Obama and the Abortion Conscience Clause

Obama and the Abortion Conscience Clause

02-27-2009

Grab the heart medication! Pro-life groups are not gonna like this one. The dreaded abortion conscience clause controversy is back. Read below from the Associated Press and then get my take afterwards:

President Barack Obama wants to rescind a Bush administration rule that strengthened job protections for doctors and nurses who refuse for moral reasons to perform abortions.

A Health and Human Services official said Friday the administration will publish notice of its intentions early next week, opening a 30-day comment period for advocates, medical groups and the public. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the notice has not been completed.

The Bush administration instituted the rule in its last days, and it was quickly challenged in federal court by several states and medical organizations. As a candidate, President Barack Obama criticized the regulation and campaign aides promised that if elected, he would review it.

The news that he was doing so drew praise from abortion-rights supporters and condemnation from groups opposed to abortion.

"It would be a horrible move. These regulations were a long time coming," said Tom McClusky, a vice president at Family Research Council. "What they seek to do is protect patients, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences."

McClusky and other abortion opponents said the Bush regulation clarified federal policies and raised awareness about the rights of medical providers to follow their consciences. But abortion rights advocates said it was vague and overly broad, and could reduce access to other services - allowing a drug store clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills, for example. [continues]

Assistant Press Secretary Reid Cherlin also released this statement to CBN News on behalf of the Obama administration:

"President Obama has a very clear record of supporting carefully crafted conscience clause legislation. He believes this issue requires a careful balance between the rights of providers and the health of women and their families, a balance that the last-minute Bush rule appears to upset."

House Minority Lead John Boehner released this statement:

This is the third action taken by Washington Democrats in the past 38 days to weaken American rules that are meant to safeguard the sanctity of human life. It is an action that will hurt faith-based health providers and hospitals throughout our nation who are committed to caring for Americans at this critical time. It will also inevitably result in more abortions being performed nationwide.

On January 21, I and 114 other Republican Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to drop his pledge to enact the so-called 'Freedom of Choice Act' (FOCA), which would overturn virtually all pro-life laws at the state and national level. To the dismay of millions of Americans, it is beginning to look like the Administration is intent on enacting FOCA incrementally - step by tragic step - through low-key legislative maneuvers and executive orders.

I think at this point we're in a wait-and-see situation. The Obama administration is going to have to somehow come out with more clarification on this conscience clause in the near future. Obviously, because no official decision has been made yet, it would make sense that they would be reluctant to be specifically pinned down as to what this means when it comes to the abortion issue. In other words, some may interpret this as an assault on pro-life health care individuals who have no desire to take part in anything related to an abortion procedure. If they end up rescinding the policy, the Obama administration will be pushed to clarify the matter.

Folks, we are finding out that elections have consequences. Pro-life groups may not be happy with this move but President Obama is being consistent on this issue.  Pro-life groups are keeping score on Obama's pro-choice decisions. While that may not matter right now, due to the economy, the lurking danger is that this will give the GOP candidate in 2012 an arsenal of ammunition when trying to paint Obama as an abortion liberal.

President Obama has been very diligent in making sure to craft a centrist image. He even talks about the noble goal of reducing the number of abortions.  But get ready for the GOP in 2012 to call him hypocritical on the issue of abortion. Will that strategy work? Will it matter?

Stay tuned.

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