Obama “More Centrist” on Abortion Says “Pro-Life” Leader

Scott Swenson

One far-right leader who attended a private meeting with Sen. Obama describes the candidate's positions on abortion as "more centrist than expected."

Sen. Barack Obama met yesterday with several faith leaders, from a variety of political perspectives, in a private closed door meeting. Among the attendees, Rev. Franklin Graham, whose presence was deemed significant by CBN reporter David Brody, since Graham has yet to meet with McCain. Issues discussed included the senator’s support for abortion rights and gay rights.

Steve Strang, the founder of Charisma Magazine, attended and wrote this about the private meeting on his blog, The Strang Report, describing Obama’s response to his question on abortion as being "more centrist than expected."

The questions were mostly “softball” questions in my opinion. I was
concerned after three or four general questions that we wouldn’t ask
the most important questions. So I raised my hand and he called on me.
I said, “Senator, I want to ask a question I’m sure you are expecting
regarding your position on abortion. I represent a segment of the
church where nearly everyone considers the issue of supporting life to
be the most important issue and where nearly everyone would be opposed
to abortion. I want to ask what your stand on abortion is and if you
believe what I think you believe, how you justify that with your
Christian faith and why you think we should vote for you.”

his response was “off-the-record,” I can say that the time he took to
answer was probably 15 minutes. He came across as thoughtful and much
more of a “centrist” than what I would have expected. He did not appear
to be the crazy leftist that is being supported by George Soros and his
radical leftist friends. Sen. Obama looked me in the eye as he answered
my question, almost as if it were a one-on-one interview. I had already
read the chapter on “faith” in his book the “Audacity of Hope.” If you
want to know how he answered the question, read that chapter.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now


What Mr. Strang and many of his fellow prohibitionists in the "pro-life" movement fail to realize is that many pro-choice people are "more centrist" than they expect. It is their failure to give any ground on the abortion issue, to even discuss education and prevention issues, that many progressives and liberals support, that has resulted in the divisive nature of the debate about legal abortion.

It isn’t the "left" that needs to move on the issue of legal abortion, it is the far right — those who are pure prohibitionists, anti-contraception, advocating for abstinece-only-until-marraige programs — for they have used this issue to gain power and allowed people like Karl Rove to use it to manipulate others of genuine belief and good faith to win elections.

Perhaps Mr. Strang, and others, can one day find their way toward the "more centrist" views that the vast majority of Americans hold when it comes to sexuality education, contraception, and women’s rights to safe, legal abortion. As we often say on this site, prohibition will not stop abortion, only make it unsafe for the women who seek it.

The Associated Press reported that attendance at the meeting ran across the political spectrum,

About 30 people attended, the campaign said, but it released only
three names: the Rev. Stephen Thurston, head of the National Baptist
Convention of America, Inc., a historically black denomination; the
Rev. T. Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist
Convention, Inc., which was home to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders; and Bishop Phillip Robert Cousin Sr., an A.M.E. clergyman and former NAACP board member.

Two sources familiar with the meeting, but who spoke on background
because the session was private, said others attending included
conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer Doug Kmiec; evangelical
author Max Lucado
of San Antonio; Cameron Strang, founder of Relevant Media, which is
aimed at young Christians; the Rev. Luis Cortes of Esperanza USA; and
Paul Corts, president of the Council of Christian Colleges and

Jill Stanek refuses to believe the facts as reported about who attended, preferring to lead her readers to believe that no Catholics, or Evangelicals, were present. Once again, Jill gets it wrong.

News Race

At ‘Pro-Life’ Conference, Silence on Police Violence

Amy Littlefield

Among the only contributions to the national dialogue taking place over racial justice and state violence was a card circulated in the exhibit hall by a group called the Radiance Foundation that read “All Lives Matter In & Out of the Womb.”

As one of the nation’s largest anti-choice groups launched its three-day conference in Herndon, Virginia, Thursday, a very different conversation was underway on the national stage.

Across the country, peaceful protests erupted over the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.

As Rewire’s Imani Gandy has documented, the anti-choice movement has long attempted to appropriate the language of racial justice and the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag as part of a wider effort to shame Black women and cast abortion as “Black genocide.”

But at the National Right to Life Convention, the overriding response to last week’s police killings was silence. Among the only contributions to the national dialogue taking place over racial justice was a card circulated in the exhibit hall by a group called the Radiance Foundation that read “All lives matter In & Out of the womb.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Rewire asked convention director Jacki Ragan whether she thought the issue should have been raised explicitly at the conference.

