Sen. Obama (D-IL) edges away from his Saddleback Forum answer!

First, Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL), the Dems’ candidate for POTUS answered a question at the now well-known "Saddleback Forum" about the beginning of human life.  Actually, he dodged the question with what was considered a very deficient, even "flip" answer.

Subsequently, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Vice-Pres. candidate Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) were asked questions about Sen. Obama’s flip non-response when they appeared on Meet The Press.

As Catholic pro-abortion politicians, they committed scandal and thoroughly embarrassed themselves on Meet The Press in response to host Tom Brokaw’s questions about Sen. Obama’s response about the beginning of human life at the "Saddleback Forum". 

Senator Obama is now backtracking, edging away from the answer which sparked these tough direct questions to other key members of his party and campaign.

Look at this AP story:

Obama says he was too flip on abortion question

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday that he was probably too flip when he said it was "above my pay grade" to answer a question about when is a baby entitled to human rights.

Obama gave his answer last month at a nationally televised religious forum sponsored by minister Rick Warren at his megachurch in Orange County, Calif.

Asked on Sunday whether the "above my pay grade" answer was too flip, Obama said: "Probably. …What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It’s a pretty tough question[But it is okay to talk about both your beliefs and your understanding of what science says.]

"And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don’t presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions," [He wasn’t being asked to reflect theologically, or express himself as a theologian.  Also, you can refer to the scientific position.  "What I understand is that virtually all serious studies, apart from our religious views, state that human life begins at the moment of conception." Easy.] he said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s "This Week."

In a separate interview, the answer to a similar question came easier for Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden.

A Roman Catholic, Biden said he accepts his church’s teachings that life begins at conception, but that the issue is personal for him. He said it wouldn’t be right to impose his views on others who are just as religious as he is.  [Lousy argument.  Really bad.]

"I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment," Biden said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." "For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

A truly pluralistic society allows for the expression, also, of views of faith.  In a pluralistic society they encounter each other.  At the polls people express themselves as a result of what they believe.  Every piece of legislation limits someone or some group’s "rights" or "desires".

Still,… the important thing here is how the candidate is trying to walk away from his earlier statment which inspired hard direct questions to the Speaker of the House and the VP candidate. 

But I think the cat is out of the bag. 

Rather, the artery has been slashed.

Everytime they are interviewed, these same questions must be posed and answers required.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Brian says:

    How is Sen. Obama going to walk away from his three-year record of voting against the Born Alive Protection Act in Illinois?

    While in the State Senate in Illinois, Obama went on record in strong opposition to a law designed to ensure that an infant who survives an abortion would be provided with medical treatment in order to save his or her life.

    As documented in public record, Obama argued:

    “There was some suggestion that we might be able to craft something that might meet constitutional muster with respect to caring for fetuses or children(!) who were delivered in this fashion (failed abortion). Unfortunately this bill . . . is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny.”

    “Number one, whenever we define a previable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we are really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a nine-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be unconstitutional.”

    “The second reason that it would probably be found unconstitutional is that this essentially says that a doctor is required to provide treatment to a previable child, or fetus, however way you want to describe it. Viability is the line that has been drawn by the Supreme Court to determine whether or not an abortion can or cannot take place. And if we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive a even a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as — as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality . . .”

    State of Illinois 92nd General Assembly Regular Session Senate Transcript, March 30, 2001, pg 86-87

    So, the stated primary reason that Obama voted not to protect a baby who survived an abortion procedure was because defining that infant as a “person” to whom the doctor was required to provide treatment might suggest that the child should not have been prematurely ripped from the womb in the first place. Rather than expose the twisted thinking that gave us Roe v Wade in the first place, Obama opposed a law that would have required saving the life a newly born human child.

    How is Obama going to walk away from that frightening and heartless legal rationalizing?

    How does that blatant disregard for innocent human life consistent with Obama’s claim “as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into …”

    How is Biden going to morally justify running with a man who is willing to engage in such callous reversed-reasoning.

    I agree with Fr. Z, “Everytime they are interviewed, these same questions must be posed and answers required.”

  2. May I give a simple word of advice? Lay off the pro Republican harangues (they’re not so bad on this site). Many people have very legitimate reasons for not wishing to support the Republican ticket and it is wrong to try to use abortion to hold such people hostage to a Party they reject.

    You will NOT eliminate the evil practice of abortion by voting for the Republicans. You must do it by converting the Democrats. It will take time but that is the only way as the Bush years surely illustrate.

