I was once strongly inclined to vote for Barack Obama for president (assuming he won his party's nomination) based on his record as a community organizer in Chicago and in the Illinois state legislature. He's had nitty-gritty street experiences absent in the resumes of most aspirants for the Oval Office: He worked in poor neighborhoods to get job training for the unemployed and found ways to reach school dropouts. And in the legislature, he got a bill passed to mandate electronic police recording of interrogations in homicide cases. But then I learned Obama's voting record on abortion.
I am a nonreligious pro-lifer, my only religion being the Constitution. And I am not a single-issue voter, having often supported candidates who are pro-choice because I knew their civil liberties and civil rights records. For one example, I was a great admirer of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. (New York, where I live, has had no senators of his quality and principles since.)
Although Moynihan was pro-abortion, he strongly opposed partial-birth abortion, which he described as "only minutes away from infanticide," since the fetus (whom I regard as a human being) was already clearly among us.
I oppose extremists on all sides of issues, having, for instance, argued for hours with and against some so-called pro-lifers who considered part of their mission to commit violence, even homicide, where abortions were performed.
I admire much of Obama's record, including what he wrote in "The Audacity of Hope" about the Founders' "rejection of all forms of absolute authority, whether the king, the theocrat, the general, the oligarch, the dictator, the majority ... George Washington declined the crown because of this impulse."
But on abortion, Obama is an extremist. He has opposed the Supreme Court decision that finally upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act against that form of infanticide. Most startlingly, for a professed humanist, Obama in the Illinois Senate also voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. I have reported on several of those cases when, before the abortion was completed, an alive infant was suddenly in the room. It was disposed of as a horrified nurse who was not necessarily pro-life followed the doctors' orders to put the baby in a pail or otherwise get rid of the child.
As a longtime columnist, John Leo has written of this form of fatal discrimination, these "mistakes" during an abortion, once born, cannot be "killed or allowed to die simply because they are unwanted."
Furthermore, as "National Right to Life News" (April issue) included in its account of Obama's actual votes on abortion, he "voted to kill a bill that would have required an abortionist to notify at least one parent before performing an abortion on a minor girl from another state."
These are conspiracies and that's the word by pro-abortion extremists to transport a minor girl across state lines from where she lives, unbeknownst to her parents. This assumes that a minor fully understands the consequences of that irredeemable act.
As I was researching this presidential candidate's views on the unilateral "choice" that takes another's life, I heard on the radio what Obama said during a Johnstown, Pa., town hall meeting on March 29 as he was discussing the continuing dangers of exposure to HIV/AIDS infections:
"When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include which should include abstinence education and 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 am going to teach them first of all about values and morals.
"But if they make a mistake," Obama continued, "I don't want them punished with a baby."
Among my children and grandchildren are two daughters and three granddaughters; and when I hear anyone, including a presidential candidate, equate having a baby as punishment, I realize with particular force the impact that the millions of legal abortions in this country have had on respect for human life.
On Feb. 27, testifying before the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, were a number of young witnesses from a pro-life organization. Among them, 15-year-old Mariah Smet:
"Whenever we talk about abortion, suddenly it's not an unborn child anymore. Instead, people use words like 'fetus' or 'embryo' or 'blob of tissue.'... After an abortion, there is nothing except death ... 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion, and 47 percent of women having abortions have had more than one."
And in a letter to the April 12 Washington Times, Lawrence Finer of the essentially pro-choice Gutmacher Institute (whose research is nonpartisan) said, in the interests of accuracy, that "Black women accounted for 37 percent of abortions performed in the United States in 2004" (the most recent year for which data are available).
Is candidate Obama pleased those women were not "punished" with babies?