Could pro-choice Obama reduce the U.S. abortion rate?

October 9, 2008

Matthew 25 Network logoFinancial fears and campaign-trail mud-slinging have so dominated the U.S. presidential race in recent weeks that several issues worth serious debate have mostly drifted off the public radar screen. Judging by the latest presidential debate, one of them off on the sidelines now is abortion. This has hit my radar screen, though, because some Barack Obama supporters have made what seems to be an incredible claim — that the most pro-choice candidate in the running could actually lower the overall number of abortions in the United States. Huh?

The Matthew 25 Network, which calls itself “pro-life pro-Obama,” says “an Obama administration will do more than a McCain administration for the cause of life, by drastically reducing abortions through giving women and families the support and the tools they need to choose life.”

Over at Beliefnet, editor-in-chief Steve Waldman has two very interesting posts about this. The first one says that Obama supports Medicaid funding for abortion, which obviously would make getting one easier. The Democratic candidate also supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which “would wipe out state laws, including moderate ones that merely require parental notification for teens seeking abortion.” So it looks like total abortions would rise during an Obama administration.

Steve WaldmanBut Waldman’s second post points to a rarely discussed aspect of the abortion issue: “during Democratic administrations (pro-choice administrations) the average annual abortion rate is virtually identical to that under Republican administrations.” There may be something to the Matthew 25 claim, he says, “however, Barack Obama has severely undermined his ability to make such an argument.”

Waldman’s second post is long and thoughtful, so I won’t try to condense it. Read it in full.

This paradox about abortion rates first caught my attention years ago when I was covering Germany’s reunification. Communist East Germany had abortion on demand German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, 27 Sept 2008/poolwhile West Germany allowed abortion with several restrictions. When he tried to harmonise all eastern and western laws in an East-West treaty in a hurry before unification in 1990, West German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (who is once again interior minister in Berlin) found to his surprise that “at least according to the statistics, the protection of unborn life is neither more nor less guaranteed in East Germany than it is in West Germany. The number of abortions per capita is about equally high in both parts of Germany.” He and his East German counterpart had to leave the abortion issue out of the treaty because they couldn’t find away to resolve it in the short time available to them. It was left to the future united German parliament to decide and it basically adopted the western law.

We had a heated debate here about a Catholic archbishop calling the Democrats the “party of death.” What do you think of this Matthew 25 claim? Can some pro-choice policies really lower the abortion rate? Or is that not the question to ask at all?


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I heard someone make a comparison between slavery and abortion, namely that each should be outlawed, not reduced. The willingness of people like Wilderforce to work for decades to end the slave trade should be a model to follow to “reduce” the abortion rate, namely reducing by ending.

And many arguments about “reducing” abortion rate include notes about how when the economy is doing better, there are fewer abortions. Do we really want to link something as important as preserving life to the fickleness of markets and the yearning after “The American Dream”?

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Your commenter Chris compares slavery and abortion erroneously. To outlaw slavery was to guarantee civil rights to people. To outlaw abortion would be to revoke civil rights from women. I’m assuming Chris thinks that zygotes deserve full human civil rights that people who are actually born have, but I would argue the validity of that, as well.

It’s not such a good idea for the federal government to dictate to women what their medical care must be, or to criminalize private reproductive decisions. Being forced to be pregnant and give birth against their will is no different than China forcing its citizens to have abortions.

Posted by Nicole | Report as abusive

Nicole–you are free–you are free to choose whether you will have sex or not. IF you choose to have sex, and you become pregnant–then you have another persons civil rights to consider–those of the person growing inside of you. And you DO NOT have the right to end that persons life becasue your gamble did not go the way you wanted it to–that is, that you could have sex and NOT become pregnant. YOU made the CHOICE to have sex and you must then live with the consequences of your choice–which is the possiblity of concieving a child. Women really got it ALL WRONG when they deceidced that freedom and civil rights for them meant that they should be able to act just as immorally and iresponsiblly as men who have sex and then walk away from the consequences of it do–a preganacy. To have that same “freedom” women had to claim the ‘abortion is my civil right’, ‘its my body’ justifuication. NO, your civil rights are not unencombered when there is a baby inside of you–then you must swallow hard and live with your choice–for at least 9 months.