    In other words, abortion is much too serious an issue to be reduced to party politics. Great battles are usually won by conquering the middle ground.

  3. P.S. But the bishops certainly SHOULD continue to put the feet of Catholic Politicians to the fire. Had an earl;ier generation of bishops done this Catholic politicians might know better by now.

  4. wsxyz says:

    David O’Rourke:
    True, there are good reasons to not support the Republican ticket, but there are even better reasons for not supporting the Democratic ticket, the pro-abortion stance of 99.99% of Democrats (and both members of the Democratic ticket) being one of the primary ones.

    The reasons for not supporting the Republican ticket, do not permit Catholics to support the Democratic ticket.

  5. Folks: I am posting what I post not from any desire to be political or endorse any candidates. I am trying to expose what I believe Catholics must understand about issues.

    For example, no Catholic politician can legitimately claim to separate the private from the public, claim that he is against abortion and then actively endorse it with clear voting records. You cannot say you believe what the Church teaches and then promote abortion and say that the Church doesn’t take a stand.

    That would apply to the GOP or the Dems, to Forza Italia or the Democratici della Sinistra, Labor or Tory.

    Let’s stick to issues as closely as we can.

  6. James Garrison says:

    The thing that I think doesn’t get pointed out often enough is that Sen. Obama wasn’t asked about either theology or science. He was asked about law, which is supposed to be a politician’s forte. This really was the genius of the question, it was about rights. I can understand Obama thinking he is not qualified to say when ensoulment happens,

  7. James Garrison says:

    I’m quite sorry, the website went all crazy on me and then posted prematurely.

    Continuing: because frankly, he isn’t qualified to answer that. And he might not have the ability to answer the question of when life begins from a scientific perspective, though this is something he could make himself aware of. The legal question doesn’t specifically rely on either perspective, however, and it is an answer that he should have, as one who wants to lead the country. We know, however, what his opinion is, considering his voting record, which should speak for itself.

  8. Brian says:

    David O’Rourke,
    The slaughter of over one-million innocent lives per year trumps every moral and political issue of our day.

    Every Roman Catholic, indeed, every conscious human being, has a moral obligation to defend innocent human life. Any public figure, Democrat or Republican, who stands in favor of legalized abortion stands in favor of legalized taking of innocent life — a grave, objective moral evil.

    Speaking for myself. I am not a Republican. I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. Personally, I like Barak Obama.

    Obama’s position on abortion, however, is objectively evil. His public statements and voting record consistently reveal such an extreme, hardened position in favor of abortion that he officially opposed a law to protect the lives of innocent victims of abortion, even after they were born because he feared the law would imply that abortion is murder. He plans to choose Supreme Court Justices who will further that evil. He will favor U.N. policies that will spread that evil and pressure poor countries to support such “women’s rights.”

    Despite the gravity and pervasiveness of this evil, Roman Catholic politicians are arguing in favor of legalized abortion, and have the audacity to absurdly distort Augustine and Aquinas. Other Catholics are deluding themselves into thinking that it is really o.k. to support candidates who favor legalized abortion, as if this is just one issue among others.

    If Hitler had a great health plan for poor Germans, would it be o.k. to vote for him?

    God is aware of every hair on every head, of every little developing heart and brain of every one of the over 40-million human beings who have fallen victim to Roe v Wade.

    Please David O’Rourke, wake up.


  9. Anthony English says:

    I suppose a lot of politicians might be personally against fraud and corruption, but would they refrain from imposing their morals on others who were fraudulent and corrupt?

  10. andrea says:

    I am lost in the main issue of abortion as opposed to all the other issues of this election. Eight years ago our Bishop very subtely suggested we, in the pews all vote ‘pro life’ which meant voting for Bush. Being a long time Democrat, I did vote for Bush and have lived to regret it ever since. If we are truly called to ‘pro life’, we are called to ‘no death penalty’ and ‘no war’ which admittedly is very Franciscan in thinking and seemingly radical in these times. All other issues seem to have taken a ‘back burner’ position in this election. We are diverted by the abortion issue. I see it as divisive and used to distract us from other issues equally as pressing. I abhor abortion, but I see other issues being kept from discussion as we argue this one. Am I wrong in thinking the Supreme Court is somewhat stable and the abortion issue is somewhat stable and we are being distracted by rehashing it at present?

