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Candidates on the Issues: Abortion

Election 2008Tennessee voters go to the polls on February 5th for the presidential primaries in this state. Tennessee is historically not given a great deal of attention by most candidates, and this election cycle is shaping up to continue the trend.

Unfortunately, this means Tennesseans often have to rely on news media sound bytes to obtain information about the candidates. However, since news media are businesses and therefore have as their proper goal the making of money, this often leaves viewers with precious little information about how the candidates would actually go about running the county and a disturbing amount about their private lives.

Let’s be honest, does it really matter than Barrack Obama has an Islamic heritage, that Hillary didn’t leave Bill, that Mitt Romney is Mormon or that John McCain allows his adult children to live their own lives?

With this in mind, the author has put together a series of articles about how the candidates stand on some of the hottest issues of today, from abortion to the Iraq war. With that in mind, there are a few necessary disclaimers. First, the author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to OnTheIssues for doing most of the leg work for these articles. Despite their sometimes apparent bias, their repository includes sources for its statements that allowed for easy backtracking to the original source to produce the truth. Secondly, the author wishes to note that the opinions and interpretations of the candidates and their stances on the issues are his own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Clarksville Online, its publisher, or any other member of its staff. Further, the author realizes that he has not included analysis on every possible candidate and at no point intends to do so.

An issue that has become recurring throughout recent political cycles has been that of abortion, with people holding positions from outright bans in all circumstances to completely unregulated abortion. Most politicians do not hold such extreme positions as a matter of political necessity, but there is a wide range in positions among the candidates in this election cycle. Generally Democrats are painted as supporting abortion while Republicans are stereotyped as being staunchly anti-abortion. However, the truth is that these labels are not entirely correct in the current field.

co-obama.jpgBarrack Obama surprised many with his victory in the Iowa caucuses. How does he feel about abortion, though? Obama believes very strongly in the woman’s right to choose. As the junior senator from Illinois, Obama voted against the partial birth abortion ban. Senator Obama also voted against the bill that would require parental notification for minors seeking abortions outside their home state. Obama advocates age appropriate sex education that includes information about family planning and contraceptive use. Senator Obama says he believes that women should be trusted to make their own decisions regarding abortion, but he also says that he extends the presumption of good faith to abortion protestors. Overall then, Barrack Obama has a very permissive attitude towards abortion in line with the hardcore liberal stance.

co-hillary-1.jpgHillary Clinton was the front-runner up until the first primary but had a very disappointing finish there. Mrs. Clinton has a somewhat more centrist view of abortion than Senator Obama that has changed somewhat over the years. Clinton’s failed 1993 national health care plan included the legality and widespread availability of RU-486 and traditional abortion procedures. She has also labored strongly to have the Contraceptive Plan B (the so-called “Morning After Pill”) placed on the market.

Clinton, however, has some consistency problems. Senator Clinton indicates that she supports the banning of late term abortion, but she voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that included provisions for the life of the mother. Clinton also claims to support parental notification for minors seeking abortion, but she voted against that bill too. The Senator did, however, vote for a bill that would fund sex education including information on family planning. Clinton says she believes abortion should be safe, legal and rare. She supports the Cairo document, which claims abortion is a right but not a tool for family planning. Overall, Senator Clinton’s words would suggest someone with a more populist view of abortion supporting reasonable restrictions. However, her voting record is somewhat at odds with this and suggests that in practice she adheres more closely to the liberal line.

Mike HuckabeeFormer Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee kicks off the Republican side of the issue. Huckabee staunchly opposes abortion in any form. He says that states rights do not exist for moral issues such as abortion. The Governor says that he would ban all abortion if able and that no consensus with pro-choice advocates is possible as he believes that they want a fundamentally different world from pro-life advocates. Huckabee was part of the leadership that led Arkansas to passing a Human Life amendment to the state constitution expressly stating that life begins at conception.

Huckabee believes that it will be a good day for America when (not if) Roe v. Wade is overturned and until then, he has stated there should be no tax dollars for organizations that fund abortion. Governor Huckabee is also a staunch supporter of Woman’s Right to Know legislation. Governor Huckabee has criticized other Republicans for their stances claiming that hating but allowing abortion, stating that it’s like saying “I hate slavery, but people can go ahead and practice it.” Overall, Governor Huckabee is very consistently against abortion, in all circumstances. Mr. Huckabee takes the hardcore conservative line on abortion.

