Roundup: Debate Analysis, Catholics Votes, and CA Newspapers Say No on Prop 4


Debate Reactions

If Barack Obama and pro-choicers all over the country have
their way, abortion might lose its political charge and become "boring," writes William Saletan on Slate.  In last night’s presidential debate, Obama
the "technician" approached abortion pragmatically, examining ways pro-
and anti-choicers could work together on measures that reduce the rate of
unintended pregnancy.  "Obama has been
talking about abortion this way all along, when the subject comes up. He
doesn’t like us-and-them language. He doesn’t like fights. Even on this
issue–one of the nastiest, angriest, most polarizing topics in modern
politics–he looks for a course most of us can agree on," writes Saletan. "He tries to turn even
moral issues into technical issues."  The
way McCain talks about abortion, on the other hand, is by moralizing, rather
than offering common sense solutions, Saletan observes: "Bad. Terrible.
Extreme. Clear-cut. Feelings. Mainstream America
. This is the way
McCain, Sarah Palin, and George W. Bush talk: There’s honor and evil, good guys
and bad guys. We fight for the good side. Our opponents don’t. They’re extreme."

Meanwhile, the LA
Times fact-checked
McCain’s assertions about Obama’s position on the Born
Alive Infant Protection Act. "Sen.
Obama, as a member of the Illinois
state Senate, voted in the judiciary committee against a law that would provide
immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted
against that," McCain said.  The LA
Times reacts:

Obama said the bill would have undermined legal protections for
abortion provided by Roe vs. Wade. He defended his vote by saying that
"there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing life-saving
treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and
Democrats voted against it.
Factcheck.org supports Obama’s assertion that there was already a law
protecting such babies and has criticized an ad by an antiabortion group
featuring a woman who says she was born in a failed abortion. The woman says
she would not be alive "if Barack Obama had his way. Illinois law since 1975 requires that if a child is born alive during an
abortion, the physician "shall exercise the same degree of professional
skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would
be required of a physician providing immediate medical care to a child born
alive in the course of a pregnancy termination which was not an abortion. Failure to do so is a felony in Illinois.

On the Huffington
Post
, Michele Swenson regretted Obama’s lost opportunity to confront McCain
on the Republican’s opposition to contraception access. "Once again, the media
and even Democratic candidate Barack Obama, have failed to follow-up on
McCain’s stated opposition to abortion by questioning his equal opposition to
contraception – the primary means to reduce the rate of abortion," she writes.  Given McCain’s votes against low-income women’s
access to birth control, his opposition to comprehensive sexuality education,
his support of the global gag rule, and his unwillingness to denounce sweeping
provider-conscience laws, Swenson wonders whether McCain may indeed consider
forms of contraception murder.

And Midwest Voices
notices that even though both candidates claimed not to have litmus tests for
the kind of judges they’d nominate to the Supreme Court, each man then outlined
a set of "qualifications" that sound an awful lot like a litmus test:

John
McCain
and Barack Obama both say they don’t like
litmus tests.

Yet McCain essentially says someone who supports abortion would not be on
his list of judges qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. In other words,
that’s a litmus test.

Obama says he supports abortion rights, and he would look for judges with a
world view. It doesn’t sound like a litmus test, but Obama doesn’t answer the
question directly.

So, yes, Obama seems to have a litmus test, too.

Voting Catholics

On US
News and World Report
, John Aloyssius Farrell tells Catholic voters that if
they really want to decrease the abortion rate, they should vote pro-choice, the party that will take practical steps to make abortion "safe, legal and rare:"

And
as a matter of practical politics, Catholic voters who vote Republican because
they think the GOP is a strong foe of abortion have been sold a bill of goods.

In the 35 years since Roe v. Wade guaranteed a right of abortion
for women, the Republicans, though dominating American politics, have
consistently failed to take the tough political steps necessary to outlaw the
practice.

Ultimately, the absolutist position taken by antiabortion forces has been
counterproductive. By focusing so much on overturning Roe v. Wade and
refusing to work with pro-choice politicians on pragmatic steps that would
actually reduce the number of abortions, they’ve let the perfect be the enemy
of the good.

Truth be told, there is nothing that Democratic Party leaders would like more
than to make abortion safe, legal, and rare.

If they really believe that abortion is an abominable sin, Catholic
conservatives should seize the opportunity to work with pro-choice Democrats on
the "rare" part of that equation and save tens of thousands of
potential lives each year….If the Catholic clergy truly believes that abortion
is so intrinsic an evil-a sin above sins-then it’s time to blink at the lesser
transgressions of birth control and sex education. Not just in America, but
around the world.

You want to reduce the number of abortions? Distribute condoms and show
teens how to use them.

California Newspapers Come Out Against Parental Notification

The Pasadena
Star-News
comes out against California’s
Proposition 4, mandate parental notification of teens seeking abortion. The
Star-News notes that 79% of teens already notify their parents; the ones who
don’t are often in abusive homes where telling parents about an unintended
pregnancy could jeopardize the safety of the teen.  The supposed exception is Byzantine, and
still unhelpful:

In order for a girl to be able to instead inform a
"surrogate" parent – an aunt or other adult family member, say – she
would have to somehow maneuver our courts system, arrange an appearance before
a judge, request a formal petition and then sign legally binding paperwork that
would go to Child Protective Services declaring that one or both parents are
child abusers, opening parents up to investigation and prosecution.

A teen dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is the last person in the world
likely to be able to jump through those hoops.

The paper notes the likely outcome of Prop 4: "The sad fact is that if this
one were to pass, desperate Southern California
teens unable to communicate with parents would likely seek abortions elsewhere
– illegally, self-induced, south of the border, in other states. Quite clearly
they would wait longer."

The Chico
Enterprise-Record
concurred; "Proposition 4 requires a waiting period and
parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion. California voters rejected all but identical
measures in 2005 and 2006, and should vote it down again in 2008. The proposal isn’t about parental notification. It’s about stopping
abortion, and it won’t do that. It’ll just force teens underground. Vote no on
Proposition 4."

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