Janet M. LaRue

If Ben Stein watched CNN’s “Democratic Candidates Compassion Forum” Sunday night, he may be considering a sequel to his forthcoming movie: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The sequel will be Expelled II: The Search for Potential Life. There’s no intelligence here either.

The co-hosts of the forum at Messiah College, CNN’s Campbell Brown and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, questioned Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on “issues of faith and compassion and how a president’s faith can affect us all,” including some “deeply personal” questions.

Meacham asked both presidential candidates about their faith and abortion: The transcript is available here.   

MEACHAM: Senator, do you believe personally that life begins at conception?

CLINTON: I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out.

MEACHAM: Senator, do you personally believe that life begins at conception? And if not, when does it begin?

OBAMA: This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it’s very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we’re having these debates.

One can only imagine Ben Stein following up when Brown and Meacham dropped the ball:

Stein: Senator Obama, if you don’t know when life begins, how do you know when potential life begins?

Obama: I think I haven’t come to a firm resolution on that either.

Stein: How does “potential life” begin in the first place?

Clinton: It’s a very profound question.

Stein: Right now, I’d settle for a semi-profound answer.

Obama: I think it’s very hard to know.

Stein: Are you saying that organic matter comes from nonorganic matter?

Obama: I think I don’t presume to know the answer.

Stein: I guess you weren’t personally in the pew the day they taught biology.

Clinton: It’s a difficult question that my church has struggled with.


Janet M. LaRue

Jan LaRue is Senior Legal Analyst with the American Civil Rights Union; former Chief Counsel at Concerned for Women; Legal Studies Director at Family Research Council; and Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families. Be the first to read Janet LaRue's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.