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Monday, July 7, 2008

Obama “Clarifies” Abortion Stance

posted by on July 7 at 15:24 PM

Wow. Not much better:

In clarifying his remarks [as noted below, Obama told a reporter for a Christian magazine that he supports a ban on abortions after 22 weeks except when the physical health of the woman is threatened, and does not support a “mental distress” exception], Obama said this afternoon that he has “consistently” said health exceptions are required for laws banning or seriously restricting abortion. But he then goes on to try to carve out exceptions to the exceptions, and he ends up suggesting, again, he would support more limits on abortion than the law currently allows.

Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane, Obama said mental health exceptions—which are a real battleground issue in the abortion debate—can be “rigorously” limited to only those women with “serious clinical mental health diseases.” He said mental health exceptions are not intended permit abortions when a woman simply “doesn’t feel good.”

“It is not just a matter of feeling blue,” Obama said.

As noted here, the law governing late-term abortions, which has been upheld by the US Supreme Court, includes an exception for women who would suffer emotional or psychological harm if they were required to bring a pregnancy to term. Only Justices Scalia and Thomas opposed the exemption. Obama’s “serious clinical mental health diseases” criterion goes much further than the Supreme Court, which ruled that “[M]edical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional , psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well- being of the patient.” That allowance is intended to account not just for serious clinical diseases but for cases such as: A girl who was raped by a relative and couldn’t get to an abortion clinic or didn’t know she was pregnant; a woman whose fetus can’t possibly survive; or a girl who may commit suicide if forced to bring a child to term.

Obama could have clarified his position on abortion in a way that satisfied abortion-rights defenders. (One ardent Obama supporter outlines what she wishes he’d said here). Instead, he “clarified” by tying himself in rhetorical knots, implying that some women seek abortions because they’re “just feeling blue” in the process. I do a lot of things when I’m feeling blue—drinking, crying, and calling my mom come to mind—but I don’t think I’d hoof it to one of the two clinics in the country that still provide (extremely rare) late-term abortions just because I’m having a bad day.

Incidentally, Obama’s belief that a woman “has a right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family” also goes well beyond existing case law, as noted here.)

RSS icon Comments


Hmpf. With all this moving right, better have a VP who will keep him from drifting rightwards on choice.

Hey who thinks he would have won the primaries, if back in Jan. he'd of said:

--we need a bigger army. Signing up is a public service!
--we need more faith based deliverers of social programs
--I was 100% for welfare reform!
--We need telecom immunity. If the government even asks you to do it, it's okay!
--I think the NRA is right about the 2d Amendment.

Posted by PC | July 7, 2008 3:39 PM

I'm with you on the mental illness part, but this "“has a right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family” I don't read as supporting spousal notification, more that woman should be able to make the decision with what counsel they want. I think your reading a bit to much into it.

Posted by Giffy | July 7, 2008 3:46 PM

He's more like Bush than McCain. Disgusting!

Posted by Vince | July 7, 2008 3:47 PM

Let me see - elect a President who won't change much at the federal level but will appoint more pro-choice US Supreme Court Justices (Obama) ... or elect one who will outlaw abortion nationwide and stack the USSC with anti-choice judges who hate America (McSame).

Gee, what to do ...

Wonder who got endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 7, 2008 3:47 PM

And what's John McCain's stance again?

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | July 7, 2008 3:48 PM

So this all comes down to separating "the blues" from a "mental illness." That's my reading of it.

Posted by Ronan | July 7, 2008 3:49 PM

Thing is, Obama is a Christian. And he's not faking it, even if a lot of young progressives want to believe he is. Expect Obama to bring his mysticism and it's lack of moral grounding with him to this race just as every other Christian politician has done.

Oh yeah, he's a politician/ activist too. Which means what he says now is meant to help get him elected, not what he actually believes.

If Obama keeps reminding people of these two things, the protesters outside the Football stadium he'll give his acceptance speech in might outnumber those inside.

Posted by Meinert | July 7, 2008 3:51 PM

5 months is a long ass time to know your pregnant and do nothing about it. i think that's reasonable position to take.

Posted by tiffany | July 7, 2008 3:54 PM

It's how you're reading it, Erica, that is twisting this statement. Quit it.

