07/17/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Sen. Obama, I Had a Late-Term Abortion

Candidate Obama has been drawing heat from supporters recently for remarks he has made about late-term abortions that seem to be a retreat from his previous strong stance in favor of and record of voting for a woman's right to choose the best course of action in each case. The following is excerpted from "Open Letter to Obama: A Personal Perspective on Late-Term Abortion" from

You recently spoke with Cameron Strang, publisher of Relevant magazine. During that interview, Strang asked if you could clarify your position on "third-trimester and partial-birth abortion," and you replied:

"...I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that "mental distress" qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions."

Your response leads me to believe that you've either never had a one-on-one discussion with a woman who has had a late-term abortion, or that you've been too uncomfortable to ask such a woman difficult questions concerning not only the procedure but what led her to make that choice. Because a president needs to be given as much first-hand knowledge as possible as he develops policy, I'd like to help remedy this deficiency.

Thirteen years ago I had a late-term abortion.

That's the concise sentence I use when I don't want to talk about what really happened. It takes all the emotion, all the family turmoil, all the medical terminology and all the grief, and packages it nice and neat.

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