  11. Chris M says:


    NO! The death penalty and war are not the same as abortion which is always an intrinsic evil.
    They are not “equal” issues.

  12. James Garrison says:

    Andrea, might I make a brief observation. I believe your assessment of the Church’s position on the death penalty is perhaps a bit misplaced. The Church doesn’t say that capital punishment is always wrong and objectively evil/immoral. In fact, the Catechism states:

    (2267) Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

    The Catechism continues with an argument about why capital punishment should be safe, legal, and rare. This is in stark contrast to the “traditional teaching of the Church” with regards to abortion.

    I add the caveat that I think we should consider as a country limiting or ending capital punishment, but I have that freedom to hold that position in the Church. I also have the freedom to hold the position that we should allow the death penalty in limited circumstances. I do not have the freedom to licitly hold that abortion should be allowed to be legal, because it is objectively evil.

  13. RBrown says:

    David O’Rourke,

    Your comments leave me scratching my head. Why should anyone think that the Dems are more likely to overturn Roe than the Repubs and return the decision to the states?

    There are four Justices on the SCOTUS who favor overturning Roe v Wade–all four were appointed by Repubs. For some damn dumb reason, Bush 41 nominated David Souter on the recommendation of famously pro-abortion Warren Rudman.

    The recent Dem nominees, Breyer and Ginzburg, will vote to overturn Roe as soon as the cow jumps over the moon.

    The irony is that Roe v Wade was engineered by Repub appointees Harry Blackmun and William Brennan, with the only two dissenters being a Dem (Whizzer White) and a Repub (Rehnquist). Even so, abortion on demand has become a firm foundation in the official politics of the Dems.

  14. mpm says:

    “Am I wrong in thinking the Supreme Court is somewhat stable and the abortion issue is somewhat stable and we are being distracted by rehashing it at present?” – Andrea

    Yes. You are wrong about this. The secular humanists are those who have said
    that this election is “the most important election in the history of the country”.
    Why? Because of Iraq? No. Because of the death penalty? No. Because of jobs
    or healthcare? No.

    As Jeffrey Toobin told Bill Moyers on his PBS Friday night show some months
    ago: “Because 2 or maybe 3 Supreme Court justices will retire during the next
    presidency, and who replaces them will determine for the future the woman’s right
    to choose.” (just a paraphrase)

    I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast, rather than try to read the
    transcript: it is much more compelling “live”. It runs about 15 mins.

  15. andrea says:

    What I am not clear in stating is this: all life is sacred, yes? Therefore, war, death penalty, abortions is evil, no? Isn’t it just that simplistic? And still we continue to avoid other pressing issues~~~~

  16. Andrea, according to Church doctrine:

    Not all wars are wrong or unjust.
    Not all death penalties are wrong or illicit.
    But all abortions are wrong.

  17. andrea says:

    Thank you for your input. I am, then at odds with my own church as I don’t believe in the death penalty, I don’t believe in abortion and I think war is very seldom the best answwer.

  18. RBrown says:

    Thank you for your input. I am, then at odds with my own church as I don’t believe in the death penalty, I don’t believe in abortion and I think war is very seldom the best answwer.
    Comment by andrea —

    No, you’re not at odds with the Church. The Church requires that a Catholic be opposed to abortion.

    But Catholics can be for or against the Death Penalty. And a Catholic can also be a Pacifist, e.g., Cardinal Ottaviani.

    And you’re also correct that war is very seldom the best answer.

  19. mpm says:


    I don’t think you are “at odds” with your Church: many holy men and women
    have opposed the death penalty, and perhaps even more have been against war.
    On the latter point, the Church doesn’t teach that we ought to wage war, but
    that the state can have the right to defend itself and protect its citizens,
    much like a good mother would fight to protect one of her children from being

    If you follow my drift, the certain killing of the unborn is a real and present
    evil, so efforts to eliminate the death penalty can certainly be applauded, but
    not at the cost of abandoning the fight to protect the absolutely innocent.

  20. Henry: Admirably concise!

  21. andrea says:

    So, I am left to vote for a man I do not respect, a party I am not a member of, a VP candidate who makes me physically ill in order to preserve Right to Life? I would rather not. I made that decision with Bush and have lived to regret it every day of these past eight years.

  22. Chris M says:


    Again, no. There are more than two choices. If your conscience doesn’t allow you to vote for the ‘lesser evil’, then find a third party candidate who better reflects your Catholic values. Or do not vote. However, I think it’d be great if you choose to not vote that you write the major candidates and explain WHY you refused to vote for either of them. That way, you’re at least participating in the process and trying to make your opinion known.

