To Be Expected

As expected, President Obama has begun his campaign to promote abortion from the White House. Instead of simply reacting angrily, prolifers need to breathe deeply and think seriously about what’s going on and what’s likely to happen next.

In particular, the more gullible among those who usually are described as social conservatives need to resist the temptation of imagining that because Obama takes a low-key, seemingly reasonable approach, what he’s doing really isn’t so bad.

Something written by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides a useful key to grasping that point.

Writing after the President’s executive order that restored funding to groups that perform and promote abortion overseas, Dionne — an Obama partisan and faithful Democrat — said Obama had waited until the day after the annual March for Life in order to “poach constituencies” from the Republicans by presenting an appearance of non-confrontational moderation.

If Dionne is correct — and almost certainly he is — that goes a long way to undercut the foolish reaction of those individuals who felt, or professed to feel, that Obama was doing them a favor by not sticking it to the prolife movement while the marchers were still in town.

I have in mind people like “progressive evangelical” Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who reacted to the executive order by gushing that the President was “showing respect” and creating “a new common ground” by waiting 24 hours to do the deed. One can only suppose that Wallis is the kind of chap who, after being punched in the nose, hastens to thank his assailant for not also punching him in the stomach.

Among other things, Wallis’ reaction ignores the fact that in postponing the executive order until late in the day on a Friday and then avoiding fanfare about it, President Obama saved himself needless headaches by delaying most media coverage until Saturday — the day of the week when people pay the least attention to the news.

So, Obama’s repeal of the “Mexico City policy” has gotten the administration’s pro-abortion ball rolling. What comes next? The President says he looks forward to working with Congress on restoring federal money to the UN population agency and its abortion programs. Administration sources sketch the same scenario — Congress and White House working in tandem — for lifting the restrictions federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that President Bush imposed by limiting it to cell lines that existed at the time of his decision.  

Others think there’s a good chance that an attempt will be made to repeal the Hyde Amendment barring federal money for Medicaid abortions. (Reportedly under pressure from Obama to compromise, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats dropped from the economic stimulus package a provision for non-Medicaid contraception and abortion which critics called a bailout for the abortion industry.) Waiting in the wings is the Freedom of Choice Act elevating abortion to the status of a fundamental right in the eyes of the law.

What’s discernible in all this is Obama’s desire to let Congress do as much of the dirty work on abortion as he can. The President for his part will back the pro-abortion measures even while declaring respect for those who disagree and piously expressing hope that the number of abortions will decline.

Against this background, it should be clear that social conservatives who then suppose they’re scoring points because Obama’s demeanor is mild and his rhetoric is moderate will have earned the punching around they’re likely to get at the hands of this very smart man and his friends.    

Russell Shaw


Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, D.C. You can email him at

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  • Great article! Definitely still need to keep the pressure on!

    One word of caution, tho…I think we need to banish the phrase “social conservative” from our own lexicon…it implies a real choice between “liberal” and “conservative” views. The issue of abortion is a “human rights” or “civil rights” issue..not a social one.

    Let’s not get pidgeon holed as “social conservatives” as if we’re merely a political interest group…

  • jvista

    To continue the boxing/punching analogy: FOCA is Obama’s right fist–we are focused on it, because he’s winding it up. However, the Prevention First Act is his left fist. While we’re distracted with the imminent right roundhouse, he’s gonna nail us in the face with the left jab.

  • dennisofraleigh

    Don’t think for a moment that POTUS Obama will moderate his grim determination to move his pro-abortion agenda forward. To those who take exception to my characterization of Obama’s agenda as anything but “pro-abortion” please do us all a favor and demonstrate how there is any substantive difference between a “pro-choice” Obama (or any lawmaker, for that matter) and one who might be characterized as “pro-abotion.” Obama’s commitment to fighting for “reproductive rights” is part of the public record. What he doesn’t realize is that we in the pro-life cause are just as determined to see the juggernaut of abortion turned back, but our struggle is not with flesh and blood politicos, but ultimately the invisible forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12).

  • Grace Harman

    I agree with that “punching” analogy. Prevention First is a sneaky “left fist” that promotes abortion through contraceptive failure, and I also that we are dealing with “Forces of darkness”. Anyone who could be “against torture” of war criminals, but sees nothing wrong about tearing a tiny child limb from limb doesn’t really have true compassion. There have been many millions of babies tortured to death and Obama looks the other way and refuses to save even those who survive their attempted murders.

  • Cooky642

    Thanks, Grace: a couple of good points to be made in the battle for minds and hearts!

  • GaryT

    We need to not let the pro-abortion movement control the agenda and the language. I know this can be difficult, but wherever we can, we need to re-define the issues and the terms:

    1. Once the problem is defined a unwanted pregnancies, then the obvious “solutions” are contraception and abortion. We need to re-define the problem. The problem is not teen-pregnancy. The problem is teen promiscuity which produces unwanted pregnancies, unwanted abortions, and unwanted STDs. Contraception only reduces the risk of the first two and does little or nothing for the 3rd. In contrast, legal contraception and abortion actually encourage promiscuity, thus being the culprit to the problem not the solution.

    2. Abstinence has not been proven to not work. Quite the contrary. 50 years ago, our culture taught abstinence and the out-of wedlock pregnancy rate was much lower than now. In fact, it has been used effectively for 100s if not 1000s of years. The problem is that abstinence programs are fighting an uphill battle against a culture and media determined to glorify sex at the exclusion of anything else. When the culture re-inforces abstinence, it has been proven to work very well.

    3. A “fundamental right” can only be truly that if it can apply to all people throughout all time. Otherwise it isn’t fundamental (duh!). Abortion is dependent on technologies which are not available to all people throughout all time, so therefore cannot be a fundamental right. When a government grants a specific privelege through legal means (rather than recognize a right that was always there) we would do best to call these “entitlements” so as to avoid confusion with actual rights. Pr-choicers believe any woman should be entitled to have an abortion (well provided they are pregnant first) while pro-lifers believe that such an entitlement infringes on the fundamental right to life of the unborn child. When in conflict, fundamental rights must always trump entitlements.

    4. Life beginning at conception is a scientifically proven fact, not a religious belief. The moral question is merely whether unborn persons have an equal right to life as born persons.

    5. A “fetus” or “embryo” is still 100% human just like a “baby” or “teenager” is. Calling a person an embryo doesn’t change their DNA.

    Wherever possible, please call out these misdirections that pro-choicers commonly use. Their version of the truth simply does not jive with reality, so we must point out the absurdity of their positions and either convert them to pro-life if their heart is open.

  • fatherjo

    Pro-lifers need to start planning for the 2012 presidential election. We need damage control!