Candidates spar over abortion rights

October 16, 2008

DALLAS – Barack Obama and John McCain got a chance during their third presidential debate on Wednesday night to directly address their respective bases when they were asked about abortion.

The candidates debate

Moderator Bob Schieffer, who noted that Democrat Obama supports the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe vs Wade decision that grants women a constitutional right to an abortion, while the Republican McCain opposes it, asked: “Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue?”

Both candidates said they would not apply ”litmus tests” if they were to select justices for the top U.S. court, whose nine members are currently almost evenly divided between conservatives and liberals.

I would consider anyone in their qualifications.  I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications.  But I certainly would not impose any litmus test,” McCain said.

Obama said: “I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided … what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision.”

Abortion is one of the most emotive and partisan issues in America. Most Democrats support abortion rights; the Republican Party is opposed to abortion rights and its conservative Christian wing is especially vocal and activist in this regard.

It is an issue that can engergize the bases of both parties, but amid worsening economic news and a plunging stock market, neither candidate has been paying it much attention.

 Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

 Photo credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn
 
  

23 comments

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Obama used the debate tonight as an opportunity to explain his programs & policies, point by logical point.

McCain used the debate to attack Obama & parrot the old Bush-Reagan dogma of deregulation that has led us into this current worldwide economic meltdown.

Who won?

Really, McCain sealed his fate tonight by proving himself stale & lacking on policies to bring our country forward.

I’m sure, however, that Obama, as President, will work constructively with McCain & the Republicans to advance our country.

Oh, one more point. Regarding Palin, even John McCain, for all his “praise”, couldn’t bring it over his tongue to state that he considers Palin qualified to be President, were something to happen to him.

That’s significant. Obama said he’ll leave it up to the voters to decide. We have.

While it might be fun to drink a Joe-six-pack with her, that’s not what she’s running for.

The vast majority of Americans can recognize someone in way over their head, and have no doubts Palin is utterly unqualified for high office.

Obama/Biden are the only candidates qualified and with the right stuff to be running our country come Jan. 20th, 2009.

On Nov. 4th, I will vote for Obama/Biden without any doubts or reservations.

So what McCain was saying is that he believes he would consider anyone who is qualified but as long as that person agrees with his views on Roe vs. Wade. How does this not hiring someone whose point of views are different from him?

Posted by Faye | Report as abusive

we as repubs are doomed. palin has destroyed our chances of a victory. look at the recent polls which show that 63% of REPUBS polled dont think she is capable of being president.

I think it’s utterly appalling that McCain would repeatedly refer to Obama as “Pro-Abortion”. No one in their right mind is ever “Pro-Abortion”. Here is another example of McCain attacking his opponent and using specific language to fire up his growing angry mob of supporters. Pro-Choice does not equal Pro-Abortion, and making that kind of analogy is very dangerous.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

It’s a simple decision. You are either Pro-Choice, or Anti-Choice.

The whole Pro-Life title is a farce. That’s a way for the Republicans to act as if Pro-Choice equates to Anti-Life, which it does not.

I’m Pro-Choice. I’m also Pro-Life. I’m not against life, I just feel that it’s a moral decision that the woman has every right to make. Not a decision for society to make for her.

After all it’s she who will have to live with that decision, regardless of what she chooses.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Every Pro-Choice is already born. Have you ever ask any unborn if he or she is Pro-Choice? Have you ever ask any unborn if he or she want to live or be murdered?

Posted by Aureo | Report as abusive

McCain is absolutely correct in his refusal to use the spurious pro-choice moniker abortion supporters so vehemently cling to… I am absolutely anti-abortion and pro-choice: the correct “choice” needs to be made prior to conception. Once conception occurs, then two lives are present and any Federalist (Obama’s words) should support the protection of that life. Pro-abortionists need to reconcile for me the difference between fetus protection on one hand (Lacey Peterson law in CA) and abortion-on-demand as post-hoc contraception. The only false dichotomy at work here is the one that says you can be pro-choice and anti-abortion and still wash your hands of the single greatest human genocide in the history of mankind. Democrats need to wake up and smell the moral and ethical truth of what abortion opponents are saying: we will never allow their moral relativity to water down the argument in the public square and the essential fundamental truth that abortion in any form is murder and infanticide. If you support the availability of abortion, you support abortion. If you support abortion, you support infanticide.