"It is not just a matter of feeling blue," Obama said.

He is saying that the depression and other mental illnesses being discussed are not just "feeling blue", they are serious and treatable medical conditions. He is defending the provision and who it provides for by saying that they are legitimate, and *not* just moody. That is the correct thing to say-- and does not insinuate that some women may seek abortions because of light emotional changes.

It's really offensive what you're doing to a position that is supportive of women's rights.

Posted by V | July 7, 2008 3:58 PM

@4, criticizing a candidate is not the same as endorsing the opposition.

Posted by Giffy | July 7, 2008 4:00 PM

I'm not happy about these statements either, but I'm a realist. The president doesn't matter a damn to the abortion debate; he's not going to have any effect on any laws, new or existing, one way or the other. He IS going to pick some Supreme Court justices. The question is, do you want Obama to pick them, or do you want more Scalias and Thomases? McCain will give them to you.

Posted by Fnarf | July 7, 2008 4:04 PM

So! How 'bout those Mariners?

Posted by Lola | July 7, 2008 4:04 PM

ECB posts have become a conduit At least PC/SusanUnPC is happy.

Posted by elenchos | July 7, 2008 4:07 PM

Fixed Gears!
Credulous Hacks!

Rinse, wash and repeat.

Posted by Bryce in Newbridge | July 7, 2008 4:16 PM

Good criticism is always great, but this is not legitimate, fair-minded criticism. It is twisted to make a man with a 100% rating from NARAL appear to be against women's rights (especially to those like Vince @ 3).

Obama's never been as progressive as I personally would like-- but I truly appreciate that his statements are mindful of the law and display concern for people's interests, even when I disagree with his conclusions. His position on abortion is useful. Because he is not using reactionary language (explaining that these are real mental-health issues, for example, instead of going on the defensive like Erica), he can appeal even to the open-minded religious folk out there instead of driving them to McCain with a single wedge issue.


Supports a Woman’s Right to Choose:
Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

This is the end-all for anyone who cares about women's rights. SCOTUS. SCOTUS. SCOTUS.

Posted by V | July 7, 2008 4:20 PM

ECB is intellectually dishonest?


Posted by ru shur | July 7, 2008 4:23 PM

Man, I've tried to resist joining the knee-jerk ECB haters who attack her all the time no matter what she says, but it really does seem like you reserve your harshest criticisms for Obama, Erica. And I must reluctantly conclude that it looks a lot like sour grapes.

Obama's 'rightward move' is exactly like that executed by every other Democrat presidential candidate in recent memory. They all do this. Bill did it, Kerry did it, Gore did it -- hell the Clinton team practically invented it. Stuff like this is pure rhetorical window-dressing anyway, like "safe, legal and rare."

No candidate who wants to stand a chance of winning in the general election is going to embrace a truly progressive platform. Progressives are kidding themselves if they think they're going to enact their agenda with one presidential election. Electing somebody who isn't Republican to the Presidency is just the barest minimum step that needs to be taken to bring about positive change in this country. But because of the evolving precedent of a Unitary Executive being pushed by the current administration, it's a tremendously important step that needs to be taken right now.

How about talking about McCain's rhetoric? Here's some good places to start, just in the last week: the $300 million prize for development of an electric car (Why didn't somebody else think of that?) His proposal to balance the budget by 2013 while lowering taxes (where's the money going to come from? Hint: see parallel suggestions about 'reforming' Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.) His "healthcare plan" that will work by giving tax credits to 'spur a private health insurance market' (which sounds a lot like giving money to insurance companies to encourage them to do what they already do.) His gas-tax repeal and offshore-drilling plans. Etc.

Oh, yes -- and his stated belief that Roe v. Wade should be repealed.

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 7, 2008 4:23 PM

I'm with #8.

Posted by monkey | July 7, 2008 4:28 PM

I'm not with #8, and not just because of the egregious use of "your." Sure, the "you had five months" sounds like common sense, but you have to imagine the most far-out, ugly, sick situation before you begin forbidding things by law (11-year-old child raised as a fundamentalist impregnated by grandfather and no understanding of sex or pregnancy)!