Posted by Pr | Report as abusive

Dear Pr…..
I do not condone abortion; neither do I support those who choose to legislate morality. I take issue with your letter to Nicole. You said “you become pregnant–then you have another persons civil rights to consider–those of the person growing inside of you.” For starters, our Civil Rights are an outgrowth of our Constitution. For that Constitution, one must have a legal right (you want legislation so here it is) to the protection of the Constitution. In order to claim the rights of the Constitution one must be a Citizen of the U.S.A. In other words…the clear fact is the unborn are not legal citizens UNTIL they are BORN….otherwise, where does the term BIRTHDAY come. What does the term Birthday mean to you? For me…it means the day I was born. That should be simple enough to understand, but let us really put a truly MORAL judgement regarding the situation.

You err in the respect of any LAW or regulation you wish to promulgate so let us get it correct. The decision, morally speaking, is wrong; so we agree. But if an unrighteous act could have been prevented via Legislation, the right God gave to Adam/Eve was wrong under your interpretation thus you are saying God is wrong for granting the FREE WILL to choose. You err further by desiring to usurp the authority of God by attempting to pass LAWS preventing a FREE WILL choice (even if the choice is wrong)…..again attempting to usurp the authority of God. In other words you are attempting to tell God He was wrong from the very beginning and YOU know best therefore you slap God in the face and are actually attempting (unknowingly perhaps) to usurp your will over the WILL of God. This is the deceptive condition which exist in your do good philosophy making the Word of God and the power thereof of non effect. You attempt to usurp the authority of God by LAW and it was never the WILL of God for mankind to live by law…..the LAW came as a result of man’s desire to have laws and be like the other people. They needed LAWS because of the SIN in their lives. Now you want to pass laws and make an “accusation” of SIN….so YOU are behaving in the same manner that brought Lucifer (Bright Morning Star) to the Serpent in the dust of the Earth. You and the Church have been CONservatived to the point you cannot see the light but rather choose legislation/laws that would have no heart changing effect. Now we can clearly see where the line of division lies. Are you going to continue to tell God that He was wrong for granting mankind Free Will eventhough God KNEW it would result in the death of Mankind…thus your viewpoint regarding the freedom to exersize one’s will makes God responsible for the sin of the world. If legalism/law could have made man righteous there would not have been any need for a NEW COVENANT which is not based on law but is based on the relationship between mankind and God. When God, without legalism of the Church, comes in, there will be a heart change thus eliminating abortion.
Your attempts at preventing abortion are noble, yet your method only produces more death and condemnation broutht about by the “accusation” made possible by the LAW you want produced and because your plan is contrary to the plan of God on the specifics herein would ultimately lead to total bondage under the control of demonic authority. The Woman has the right to make the choice. The choice was decided Constitutionally by an appointment by a REPUBLICAN to the Supreme Court and his name is Judge Blackmon…..thus is time you live by the LAW which you now hate.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto all nations. Jeremiah 1:5

God knew you before you were conceived. You argue a Great Point, I sense you might be a lawyer.

We can argue great points all day, but one day we all will stand before God and have to answer for what we did with His Son Jesus.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works… And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12

As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one
Romans 3:10

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans 3:28

The law was given to show that we can’t live a sinless life. God Himself gave the 10 Commandments.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned Romans 5:12

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 6:23

This is how we get our names in the Book of Life.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9,10

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

This is above Politics it is Your Relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Very good posting, Jeff.

when we become god in our mind, we ignore that there is a true God, the Master of the Universe, Christ Jesus!

pro-choice is a political term, to mask pro-abortion.
Obama is pro-abortion, he supports abortion!
read articles by him, and of him.

EWTN(on the net) had a very good article on Obama, in the 7 October Catholic News article, by Armando Valladares, Cuban and former US ambassador. entitled,
Electing Obama Goes Against Life, Family, and the U.S., Says Human Rights Expert.

be informed.

Posted by an observer | Report as abusive

Dear Jeff…thanks for the reply. No, I am not an attorney, but there is an attorney by the “same” name. It’s hard to believe but it is the truth, and I have a very unusual last name.

