Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama, Abortion and Mental Health Revisited

Obama and his campaign are “clarifying” (or as Ramesh Ponnuru says “revising”) his position on abortion and mental health after his interview with Relevant magazine in which he came across as being against allowing late-term abortion for mental health.

Jan Crawford Greenburg isn’t really buying Obama’s newest position err..... most recent convoluted explanation of the position he’s supposedly always had but which seems to differ rather dramatically based on which audience he’s talking to.
Here's the problem with that, and why Obama's remarks are so startling. Obama is trying to restrict abortions after 22 weeks to those women who have a serious disease or illness. But the law today also covers some women who are in "mental distress," those women who would suffer emotional and psychological harm without an abortion.

This standard has long been understood to require less than "serious clinical mental health disease." Women today don't have to show they are suffering from a "serious clinical mental health disease" or "mental illness" before getting an abortion post-viability, as Obama now says is appropriate.

And for 35 years—since Roe v. Wade—they've never had to show that.

So Obama, it seems to me, still is backing away from what the law says—and backing away from a proposed federal law (of which he is a co-sponsor) that envisions a much broader definition of mental health than the one he laid out this week.
Yuval Levin thinks Obama's updated position would be a good thing....if we could believe a word of it.
As with his other recent “refinements,” his substantive move here would certainly be a welcome one, even an important one from such a prominent Democrat, if there were any reason at all to believe him. But given how quickly and seamlessly he has appeared to switch positions on so many prominent issues in the last few weeks, and how he has tried to present each new position as what he has always believed (rather than, in this case for instance, make a point of having come to disagree with at least the most extreme views of the abortion lobby) it is hard to imagine that either side on any of these issues finds much comfort in these increasingly peculiar neck-snapping reversals.

As for my wondering about the response of pro-choice organizations and pro-choice bloggers regarding Obama’s original statement in his interview with Relevant, NARAL Pro-Choice America claims they don’t have a problem with Obama’s statement because of his previous votes. NARAL’s defense is something Huffington Post blogger Earl Ofari Hutchinson isn’t pleased with.

Jill at Feministe was upset:
Either Obama caved to anti-choicers on this one, or he really believes it and isn’t as strongly pro-choice as many of us thought. I’m not sure which is worse.

Zuzu at Shakesville has the feeling (language warning) that Obama doesn’t knows what he’s talking about when it comes to abortion:
So either he's making a disingenuous pitch to evangelical voters, or he hasn't taken the trouble to study the issue and the actual cases (kind of a big failing in a Constitutional Law prof, no?).
Zippy at the Lurking Canary says Obama’s comments to Revelant were “idiot statements on abortion” and isn’t happy with NARAL’s response.

You can also note some responses in the comments section of the pro-choice blogs as well as Greenburg post.

No comments:

Post a Comment