Posted by leek | July 7, 2008 4:31 PM

@ 19
i think there should be exceptions for situations like the ones you mentioned.

it just seems grossly irresponsible to let the baby get past that gestation point, give or take a month. there are options available that should be addressed in a conscientious fashion.

Posted by tiffany | July 7, 2008 4:54 PM

@10 - sure it's not comrade, I'm sure you tell yourselves that at your Hils for McSame get togethers ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 7, 2008 4:57 PM

ECB rocks for mooshing the noses of the Obamaniacs in his sell out the lib poo. This is so Bill Clinton. He broke the hearts of the true believers.

Now, Obamaniacs, it's interesting to me how you shrieked and snarled at Hillary not being liberal enough yet now that Obama is swinging right you're making up the following lame excuses:

1. Well I'd rather have him pickin SCOTUS that McCain
2. He's better than McCain!
3. His right wing fundamentalist kowtowing will win him some fundamentalist right wingers!
4. He probably doesn't mean it.

LOL. Keep hammerin' ECB, this is hilarious.

Posted by Bob | July 7, 2008 5:03 PM

It's also quite possible he actually believes something like what he's advocating, totally consistent with R v Wade and current law.
He's saying that there should be some objective standard to *phsychological harm*. That's trivially true of any situation where a late term abortion is under consideration. Some sort of clinically identifiable form of *psychological harm* is about the only conceivable candidate for an objective standard.

Posted by kinaidos | July 7, 2008 5:06 PM

l0lz peple care ABOUT WINING harharhar!!! keep up the trolling ECB! l90000zlzl

Posted by J | July 7, 2008 5:11 PM

His statement about conferring with "her doctor, her pastor and her family" was not exclusive. I really wonder about ECB sometimes. He was talking to a Christian audience and he threw in pastor. God forbid the idea that a woman might discuss things with her pastor. God forbid he didn't read the fucking phone book to address every single person that a woman could consult. The quote is nothing.

Posted by Ed | July 7, 2008 5:18 PM

down with the culture wars.

Posted by hal | July 7, 2008 5:19 PM

Bob, it's not about excuses. It's about Obama having a logical position that is in line with most sloggers' stated objectives for this issue, and the importance of creating a coherent criticism.

"Obama almost insulted women with mental health issues but then didn't and wants to restrict abortion, except he he made it all complicated with exceptions in order to conform to law" is muddled, misses any point Obama was trying to make, and is helpful to no one.

Your clear disdain for the Senator and his (often critical) supporters, who would like to see womens' rights protected and America set on a positive course toward a repaired economy and responsible foreign policy, speaks volumes about your character.

And ECB-- look who is on your side. It's Mr. Bar Fight.

Posted by V | July 7, 2008 5:25 PM

ECB...which battle do YOU think you're fighting? Because the Obama v. Clinton battle is over.

At this point, there's only one battle that matters in this election. Can you figure out which? ;-)

Posted by Timothy | July 7, 2008 5:27 PM

@27, I actually like Obama and will vote for him but you got it right about my disdain for many of his Hillary hating supporters. Now, you can question my character all you want, particularly since the internet is such an awesome character assessment tool and all, but on my worst day of gently teasing the raving Obamaniacs I don't even remotely approach some of the hate foamed and spewed by them towards Hillary Clinton for her stances on issues. Left and centrist stances now being blown aside as Obama rushes to the right.

And that's why this is so incredibly funny.

Thanks for playing Bob though. ;)

Posted by Bob | July 7, 2008 5:40 PM

So Obama fans are making lame arguments, huh?

Do you disagree that Obama is better than McCain? Would you rather have McCain pick more "justices"? How about all those religious people (not just right-wingers)-- you think Obama should just say 'fuck em'? Would you rather Obama not be so understanding and instead kiss your ass and not get elected?

/feeding the troll

Posted by eyeroll @ 22 | July 7, 2008 5:46 PM

Simpleton, it isn't about Obama vs McCain, that's a moot point. It's about Obamaniacs vs. Obama, now that's a funny gift that just keeps on giving.

@30, so tell me again why you so vehemently preferred Obama over Hillary?

Posted by Bob | July 7, 2008 5:53 PM

Bob, fair enough.