Nevertheless, you quoted a lot of scripture. Perhaps you will bless us with the conclusion one must reach after reading “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned Romans 5:12 ” Now tell us how many shall be made ALIVE by the obedience of Christ! Can you say “ALL”? One does not have to reach for that interpretation because the word clearly says ALL.
Have you ever read “all flesh is as grass and will wither and burn”….a loose quotation. I hope you do not believe in a literal interpretation because if you do, God is made into a terrible Father.

When we take away free will, we are behaving like Lucifer and we know what happened to him. Perhaps if we read carefully the so called Lucifer is present in the unregerate image of God called MAN! The only way out is to be born again.

Thanks again.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

I am woman and a mother, please let me speak up here – we need to have a choice for life. Banning abortion is not allowing one to choose, this is disturbing. It’s like ALL MEN regardless of religions should be CIRCUMCISED, I think everybody should be allowed to choose. Pro-Choice is necessary for women. For you male, please stop dictating HOW I WANT to live as a woman. I want sex education so my daughters could have a choice not to have teen sex, I want my daughters to be independent and to think for themselves. I want my sons to respect the bodies of women. I believe Obama is a great parent to his daughters, he will make a great leader on reducing abortions in this country. I believe I am the daughter of God, I believe Jesus has told me the Pro-Choice is the way to go.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

Larry–before I was ever a Christian–which was not until I was 32–I was a 16 year old–in 1972–when the entire discussion about if the newly concieved life inside a woman was about if it was a ‘person’ or human being yet or not–or when. At that time, I thought it through for myself and here was my thought process.
‘If people believe they cannot say for certain WHEN the growing life inside is a human or person–that it is not “provable’, then in order NOT to make a horrible mistake and commit murder, one would have to err on the side of caution and therefore give the benefit of the doubt to the position that it IS a human life’. Later in life I became a Christain and saw that the Bible takes the position that life begins at conception, so I mention that in my arguement here. However for those who do not have a religious viewpoint–and I didnt at 16–I believe the reasoning I presented here agaisnt abortion based on giving the benefit of the doubt to the possiblilty of life beginning at conception is strong enough that it (abortion) ought not be something that is legal.

Larry in this society we have laws to protect people, and to assert that such protection ought to be extended to life in-utero is certainly not usurping God’s authority or anyone rights of choice or free will. Woemn can choose to have an illegal abortionn if they want in a society that makes it illegal–that is their choice. People are free to disobey the law and do every day. Women do not have the ‘right’ however, to exterminate their unborn children– morally– even if at this time in this country they do legally. They have the ‘right’ and ‘choice’ however to take control of their bodies in deceiding about if they will have sex or not. IF they decied to do so, and if they or their partner is not sterile then its their duty to live with the consequences of their actions –and there ought to be major financial, emotional and spiritual support groups to help any woman who does not want to keep her child or needs help to get thought a pregancy she is not happy about– with absoutlely no judgments placed on her AT all. But I do not apologize for taking a clear stand on this. Planned parenthood would do far greater service to humanity if they would put MAJOR priority and funding into being a place of support for women who are pregnant and need support through the pregancy.

Posted by Pr | Report as abusive

of for heavens sake—we need to have a choice….

OK. So please, lets legalize murder, robbery, and rape because darn it, those rapists are being deprived the right to assualt women against their will and get away with it and that just ISNT FAIR! And those murderers, why they need to be able to choose whether they can murder and walk away from it with no penality or not, becasue after all this is America where we should never say NO to anything anyone wants to do or suppress anyones desires or urges!

Posted by fedup | Report as abusive

Dear Fedup: I am glad we all have a choice to speak up. You are right that the murderers CHOSE to ignore God or the society’s laws. Before you decide to stop at the STOP LIGHT, you are making a decision not to violate the traffic law. You could follow your next urge to be angry or to be tolerant and teach others to love and to live in peace.

