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Campaign 2008 : Meet the Democratic Presidential Candidates

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Updated June 22, 2011

Campaign 2008 : Meet the Democratic Presidential Candidates

Barack Obama

Photo Courtesy of RH Reality Check

2. Barack Obama

Senator Barack Obama voted yes on an amendment that would provide $100 million to allow for greater access to family planning services and require health plans to include equitable coverage for prescription birth control. Additionally, this amendment’s aim is to reduce teen pregnancy through the creation of sexual education and pregnancy prevention programs. Obama is in favor of initiating programs to increase contraceptive awareness and access as a way to reduce the number of abortions, improve women's health care, and provide funding for educational programs that explain the use of emergency contraceptives.

Senator Obama has taken a proactive approach when it comes to reproductive and sexual health. He is a cosponsor of the Prevention First Act of 2007 (which basically proposes full funding of Title X - America's family planning program). For almost a decade, Senator Obama has been a leader in the Illinois legislature in the fight to protect a woman's right to choose.

Barack Obama - Quotes:

  • “A woman's ability to decide how many children to have and when, without interference from the government, is one of the most fundamental rights we possess. It is not just an issue of choice, but equality and opportunity for all women…I have consistently advocated for reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. I oppose any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling in this case.”

  • "I believe we must work together to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. I support legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventative services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. That is why I co-sponsored the Prevention First Act of 2007, which will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. It will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims."

  • Senator Obama does not approve of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the federal abortion ban: “I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don't make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy. And I think that's where most Americans are. Now, when you describe a specific procedure that accounts for less than 1% of the abortions that take place, then naturally, people get concerned, and I think legitimately so. But the broader issue here is: Do women have the right to make these profoundly difficult decisions? And I trust them to do it. There is a broader issue: Can we move past some of the debates around which we disagree and can we start talking about the things we do agree on? Reducing teen pregnancy; making it less likely for women to find themselves in these circumstances.”

  • “I strongly disagree with today's Supreme Court ruling... I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women."

Obama also co-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act, with the intent to remove some of the government penalties on married families and support fathers already trying to do the right thing; this act would also make it more difficult for men who try to avoid their parental responsibilities, increase enforcement of child support and strengthen domestic violence prevention services. This legislative initiative shows that Obama is also sensitive to family values, and the strengthening of the family unit.

The following account displays story Obama’s feelings:

    Barack Obama shared his experience with an abortion protester at one of his campaign events. This anti-choice lobbyist handed him a pamphlet, and queried, “‘Mr. Obama, I know you're a Christian, with a family of your own. So how can you support murdering babies?’ [As per Obama] I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved when making that decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.

    ‘I will pray for you,’ the protester said. ‘I pray that you have a change of heart.’ Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own-that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.”

Senator Obama’s actions embody the idea that we can agree to disagree while also being courteous and respectful to one another.

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