  23. Brian and RBrown: First let me declare myself. I am a Canadian. Up here abortion is legal up to the twelth year or, to be more accurate, thre are NO laws on the subject. A Dr. Henry Morgentaler who brags about the hundreds of thousands of abortions he has performed has fought all the laws until they no longer existed, thanks to our having about 30 years ago developed an American style Charter of Rights which is contrary to our British Parliamentry system. And he is scheduled to recieve the Order of Canada which is our nations top award. So believe me, I know what you’re up against!

    But the fact is that the day Roe vs. Wade is overturned the American laws on abortion will remain the same. You will have a long battle trying to change State laws etc. And what you get changed by one State government can be changed back after the next election. What do you really solve? And bear in mind, the thousands of innocent civilians incuding fetuses who are killed in Iraq plus criminals who are executed etc. are IN ADDITION to all the abortions. It’s not an either or question.

    The fact is that the Democrats are pro-choice because they have been infiltrated by NARAL and Planned Parenthood and otheres of that ilk. Furthermore, there has been the collapse of Catholic Culture so that legislatures that are dominated by Catholics e.g. Massachusetts, vote against Church teaching in this and other matters. Often this has been due to weak bishops.

    I’m rambling on too long here but look and see where the roots of the problem are and fight them there. McCain’s views on matters of life are vague but the Republicans use the pro-life vote to get elected, largely by Evangelicals who don’t think Catholics are saved.

    So again I say, get to the roots of the problem and start weeding. Otherwise your grandchildren will be still fighting this battle a century from now.

  24. Louis E. says:

    The death penalty is always wrong,and so is overriding a woman’s decision whether or not to have an abortion.
    The difference between protecting life from BIRTH to natural death,and from CONCEPTION to natural death,is no difference at all for those who have been born;it’s a shame your church overblows it to make the least significant phase of life the most significant. [?!?!] Only by excluding “the unborn” from having rights can the rights of the born be fully protected. [That strikes me as an evil position to hold.]

  25. LCB says:


    Why is the death penalty always wrong? Do human beings have rights that come from God that make it so?

  26. Michael J says:

    The death penalty, judiciously applied, is (somewhat counter-intuitively) actually pro-life and pro man as an image of God. C. S. Lewis stated it well when he wrote:

    “Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’.”

    So, refusing to execute a criminal when he justly deserves the punishment strips him of his humanity.

  27. Jordanes says:

    Well said, Michael J.

  28. Jordanes says:

    “Least significant phase of life,” Louis E.? How can it be the least significant if no other phases of life can exist without it? Conception and the nine months of gestation are supremely important, first for bringing a new human individual into existence, and then for the course of his development: a person’s physical, emotional, and intellectual attributes and capacities are greatly influenced during that phase of life, much more so than at any other phase of life.

  29. wsxyz says:

    I’m rambling on too long here but look and see where the roots of the problem are and fight them there. McCain’s views on matters of life are vague but the Republicans use the pro-life vote to get elected, largely by Evangelicals who don’t think Catholics are saved.

    This statement is reasonably accurate but you seem to be implying that Republican presidents have not and/or will not do anything against abortion after they get their votes, but that is demonstrably false.

    Recent Republican presidents have signed into law significant restrictions on abortion and appointed enough pro-life Supreme Court justices to make a reversal of Roe v. Wade in the near future plausible, given just one or two more good appointments; and the reversal of Roe is the absolutely necessary first step.

  30. Chris M says:

    “it’s a shame your church overblows it to make the least significant phase of life the most significant.”

    Please explain why you think this and how you determine “significance”

  31. Brian says:

    This is the compelling Catholic position from Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Conley:

    “If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselvesas Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roe and the industry of permissive abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us – from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews – fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.”

    This is lame rationalization from David O’Rourke:

    “But the fact is that the day Roe vs. Wade is overturned the American laws on abortion will remain the same. You will have a long battle trying to change State laws etc. And what you get changed by one State government can be changed back after the next election. What do you really solve?”

  32. Lindsay says:

    *But the fact is that the day Roe vs. Wade is overturned the American laws on abortion will remain the same.*

    That’s not exactly true. Many states have abortion laws on the books–it is just that Roe v. Wade ruled them unconstitutional. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, the issue would be reverted back to the states. Yes, abortion would still be legal in some places, but it would be made illegal in many as well.

