Pro-choice and pro-life leaders who work to build common ground on abortion
have released a statement condemning the murder of Dr. George
Tiller and reiterating their commitment to civility and common ground.
Just hours later, at a press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court
anti-abortion leaders from the the Christian Defense Coalition condemned the
murder, called on President Obama and Congressional leaders not to use it
"for political gain," and then proceeded to use the platform provided
by the abhorrent attack to misrepresent Pres. Obama’s record on abortion and
otherwise spread misinformation about the issue.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the coalition, claimed that the
administration is dismantling conscience protections for healthcare providers
who refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds. This is false. In February the administration initiated a review of
the broad, last-minute conscience clause Pres. Bush put in place before leaving
office. Although the outcome is still pending, three separate federal laws protect — and will continue to
protect — medical professionals who do not wish to perform abortion procedures
for religious or moral reasons.
Rev. Mahoney also claimed that the administration supports late-term
abortions and "partial-birth abortion." This claim too is false.
Pres. Obama has stated his support for restrictions on these procedures if
there are protections for the health of the mother. He has also stated
that his votes in opposition to legislation restricting the late-term abortion
were based on a lack of such protections.
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Speakers at the press conference also misleadingly repeatedly referenced a
recent Gallup poll which found that a majority of Americans consider themselves
pro-life. Rev. Mahoney said the poll showed that the majority of Americans
reject appointing a judge who would uphold Roe v. Wade to the Supreme
Court. The Gallup poll actually showed that 51% of Americans consider
themselves "pro-life" — not that a majority of Americans oppose
appointing a Supreme Court Justice who would uphold Roe. In fact,
polling consistently shows that more than 60 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe
v. Wade. Several analyses have shown the Gallup poll to a) be an outlier, b) not pertinent to the legality of
abortion, and c) so vague that it means little at all.
The anti-abortion leaders who spoke at the Supreme Court this morning could
have condemned the murder of George Tiller and reiterated their opposition to
abortion without politicizing the tragedy and making misleading claims for
political gain — a maneuver they claim to denounce.
Now more than ever, we must all come together to recognize our shared
humanity and find common ground. That’s what Americans really want out of our leaders.