John McCain may be attempting to tamp down anger at rallies for the Republican presidential ticket by disputing the notion that Barack Obama is an Arab and a danger to the country, but Sarah Palin continues to stoke her base with inaccuracies on Obama’s position on abortion.
At a rally in Johnstown, Penn., on Saturday, rather than invoking once-radical William Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground and now a progressive political activist in Chicago, Palin affixed the label "radical" to Obama’s views on abortion.
Hitting Obama on his votes on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and so-called "partial birth abortion," Palin described Obama as a "radical" on abortion who supported "unconditional support for unlimited abortion."
In fact, several prominent pro-life Catholics have endorsed Obama, suggesting his position embracing pro-prevention policies is far more oriented towards the middle ground than it is extreme.
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At the rally, Palin said, "Senator Obama has voted against bills to end partial birth abortion…In the Illinois Senate it was thankfully a bipartisan majority that passed legislation against that practice. Senator Obama opposed that bill. He voted against it in committee and then voted ‘present’ on the Senate floor and in that legislature. Just so you know, ‘present’ is how you vote when you are against something, but you don’t want to be held to account." The partial-birth abortion bills, medically inaccurate redefinitions of certain abortion procedures, interfere with doctors’ ability to assess the best method of care for their patients.
On the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, Palin stated, "Most troubling though, most troubling even, is that as a state senator, Barack Obama wouldn’t even stand up for the rights of infants born alive during an abortion," she said. "These infants, often babies with special needs, they’re simply left to die." In fact, the Illinois state BAIPA did not provide any protections for infants not already provided for in state law, and the law, unlike the federal version, was bundled with other bills that would have undermined state abortion law and increased physician liability. It is inaccurate at best and deliberately misleading at worst for Palin to suggest that Obama’s votes on BAIPA in any way reflect his position on the rights of infants born alive, whether as a result of abortion or not.
Palin also derided Obama’s comment that women shouldn’t be "punished with a baby." "I listened when our opponent defended his unconditional support for
unlimited abortions and he said he said that a woman shouldn’t have to
be quote punished with a baby,” she said. “Ladies and gentlemen, he
said that right here in Johnstown — punished with a baby. It’s about
time we called him on it.” Palin failed to note the context of Obama’s remark. Here’s the full quote:
So, when it comes to — when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include — which should include abstinence only — should include abstinence education and teaching that children — teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include — it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I’ve got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I’m going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.
Obama is first affirming his commitment to teaching young people about "values and morals," but acknowledging that comprehensive sexuality education, including knowledge about contraception, is an integral tool for teens in empowering them to prevent unintended pregnancies. Does Palin really want to suggest that a teen, willfully denied comprehensive sexuality education, who becomes pregnant, isn’t being punished by the politicians who continue to fund demonstrably failed abstinence-only programming?
The Obama campaign, for its part, has been clear about the candidate’s position – implying a calculation that Obama’s support for abortion rights will win him supporters among the undecided. Campaign spokeswoman Anita Dunn said that Palin’s comments "show that with this election, the right to choose hangs in the balance. On this issue, the choice is clear: While Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin will make the right to choose illegal; Sen. Obama will protect that right, while working to reduce the need for abortions and find common ground on this issue."