December 4, 2008 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 125 Number 43

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In their own words


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—For the past several weeks, the Witness has run Baptist Press stories which focused on one specific issue and detailed where the two major presidential candidates stand. Called “In Their Own Words,” the stories avoided commentary and instead presented the candidates’ views as they have stated them in the past—either in interviews, speeches, debates or on their campaign websites. Among the topics that covered were abortion,the definition of marriage and gay rights, Supreme Court nominees, Darfur, the energy crisis, the environment, Iraq, immigration and taxes. For the final installment of the “In Their Own Words,” check online only at Nov. 1.

John McCain’s speech to National Right to Life

“Thank you for inviting me to address the 2008 National Right to Life Convention. I’m sorry I’m not able to be there in person to address you. More than 200 years ago, our nation’s founders declared that we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was no accident that they cited life as the first and most basic right, for without recognition of the right to life, we are not guaranteed any other rights. Sometimes all wisdom asks of us is that we recognize common sense. But sometimes wisdom, as to all other virtues, requires courage.

“Wisdom suggests that we should be willing to give an unborn child the same chance that our parents gave us. But it takes courage in this political climate to insist on the protection of unborn children, who can’t vote, have no voice, and can’t reward you with support and donations. Wisdom suggests that when federal judges impose their social views on the citizens of every state, the result is going to distort our politics in harmful ways. But it takes courage to insist that the courts have to return to their proper role.

“I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law and a proven commitment to strictly interpreting the Constitution of the United States. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Sam Alito, my friend the late William Rehnquist—jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference.

“I have been pro-life my entire public career. I am pro-life because I know what it is like to live without human rights, where human life is accorded no inherent value. And I know that I have a personal obligation to advocate human rights wherever they are denied—in Bosnia or Burma, in Cuba or the Middle East, and in our own country, when we fail to respect the inherent dignity of all human life, born or unborn. That is a personal testament which you need not take on faith. You need only to examine my public record to know that I won’t change my position. I’ve been proud to serve our great country in the military and in Congress.

“Throughout these years I have always believed that the most important duty of our national leaders is to protect human life. We protect human life from violent extremists who would destroy it to produce a cruel ideology. We protect the lives of the most vulnerable, whether they are the unborn, the elderly or the disabled. It is a privilege to defend Americans in war and in peace.

“I’m proud to stand with you in defending the sanctity of human life and in supporting mothers and children under the most challenging of circumstances.

“I’m proud of my wife Cindy, who brought our daughter Bridget home from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh, and blessed our family with the gift of this blessed child of God. I am as thankful for her as I am for all of my children and am glad that we were able to give her a home and a better life.

“My friends we confront a difficult question when we address the issue of abortion. The American people are compassionate people, who cherish life and liberty. They love life, and they have an instinctive compassion for those who confront difficult circumstances. We believe that the best way to respond to such situations is to demonstrate our love and support for the mothers and children who are at the center of such challenges. The pro-life movement has done this for decades by participating in and supporting thousands of pregnancy care centers that help women and their children meet these challenges.

“In November, the American people will choose a new president to lead our country during very challenging times. I will proudly defend my record of protecting human life during key debates on domestic and international policy. I am proud to have supported a ban on partial-birth abortion and legislation that would protect children who survived an abortion procedure.

“On the very first day, after the Supreme Court upheld the ban on the hideous practice of partial-birth abortion, a bill was introduced in Congress to codify this practice in every one in the United States of America. The same legislation would strike down the Hyde amendment, named after our great friend and champion of human life—the incomparable Henry Hyde—and would also strike down every other federal and state limitation on abortion funding. This legislation, with has been co-sponsored by my opponent, would also strike down every parental notification law enacted anywhere in our country.

“The American people have come together to say that partial-birth abortion offends our national conscience, that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for elective abortions, and that states should be allowed to enact parental notification laws. And those who oppose these protections of human life, unable to prevail in legislatures, hope to appoint to the federal courts jurists who would reject this political consensus, and impose on us abortion policies that offend the conscience of man, many Americans.

“My friends, I want to thank you again, for your commitment to a cause that is greater than us all—protecting human life, and helping women and children, wherever they need our support.

“May God bless America, and your unselfish efforts, on behalf of all His children.”

