Obama said what Democrats have been saying for over a decade - that we oppose late term abortion, and that we would support laws against it if there was a strict exemption for taking into account the life of the mother. This health exemption is seen as gray by the right, though, and they worry that a mother will cry: "but I don't want to have this baby! It's causing me mental anguish and that affects my health! I am exempt from the prohibition!" Obama just explains that that doesn't cut it. There is a strong record of Obama using personal responsibility rhetoric, and that's all this represents. After all, you can hardly claim that a 3rd trimester pregnancy snuck up on you! You have a responsibility, as a woman, to make your choice before that viability threshold is crossed. It is only your own fault if you choose to wait until the last minute.
Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?Imminently reasonable, don't you think?
Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. 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.
The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster.
Ever since that time, emails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.
What a ridiculous charge of flip-floppery. And yet, once again, we're subjected to a deluge of stories uncritically repeating the McCain line.