Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama's weak speech and Gallup polls

I’m having a hard time deciding where to start this post, President Obama’s weak speech at Notre Dame or the new poll about abortion rights and the glaring schism between image and ideology.

mmm...let’s go with Obama:

I’m really staring to get annoyed with President Obama’s backpedaling on the very issues that made him such a strong candidate in the primaries.

I mean I get it. Obama wants to dispel the rumors that he’s a baby killing, liberal socialist who wants to control your doctor and see the end of America as we know it, but why does he have to tiptoe over the left’s position to do so?

Obama may be trying to appease the right, but it would nice of him to reassure those of us who actually voted for him once and awhile.

Here is part of the speech he gave at Notre Dame:

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions."

So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." Those are things we can do.

Now, understand - understand, Class of 2009, I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Is that really all the common ground to be found among us? (And are we really still not in agreement that abortion is a difficult decision?) Can’t we agree that the government shouldn’t have the right to control the medical decisions of women? Or that, even if you disagree with the way a person lives their life, they have the fundamental right to make those decisions themselves?

Or how’s about the hypocrisy of conservatives in believing that the government should stay out of people’s lives except, of course, when it’s involving women (since we’re so obviously incapable of making decisions for ourselves and need men to do it for us).

This is why I can’t understand why any women are conservative…or Christian, but that's a whole different can of worms.

President Obama is right about two things though: the two sides of abortion are largely irreconcilable (they didn't even want his presence at the school because of his views) and the debate isn’t going anywhere.

That’s why it’s so important that President Obama doesn’t shy away from being pro-choice.

We need a strong front and prove that there is nothing shameful by believing women have ownership over their own bodies. Shying away from those beliefs undermines all of the progress those before us so courageously fought for and does a disservice to women everywhere.

In a great article, Weak on Women’s Rights at Notre Dame, Martha Burk summed it up perfectly by saying:

Make no mistake. I support President Obama. I think for the most part he's doing a great job. I know he's pro-choice. But I need to know he is not afraid to say unequivocally that he supports the fundamental rights of his daughters and my granddaughters as strongly as he supports so-called open dialogue and debate. He needs to say it out loud, with conviction and without apology.

If they hear that, the women of the world will stand and applaud much longer and much harder than any crowd at Notre Dame.
I can’t help but be disappointed by the fact that President Obama didn’t reiterate his support for women’s rights one time in his speech. Especially considering the problems we’re having with the way women’s rights are being portrayed to people in the media.

I’m talking about the recent Gallup poll that showed that, for the first time, more Americans consider themselves “pro-life” then “pro-choice.”

Now while just reading those words may be enough to make you cringe, this isn’t as big of a deal as one would think (though we should still be concerned) because it has more to do with labels then it does beliefs.

Just as how more American’s are atheist then those who identify as such (which I talked about here), the outcome of this poll is the same.

As you can see by these charts, 50% of people may consider themselves “pro-life,” but only 27% actually think abortion should be illegal.

That’s still a large jump from the 17% it was last year, but it’s not as dire a situation as some media headlines might lead you to believe.

Now, there are many different reasons why a person might call themselves “pro-life” but still think the decision is ultimately up to the individual woman (which obviously makes them pro-choice) and most of them have to do with the way we’ve allowed the anti-choicers take control of the conversation.

This has become an issue about “dead babies” instead of the freedom to control our own autonomy or the fact that we already tried it their way and it DIDN’T WORK.

It has become “life” vs. “choice.”

Good Christian’s vs. slutty irresponsible abortion happy floozies.

When you look at it that way, it’s not surprising the poll got the results it did.

The poll also doesn’t clarify what “legal in some situations” or “legal in few situations” means, making them open to individual interpretation by each person. Since late term abortion have been given a lot of air time the last few years, despite the fact that 89% of abortions are done in the first 12 weeks, I think this is a huge discrepancy.

Either way the results are disheartening.

So while Obama may be busy looking for common ground, I think a firm stand is more important at this point.

-You can watch President Obama’s speech here or read the text here.

-There’s also a great article here that talks about the problems with a poll like this. I recommend it to everyone.


  1. Im willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt here, because he was giving a speech to a certain type of people. People who are against abortion for what ever reason.

    I think many would have avoided the subject all together, but at least Obama talked about it, it might not be what we all want to here or seems different to what he has said previously but at least he did not avoid the subject.

    All i can think is how bad it would have gone if he had stated what i presume are his real views (pro choice). How well would that have gone down at this particular event and how bad it would have looked.

    I still think he is pro choice, and i thought he said somethings that were encouraging too, about making sure women had everything they needed before having to make that choice and then after too.

    I wouldnt be too hard on him yet!

  2. PS you have disappeared of my followers list :(

  3. blogger is being weird cause it still shows I'm following from this end.

    And maybe I am being too hard on Obama. I can't blame him for not being more ardent in this particular speech, but I really wish he would make a concrete stand. This common ground stuff is getting a little annoying.

  4. Really nice job on this post. I love Burk's comments. I'm so relieved that Obama is pro-choice that I'm reluctant to be critical but the points you raised are important.

  5. Thanks Star Mama! I thought Buke summed up the situation perfectly.

    I'm not unhappy with Obama, but I'm not thrilled either (on this situation). Her comments convey that perfectly. :)


What's on your mind?