I agree that Planned Parenthood is good for my daughters and sons. I strongly think that Jesus would have approved that. You know why? Jesus was the friend of sinners not the self-righteous who think they know God’s will but did not see that God is Love.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive

Even though the slavery-abortion analogy isn’t exactly equivalent, I’d like to push it further and point out the nature of issues like these.

William Wilberforce, did indeed work tirelessly to end slavery on the grounds of its moral repugnance. He continuously failed. This is a testament to his courage and resilience, however, moral arguments were not what ultimately changed the law. It was strategy. He worked to put in place legislation that he knew would undercut the slave trade. Then, when the industry was limping along with hardly any support, the final blow in the form of legislation.

Contrast that with the end of slavery in the States. It took an embittered and bloody coup to finally end slavery in the states. Not only that, there was such great resentment at the forced approach that hatred and racism marked the antebellum South as long as a century later.

If we were smart, pro-lifers would learn the lessons of history. Our strategy should be undermine the culture’s reliance on abortion. When the culture no longer relies on the practice, it is then that we should aim our blows. Abe Lincoln said, “Public opinion in this country is everything”. We have to change the mindset before we change the laws. Right now, there are strong fears and emotions involved in the huge push for abortion rights (see: Gerri Santoro). We need to address the reasons women feel pressured to seek abortions and attack it at the root.

Posted by j f n | Report as abusive

I ask those of you who are “pro-life,” if you genuinely care for the unborn, do you also care for those born into challenging situations? Republican policy is often contrary to this concept. The issue of abortion is not about winning or losing, right or wrong. It is about compassion for your neighbors in struggling situations. Morality can not be legislated, it must be empowered.

Posted by Green Ninja | Report as abusive

Jennifer–God is love yes He is– and He loves that human growing in the womb–and wants it to have its life–a full life, a chance to live its life just like you were given that chance–NOT have its mother see her life more valuable and important than the life inside her–to the point that she kills whats inside her so her life will not be upset or disturbed. Really, your point of view is all about ME ME ME, and MY MY MY — self centered and selfish. What about the BABY??

Posted by hatilo | Report as abusive


You said:
For starters, our Civil Rights are an outgrowth of our Constitution. For that Constitution, one must have a legal right (you want legislation so here it is) to the protection of the Constitution. In order to claim the rights of the Constitution one must be a Citizen of the U.S.A.

Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about Dems insisting we confer constitutional rights on illegal enemy combatants?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Well I wont get to deep into these debates but all I would say is that if the mother of the unborn child knew that child would be a millionaire they wouldnt abort it…would they? You never know what that child may become…

Posted by JP | Report as abusive

sadly abortion is caught up in political idealism .left organizations like code pink are horrified at the prospect of troops and civilians being kill in a war ,but a baby being dragged from the womb and murdered on the way out seems exceptable,if technology avanced to a level where the baby at a early stage could be removed painlessly from the womb and allowed to live and be incubated to full term ,it would be rejected by sheer dogma,and for business considerations by planned parenthood.unfortunatly there is evidence which is suppressed that there major health problems such as more cancer risks and i have head it said that when the baby dies so does part of the mother.take this tragety out of the political arena pray that black leaders like shrpton,jackson and obama will speak up and stop the black genocide.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

its sad to see christens whos committment is down the list behind political parties ,civil right,and sexual preferences.we have become a nation of people who are turning to designer gods who wont interfere with, or disrupt their life style.a survey suggested that as little as 8 per cent or church goers are acctualy born again redeemed believes, majorty are what are defined as culural christians.people have told me i dont like to talk about my faith ,its personal,thats an excuse .the LORD said to peter do you love me .why was that important .because LORD also said if you love me you will obay my commands,if you dont love me you will not, thats the bottom line who do you love christians?thats the standard search your hearts and be truthful to your selves.for years i prophesied in his name but did,nt love him but now i do.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Matt…a little late with my comment to your question “Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about Dems insisting we confer constitutional rights on illegal enemy combatants?” Unconstitutional. I did not appoint the Supreme Court; aren’t you glad

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

Dear Hatilo….”What about the BABY” you ask. If I were the baby, I would rather be aborted rather than being born into a world with parents who did not loved me but had to live under bondage of the LAW for my existance. Those who live by the LAW will die by the law.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive