Will Obama "Evolve" on Planned Parenthood?

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The White House press corps did its level best to grill President Obama about the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran on Wednesday. CBS’s Major Garrett managed to get under the president’s skin while asking about the U.S. hostages being held in Iran, and April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks managed to engage the president for a few moments on race relations, criminal justice, his impending trip to Kenya, and even Bill Cosby.

I was hoping, however, that the president would be asked about another major story that had been roiling the Internet for 24 hours: the shocking undercover video released Tuesday of a Planned Parenthood official named Dr. Deborah Nucatola casually discussing—over a salad and a glass of wine—the techniques and reimbursement rates for harvesting of organs from aborted fetuses.

I’d be genuinely curious to hear Obama’s response, given that he’s been such a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights for his entire political career.

Some quick history: In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama was put on the defensive over three votes he took in the Illinois state legislature in the years 2001-2003 to kill a measure that would have given legal status—and mandated medical assistance—for babies showing signs of life after a botched abortion.

Obama said his political opponents were lying about his opposition to the bill, the Born-Alive Infant Act, claiming that he fully supported a similar federal bill in 2002 that contained different language which he said prevented it from becoming a threat to undermine Roe v. Wade. Subsequent reporting, however, revealed that Obama was the one doing the lying and that the language in the Illinois bill was identical to the federal legislation.

If you go back and read some of the news reports and transcripts, there’s more than a hint of Dr. Nucatola in Obama’s rhetoric as he argued against the Born-Alive Infant legislation in 2003:

As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child – however way you want to describe it – is now outside the mother’s womb and the doctor continues to think that its nonviable but there’s, let’s say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they’re not just out limp and dead, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved. Is that right?

Add a glass of wine and some arugula and Obama could have been talking about special techniques used to preserve the calvarium (a.k.a. head) of an aborted fetus to meet market demand.

A few years later, during the 2008 campaign, then presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked by Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, “at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

Obama’s instantly infamous response was “answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.” It was, and remains, a classic cop out.

As president, Obama has gone to great lengths on many other issues, most notably climate change, to assert that he formulates his policies based on facts and science. He used that very argument in defending his Iran deal on Wednesday. He’s mocked those who disagree with him, reserving special scorn for political opponents who’ve tried to sidestep the global warming issue, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dodged a climate change question by declaring he’s not a scientist. This was a cop-out similar to the one he used with Rick Warren.

So let’s apply that same standard to abortion. Here’s a fact involving some science: Thanks to medical advances, 79 percent of babies born at 29 weeks or earlier now survive to go home with their parents. Babies born as early as 22 weeks are now able to survive outside the womb, and all of the organs Planned Parenthood is so eager to get its hands on for “medical research” purposes (Dr. Nucatola: “a lot of people want livers”) begin forming and functioning weeks before that.

In the interview with Rick Warren in 2008, Barack Obama also said this about abortion: “One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention.”

The President recently pronounced himself “evolved” on another hot-button social issue, to much fanfare and adulation. Given the advances in science and the truly horrifying revelations this week about the ethics and morality of the abortion business, I wonder whether he might have had a change of heart on this issue, too. I call it the audacity of hope. 

Tom Bevan is the Co-Founder & Publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email: tom@realclearpolitics.com, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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