“We are very single issue,” Ragan said. “We are here because of a threat to human life. We believe the unborn child is a human being from the moment of fertilization. We believe the disabled should have the same rights, [the] elderly should have the same rights, so we’re very single issue. So, no, I don’t really think it would be appropriate to address what had happened other than through prayer at the conference.”

At a prayer breakfast on Friday morning, after conference-goers awoke to the news five police officers had been killed by a gunman in Dallas, Rev. Dennis Kleinmann of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia, prayed for guidance “to make this a better world, a world free of war and violence of every kind, including attacks on those who protect us.”

Ernest Ohlhoff, National Right to Life Committee outreach director, addressed the violence more directly.

“I don’t know if any of you heard the news this morning, but unfortunately we had another catastrophe in our country,” he said. “Five police officers in Dallas were killed in a shooting and [at least] six wounded, and I would ask you to pray for them and their families.”

No prayers were offered for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, or their families. 

Commentary Abortion

Becoming a Mother Made Me Even More Pro-Choice

Maureen Shaw

Conservatives and conventional wisdom have told us that it’s only rash teenagers getting abortions. But it’s not irresponsibility that makes women and girls seek abortion care. It’s their awareness of just how massive a commitment parenting is.

As a woman and a pro-choice advocate, I’ve always respected a person’s decision to seek abortion care. But it wasn’t until I became a mother that I really understood their decision. Raising a child is an all-encompassing phenomenon, something you can never understand until you’re in the thick of it—and definitely something you should bypass until you’re ready.

Politicized stories have a way of painting an overly simplistic, two-dimensional picture of abortion (and by extension, parenthood). To hear right-wingers tell it, the person who gets an abortion is usually a thoughtless teenager or a young woman who uses abortion as birth control. In their narrative, these individuals are lining up around the block to carelessly do away with unwanted pregnancies instead of facing responsibility for not keeping their legs closed.

This supposition is laden with baseless judgments: that those who seek abortion care are selfish; that they do so because having a child would cramp their depraved lifestyles (obviously the “worst” reason to terminate a pregnancy); and that women and adolescents who choose to have abortions don’t respect children, family, or motherhood.

It’s also factually inaccurate. In reality, statistics upend those assumptions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 61 percent of abortions are obtained by women with at least one child, and the majority of these women (60 percent) are in their 20s. Teenage girls account for less than one-fifth of all abortions. What’s more, teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates have declined drastically in the United States and reached a historic low in 2011.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Of course, anti-choice activists and politicians don’t seem to care about the facts (or maybe facts are just difficult to read from their high horses). They insist on perpetuating the impulsive abortion patient trope, infantilizing women in the process. This is perhaps most evident in pushes for anti-choice legislation requiring waiting periods, counseling, and forced ultrasounds for people seeking abortions—as if they can’t or won’t make informed decisions.

I know from personal experience how erroneous this typecasting is. I spent my 20s as an activist fighting for reproductive rights: I attended pro-choice rallies, met with local legislators, led volunteer groups, and spent time as a clinic escort. In this capacity, I met and spoke with countless women who had abortions. And contrary to what anti-choice activists and politicians would have you believe, so many of them were already mothers or wanted to be mothers—someday.

I’ve brought two lives into this world. Knowing now what it entails to be a mom—from pregnancy, labor, and delivery to meeting the endless demands of other human beings—I believe even more fiercely in abortion on demand and without apology. (And yes, you can be pro-choice and a parent; just read Pregnant, Parenting, and Pro-Choice for a smattering of stories). Everyone deserves to enter parenthood willingly, and every child deserves a parent who is willing to bear the responsibilities of this lifelong commitment. Children should be wanted and cherished, not forced into this world as punishment for their parents engaging in sex.

Women who seek abortion care understand this more than the Republican Party is willing to admit. Women and girls cite numerous reasons for wanting to terminate a pregnancy, from financial insecurity to a desire to avoid single motherhood to simply not being ready—and everything in between. The truth is, women and girls have abortions precisely because they respect children and motherhood, not because they are flippant or have no regard for family.

Women who obtain abortions should be not skewered or shamed. They acknowledge that they’re unwilling or unable to parent (at that particular time or possibly ever), and they know children deserve to be loved and cherished. We should give them the same respect they’ve shown the institution of motherhood by doing so—conception is a biological function, but parenting is not.

Since becoming a parent, I am beyond grateful I was able to plan the number and spacing of my children; if I hadn’t been able to, I question whether I would be as loving and patient of a mother.