I’ll credit Rick Warren with asking both John McCain and Barack Obama about abortion. I skipped the Saddleback Church non-debate, but Jim at Gateway Pundit captured what has to be the quote of the election. When asked the point when a human embryo achieves personhood, Obama said that the question is “above my pay grade”:
Q. Now, let’s deal with abortion. 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. you know, as a pastor I have to deal with this all of the time. \Aall of the pain and all of the conflicts. I know this is a very complex issue. 40 million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
A. 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. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is there is a moral and ethical content to this issue. So I think that anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue I think is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.
But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade and come to that conclusion not because I’m pro abortion, but because ultimately I don’t think women make these decisions casually. They wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or spouses or their doctors and their family members.
And so for me, the goal right now should be — and this is where I think we can find common ground and by the way I have now inserted this into the democrat party platform is how do we reduce the number of abortions because the fact is that although we’ve had a president who is opposed to abortions over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down.
Q. Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?
A. I am in favor, for example, of limits on late term abortions if there is an exception for the mother’s health. Now from the perspective of those who, you know, are pro life, I think they would consider that inadequate. and I respect their views. I mean one of the things that I’ve always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then — and you are consistent in that belief, then I can’t argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.
What I can do is say are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions, and as an example of that, one of the things that I’ve talked about is how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child. You know, have we given them the health care that they need. have we given them the support services that they need. Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary. That I think can make a genuine difference.
First, the entire issue of abortion involves determining when a baby becomes a person. If Obama thinks this is above his pay grade, then he probably shouldn’t be running for political office. If a baby is a person at conception, then abortion is murder. If Obama doesn’t believe that abortion is murder, then he can’t believe in the personhood, the humanity, of an embryo or fetus — not unless he’s some kind of monster.
As President — even as Senator — Obama is expected to have an answer for this. Quite literally, there is no higher pay grade in the US government, and abortion is one of the issues he has to face. If he can’t face it, then he should go back to community organization and leave politics for people who can. John McCain had no trouble answering the same question. Obama dodged it — and for good reason: his answer would have exposed his radical views.
Even in his equivocations, though, Obama can’t be honest. His reference to the Democratic platform on abortion is laughable. He insists that it represents an effort to reduce abortions, but Obamas’ language pledges to oppose all efforts to limit abortion on demand while providing public financing for abortions. That language actually strengthens the pro-abortion position over the 2004 position, while paying lip service to reducing abortions through nore government-funded programs.
Has Barack Obama ever voted to reduce abortions? Obama never answered that question, but he hasn’t. He voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions, a bill that passed Congress on a bipartisan basis three times before finally becoming law. In Illinois, he voted to kill a bill that would have stopped Christ Hospital and other medical facilities from abandoning live infants from unsuccessful abortions so that they would die of neglect. Obama lied about this, too, in an interview on CBN with David Brody last night:
As the NRLC has discovered, the Illinois bill did have the “neutrality clause” attached as an amendment to S.1082 in the same committee session in which Obama later killed the bill, on a party-line vote. That goes beyond abortion to infanticide, which makes Obama’s position on the personhood of a fetus even more nebulous. He’s moved into Peter Singer territory — the most radically pro-abortion candidate ever to carry a major-party nomination for President.
Unless, of course, voters buy the notion that the issue is above Obama’s pay grade, and that he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In that case, they’d still be better off supporting the candidate who understands the pay grade he’s already at and the pay grade of the job for which he’s campaigning.
Update: I didn’t think about this at the time, but isn’t Barack Obama a Constitutional law scholar? Isn’t a question of personhood supposed to be in that “pay grade”?
Update II: You can watch the unclipped version of the CBN exchange here.