Feature

The new debate on abortion

How the rules are changing under an Obama administration

Talk about change, said Barbara Crossette in The Nation. Fresh off his inauguration, President Barack Obama reversed the global gag rule forbidding U.S. government support for any organization that provided or even advised women about abortion. Just like that, and “one of the most damaging policies ever visited on developing nations by Republican administrations” was gone.

It’s hard to square Obama’s abortion views with the "new era of responsibility" he called for at his inauguration, said Star Parker in Townhall.com. “Mr. President, if you condone a culture that has no sense of awe and responsibility toward the greatest of all miracles and mysteries—life itself—how can you expect responsibility elsewhere?”

That kind of talk won’t get pro-lifers far, said Ruth Ann Dailey in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Obama’s votes on “born alive” legislation “put him to the left of the entire U.S. Senate,” but his popularity blunts any criticism of his “extremist” views. So pro-life groups need a new game plan—such as focusing on getting “compassionate Americans” to protect “sentient fetuses” from pain, or at least to celebrate the fact that the number of abortions is at a 30-year low.

By all means, let’s have a new conversation that abandons the “old politics” of abortion, said Cathryn Hazouri of the Colorado ACLU in the Boulder, Colo., Daily Camera. But any new debate has to begin “with the understanding that both the decision to have a child and the decision to have an abortion come from a place of profound respect for the value of life and a strong commitment for ensuring a better life for all.”

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