John McCain, Barack Obama Display Abortion Divide at Evangelical Forum

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain, Barack Obama Display Abortion Divide at Evangelical Forum

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 17
, 2008

Lake Forest, CA ( — The wide divide between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama was on display on Saturday night as both participated in a unique forum at Saddleback Church in California. McCain established his pro-life credentials in a clear manner while Obama tried to moderate his strong pro-abortion position.

Before the event, pro-life groups were concerned Pastor Rick Warren would focus on more fashionable social justice issues like AIDS or poverty and neglect pro-life concerns about abortion and the destruction of human life.

Warren asked a question phrase in a pro-life manner by querying the candidates about when a “baby gets human rights.”

Senator McCain didn’t hesitate on raising the pro-life banner and said, "At the moment of conception” while Obama took the road the Supreme Court did in 1973 saying it couldn’t know when human life begins.

"I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade," Obama quipped.

McCain sought to assure pro-life voters that he will keep pro-life precepts in mind when he occupies the White House.

"I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies,” he said. “I have a 25-year pro-life record. That’s my commitment to you.”

Obama tried to deflect criticism from his pro-abortion views — including recent criticism that he misrepresented his votes in the Illinois legislature against bills that would have stopped infanticides.

He said he doesn’t support abortions, but wants to reduce them and claimed he wanted to find common ground on abortions despite a pledge last summer to do Planned Parenthood’s bidding.

"For me the goal right now should be and this is where we can find common ground," he said. "How do we reduce abortions?"

Obama admitted he knew pro-life advocates would find his abortion stance “inadequate” and firmly declared himself as “pro-choice” on abortion.

During another question on the greatest failure of America, Obama cited a Biblical verse in Matthew saying, "whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me." He said the maxim should apply to victims of poverty, sexism and racism — but not to babies victimized by abortion.

McCain said the greatest moral problem in the nation is the failure to "devote ourselves to causes greater than our self-interests."

During the forum, McCain also addressed the issue of embryonic stem cell research and made it clear, again, that he is impressed by moral alternatives and said it will eventually make the debate moot.

"For those of us in the pro-life community, this is a great struggle. … I’ve come down on the side of stem cell research, but I’m wildly optimistic that skin cell research … will make this debate an academic one,” he said.


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