His Hillary-hating supporters went way overboard (as did Obama-hating Hillary folk), but there are plenty of gracious people out there too. I think your characterizations are misguided, unless you were referring only to the rabid. Judging by your rant about how stupid Obama supporters are, I pegged you as malicious rather than just having fun.

It's been said, but a rush to the center (and not the right-- he's clarifying a position on abortion rights, not joining Focus on the Family) is standard while trying to get elected. I'm not irreparably offended by any Obama statement so far, and I think both Hillary and Obama supporters are being childish about this election. Your comment didn't exactly elevate the discourse, and neither did this post of Erica's.

Posted by V | July 7, 2008 5:57 PM

Who says I did? Couldn't I have been a Hillbot just as well as an Obamaton?

If I did, it was in hopes that he would go out and win the fucking election. He's doing that.

Watching people fall apart over everything Obama says is pretty funny. But it's not what you were saying. I think the idea of supreme court appointees is a pretty damn important argument for Obama right now.

Posted by eyeroll | July 7, 2008 6:02 PM

ECB is voting for Jon McCain. Or at least posting for him. (SCOTUS) is what counts, duh!

Posted by Zach | July 7, 2008 6:13 PM

My reading of the linked article, is pretty much in line with ECB. Of course, I will vote for Obama over McCain (not much choice there), but this clarification along with his telecom immunity reversal, death penalty stance, gun control sellout, really sucks. Obviously, he thinks this crap will get him elected. It may but I already know former hardcore Obama activists who are devoting their remaining pre-election time to the senate races instead.

Posted by LMSW | July 7, 2008 6:55 PM

Erica, to win Obama needs the votes of reasonable pro-choice folks in the "middle", not Maleficent feminazis like you. Do you want to win or not?

Posted by ektachrome | July 7, 2008 7:17 PM

Er, I hate to point out the obvious here, but WHY THE FUCK IS A MAN BEING ASKED HIS FUCKING OPINION ON ABORTION? Seriously, why should ANY man EVEN have an opionion on abortion? MEN DON'T GET PREGNANT! Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what if you contribute 50% of the DNA. Your job in conception is over with in about, oh, I don't know 5 whole minutes!

Sorry, guys, but take your opinions about OUR lady parts and stick it up your non-existant uterus!

Posted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton | July 7, 2008 7:27 PM

Ergo what? Let's hope Katha Pollitt is right.

NARAL and Planned Parenthood give Obama 100 percent ratings and McCain a big fat zero... The media can call John McCain a moderate all they want. No matter how aggrieved women are by Clinton's loss, I'm betting that the ones who care about women's rights are too smart to fall for it.

Posted by Trevor | July 7, 2008 7:49 PM

@37 -- That's a tantalizing position to take ECS, except it ignores about, oh, I don't know -- 100% of reality?

The fact is you need men to have an opinion on abortion because men hold too many important elected and appointed positions to ever see a day with full reproductive rights without their support. And you want their support, right?

So you're going to have to get off your fat ass and work to win the hearts and minds of powerful men, ECS, at least until the day when you can go swing from a vine in your rubyfruit jungle and run everything yourself.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 7, 2008 7:57 PM

I wasn't with you on Hillary, but I gotta agree that Obama's tack rightward is a little baffling. It seems like he's drifted past the center on a lot of issues, and I don't understand it. I can't think he actually believes a lot of this stuff, so I assume it's a campaign strategy, but it better work. If this piss-off-your-base tactic fails, his campaign's going to look pretty stupid.

Posted by Mr Me | July 7, 2008 7:57 PM

@37 Of course, women aren't always the champions of respecting the man's right to WANT to be a father. Yes legally it's the womans body, and honestly ... it's the better system than not having any abortions whatsoever.

But bringing a child into the world because mommy really really wants to be a mommy and feels compelled to bring daddy down with her ... well maybe men SHOULD have an oppinion about it.

But as a realist, the law isn't defined or designed to give men an opinion about it, and all things considered it's better than what it used to be.

And how many abortions would McCain allow if elected?

Posted by OR Matt | July 7, 2008 11:33 PM

I hope you Obamaniacs are happy now.