Barack Obama’s speech to Planned Parenthood

“It’s been a little over five months since I announced my candidacy for president of the United States of America and everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been inspired by these enormous crowds. We had 20,000 people in Atlanta, 20,000 people in Austin, Texas, 15,000 people in Oakland, Calif. And I would love to take all the credit for these crowds myself, to say to myself that it’s just because I’m just so fabulous, but my wife says otherwise. Michelle, I think, confirms that these crowds are not about me. It’s about the hunger all across America for something different. It’s about the sense that we can do better—that we’ve come to a crossroads, that we’re not pointed in the right direction.

“And as I look out over these crowds, and they are a wonderful cross-section of the country—male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native-American, disabled, gay, straight, old, young— what I’m heartened to see is particularly the young people who are getting their first chance to be part of a larger movement of Americans. I see young women who are Ariana’s age and younger, and I think about my own two daughters, Sasha and Malia, and sometimes it makes me stop and it makes me wonder: what kind of America will our daughters grow up in? What kind of America will our daughters grow up in?

“Will our daughters grow up with the same opportunities as our sons? Will our daughters have the same rights, the same dreams, the same freedoms to pursue their own version of happiness? I wonder because there’s a lot at stake in this country today, and there’s a lot at stake in this election, especially for our daughters. To appreciate that all you have to do is review the recent decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. For the first time in Gonzales vs. Carhart, the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on abortions with criminal penalties for doctors. For the first time, the courts endorsed an abortion restriction without an exception for a woman’s health. The decision presumed that the health of women is best protected by the court—not by doctors and not by the woman herself. That presumption is wrong.

“Some people argue that the federal ban on abortion was just an isolated effort aimed at one medical procedure—that it’s not part of a concerted effort to steadily roll back the hard-won rights of American women. That presumption is also wrong. Within hours of the decision, an Alabama lawmaker introduced a measure to ban all abortions. With one more vacancy on the court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman’s fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe vs. Wade, and that is what is at stake in this election.

“The only thing more disturbing than the decision was the rationale of the majority. Without any hard evidence, Justice Kennedy proclaimed, ‘It is self-evident that a woman would regret her choice.’ He cited medical uncertainty about the need to protect the health of pregnant women, even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found no such uncertainty. Justice Kennedy knows many things; my understanding is he does not know how to be a doctor.

“He dismissed as mere preferences the reasoned judgment of the nation’s doctors. As we’ve seen time after time these last few years when the president says otherwise, when the science is inconvenient, when the facts don’t match up with the ideology, they are cast aside. Well, it’s time for us to change that. It is time for a different attitude in the White House. It is time for a different attitude in the Supreme Court. It is time to turn the page and write a new chapter in American history.

“We know that five men don’t know better than women and their doctors what’s best for a woman’s health. We know that it’s about whether or not women have equal rights under the law. We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children to have and when—without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country. We also know that there was another voice that came from the bench—a voice clear in reasoning and passionate in dissent. A voice rejected what she called, quote ‘Ancient notions of women’s place in the family and under the Constitution, ideas that have long been discredited.’ One commentator called the decision in Gonzales, ‘An attack on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s entire life’s work.’ And it was. But we heard Justice Ginsburg and we know what she was saying. She was saying, ‘We’ve been there before and we are not going back. We refuse to go back.’

“We know it’s not just one decision. It’s the blow dealt to equal pay in the Ledbetter [v. Goodyear] case. It’s the blow dealt to integration in the school desegregation case. It’s an approach to the law that favors the powerful over the powerless—that holds up a flawed ideology over the rights of the individual. We don’t see America in these decisions—that’s not who we are as a people. We’re a country founded on the principle of equality and freedom. We’re the country that’s fought generation after generation to steadily extend that equality to the many not restrict it to the few. We’ve been there before and we’re not going back.

“I have worked on these issues for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law—not simply as a case about privacy but as part of the broader struggle for women’s equality. Steve and Pam will tell you that we fought together in the Illinois state Senate against restrictive choice legislation—laws just like the federal [partial-birth] abortion ban that are cropping up. I’ve stood up for the freedom of choice in the United States Senate and I stand by my votes against the confirmation of Judge Roberts and Samuel Alito.

“So, you know where I stand. But this is more than just about standing our ground. It must be about more than protecting the gains of the past. We’re at a crossroads right now in America— and we have to move this country forward. This election is not just about playing defense, it’s also about playing offense. It’s not just about defending what is, it’s about creating what might be in this country. And that’s what we’ve got to work together on.

“There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield.... [T]he first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.... That’s why I think it’s important for us obviously to get not only a Democratic White House as well as a stronger Congress to protect these rights.”