Obama's pro-life supporters are claiming to be pleased that he at least waited a day before reportedly repealing the Mexico City "gag rule," which blocks federal money from going to overseas groups that offer information about abortion.
Jim Wallis, for instance, declared, "In breaking the symbolic cycle, President Obama showed respect for both sides in the historically polarized abortion debate, and called for both a new conversation and a new common ground."
If I were a pro-life Obama supporter, though, I'd be quite disappointed, not because of the Mexico City ruling (which was expected) but because of the combination of that and the language in Obama's statement yesterday on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
He did mention the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. But keep in mind that pro-life Obama supporters believed that their big victory during the fights over the Democratic Party platform was not the language about reducing unintended pregnancies -- which had been there in previous platforms -- but rather the language about helping women carry babies to term, if that was their choice.
That thought was absent from yesterday's statement.
The key paragraph:
"While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services."
Compare that to the Democratic platform, which had the above sentiment but also this:
"The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."
And here's his statement during the final Presidential debate, in which he again paired preventing unintended pregnancies with helping women who want to carry babies to term:
"We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."
Or to his statement during the campaign to George Stephanopoulos:
"I think the better answer -- and this was reflected in the Democratic platform -- is to figure out, how do we make sure that young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that's unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child."
Joe Biden on Meet the Press went even further:
"What we're going to be spending our time doing is making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children."
By the way, at least one pro-Obama group is arguing that repealing the gag rule would actually reduce the number of abortions (a view the Right to Life folks dispute). More on that debate here.