This guy is showing his true anti-feminist colors, if the "honey/sweetie" and other previous incidents weren't enough to raise your hink factor.

What was the problem with Hillary, again?

At least she already was at the center and wasn't going to move further right.

Yeah, he's the lesser of two evils now, but it didn't have to be this way. Instead, all you dolts allowed yourself to be seduced by the cadence of nicely read speeches.

I saw another of those "HOPE" bumper stickers today. Yeah, I'm HOPING that 2012 will bring someone better.

Posted by stillbitter | July 8, 2008 2:11 AM

We won't support NO-Bama and will re-defeat him in November!!!

Posted by clintonsarmy | July 8, 2008 6:56 AM

I like my hope and change with a bit of reality. It is beginning to sound as if the man is just as political an animal as everyone else. so much for ideological change. Everyone keeps reminding each other that the Supreme Court nominations are the most important issue, but if Obama continues pandering to the right for votes he may well choose fairly conservative candidates for the court to insure his election to a second term. In other words, change seems to be a bit too much to hope for, it's politics as usual.

Posted by inkweary | July 8, 2008 9:57 AM

Pregnancy can be deadly. Various medical sources put the mortality of pregnancy among Caucasian women in the US at about 1 in 2,600. Among African-American women it is about 1 in 1,300. That is a pretty high mortality rate.

Pregnancy can also have serious consequences; permanent paralyses as a result of strokes during delivery are one example.

When thinking about abortion rights, people should keep the mortality of pregnancy in mind. Does anybody have the right to say to a woman "You MUST continue your pregnancy even though there is a substantial chance that you will die because of it?"

In the US a person who has witnessed a murder and can identify the killer cannot be forced to testify in court if doing so may put his or her life at risk. But some people, including Senator Obama, would force women to remain pregnant even if that can kill them.

It is not a matter of discomfort, it is a matter of a woman's right to stay alive.

In November, send a strong message and write in your vote for Senator Hillary Clinton, who was the best candidate.

Posted by L. Raijman | July 8, 2008 11:41 AM

Pregnancy can be deadly. Various medical sources put the mortality of pregnancy among Caucasian women in the US at about 1 in 2,600. Among African-American women it is about 1 in 1,300. That is a pretty high mortality rate.

Pregnancy can also have serious consequences; permanent paralyses as a result of strokes during delivery are one example.

When thinking about abortion rights, people should keep the mortality of pregnancy in mind. Does anybody have the right to say to a woman "You MUST continue your pregnancy even though there is a substantial chance that you will die because of it?"

In the US a person who has witnessed a murder and can identify the killer cannot be forced to testify in court if doing so may put his or her life at risk. But some people, including Senator Obama, would force women to remain pregnant even if that can kill them.

It is not a matter of discomfort, it is a matter of a woman's right to stay alive.

In November, send a strong message and write in your vote for Senator Hillary Clinton, who was the best candidate.

Posted by L. Raijman | July 8, 2008 11:43 AM

PREGNANCY CARRIES A SUBSTANTIAL RISK OF DEATH. The lowest estimate I found for the US is about 1 death per 5,000 pregnancies, a substantial number. Other medical sources give higher death rates.

In the US a person who has witnessed a murder and can identify the killer may not be forced to identify him or her in court if doing so puts the life of the witness at risk. It is illegal. Some people, however, would force a woman to continue a pregnancy even though it may kill her.

Nobody has the right to force a woman to continue a pregnancy and so risk death.

It's not a matter of not feeling good, or of feeling blue, as Sen. Obama frivolously said. It is a matter of every woman having the right to refuse something that can cause her death.

Senator Obama is, frankly, being an ass.

Do the country a favor in November by writing in your vote for better candidates, such as Senators Clinton, Biden, or former Senator Edwards. They will not win, but with a strong Democratic majority and good Republicans in Congress the US will survive another four years of a bad president. You will have sent both Parties a strong message and maybe the next time around the party machines will help the best candidates, not the fake redeemers.

(NOTE: You can get information on the death rate of pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and your obstetrician.)

Posted by L. Raijman | July 8, 2008 12:24 PM

My apologies for the repeat messages. It was not intentional.

Posted by L. Raijman | July 8, 2008 12:27 PM

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