Is President Obama Pro-Choice?

President Obama is enjoying a recent surge in popularity because of the death of Osama bin Laden. But many Progressives aren’t feeling a renewed surge of love for President Obama (myself included), primarily because they feel like President Obama sold them a bill of goods during the election, and he has now reneged on all those campaign promises.

Reproductive rights is one of the areas where President Obama fails to meet my expectations. In the latest issue of Conscience Magazine, Jodi Jacobson raises similar feelings of disapproval.

“As a candidate, Obama said all the right things. As a president, his actions suggest that then-presidential contender and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was right—he will not fight for us.… The president has presided over the greatest erosion to women’s reproductive health and rights in the past 30 years, and a continuing degradation of our rights at the state level. Yet still he remains silent. Is Obama pro-choice? Not by my definition.”

I’m with Jacobson on this one. President Obama’s advisers have recommended that he veto HR3 when it lands on his desk, but I want to hear the president speak up for himself on this issue. The president never stood up during the health care reform debate to speak out against the Stupak amendment, and HR3 is just the latest version of President Obama’s lack of leadership in reproductive rights.

I also think that President Obama needs to take a more visible stance about funding international family planning services. Yes, yes . . . Obama ended the Mexico City policy when he first came into office. But there was no press conference, no aplomb . . . it was all done very quietly, as if Obama was ashamed to be pro-choice.

This list is entirely too short to give an honest accounting of all the ways President Obama has failed to live up to his campaign promises. I guess I’m feeling compassionate after my third latte of the day.

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with Jacobson about the difference between “candidate Obama” and “President Obama?” Or has Obama lived up to your expectations? I’d love to hear your point of view.

About Serena:
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.


  1. Maureen says:

    Very valid points, Serena. I, too, wish Obama were more vocal and proactive about upholding and preserving reproductive rights. That said, he is a vast improvement over Bush. Yes, Obama was rather silent over reversing the global gag rule, but he did it. And one has to wonder whether his silence was strategic — if there was much ado over it, would it have prompted a battle, thus delaying its reversal? Perhaps his pro-choice record was stronger as a Senator (he co-sponsored and voted for a lot of pro-choice legislation) than as President, but I remain hopeful that he will do the right thing, should HR3 cross his desk. Call me overly optimistic :)

    More than anything, your article serves as a reminder that pro-choice activists must never ever rest on their laurels, even with a supposedly pro-choice president in office. Our work is never done!

    • Ronald Lee Vaught says:

      As a supportor promoter and protector of Human and all life rights i must say we need not be too critical of The president we are taking about potiential life a child a fetus an egg that may mature to become mostanything so the matter is not a easy subject that egg fetus maybe one that can change our world and better humanity in the way of Rights for all including womens rights and thier choices about their bodies. There is many points of perceptive and ciricumstances in this serious subject. One is potiential life going to be supported to accomplish its greatness and or a happy fullfilling life? Who can even answer that question amoung most of us. Can the soul of that potiential life in another place and person, time with better circumstances? Can we afford to diminish the value of life by saying its OK to abort a potiential life just because it would inconvience us and or society. A better question; How can we as a society and as individuals contribute to the success of all life already born, and all potiential life?

  2. Maureen, thanks for your points. I agree with you about the strategery of letting the gag rule repeal go under the radar. But here’s my question – what is the strategic point that it serves? Placating the right? Obama’s entire administration has been one big play to the right. These folks didn’t vote for Obama, and they never will vote for Obama. He is running out of time to shore up his support with his base. To me, strategic planning involves focusing on your strengths, rather than focusing on your weaknesses. That’s not to say that you should totally ignore them – but you don’t win a basketball game focusing on the moves that you can’t do – you gotta focus on your A-game. In my book, Obama has not even been focusing on a C-game.

    Sorry for the mixed metaphors – I blame it on insomnia.

  3. P.S. Indeed – our work is never done. It’s similar to how the suffragists would call out any party who didn’t live up to campaign promises of giving women the vote. Don’t make a promise you don’t intend to keep – because feminists will hold your feet to the fire.

  4. If nothing more, Obama is smarter than you think. He is a Harvard trained Lawyer specializing in constitutional law, who grew up as the only black person in his immediate family; and he MANAGED to still thrived. That meant he mastered the ability to be analytically astute, strategic, and measured. If Obama were not PROCHOICE he would be prolife. If he pushes prochoice now, NO antiCHOICE laws will be over turned. Conversely, if he pushes immigration now, the HOUSE will be turned back to Dems. Which will allow for proChoice laws to be re-established. The Blue dogs stopped it before. Conservatives must be pushed out of congress in order for Women to be free to control our own lives and bodies.

