First, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demonstrated that she wasn’t paying attention during theology classes when she matriculated at Trinity College. Now, Sen. Joe Biden has managed to wade into the treacherous waters of making pronouncements on what the Church does, and does not, teach about when human life begins. The Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate, who has a mixed record on pro-life issues, went further than he needed to go on "Meet the Press" yesterday, mentioning Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica as if he were an expert, but quickly demonstrating that he is no theologian.
Note to Democratic candidates: You are not running to become theologian-in-chief.
I want to believe, but remain wary, of his next claim:
And, in the event, the platform you just adopted has something genuinely new and important to say about abortion, and theological speculation is just going to step on that platform.
The Democrats, for the first time, called for policies that will reduce the number of abortions by preventing crisis pregnancies in the first place and by providing assistance to women facing crisis pregnancies so that they can carry their child to term. The GOP removed similar language from their platform, keeping their traditional but so far unsuccessful call for overturning Roe v. Wade.
Winters' sets out perhaps the best argument the DNC has going for them right now when it comes to attacting pro-life voters (otherwise known as "practicing Catholics"). But let's follow the strands.
Steve Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, agrees and disagrees with Winters:
The Obama campaign had been arguing that the candidate was charting a third-way approach to abortion: supporting abortion rights but promoting policies that would reduce the number of abortions.
Pro-life liberals were therefore deeply disappointed to hear that after the Palin announcement, the Democrats started running a radio ad [MP3 file] about abortion that made no mention of abortion reduction, instead just stating the Democrats' support for abortion rights. "Unless the Obama campaign will stop emphasizing abortion rights and strongly address the major common cause issues with a spirited vision and practical details, the Republicans can continue to scoop up a ton of votes," said Joel Hunter, a moderate evangelical who gave a benediction at the Democratic convention.
Waldman goes on to claim that Biden and Obama are both re-adjusting their language:
This Sunday, the Democratic ticket seemed to emphasize a new approach. On Meet the Press, Joe Biden went farther than the platform or Obama had gone before: "what we're going to be spending our time doing is making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children."
A Democratic candidate pledging to "reduce considerably the amount of abortions" -- that's the phrase that pro-life liberals have been yearning for.
On This Week with George Stephanopolous, Obama returned to talking about abortion reduction (and also clarified his above-my-paygrade gaffe [watch video]). He said his paygrade line was "too flip" and that "as a Christian I have a lot of humility about understanding about when does the soul enter. All I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."
Now I wish these words could be taken at their face value (would that the democrat party did become truly pro-life!), but the simple fact of the matter is that Biden receives a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and Obama was "Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007." Have they had a change of heart since they earned these ratings?
In 2007, Obama promised NARAL that his first act as President would be to "sign the Freedom of Choice Act." On the 35th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade, Barack Obama on his campaign website still says:
"Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose...With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election."
"Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
"When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president."
And where does Joe Biden stand on this issue? He co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act in the 102nd and 103rd congresses. "FOCA would overturn hundreds of state laws on the books that limit abortion."
Here's what I'm seeing: when Obama or Biden (or Pelosi, for that matter) are addressing a general audience, they talk about wishing to bring down the number of abortions, provide alternatives, etc. They also "helpfully" suggest expanding access to contraceptives, but we'll leave that aside for now.
When, however, Obama or Biden have a pro-choice audience, they are unabashed in their support for abortion-on-demand. (Can you imagine, for instance, Barack Obama or Joe Biden telling Planned Parenthood - which receives huge amounts of federal funding - that they should begin encouraging their patients to carry their children to term?)
Nor is this double-talk confined to the democrat higher ups (though even their practice of it should give us pause), the specter of Roe v. Wade being repealed is regularly used, up and down the party line, to intimidate people - and women especially - into voting for a democratic candidate. I showcased a classic example of these scare tactics a week or so ago at the DNC convention itself.
Back to my main point: in order to truly make a case before the entire American people that the DNC has changed its views on abortion, their Presidential candidate must be willing to repudiate the support of radical pro-abortion lobbies and interests. If he cannot do that, then this change in the DNC platform remains a classical case of politicians and political party wanting to have it both ways.
Sadly, it's all the same for the present and future victims of abortion.
Labels: 2008 presidential race, Abortion, barack obama, democrat party, joe biden, naral, planned parenthood, pro-abort politicians