Posted by David Bernard | Report as abusive

It’s a simple decision. You are either Pro-Choice, or Anti-Choice.

The whole Pro-Life title is a farce. That’s a way for the Republicans to act as if Pro-Choice equates to Anti-Life, which it does not.

I’m Pro-Choice. I’m also Pro-Life. I’m not against life, I just feel that it’s a moral decision that the woman has every right to make. Not a decision for society to make for her.

After all it’s she who will have to live with that decision, regardless of what she chooses.

- Posted by Dave

Dave, glad to hear you’re pro-choice. That must mean you’re in favor of allowing parents to choose what school they send their children to (vouchers), you want me to have choice about how many guns I should be able to own, you want me to have the choice to allow or not allow your socialist candidate to dictate how much more of my earnings the government is going to confiscate, you believe I should have the choice about whether or not to have my tax dollars used to pay for abortions.

Also, since we’re letting women “choose” to murder their babies, shouldn’t we also allow them to choose if they want to murder someone else, or inject heroin? After all, we wouldn’t want to rob anyone of their choice.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

I think what most Pro-Lifers fail to realize is that making abortion illegal will not end abortion. Abortions will still happen, but in back alleys with coat hangers, or by people with no qualifications to be performing such a procedure, or women injuring themselves attempting to miscarry. We owe it to the women of this nation to keep abortion legal so it can be kept safe, and regulated.

Posted by Susan | Report as abusive

I am pro-choice AND pro-life. The abortion issue is not a simple one, and it is not black and white as some suggest.

It is a rare case when a woman gets an abortion, and that decision haunts them their entire life.

I do not wish to pay to take care of someone elses child (taxes). I have a hard enough time taking care of my own children.

I am FOR freedom. That includes freedom to make both good and bad decisions.

I agree with Obama. The government should not be making these decisions for people.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Matt,
You my friend are an idiot. Equating murdering a living, established person to abortion is one of the biggest problems the Anti-Choice people make.

Yes I want you to have a choice to how many guns you want to own.
Yes I want you to have a choice for where you wish to send your children.
Yes I want you to have the choice to vote for whomever you feel is better qualified to lead our nation.

People who disagree with abortion already have a choice, not to have one ever.
Forcing your choice on others is wrong and quit trying to equate abortion, especially in the first trimester(which is over 75% of all abortions), to murder of a living person.
It just continues to make you look un-intelligent.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

“Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re f*cked.

Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say ‘we have two children and one on the way’ instead of saying ‘we have three children?’”
–George Carlin, Back In Town

I have to say that I whole-heartedly agree with the late Mr. Carlin on this. Why are so many of these “Pro-Life” people willing to KILL people to prove their point? Why are so many of them in favor of abstinence-only education and against any sort of government assistance? ‘We don’t want to tell you anything about sex except don’t do it. We’re not going to explain it to you, how it works or what the possible consequences are, because that makes US uncomfortable. But if you get pregnant, well you’re stuck with that baby.’ What about cases of pregnancy resulting from rape and/or incest? What about when the mother’s life is in danger but there’s no guarantee that the fetus that’s still months from being full-term will survive on its own? You’re now saying that you have a right to decide that the possibility of that extremely pre-term baby living is more important than the mother to continue living.

I also hear a lot of complaints from these same groups of people about how the government is too big and meddling in their affairs. What they want is yet another national mandate/amendment to meddle in the affairs of other people. Leave the decision of how/when/where/why to perform abortions in the hands of the states.