Rudy Giuliani

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani takes a more populist view on abortion. Giuliani has stated that he would not sign a Federal ban on abortions. He believes that the government should not be involved and that the ultimate choice should be made by a woman and her health care providers. However, the former Mayor does support the Partial Birth Abortion Ban despite opposing parental notification requirements.

Mr. Giuliani, as Mayor, supported adoption and other alternatives to abortion in an effort to decrease the abortion rate by providing other suitable alternatives to having an abortion. As President, he says he would leave individual states to decide whether or not to fund abortion. He claims he would appoint constructionist judges, but that there would be no litmus test for any nominee he put forward. Overall, Giuliani takes the stand that abortion should remain legal, but that it can be reasonably regulated. His stance fits well with the populist line, although his stance on parental notification bucks that trend.

John McCainSenator McCain is the moderate conservative on abortion. Senator McCain said he was concerned about women undergoing dangerous and illegal procedures if the culture and views surrounding abortion were not changed before it was outlawed. Senator McCain believes that abortion is acceptable in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity as determined by a medical professional, and that the benefit of the doubt should be extended to a person claiming rape or incestuous pregnancy. Senator McCain claims that he wishes for Americans to work together to make Roe v. Wade and abortions irrelevant.

Senator McCain’s voting record supports this philosophy for the most part. McCain voted to strip tax money from organizations that support or perform abortions. Senator McCain also voted in favor of the Parental Notification bill and in favor of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. He also voted yes on attaching a criminal penalty to harming an unborn fetus while committing a crime. Despite his claim of supporting alternative to abortion and seeking to make it irrelevant, however, Senator McCain did vote against funding for sex education that includes information on other family planning options as well as contraceptives. Overall Senator McCain has a mdoerate conservative view of abortion, which is fundamentally a view against abortion.

Other candidates generally fall into camp with one of those positions. John Edwards toes the Obama Clinton line. Mitt Romney professes to being roughly in line with Huckabee, although his sincerity on that point could be legitimately questioned given his pro-choice stance as Governor. Fred Thompson is very similar to Senator McCain in his views of abortion, although he opposed the parental notification bill and does include a litmus test for judges. Representative Ron Paul is the odd-man out for both parties, in keeping with his more libertarian mindset and his voting record could reasonably place him on both sides of the fence. However, Ron Paul appears to consistently take decisions that remove the Government from the realm of sex in general, including abortion, at any point in any fashion (he voted against both abstinence only AND comprehesive sex ed, for example) although he did support the partial birth abortion ban.

James Butlerhttp://
James Butler is a student at Austin Peay State University pursuing a double major in both Chemistry and French. On campus he is particularly active with the Gay Straight Alliance and also somewhat less so with the AP Playhouse. Politically, he is often described as a libertarian, although he would personally affiliate himself with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.


  1. James, you make it sound like Obama does have an Islamic heritage. Since that lie has been put out there to discredit him, and you used that in your story, I question the integrity of your whole story. Sorry, it’s a trust and integrity thing.

  2. Obama DOES have an Islamic heritage. His father was Muslim. The question is does that matter or define who he is? The answer is no, he is Church of Christ for those of you who do not know. One’s religion doesn’t define who you are(unless you’re Huckabee!) That’s about the only thing I disagree with the Huckster regarding. Great article. It sums up the stances on abortion each candidate takes and does so responsibly without bias. I must say, I saw the title and was eagerly awaiting some liberal propaganda to dismantle, but this was a well thought out and informative article.

  3. I’d like to clear a few things up momentarily regarding comments by Debbie and Scott. I personally do not care if Obama’s heritage is Islamic or Purple Fudgetopian Worshipers of the Pink Unicorn from planet Chiron in the Andromeda Galaxy (yes, I know that’s absurd but I am trying to make a point here). The point of the sentence in question was that the candidates referenced have been criticised in the past over those things, which do not accurately or adequately define them or their politics. IE the point was that Obama’s heritage is part of who he is, but it hardly defines how he would run the country, which is what we should be focusing on here.

  4. Thanks so much!
    I make a picture in my mind about things like the word, Muslim, Islamic, and no matter what is said later, that picture still sticks in my mind; defining, judging. The “tool” of putting out words to form pictures in people’s minds that they will not change is being used successfully in negative campaigns. I appreciate more attention and your wise words, humor even, on the subject.

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