Obama & Clinton Talk about Abortion

By Echevarria, Laura | The Human Life Review, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Obama & Clinton Talk about Abortion


Echevarria, Laura, The Human Life Review


In July 2007, the major Democratic presidential candidates were invited to speak before the political arm of Planned Parenthood-the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. The speeches received little attention: Videos of them were posted on a Planned Parenthood website, and a few news articles reported on the appearance of the candidates-but the campaign websites of the two leading candidates at the time, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, failed both to note the candidates' appearances at the event and to post the text of the speeches. (I couldn't find a transcript at any other websites either.)

But it was highly likely that it was in these speeches that the candidates were the most open they would be, during the campaign, about their positions on abortion. Using the video provided at Planned Parenthood's website, www.imoneinamillion.com, I spent hours transcribing what each candidate had to say.

On the campaign trail, both Obama and Clinton made much milder statements on the abortion issue-therefore appearing more "moderate." Yet an examination of these two speeches shows that both candidates express full support for abortion-on-demand, both opposed the Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, and both planned to nominate justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade.

The candidates clearly intended to burnish their abortion-on-demand credentials by speaking before the Planned Parenthood activists. They touted their records and presented a laundry list of pro-abortion legislative items that would be part of their agenda if elected president.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has dropped out of the presidential race but her speech is still important-she could be the vice-presidential pick or, more likely, hold a position in an Obama administration. Also, her speech clearly illustrates the Democratic Party's unwavering commitment to abortion-on-demand.

Clinton begins with praise. She thanks the nation's largest abortion provider for its "commitment to our constitutional rights," and especially its work on "reproductive rights":

How do I thank [Planned Parenthood president] Cecile Richards for being the president of this great organization and committing herself to not only continuing and protecting the work that Planned Parenthood has done for so many years, but bringing these issues into the political debate. No one is better suited to do that than Cecile, and I'm so grateful to her for her leadership and her friendship. [Italics, throughout these transcripts, have been added by the author of this article.]

Clinton is here drawing a line connecting Richards's activism in the Democratic Party to her work on abortion. For the Democratic leadership, the right to abortion is a core value. Richards's mother was the late Ann Richards, the Democratic leader and former governor of Texas who lost her 1994 reelection bid to George W. Bush. Following her mother's defeat, Richards founded the Texas Freedom Network, which worked to counteract the influence of conservative Christians in local politics. She moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for the AFL-CIO, the Turner Foundation, and Planned Parenthood. She then served as the deputy chief of staff for then-minority whip Nancy Pelosi. After a year and a half, Richards then went on to head the liberal America Votes coalition. Finally, she was drafted by Planned Parenthood as the organization's new president after the retirement of Gloria Feldt.

Senator Clinton then ties herself even more closely to Planned Parenthood, which is based in New York, by thanking the New York activists in attendance:

And I have to make a special thank you to all my friends from New York who have been stalwart on behalf of women's rights and women's reproductive rights for so many years, really leading the way in the movement for a woman's right to choose-being the very first state to really put that on the map and thank you so much.

Clinton goes on to paint a picture of the abortion activists as brave soldiers fighting for a noble cause:

Now, I don't need to tell you what you already know-that Planned Parenthood is on the front lines. …

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