  33. Lindsay says:

    I apologize, I missed the second part of your statement at first, but I think you underestimate how many Americans are against abortion. There are many states where, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, there is little chance abortion would ever be allowed!

  34. Joseph says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Well, even John McCain’s enemies respect him. so I would like to know why you might mot, just out of curiosity.

    I also am puzzled by the virulent dislike of those of other viewpoints. A great American, celebrated for his largess of thinking and humor, was Will Rogers, famous for his timeless line “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Should we not strive to be a little bit more like that.

    I do respect your view on life issues. In regards to capital punishment, we can look to the scene of Calvary to the Good Thief declaring to the other thief who mocked Jesus, “We deserve the punishment we are receiving, but not the Innocent One.” (paraphrased). To which Jesus might well have corrected him, had he felt that capital punishment was wrong in all cases. Jesus, to my knowledge. in Scripture, never allowed a wrong concept of good versus evil to go unchallenged in His presence.

    By this, I don’t mean to imply that all capital punsihment is OK, or that other ways of treating criminals might be more appropriate, but just to round out this discussion.

    Regarding the idea put forth but others on this blog that the Republicans put the pro-life plank into the party platform out of pure expediency, I think that is quite a jaded view and most Republicans I know are there because of God and life issues just as much for, indeed, if not exclusive to, any fiscal philosophy, and I think the numbers bear that out, and pro-abortion Republicans are not vilified or marginalized to quite the same extent as the pro-life folks are amongst the Dems, but I am sure one can find incidences here and there suggesting the contrary.

  35. andrea says:

    My reasons for disrespect are my reasons and you may not agree,but it would seem from all media reports that McCain is avidly pro war, against diologue, carries a ‘big stick’, has a very short temper fuse and would continue the present military stance. Lastly, his choice of VP candidate seems so blatenly obvious: to gather the Hillary supporters who are unenamoured of O’Bama. I see that as a very reckless move for the country but a very well thought through move for the party.
    Also, my main issue in this election is What will you do for Darfur? and I donot believe McCain will ever address that issue.

  36. Brian says:

    If all Catholics stood united on this fundamental moral issue, and all voted against politicians who support abortion, abortion would be illegal across this entire nation within a year.

    As it is, the Catholic vote is split because of a failure of Catholics to follow clear Catholic teaching. As a result, pro-abortion candidates carry elections with Catholic votes, and abortion remains legal.

  37. Mike says:

    What about the argument that criminalizing abortion actually increases the number of abortions? Can anyone explain if this is true, and if so, why? I often hear it, even among some fellow practising Catholics, but have my doubts about it. Surely all laws should aim to be moral, or at least aim to be.

  38. Jordanes says:

    Mike asked: What about the argument that criminalizing abortion actually increases the number of abortions? Can anyone explain if this is true, and if so, why?

    If criminalising abortion increases the number of abortions, then why do we have 500 bazillion more abortions now than we did when abortion was illegal?

    It is invariably the case that if something is outlawed, you will have fewer people doing that thing. Any time the State announces that it will punish an activity, most people will change their behavior, while others will continue to engage in it regardless of how often or how severely they are punished. Whether or not it is practical or feasible or “cost-effective” to outlaw a particular activity is a whole other question: with some sinful acts, it would cause greater injustice to criminalise them. The classic case of Prohibition, for instance: contrary to myth, Prohibition actually “worked,” in that alcohol consumption declined immensely in the U.S. Many continued to drink alcohol, though, and a black market sprang up with organised crime trafficking in alcohol sales. However, the injustice of Prohibition — forbidding not just the abuse of alcohol, but all sale and consumption of alcohol, when such is not contrary to natural law — was intolerable.

    When it comes to abortion, its legalisation is intolerable — but there are prudent and just ways to criminalise abortion, and there are imprudent and unjust ways to criminalise it. Also, outlawing abortion won’t ever eliminate it, just as our laws against murder do not eliminate all murder. Rather, they provide society with a means to redress the injustice of murder and to prevent murderers from causing more harm to society. When (not if — when) abortion is outlawed, we will find a segment of society that will continue to engage in that criminal activity, but the numbers of abortions will dramatically decline, which means the number of women, men, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins that are harmed by abortion will dramatically decline as well.

  39. Mike says:

    Well that’s nailed it, Jordanes. Thanks very much!

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