Obama says pointed abortion query “above his pay grade”
DALLAS – U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama side-stepped a pointed query about abortion on Saturday by “mega-pastor” Rick Warren during a televised forum.
Asked at what point a baby gets “human rights,” Obama, who strongly supports abortion rights, said: “… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.”
He went on to reiterate his view that it was important to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who followed Obama onto the stage of the nationally televised event, was more blunt and more emphatic.
He said a baby’s human rights began “at the moment of conception … I have a 25-year pro-life record.”
Both candidates were vying for the “faith vote,” in particular the one in four U.S. adults who count themselves as evangelical.
Obama took questions first from Warren and McCain followed. The two shared the stage together briefly.
Some centrist evangelicals have said they appreciate moves by the Democratic Party to “soften” the edges of its pro-choice stand by stressing the need to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions — and by also working harder in areas like adoption.
But for many conservative evangelicals — a key part of the evangelical base — life begins at conception and the argument ends there.
The issue remains one of the most divisive and partisan in America — as Obama and McCain highlighted on Warren’s stage.
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason)
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook, Files, USA)