    At this point Women are feminists, and minorities are not nationalists. As such Women & Minorities are losing their rights. #HR3, Immigration, HBCU defunding & worke rights are issues that people were not concerned about until their rights were taken away by laws against women, minorities and workers. Until the feminist movement understands that, we will continue to be a bunch of talking heads that no one is listening to.

    Frankly, we can change policy through funding political campaigns through sales trends and parties. We can fund Prochoice options through an underground railroad abortion network. Then return to mainstream in 2012 when the crazies have been ousted from congress.

    The feminist movement must be lead by brand management professionals instead on nonprofit administrators. The message has been lost to corporate conservative exploiters and oppressors. Women are not reading Ms, they are watching Oprah, We channel and TLC. The proLife is a man’s agenda RUN by men. TLC is pushing the proLife agenda, not the women’s agenda. Women are being completely brainwashed by it all. Choice has been lost in translation. We need business women representing the feminist movement and not soccer moms.

    • letatlechat says:

      I agree that we have been coopted and have lost focus. The anti-abortion movement has been relentlessly pursuing a single-minded goal since Roe v. Wade was decided. Women take it for granted.

      Why you think corporate women will do better, I’m not sure. We could use a strong media message, to be sure. But every day, at every level, we must take back the language – they are anti-woman and anti-abortion NOT PRO-LIFE – and take back the conversation about reproductive freedom.

  5. This is probably swerving somewhat off-topic but what gets me steamed is that women’s reproductive rights or really, let’s face it, women have become a wedge issue. (Or worse, a minority when we’re the freakin’ majority!!!!) Republicans are pushing a ridiculously radical (and not at all inexpensivel) campaign against choice to appease their base and convince them to empty their wallets. And I like to think that Democrats are just trying their darnedest not to bite lest it fill the right’s coffers even more.

    One of these days I would like the sensible middle to step up and show the politicos how grown-ups are supposed to act. Hmmph!

  6. Kirsten says:

    I’d just like to point out that on the anniversary of Roe, Obama’s statement NEVER USED THE WORD ABORTION. That kind of says it all for me.

  7. letatlechat says:

    As long as we allow the far right and religious right to co-opt the language and call themselves “pro-life,” we will continue to lose the public opinion war. We must remind women that they have nothing without reproductive freedom, that a WOMAN’S life is a human life, and that this is about respecting their choice.

    Until we take back the conversation, elected officials will have to dodge and weave. Abortion is not a dirty word, but it’s up to each of us to make that clear, every day.

  8. President Obama has thrown women under the bus so often that I will not be voting for him in 2012. I will vote democratic but write in Hilary Clinton for president.
    Obama has turned out to be worse than the Rethuglicans on women’s issues. If the conservatives take the white house, maybe the resulting shock will wake people up.
    I urge all women to write Hilary Clinton in for president when voting. We might as well send a message with our votes since they don’t count any way.

  9. Prolife IS actually PRO WOMEN. says:

    Abortion is NEVER a proper or morally logical fix to a pregnancy. A women most definitely does deserve her rights as do all citizens, but she must also know that facts in which abortion clinics will never share with her- aborting a child is murder. Let us not dance around the issue or sugar coat it. Aborting a baby is taking their life.. Yep that’s right the child’s life. . . because it’s alive! Just as us females have rights so does this child inside of her womb. That fetus is a FETUS, therefore meaning it is a HUMAN. That baby breathes moves grows every second of everyday inside the mother. That is until some money hungry scam artist ‘doctor’ takes its life. Not only does it painfully kill the baby but the mother also experiences many many emotional and physical wounds for years after this sickening process occurs. Don’t be fooled by pro choice and abortion clinics! Their objective is most certainly NOT to encourage women’s right or to help women. Their objective is first and foremost to TAKE the women’s money along with their little child, their dignity and everything else in between. Who is really the one with all of the rights at the end of the abortion?? Looks like it is not that women who just had her life flipped upside down is it? No.
    Pro life. Of the women or family cannot properly care the child, there are millions of deserving and fit men and women who long to adopt a chad into their familes.

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