What about all those times Obama voted “present” on abortion legislation when he was a state legislator? Although the local NOW chapter has called him to task for the votes, his supporters would have you believe he was in favor of a woman’s right to choose. Always the mantra to former Hillary supporters who talked about breaking away from the democratic party was “McCain will overturn Roe v Wade, but Obama won’t”.
Those who had hoped Obama would be a genuine alternative to either Bush or McCain have already been disappointed several times this week. First there was Obama’s reversal on FISA and retroactive immunity for telecom companies. Then Obama appeared to be running for Bush’s third term when he announced new faith-based initiatives–tax money to support churches’ social programs.
Now Obama is reversing himself on abortion, taking the position of the most conservative justices on the court, Scalia and Thomas, that a woman’s emotional wellbeing cannot be considered in allowing abortions after 22 weeks.
Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane, Obama said mental health exceptions—which are a real battleground issue in the abortion debate–can be “rigorously” limited to only those women with “serious clinical mental health diseases.” He said mental health exceptions are not intended permit abortions when a woman simply “doesn’t feel good.”
“It is not just a matter of feeling blue,” Obama said.
Here’s the problem with that, and why Obama’s remarks are so startling. Obama is trying to restrict abortions after 22 weeks to those women who have a serious disease or illness. But the law today also covers some women who are in “mental distress,” those women who would suffer emotional and psychological harm without an abortion.
This standard has long been understood to require less than “serious clinical mental health disease.” Women today don’t have to show they are suffering from a “serious clinical mental health disease” or “mental illness” before getting an abortion post-viability, as Obama now says is appropriate.
And for 35 years—since Roe v. Wade—they’ve never had to show that.