@Matt – I’m assuming by your statements that you consider yourself “Pro-Life”? If so, I assume that means you’re adamantly against any and all wars regardless of who started them? Diplomacy should be tried even if we’ve been attacked? You’re against states’ self defense laws that allow you to shoot at intruders in your home? You’re against sanctioned executions, be they state or federal, regardless of the crimes committed? Those guns you want to have so many of are only ever used for shooting at targets, right? Because you’d never dream of taking the innocent life of a wild animal.

Posted by TGN | Report as abusive

Making abortion illegal will not end abortion.

This is illogical. So what?

Armed robberies still happen, even though we have made it illegal.

Why should whether or not some mothers will continue to abort their unborn children somehow make a difference in this situation.

A better question would be whether each candidate believes Roe was reasoned rightly. Read the decision — the wording and the arguments used by the court are quite strange.

With over one million surgical abortions every year in the USA, abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures. Due to the emotion and contraversy, there is very little political will to regulate the women’s centers that perform these procedures, which currently do not have to meet medical standards for a surgical clinic. Unbiased studies on the effect of abortion on women’s health are also desparately needed.

An issue this big ought to be dealt with by elected officials, not invented and ruled upon by a few judges. And candidates on both sides of the issue ought to be confident enough and articulate enough to explain how they see it.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

Like it or not, “Pro Choice” equals Pro Death. Millions of lives have been lost since 1973, in the name of choice. They weren’t guilty of anything, they weren’t attacking organisms, they were babies, human beings, and nothing will ever change that simple fact. Who have we killed? Maybe the person who should be President right now? Maybe the doctor who could find the cure for
Aids, or Altzheimers, or some other incurable disease? Look in to your heart as ask yourself, would you be here right now, if your own mother had been indoctrinated with her own “choice”?

Posted by Rob Federle | Report as abusive

McCain says he doesn’t believe in litmus tests. Then he states flatly that he supports the right-wing litmus test: any judge who would support abortion rights is disqualified.

Allrighty then.

Posted by JJ | Report as abusive

@Matt – I’m assuming by your statements that you consider yourself “Pro-Life”? If so, I assume that means you’re adamantly against any and all wars regardless of who started them? Diplomacy should be tried even if we’ve been attacked? You’re against states’ self defense laws that allow you to shoot at intruders in your home? You’re against sanctioned executions, be they state or federal, regardless of the crimes committed? Those guns you want to have so many of are only ever used for shooting at targets, right? Because you’d never dream of taking the innocent life of a wild animal.

- Posted by TGN

Boy, you’re stup*d. I’m anti-abortion because it takes the life of an innocent and defenseless victim. If you’re going to use the diplomacy argument, please read up on how well the 17 UN sanctions worked against Hussein before we invaded. Dictators don’t respond to “please.”

If someone ever enters my home, as any responsible gun owner will tell you, the first thing you do, if possible, is call 911, then barricade yourself in a secure room. You then announce the police are on the way, and that you have a gun. If the intruder continues to advance, and I’ve positively identified them as a threat, I empty 11 rounds into them. Your liberal mommy and daddy and all the TV you watch have certainly clouded your understanding of gun owners.

You’re right about the last point though. Although I’d be much more justified in getting my own meat than raising it in captivity for the purpose of being slaughtered, I don’t know that I could ever bring myself to do it while we still have companies that do it for us.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Pro-Choice can’t equal Pro-Death simply because many women make the choice to have the baby, which isn’t death. Pro-Choice is all about giving the woman the freedom to make her own choice to either have the baby and keep it, have the baby and give it up for adoption, or to abort the baby.

Quit trying to tie Pro-Choice to Pro-Abortion or Pro-Death. It’s the weakest link I’ve ever heard.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

So Matt,

I am to conclude that you are “pro-life”? If so, than do that means that if a woman do a self induce aboriton shall she get lethal injection? Should the rapist be given a medal if she abort it?

What about the iraqis. do soldiers be prosecuted or bush for murdering an innocent life.

Posted by melanie | Report as abusive

also, about the Iraq thing, the Pope, several mainline prostentant churches, and religious church, temples, synagoue et al was vocally against it.

