision should not be overturned.”

John McCain voted in favor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. When the Act was upheld by the Supreme Court on April 18, 2007, Sen. McCain said, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those who cherish the sanctity of life and integrity of the judiciary. The ruling ensures that an unacceptable and unjustifiable practice will not be carried out on our innocent children.”

John McCain voted in favor of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (“Laci and Conner’s Law”). Thebill establishes that when an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of a violent federal crime, the assailant may be charged with a second offense on behalf of the second victim, the unborn child.

John McCain voted in support of a bill to require an abortionist to notify a parent before performing an abortion on a minor who lives in another state.

John McCain opposes the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), a bill which would prohibit states from placing limits on abortion, including the types now permitted by the Supreme Court, such as parental involvement laws and waiting periods, and which would make partial-birth abortion legal again.

John McCain voted against an amendment to nullify the “Mexico City Policy.” The Mexico City Policy cut off U.S. “family planning” funds to private organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas.

John McCain voted against repealing the law that prohibits performance of elective abortions in military medical facilities.

At a speech at Wake Forest University, John McCain described the kind of people he would nominate to the Supreme Court. “I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice [John] Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me.”
Senator Obama's record as reported by NARAL Pro-Choice America:
Sen. Barack Obama has served in the U.S. Senate since 2005. During that time, he has cast 13 votes on abortion and other reproductive‐rights issues. All 13 of those votes were pro‐choice. In addition to his pro‐choice record, Sen. Obama has cosponsored legislation that would prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion. A description of Sen. Obama’s key votes, a selection of pro‐choice bills he has authored and cosponsored, and a selection of his public statements on reproductive‐health issues follow.

Preserving Roe v. Wade and a Woman’s Right to Choose
+Voted against a measure to codify a controversial regulation that allows states to make an embryo or fetus – but not a pregnant woman – eligible for health‐care coverage.
Voted against two anti‐choice U.S. Supreme Court nominees:
+Samuel Alito, nominated to be associate justice. After joining the Court, Justice Alito cast the deciding vote upholding the Federal Abortion Ban, a ban that criminalizes some abortion services, with no exception to protect a woman’s health, and carries up to a two‐year prison sentence for doctors.
+John Roberts, nominated to be chief justice. After joining the Court, Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, a ban that criminalizes some abortion services, with no exception to protect a woman’s health, and carries up to a two‐year prison sentence for doctors.
Voted against three anti‐choice lower federal court judicial nominees:
[William Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown,Priscilla Owen -- details at website]

Ensuring Access to Abortion Services
+Voted against a law that would have jeopardized young women’s health and safety by making it a federal crime for anyone other than a parent – including a grandparent, adult sibling, or religious counselor – to accompany a young woman across state lines for abortion care if the home state parental‐involvement mandate has not been met.
+Voted against a proposal that would have endangered young women’s health and safety by imposing a new, impossibly complex national patchwork of parental‐notification mandates on doctors and young women.

Protecting Women and Their Doctors
+Voted to amend bankruptcy laws so that perpetrators of violence or harassment at reproductive‐health clinics cannot evade financial responsibility for their illegal activities.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy
+Voted in favor of funding teen‐pregnancy‐prevention programs and ensuring that “abstinence‐only” programs are medically accurate.
+Voted to repeal the global gag rule, a policy that bans overseas health clinics from receiving U.S. family‐planning aid if they use their own funds to provide legal abortion services, give referrals, or even take a public pro‐choice position.
+Voted for legislation that would have prevented unintended pregnancy by investing in insurance coverage of prescription birth control, promoting family-planning services, implementing teen‐pregnancy‐prevention programs, and developing programs to increase awareness about emergency contraception.

Sponsorship of Selected Pieces of Pro‐Choice Legislation
+Authored legislation to fix the birth‐control pricing crisis facing millions of low‐income women across the country today.
+Original cosponsor of the Prevention First Act, a package of proposals that increases funds for family‐planning services, assures contraceptive equity in health‐insurance plans, ensures young people receive honest, accurate sex education, and improves women’s access to emergency contraception, among other provisions.
+Cosponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify the tenets of Roe v. Wade in federal law and protect the right to choose for future generations.

In His Own Words
• Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign website states his position on choice this way: “Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President…. Barack Obama is an original co‐sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.”
• “I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved and wrestled with her conscience when making that heart‐wrenching decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.”
• “Now, the ability for a woman to make decisions about how many children to have and when – without interference from the government – is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have. We all know, becoming a parent is one of the most – if not the most – important jobs there is. No one should make that decision for a woman and her family but them. And we must keep defending their right to choose in the years to come. But even as we defend this right, it’s important for us to acknowledge the moral dimension to the choice that’s made.”
• “Obama will oppose arbitrary and harmful restrictions to abortion, advocate for measures requiring health insurance providers to cover contraceptives, and fight to preserve access to RU‐486. Obama will seek to reverse the Global Gag Rule and to increase funding for women’s health programs, both here and abroad.”

The differences really are quite stark: Senator Obama co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act and Senator McCain voted against it. The strange thing about these negative ads is that single-issue voters wouldn't need to be convinced of the extremes; the differences on the positions are clear enough as it is.

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