The crowd at the RNC has been sounding feeble all night, but they roared for Fred Thompson when he dangled insinuation about Barack Obama’s views on abortion.
Thompson invoked Obama’s response to Rick Warren last month at the Saddleback Civil Forum, when Warren asked him when a "baby gets human rights." To Warren, Obama responded, essentially, that determining when life begins is not a question for politicians: "Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from
a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay
grade." Thompson trotted the line out again, saying, "we need a President who doesn’t think that
the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade."
Let’s take the accusation piece by piece. Thompson’s "newly born baby" is a clear reference to those supposed survivors of abortion. Their existence is medically impossible, but if such a case occurred, existing law would clearly protect him or her. Obama did not support the version of the Born
Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois state Senate during his term because it
could have come into conflict with the state’s abortion law and posed liability issues for doctors — not to mention being a redundant bill. But none of those facts diminish the the bill’s usefulness in rallying those desperate to see their worldview parroted by the Republican ticket.
And as a matter of fact, Obama supports policies that ensure healthy pregnancies, safe early childhoods (he’s not the presidential candidate who opposed SCHIP expansion), and policies that offer parents the flexibility to care for their children. Apparently Obama considers ensuring the safety of just-born babies well within his pay grade.
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As for the protection of the unborn? Obama’s position on abortion isn’t determined by his pay grade, as Thompson suggests, and Obama never said it was. We can assume that Obama has his own view on when life begins but, as he suggested at Saddleback, those private beliefs have no bearing on his position on abortion.