NARAL Endorses Obama, Anti-Choicers React

Scott Swenson

NARAL endorses Sen. Barack Obama, signaling a time for unity behind pro-choice values. Ellen Malcolm and NARAL New York see it differently.

Jill at Feministe points out that this is "going to ruffle some feathers" as today NARAL endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President. The endorsement clearly comes from the National NARAL office and some state affiliates may have other thoughts to express.

In the press release, NARAL President Nancy Keenan explains,

"Sen. Obama has been a strong advocate for a woman’s right to choose
throughout his career in public office. He steadfastly supports and
defends a woman’s right to make the most personal, private decisions
regarding her reproductive health without interference from government
or politicians."

The endorsement seems to have caught Sen. Clinton by surprise according to TPM Election Central, who reports that campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said on a conference call, "surprised would be my response."

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NARAL showed class
by waiting until the nomination was clearly locked up, and leadership by moving its considerable weight to send signals that it is time to mend fences. There are many leading political women in Washington and around the country who have felt betrayed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Janet Napolitano, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others who rose to prominence with the help of Sen. Clinton, Emily’s List and the work of an entire generation of women in politics. That is understandable.

This NARAL endorsement need not be seen as further evidence of a betrayal of anyone or anything, but rather an opportunity to begin a process of coming together. It has been a good and hard fought campaign, waged by an extraordinary crop of candidates from the start, and ending with two of the most talented leaders of our time in Clinton and Obama.

Progressives can be proud of this moment, and the very clear embrace America is making of pro-choice values throughout this entire nominating process.

Updated 3:30 p.m.

The anti-choice Lifesite.com reacts to the NARAL endorsement:

The
difference between Obama and McCain on abortion is stark.

McCain
has a strongly pro-life voting record and has supported bills to ban
partial-birth abortions, respect parental involvement regarding teenagers
and prohibit tax-funded abortions in a variety of situations.

The Arizona senator has also repeatedly called for overturning Roe
v. Wade, said he would appoint judges who won’t legislate from the
bench, and says he will keep the pro-life plank in the Republican
Party platform.

Both
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have 100 percent pro-abortion voting
records with the group and have pledged to only appoint federal judges
who will keep unlimited legal abortions in place for another 35 years.

Obama
has voted against preventing taxpayer funding of abortion and led
efforts to defeat a bill in the Illinois legislature to provide appropriate
medical care for newborns who survive failed abortions.

Those
differences are so significant and will affect so many lives of women
and unborn children that National Right to Life and pro-life groups
in California and Wisconsin have already endorsed McCain.

For the reality of each candidate’s record, not just the anti-choice rhetoric, here are Sen. Obama’s and Sen. Clinton’s responses to our questionnaire. Sen. McCain has yet to respond after many requests, but we did compile this information on the GOP candidates for President.

Updated 3:49 p.m.

Ellen Malcolm, founder and President of Emily’s List said this,

“I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Sen. Clinton – who held
up the nomination of a FDA commissioner in order to force approval of
Plan B and who spoke so eloquently during the Supreme Court nomination
about the importance of protecting Roe vs. Wade – to not give her the
courtesy to finish the final three weeks of the primary process. It
certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for
reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with
them.”

Looks like Jill was understating the ruffled feathers.

Updated 4:00 p.m.

NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Sen. Clinton’s home state affiliate has issued a separate statement:

“This decision was made internally by NARAL Pro-Choice America,
based in Washington D.C., and without the consultation of the NARAL
state affiliates across the country,” NARAL Pro-Choice New York said in
a statement this afternoon.

The New York chapter of the
abortion rights group has been a staunch supporter of Sen. Hillary
Clinton, endorsing her in the 2000 and 2006 Senate races. “NARAL
Pro-Choice New York will not be issuing an endorsement at this time,”
the statement said.

"NARAL Pro-Choice New York believes that this
endorsement in the Democratic primary is premature. We are fortunate to
have two pro-choice candidates in Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Senator Barack Obama. When a nominee is named, NARAL Pro-Choice New
York will stand proudly with the pro-choice Democratic candidate in
order to defeat anti-choice Republican candidate John McCain in
November.”

 

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