Barack Obama is 100% Pro-Choice. Period.

PunditMom is considering NOT voting, Cynematic has warning bells blazing, Gloria Feldt is closing her wallet, and AnnRose is recounting her days at a hospital specializing in late abortion.

This is too big.

This has too many women wondering.

I am not comfortable wondering, and I have no intention of wondering my way to November.

I’m taking action.

I talked with Pam Sutherland today, President and CEO of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council.

We each had one thing on our minds and we both understood it’s importance. There was no small talk. There was no chit-chat.

This conversation was arranged knowing what was at stake. She knew what she needed to say, and I knew what I hoped to hear.

And now I get to tell you.

Pam Sutherland does NOT have ONE doubt in her mind that Senator Barack Obama is anything but 100% pro-choice.

And she should know.

“I have worked with Barack Obama for 12 years. And in that 12 years he has never voted wrong on any (women’s reproductive) issue. It’s just that simple.”

It’s just that simple.

I happened to be talking to Pam as I watched Senator John McCain seemingly writhe in pain when asked his position on forcing health insurance companies to cover birth control.

Then we have Senator Obama, speaking DIRECTLY to BlogHer on the issue

Did you catch the difference there? McCain entirely uncomfy on YouTube, Obama talking TO US.

I also talked with the Obama campaign, hoping to clarify the Senator’s remarks that had pro-choice women wringing their hands.

The official statement?

“Senator Obama has always fought for a woman’s right to choose and has consistently opposed efforts to pass measures lacking a health exception. Senator Obama also recognizes that some people view these health exceptions not as exceptions, but as a way around these restrictions. Senator Obama believes that while “mental distress” should not be covered by a health exception, there will be cases where carrying to term a pregnancy may seriously damage a woman’s mental health and those cases should be covered. He believes that we can craft well-defined health exceptions – as pro-choice legislators have tried in Congress and in state legislatures – that address those concerns and fully protect women’s health.”- Shannon Gilson

That didn’t clear things up for me. I continued my call with Pam and really tried to get to the heart of this.

Point blank I asked her, “Pam, do you worry at all about what he said, his remarks, are you worried?”

“No, Erin. I don’t worry at all…He’s made it perfectly clear he supports the tenets of Roe…and I have a 12-year experience with someone who is 100% Pro-Choice.”

For good measure-

Senator John McCain has received a 0% pro-choice rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Senator Obama received a 100% pro-choice vote rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Not 75%. Not 99%.


Can I also point out McCain co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Abortion Ban? Yea, he did.

Want something even scarier?

Senator McCain voted against legislation that established criminal and civil penalties for those who use threats and violence to keep women from gaining access to reproductive health facilities.

The record by both candidates goes on and on and on. It’s not even a contest.

Liza at Culture Kitchen even has a graphic demonstrating the difference.

If Planned Parenthood and NARAL are confident in Senator Obama, why aren’t you?

Pam Sutherland isn’t worried, and I’m not either.

Cross Posted at


  1. Thanks, Erin. This is a clear answer to the question on the lips of every pro-choice woman right now. I always appreciate your clear views here and on Twitter, etc.

    Leslie Poston, @geechee_girl Social Media Consulting, Bringing People Together Social Media News and Reviews Blog Network, Technology With Attitude Personal Blog

  2. I really hope this gets the coverage it deserves.

    I, personally, was confused at the freak out over that statement. Perhaps because I took it in context of his record, etc.

    I felt like he was saying “look, no one is advocating ‘oh, yeah, I just can’t do this anymore I guess’ as a valid exception for late-term abortions. But there ARE valid exceptions.”

    If anything, I think this statement goes a long way in dispelling the myth that so many people have about pro-choice advocates, which is that we are all Pro Abortion As A Means Of Birth Control.

    I hope people do the same investigating you did Erin. And come to the same conclusion.

  3. This analysis is fine as far as it goes, but it fails to address three important points which my post you refer to took into account:

    1. Gratuitous pandering makes a candidate look dishonest and often loses the race: Because he has had a 100% prochoice voting record, there was no reason for him to make those pandering statements about abortion and sex education except an attempt to obfuscate his position to mollify an audience. That’s dishonest. PLus it won’t work. The conservative evangelicals aren’t going to vote for him in November no matter what he says though. And his base of prochoice women, whom he needs not just to get votes from but also enthusiastic support, need to hear him speak in those lofty terms he uses so well about how reproductive rights are human rights–not that he is going to demean women by implying they have abortions late in pregnancy because they “feel blue”. So over all he made himself look like a flip flopper even if he isn’t, and that is devastating to a candidate

    2.He either didn’t know his facts or he didn’t know how to explain his own positions: The man is a constitutional lawyer, and a sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, so why does he not know that the legislation in question does not just outlaw abortions in the third trimester, but applies any time during pregnancy that a variety of ill-defined abortion techniques are performed and could seriously make it difficult for women to get abortions as early as 12 week?. If he wanted to say he supports outlawing abortion in the third trimester except to preserve the life or health of the woman, he should have said so. That’s what Roe allows already and what most states do, and Obama should have simply have pointed this out if he wanted to find an area of agreement with his audience. Instead, he chose to rather deviously try to dance the two step, to curry their favor by twisting his words to make it sound like he was moving toward them on abortion. Then he compounded this by saying he favored abstinence education. Well, again his audience isn’t stupid. They know he sponsored the Prevention First Act. So he was either being deliberately dishonest because he didn’t disclose he supports comprehensive sex education that of course includes abstinence, or he is being dishonest when he tells us he supports comprehensive. Either of these reflects poorly on him.

    3. It is not enough to merely support or oppose legislation that come to him if he becomes president. Reproductive rights and justice are so threatened right now that a proactive agenda is necessary. He is cosponsoring two of the most important pieces of legislation for the prochoice community. He should say that proudly in any setting. He should be shoring up the party platform. He should be talking about the Supreme Court. He should elevate the conversation from privacy to human rights and equality for his daughters. He should be a champion for these issues not an apologist.

    In sum, we who are prochoice and care about the broader spectrum of women’s equality need to use this moment not to give Obama a pass but to let him know we expect him to continue and strengthen his policy stances on reproductive rights, health, and justice.

  4. Thank you for summing this up, Erin. I’m still a bit nervous over this. By his statements he seems more like 95% pro-choice, which is awesome considering what else we have to deal with. But if he’s 100% he needs to explain what he means better. Or he should just come out and be honest about which side he’s choosing and not trying to get on both sides.

  5. Thanks for this. A very important post!

  6. nice job, erin.

    but i have to say, even 75 percent pro-choice is better than the alternative, wouldn’t you say????

Speak Your Mind