Abortion Foes Give Palin Nod, Attack Obama
By Christine Vestal, Staff Writer
The gloves are off in the presidential campaign fight over the abortion issue.
Last week, anti-abortion groups fretted that presumptive Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain might choose one of two abortion-rights supporters reportedly on his vice-presidential list: U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, and former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge.
That didn't happen. Instead, his surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate gave anti-abortion groups cause to rejoice.
"With this bold and inspired selection, Sen. McCain has verified his stated commitment to assembling a truly pro-life administration," said AUL ActionPresident Dr. Charmaine Yoest.
"In a world where actions speak louder than words, Governor Palin shouted through a megaphone when she gave birth to a son with Down Syndrome in April of this year. In spite of the fact that nearly 9 in 10 babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted, Governor Palin gave birth to Trig Paxson Van Palin on April 18, 2008," Yoest said.
Vice-presidential worries aside, pro-life groups have few concerns about McCain's record on abortion.
"He has a very strong pro-life record going back his entire tenure in Congress," National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legislative director Douglas Johnson told Stateline.org.
"You'd have to look pretty hard for differences between McCain and Bush."
Now, the coast is clear for a full-throttle attack against Democratic nominee Barack Obama, whom abortion opponents have dubbed an "abortion-rights extremist." His running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a Catholic, is slightly more moderate, Johnson said.
In Congress, Biden voted for the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and has approved restrictions on federal funding of abortion. However, he has not approved Bush's conservative appointments to the Supreme Court and has said he would not vote to overturn the court's decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion.
But according to the NRLC: "Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever nominated by a major political party.
"The country now has a clear choice between an avowed pro-abortion ticket that would continue to push for unrestricted abortion on demand, and a strongly pro-life ticket that will bring us closer to a society that embraces the value and dignity of human life," the group's co-director Darla St. Martin said.
McCain's position on the divisive issue was clearly drawn Aug. 16 at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Presidency in California hosted by evangelical Rev. Rick Warren. Criticized by abortion foes for not saying enough on the issue, McCain declared his belief that life begins at conception.
Obama, who is under attack by abortion foes for his opposition in the Illinois Senate to an obscure law that calls for medical attention for infants born live during an abortion, was reported saying that defining the beginning of life is "above my pay grade."
Obama has called the accusations over the Illinois law false, and his staffers say abortion foes are oversimplifying the issue, Johnson said.