Marjorie Dannenfelser

President Obama’s recent speech at Notre Dame was full of lofty and good-feeling language about finding common ground on the abortion issue. America is hungry to arrive at such ground. And indeed common ground on abortion policy does exist. But while the president has proved himself dedicated to positive tone, pleasant feeling and an air of civility in discussing the issue, he has completely avoided concrete common ground policy.

He speaks emotionally in favor of strategies to reduce the need for abortion and insists we must protect the consciences of Americans who morally oppose abortion. Surely some at Notre Dame loved hearing that given the Catholic Church’s leadership in these two areas. But his actions run in the opposite direction – trouncing conscience and enacting policies that will increase the number of abortions in America. In so doing, he undermines concrete action which would lead to long-lasting authentic trust and civility he purports to embrace.

It is like having teenagers. Which I do. You explain to them in the most compelling and loving ways that “no, you may not have a party in the house while we are gone for the weekend.” You lay out convincingly all the dangers to body and soul to themselves and friends that could occur with underage drinking and driving and sex. Then you leave them unchaperoned, with the keys to the liquor cabinet and car. They doubt you mean the policy you presented because you don’t act upon it. When there is a gap between rhetoric and action, trust and intended outcomes unravel.

Sifting through his speech and his first 120 days in office, the policy ground carved out by the President shares nothing in common with actual pro-life policy goals. The meaning in President Obama’s use of the term “common ground” is wearing thin – much like how the “pro choice” self-label is proving hollow, as a Gallup poll revealed last week.

Yet many do indeed yearn for some consensus to be established. And polls show that common ground does truly exist on issues like limiting late-term abortions, opposition to taxpayer funding, parental involvement and informed consent, which requires sonogram and health information for women.

But even though common ground policy exists, looking at his actions and not just his language, it is impossible to find even one example of leadership in bringing peace through consensus on abortion. As a candidate, Obama promised to enact the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) immediately upon becoming President. This would strike down every single pro-life law in the nation and provide taxpayer funding for abortion.


Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser is President of the Susan B. Anthony List.

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