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Jewish World Review
Sept. 17, 2008
/ 17 Elul 5768
Abortion wars crescendo
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is a pro-lifer and a loyal Democrat. He assures us that Barack Obama his caring, charismatic leader will find "common ground" on abortion in the fiercely fought closing weeks of the presidential campaign. But both parties' platforms and their troops on the ground will need Obama to be a magician to create that calming ceasefire.
Anita Dunn, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, tells the New York Sun (Aug. 29): "Senator McCain has a more radical anti-choice position than even George W. Bush, and we're going to make sure that voters across the country understand that."
Stripped out of the Democratic Party platform is an assurance we used to hear from President Clinton that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." However, in an attempt to reach pro-life Democrats, the platform also includes: "The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care ... and caring adoption programs."
But, in stronger language than previous Democratic platforms, Obama's party "strongly and unequivocally" supports Roe v. Wade and pledges to oppose any efforts to "weaken or undermine it."
Moreover, Obama is a co-sponsor of the "Freedom of Choice Act" that, contrary to a Supreme Court's decision, will make partial-birth abortion (a prelude to instant infanticide) legal again. Obama and his party are also against the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayers' dollars to pay for abortions.
So, while the Democratic Party platform graciously permits a woman to carry a child to term, it strictly removes any and all impediments to abortion. Indeed, its standard-bearer, while in the Illinois state legislature, voted to block a bill requiring the doctor performing an abortion to notify at least one parent before proceeding on a girl of minor age from another state.
On the equally uncompromising Republican side of this war, its platform affirms that "the unborn child has a fundamental right to life that cannot be infringed." It goes further, bringing back a pledge to add "a human life amendment to the Constitution" and the platform supports legislation to make the 14th Amendment's "equal protection of the laws" apply to unborn children. (Conceivably, that amendment would also apply to a baby born alive after a botched abortion, although Obama has repeatedly rejected protections for those children.)
John McCain, while heralding a strong pro-life voting record, does, however, make exceptions for abortions in cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the mother. Sarah Palin does not except rape and incest. McCain has even pledged that, in nominating justices for the Supreme Court, their views on abortion would not be "a litmus test" for his decisions to propose them.
In the past, McCain urged that those three exceptions to abortion be included in the party platform, but he didn't when he spoke in St. Paul. McCain told Glamour magazine on July 30 that he "had not gotten into the platform discussions." (Reported by Katharine Seelye in the Aug. 1 New York Times.)
Indeed, Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio, one of six Christian conservative organizers in that state who met with McCain in June says (New York Times, Sept. 3):
"'For me this election is primarily about the next Supreme Court appointments,'" Burress said, and McCain "won him over," the Times reported. "'John McCain, unlike most politicians, will not be bullied, threatened, paid off or pressured into changing his position'" concerning Supreme Court appointments.
But has McCain now changed his position on no "litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees?
Clearly, the generals on both sides of the abortion wars during this presidential campaign will stand firm. And Palin is unshakably pro-life, while Sen. Joe Biden has (The Nation, Nov. 26, 2007) "100 percent ratings from Planned Parenthood."
And, of course, Planned Parenthood is ardently supporting Obama. An Aug. 25 editorial, "Planned Parenthood targets blacks," in the Washington Times notes that one-third of all abortions performed by Planned Parenthood in 2007 were on blacks, and a majority of Planned Parenthood's clinics are in minority neighborhoods."
Since I am pro-life, I have often quoted a previous black candidate for the presidency, who, before he decided to run for that office, said: "Don't let the pro-choicers convince you that a fetus isn't a human being. That's how the whites dehumanized us. ... The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify that which they wanted to do and not even feel like they had done anything wrong."
That powerful preacher was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who later became pro-choice. He supports Obama. Opposing Obama is conservative black Los Angeles minister, the Rev. Jesse Peterson. Protesting outside a Planned Parenthood office in April, he told the crowd: "Before you go to bed tonight, more than 1,500 babies will be killed in a black woman's womb."
No matter who is elected president, this war will not cease.
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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.
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