Obama Newly Embracing Abortion Restrictions?

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From the ABC News Blog Legalities:

… In a recent interview, Obama appears to back away from his long-stated positions on abortion (and a proposed federal abortion rights law he had co-sponsored), repudiate 35 years of accepted Supreme Court rulings on the issue and embrace a view on abortion restrictions that has been expressed on the Court only by Justices Thomas and Scalia.

Obama’s remarks are printed verbatim in the interview, published yesterday in Relevant Magazine. Read them   : there’s no mistaking that Obama says he no longer will support what’s long been a cornerstone of the abortion rights debate: The Court’s insistence that laws banning abortions after the fetus is viable (now about 22 weeks) contain an exception to allow doctors to perform them if necessary to protect a pregnant woman’s mental health.

‘I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother,” Obama said. “I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”


This has been a central battleground issue in the Supreme Court going back 35 years, to Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, when the Court ruled a woman had a constitutional right to abortion. The decisions said state’s can ban all abortions after the fetus is viable — but that any restrictions must include exceptions to protect a woman’s physical and emotional health.

In the years since, anti-abortion groups have fought hard against mental health exceptions, arguing that they create giant loopholes that make abortion bans meaningless. Doctors, they argue, can always find a “mental health” exception. But abortion rights groups just as strongly argue the mental health exception is critical to preserving a woman’s right to an abortion:and that the woman and her doctor must be allowed to make those decisions about her health without government interference.

Read the entire account here.

–Ann Bartow

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