Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court, and also the day of the annual March For Life. It was also the anniversary of the day on which President Clinton had reversed Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which denies US funds slated for international family planning services to any organization which provides or refers people to abortions. And the anniversary of the day on which President Bush reinstated the policy.
Given that President Obama had promised to move quickly to rescind the policy again as Clinton had, news organizations ranging from Lifesite News to NPR reported that he would probably follow his predescessor’s lead by issuing an executive order on abortion on January 22nd as well. It was thus mildly surprising when the Christian Broadcasting Network broke the story that Obama would not rescind the policy on the day of the March for Life. A few Catholic progressives got carried away and scolded their anti-Obama bretheren for jumping the gun, and it was more widely suggested this was a sign of the sort of approach Obama would take to moral issues more widely: treading slowly and granting respect to his opponents views.
(Reuters) Jan 23 – U.S. President Barack Obama lifted restrictions on Friday on U.S. government funding for clinics or groups which provide abortion services or counseling for the procedure overseas. The restrictions have been dubbed the “Global Gag Rule” by critics.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday will lift restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, reversing a policy of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, an administration official said.
“It will be today. He’s going to make an executive order (lifting the global gag rule),” the official said.
I suspect this actually gives us a pretty good idea of how things will go on some of the high profile moral debates in politics on which Christians find themselves on the opposite side from the new administration. Obama possesses the political skill and class to avoid seeking to humiliate as well as defeat his opponents. He hesitated to deliver a defeat to the pro-life movement on the very day of their March For Life, and instead waited to do so quietly the next day.
Perhaps I’m cynical, but I suspect this is pretty much the compromise that we will get from President Obama on the abortion issue throughout his presidency: He will consent to avoid humiliating us in the most obvious ways, but will not actually change his agenda in the process.