Here is what the Pope said:

John Paul II sent his personal representative, Cardinal Pio Laghi, a friend of the Bush family, to remonstrate with the U.S. President before the war began. Pio Laghi said such a war would be illegal and unjust. The message was clear: God is not on your side if you invade Iraq.

I find it sad that a person who said they are “pro-life” can support a pro death agenda.

the invasion of iraq take away innocent life too. what did a 6 month old iraqis who brains was blown up by a donald rumsfield bomb had anything to do with Saddam?

bush problem was with saddam, that do not means that he can murder and genocide a 6 month year old baby.

so in other words, it is okay to murder an innocent humen being like a 6 month old iraqi if that iraqi happen to live in a state that is rule by saddam.

why is that 6 month year old iraqi baby life less sacred then that of a life in the womb? or do the right to life stop at the moment of birth?

so in other words, you are saying that not everyone had the right to life. soldiers, 6 month year old iraqis babies, humen being on death row because they deserve to die.

beside, the inspector did went back in and bush kick out the inspector so that he can start the murders of 6 month year old iraqis. there was no wmd find in iraq.

do not give me the saddam hide the wmd or send it to syria. because if he did send it to syria, than bush should had invaded syria but he did not. if the wmd is still in syria, than why not invaded syria to get the wmd?

Posted by melanie | Report as abusive

@ rob,

I agree. Look at the thousand of lives that was lost before roe vs. wade. thousand of lives, women and the life in the womb was lost due to illegal abortions.

abortions still happen, legal or not. how inconsiderate of you to had no compassion for the thousand of lives, women and child that was lost before roe.

than of course, it is insignifant to you given that you would much rather one milliion women die from an illegal abortion along with the life in the womb than to have one woman had a safe abortion.

beside, thousand of lives are being lost right now. millions of 6 month year old iraqis brains were blow up for no reason at all than because bush had a “problem” with saddam not giving his oil to his best friends.

Posted by melanie | Report as abusive

To Susan and those who think as she does: Making murder a capital offense–illegal– has not ended it, but it has sure stopped many a person who wanted to kill someone but didn’t want to pay the price. To make such laws is to take a moral stand as well. If the law said abortion was murder, how many women do you think would be willing to go to jail for life or if not life carry that record? To be pregnant is a 9 month sojourn–its NOT a life sentence–its 9 mohths out of ones life. Can one not even put them self and their plans aside for 9 months??? I can tell you this, if money was put into providing all that any woman with a “crisis” pregnancy might need in order to go through the 9 months necessary to give birth and then adopt out the child–housing counseling of all types, medical care etc–with no judgments attached but simply caring support–then the women that you claim would be going somewhere else for abortions would also diminish. People need a great deal of support in that situation and if its there, the situation can be gotten through. If you HAVE to get through something, and have the support needed to do so, you get through it, no matter how much it disrupts your life. I can tell you that what you may suffer when your life is disrupted for 9 months, or the memory of a child out there that you bore being raised by someone else is far less painful than the memory that you took your own child’s life. I speak as one who has been there and only wished there had been a law to stop me.

Posted by PD | Report as abusive

Here’s where your ‘choice’ begins and ends–whether to have sex or not— ok my fellow women, now CHOOSE– and then be willing to live with the consequences if you do choose to have sex. You need to decide BEFORE you have sex if you are ready to have a child–and if not, DON’T HAVE SEX. Simple as that. But problem is pro-choice women want to be just as sexually irresponsible and lust driven as so many men are because they think it makes them equal or “free” as men who spill their seed all over the place and don’t look back. But its not an ‘equality’ that is worth stooping down to claim.

Posted by kmle | Report as abusive

i understand a women should be able to self determine her own productive rights but because of entrenched politics we have decent people unfortunenatly have to support the action of a baby being dragged from the womb and murded on the way to stay partizan to a political agenda.we should get together and spend as much time as we do on renewable energy to try to develope tech to incubate the baby and give it a chance to live then every one will benifit including the mother.