Obama's New Politics and Abortion

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.

This morning Reuter reports:

(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.

Or perhaps “is about to”, as another Reuters story reports:

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.

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  1. Another interesting note is that Obama was invited to speak or send a message to the march but declined to do so (in his defense, Republican presidents have always sent messages, but never appeared). It seems like he isn’t interested in talking to let alone listening to the voices he claims to respect, 200,000 of them…


  2. Informative essay by Dick Morris in The Hill- quoted extensively by Prof. Dr. Limbaugh on Thursday broadcast. Speculating on likely modus operendi of Obama Administration in association with Dem allies on Capitol Hill. Burying messy controversial stuff- Fairness Doctrine, etc.- on page 474 of Bank Bailout Aid To Kumquat Growers And Other Stuff Bill. Maybe how FOCA will be sent forth, buried under language even the most dedicated legislator will not read in advance. Or as Roberta Flack sang in 70s- killing me softly with his song. Beware soft singers with big authority.

  3. 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.

    Exactly. We’ll get token nods that he “respects” our views, will not go out of his way to poke his finger in our eyes, and then he will go ahead with policies that our anathema to us.

    In this way, Obama may prove to be the polar opposite of GWB. Whereas Bush’s rhetoric left pro-lifers looking for more, the actual policies related to abortion were what we wanted.

    I really hope no one is naive enough to be taken in by Obama waiting an extra day to implement pernicious policies.

  4. I’m pleased that President Obama recognizes that we can defend ourselves and respect the dignity of those who mean us harm, but I wish and hope that one day he recognizes that we can defend women’s rights and respect the dignity of those not yet born.

  5. For a while, I was skeptical, but somewhat optimistic that I had judged Obama too harshly and maybe he was capable of being bipartisan and pragmatic. Then again, I realized why I have a tendency to be skeptical. This is horrid; expected, but still very very terrible. This is not “common ground.”

    And yes, Kyle — I’m a paying member of FFL (Feminists for Life of America) and that’s one of the mottos: to be pro-woman is to be pro-life.

  6. I’m not sure why it seems to be expected that pro-lifers should be grateful to have their noses rubbed in the President’s hard-core pro-abortion policies on the day after the Roe v. Wade anniversary instead of on it. The implication is that abortion is really no big deal and not “humiliating” pro-lifers (as if not being humiliated were what the movement was about) is a more-than-acceptable “compromise”–so now won’t you irritating Bible thumpers please acknowledge our new President’s magnanimity, then go away quietly?

    Not too long ago I came across an article by Jill Stanek in which she described some of her exchanges with the President regarding the Illinois BAIPA. As she told it, after her testimony about infants being left to die after late abortions, Christ Hospital sought to avoid embarrassment by outfitting a “comfort room” where that parents of those infants could, if desired, sit comfortably and hold their aborted babies until death. When she mentioned the room disparagingly during subsequent testimony, she was scolded by Obama for not really caring about the comfort of these dying children.

    I don’t know what the facts of that story are, but judging from the evident attitude that “We will do what we will, and you must thank us for any scrap we may toss your way, however cosmetic” I have to conclude that it at least has the ring of plausibility.

    Killing third-world babies and imposing forced abortion on powerless women is no big deal, and we accomplished it while being nice to the pro-lifers, too. What a prince of a guy.

    –Yet another FFLer

  7. Further proof that there is a God and that clear minds prevail. How scary it must be to the religious radicals on the right that Obama actually puts serious thought into how a policy actually impacts women’s health and their right to make their own reproductive decisions.
    Strengthening pro-choice positions—check
    Next up; stem cell research and true separation of you [censured] from government!

    [Ed. Keep the comments civil, keep the name-calling to zero. This isn’t the Daily Kos]

  8. Obama-Can,

    As a male why is it that I have no rights whatsoever as a father to my unborn child that I co-created with my wife? What if men took a similar attitude to challenge child support? What right does anyone decide how my money is spent that i work for. Is my paycheck protected by the right of privacy? OK, I see now. First I loose any chance to protect my unborn child and now I can expect a true seperation from me and government. I should just keep paying my taxes and shut up. Now this is change and the dawn of a new kind of politics.

  9. Hello, I want to apologize for not recognizing the Moloch post was satire. There are some pro-aborts that admit abortion is a religion to them, but now I see that you and I are on the side of life. Please accept my apology.

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