Obama “More Centrist” on Abortion Says “Pro-Life” Leader

Sen. Barack Obama met yesterday with several faith leaders, from a variety of political perspectives, in a private closed door meeting. Among the attendees, Rev. Franklin Graham, whose presence was deemed significant by CBN reporter David Brody, since Graham has yet to meet with McCain. Issues discussed included the senator’s support for abortion rights and gay rights.

Steve Strang, the founder of Charisma Magazine, attended and wrote this about the private meeting on his blog, The Strang Report, describing Obama’s response to his question on abortion as being "more centrist than expected."

The questions were mostly “softball” questions in my opinion. I was
concerned after three or four general questions that we wouldn’t ask
the most important questions. So I raised my hand and he called on me.
I said, “Senator, I want to ask a question I’m sure you are expecting
regarding your position on abortion. I represent a segment of the
church where nearly everyone considers the issue of supporting life to
be the most important issue and where nearly everyone would be opposed
to abortion. I want to ask what your stand on abortion is and if you
believe what I think you believe, how you justify that with your
Christian faith and why you think we should vote for you.”

his response was “off-the-record,” I can say that the time he took to
answer was probably 15 minutes. He came across as thoughtful and much
more of a “centrist” than what I would have expected. He did not appear
to be the crazy leftist that is being supported by George Soros and his
radical leftist friends. Sen. Obama looked me in the eye as he answered
my question, almost as if it were a one-on-one interview. I had already
read the chapter on “faith” in his book the “Audacity of Hope.” If you
want to know how he answered the question, read that chapter.


What Mr. Strang and many of his fellow prohibitionists in the "pro-life" movement fail to realize is that many pro-choice people are "more centrist" than they expect. It is their failure to give any ground on the abortion issue, to even discuss education and prevention issues, that many progressives and liberals support, that has resulted in the divisive nature of the debate about legal abortion.

It isn’t the "left" that needs to move on the issue of legal abortion, it is the far right — those who are pure prohibitionists, anti-contraception, advocating for abstinece-only-until-marraige programs — for they have used this issue to gain power and allowed people like Karl Rove to use it to manipulate others of genuine belief and good faith to win elections.

Perhaps Mr. Strang, and others, can one day find their way toward the "more centrist" views that the vast majority of Americans hold when it comes to sexuality education, contraception, and women’s rights to safe, legal abortion. As we often say on this site, prohibition will not stop abortion, only make it unsafe for the women who seek it.

The Associated Press reported that attendance at the meeting ran across the political spectrum,

About 30 people attended, the campaign said, but it released only
three names: the Rev. Stephen Thurston, head of the National Baptist
Convention of America, Inc., a historically black denomination; the
Rev. T. Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist
Convention, Inc., which was home to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders; and Bishop Phillip Robert Cousin Sr., an A.M.E. clergyman and former NAACP board member.

Two sources familiar with the meeting, but who spoke on background
because the session was private, said others attending included
conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer Doug Kmiec; evangelical
author Max Lucado
of San Antonio; Cameron Strang, founder of Relevant Media, which is
aimed at young Christians; the Rev. Luis Cortes of Esperanza USA; and
Paul Corts, president of the Council of Christian Colleges and

Jill Stanek refuses to believe the facts as reported about who attended, preferring to lead her readers to believe that no Catholics, or Evangelicals, were present. Once again, Jill gets it wrong.

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  • invalid-0


    Obama’s more left than most lefties. I think McCain’s “leave it to the states” is more ‘centrist’ than Obama; and I support the right to choose.

  • scott-swenson

    Dear Anonymous,

    Do you have any facts to support that opinion? The person I quoted, Steve Strang, is recognized as a leading voice among "pro-life" people, so his words, having spoken directly with Sen. Obama, carry considerable weight. It is true that some people hold a "states’ rights" perspective, but most people realize that means going backwards not forwards. This is why the majority of Americans support comprehensive sexuality education, accessible contraception and safe, legal abortion. Other conservatives such as David Frum have acknowledged that the far-right needs to get off the abortion issue because, as he writes, a certain and significant number of abortions are in fact, "medically necessary." Stating that you believe Obama is "left of the lefties" is an interesting comment, from an anonymous commenter claiming to support the right to choose. I just happen to think people who are more critical of abortion rights, like Strang, and Frum, acknowledging more centrist positions is far more interesting, and meaningful to people who care deeply about these issues — on both sides. Our goal should be to seek common ground where truly centrist positions, like the Prevention First proposals put forth in Congress, can be defined. Thanks for writing, but maybe next time, you’ll back up your empty rhetoric.



    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    It’s true that Roe v Wade needs some overhauling. It did not go nearly far enough in asserting a woman’s right to dominion over her own body and over the next twenty or so years of her life.

    While all the reasons the various Justices cited in decisions from Eisenstadt v Baird , Griswold v Connecticut, and Roe v Wade for creating a zone of privacy that includes the right of privacy as to “the decision whether to bear or beget a child” are valid enough, there is a still better rationale for more severely limiting the state and federal governement’s ability to infringe on women’s rights of contraception and abortion. That better rationale is the 13th Ammendment which says “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convictecd, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Now involunary pregnancy is most assuredly a short term slavery : one has a parisite living inside one’s body, draining one’s bodily resources, and threatening one’s continued health and even one’s life. Involuntary parenthood, the task of rearing a child one does not want, is long term slavery : about twenty years of laboring to provide for the support and education of that child.
    Therefore, under the 13th Ammendment, the states and federal governments should be absolutely barred from putting any obstacles in the way of contraception or abortion save only for those absolutely essential regulations needed to make any medical drugs or surgical procedures reasonably safe and effective. The standard of permissible regulation should be limited to that level and kind of regulation that would be applicable to any other drug or procedure.
    We already know that currently a medically supervised childbirth is about 8 times more dangerous to maternal health and life than is a medically supervised abortion. Less publicised is the fact that the risks of being murdered by the pregnant woman’s male spouse or by male lover is about 8 times the risk of dying in childbirth.

    As to the need to remove all obstacles to contraception, let me point out the brain-dead-simple obvious : the only reason an abortion is ever sought is because an unwanted and/or accidental pregnancy has occurred. Anyone who really honestly wants to reduce the incidence of abortion should be doing everything within his or her power to make contraceptive knowledge and contraceptive drugs and devices universally available. That includes making such knowledge, as accurate as current scientific knowledge allows, available and diligently taught to children beginning several years before the onset of puberty. Young people need to know how to prevent pregnancy and STDs long before they experience the urges that could lead them to engage in activities that put them at risk for these. Just saying abstinence does not do it for 99.999 % of the population. And for a non-abstinent adult to preach abstinece is just hypocrisy. (There is of course one appropriate audience for abstinence preachments : perhaps an Abstinence course should be required for all who run for state and national elective offices, holders of which have lately racked up a very poor record for sexual indiscretions.)

    Otherwise, we shall have to implement Shakespeare’s suggestion , Act II Scene I of Measure for Measure : “does your worship mean to geld and spay all the youth of the city ?”