George W. Bush (r), (Incumbent, Will not Run in ’08)

G. Bush has long billed himself as a pro-life advocate. Although he has never been in favor of a complete ban on abortion, he has consistently opposed abortion in non-extreme cases- for example, the Partial Birth Adoption Ban of 2003. His ability to align his pro-life views with those of Christian America played a large factor in each of his Presidential victories in 2000 and in 2004.

Interestingly, his stance has been criticized for its lack of strength over the years; indeed, many have made the case that he tends to avoid the issue of abortion more than he cleanly addresses it. Bush’s statement “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t believe in forcing my morality on anyone else” comes across as decidedly pro-choice. Additionally, there is some debate as to whether Bush had originally voted pro-choice, but had later switched stance to become more “Republican-friendly.”

His administration has firmly denied any pro-choice attitudinal aspects he may have had at every turn. His 2000 campaign, however, subtly suggests an acknowledgement to the contrary. His opponent, Al Gore Jr., had quite visibly switched stances from his pro-life views during his 1970’s Congressional days to his pro-choice one of the 90’s. Analysts predicted that Bush’s campaign would drive this point home heavily, with all the standard “flip-flop” attacks. Surprisingly, after a few initial mentions, the point was dropped almost entirely in perhaps a strategy of self-defense.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Abortion only in extreme cases

What his actions say: No abortion whatsoever

Hillary Clinton (d), (Candidate, ’08)

Try as she may to prevent it, H. Clinton is gradually becoming known in some circles as a highly liberal feminist. Her “democrat-friendly” pro-choice view certainly does nothing to help combat that sort of thinking.

Thus, over the last few months, Clinton has attempted to cast pro-choice views in a more favorable light. Traditionally, pro-life views appeal to Christian groups; Clinton, in a recent speech, cast “faith, family, and responsibility” as three progressive catch-words for pro-choice views in order to perhaps tap into that demographic.

In that same speech, Clinton had another very interesting triad of words thrown out. “Safe, legal, never,” she proclaimed as opposed to the customary “safe, legal, rare.” This in itself is quite a bold statement to make, and again one which helps reposition pro-choice views in a positive light for Christian groups.

The Bottom Line__

What she says: Allowing abortion, teaching responsibility will reduce abortion

What her actions say: Allowing abortion, teaching responsibility will reduce abortion

John McCain (r), (Candidate, ’08)

J. McCain has long been criticized for “flip-flopping” on a variety of issues. According to him, “his 17 year voting record proves that he is pro-life.” Pro-life activists, however, have grown increasingly worried at McCain’s candidacy for a number of reasons.

One of the philosophies of the pro-life movement, is that abortion is not needed in any case- human life is sacred no matter the situation. McCain has declared in the past that he finds abortion “necessary.” Congressman Henry Hyde has criticized McCain’s desire to weaken the Republican’s pro-life platform. Finally, based on exit polls in the 2000 New Hampshire primary, “pro-choice Republicans overwhelmingly preferred McCain above all the other candidates.”

The Bottom Line__

What he says: No abortion

What his actions say: Abortion in special cases

Barack Obama (d), (Candidate, ’08)

The one thing B. Obama cannot be accused of is flip-flopping when it comes to abortion. The owner of a 100% pro-abortion voting record, his support has been such that his views have at times been declared “fanatical.” (An interesting article elaborating on this point can be found here.)

He remains in support of the partial-birth abortion, something that has led right-wing activists to label him as “merciless,” and “cruel.” Unlike H. Clinton, however, Obama has refused to reposition his views in a more “packagable” way, choosing to stand by his opinions till the very end.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Allow abortion in all cases

What his actions say: Allow abortion in all cases

Rudy Giuliani (r), (Candidate, ’08)

I’ve said that I’ll uphold a woman’s right of choice, that I will fund abortion so that a poor woman is not deprived of a right that others can exercise, and that I would oppose going back to a day in which abortions were illegal.” So said R. Giuliani for a 1999 interview with Newsday. Indeed, this quote epitomizes the irksome feeling plaguing Republicans that Giuliani is too liberal for the Republican nomination.

Giuliani is a pro-choice Republican, something which could bring devastating effects to his campaign; he has not supported bans on partial birth abortions in the past. Giuliani has gradually presented his view in a more conservative friendly light over the past few months, with quotes such as “I hate [abortion]. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against.”

Nevertheless, he ended that interview with the following: “However, I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that.”

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Philosophically opposed, but respects choice

What his actions say: Philosophically opposed, but respects choice

John Edwards (d), (Candidate, ’08)

J. Edwards, like B. Obama, has been very unequivocal as to his stance on abortion; he is decidedly pro-choice. However, he has one advantage in terms of his position with the Catholic vote that Hillary Clinton does not. As The Catholic Exchange puts it, “because of his Baptist background, he is able to convey the impression that he is seriously anguished over what happens during an abortion; that when says he wants to keep “abortion legal but rare,” he means it.”

Edwards has also won the backing of several abortion activists, most notably Kate Michelman, the former president of the NARAL-Pro Choice America.

Michelman contends that “[Edwards] has never backed down or retreated from a woman’s right to choose, and he understands women’s role in society.”

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Allow abortions in most cases

What his actions say: Allow abortions in most cases

Mitt Romney (r), (Candidate, ’08)

At the time he first vied for a public office in the United States- in Massachusetts- M. Romney declared he wished to keep abortion “safe and legal in this country.” Since then, he has greatly played up his opposition to abortion in general. He has been in support of the “partial-birth abortion” and many consider him to be an anti-abortionist at heart.

The Massachusetts Citizens for Life organization considers Romney a pro-life supporter as well.

Of all the flip-floppers, though, Romney could be considered the biggest. In 1994, he declared that his 1960’s experience with abortion- his brother-in-law’s sister died of a botched illegal abortion- taught him that abortion should remain legal regardless of personal belief. After reinstating that belief in 2002, he has shifted to a more traditional right wing view leading up to his announcement of eligibility for the 2008 Presidential election.

The Bottom Line__

What he says: Firmly pro-life

What his actions say: Was pro-life, then pro-choice, then pro-life; there remains an inconclusiveness as to how genuine his current stance is

2 Responses to “Abortion”

  1. Interesting post, and accurately portrays most of the positions.
    I think Rudy has tried to move to the right subtly by saying in interviews he would appoint Scalia, Alito, and Roberts types of justices.

  1. 1 Issue Index « Mango Ice Cream

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