Republican, Democratic Party Chairs Debate Abortion, Obama an Notre Dame

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican, Democratic Party Chairs Debate Abortion, Obama an Notre Dame

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — While most of the nation’s political attention over the weekend was focused on President Barack Obama’s speech at the University of Notre Dame, the chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties debated on national television for the first time, and they touched on abortion issues.

GOP chair Michael Steele, a pro-life former Maryland lieutenant governor, told Meet the Press that he thinks it was wrong for Notre Dame, as a Catholic college, to honor Obama.

Obama said there are "two separate issues" — one concerning whether Notre Dame should have invited Obama and another about whether it should have given him an honorary degree.

"First off, any institution’s going to be honored to have the president of the United States come and address them. And that’s separate from that institution then placing its imprimatur on the president by conferring a degree, which is what–which is the case here," Steele explained.

"And that’s where Catholics draw the line. It’s not about the president speaking at the university, it’s the fact that the institution is saying that we confer, you know, our favor on you and by extension a lot of the values that you represent and hold, because they are tied together in many respects," he said.

"So it is, it is a very strong sticking point and I think a lot of Catholics and a lot of pro-life Americans are very concerned about that. And I think it’s inappropriate. And the president should speak, but the degree should not be conferred," Steele continued.

Current Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who doubles as the national spokesman for Democrats, continued to take a pro-abortion position.

He had no problem with Notre Dame honoring the pro-abortion president.

"I’m a Catholic. I’ve got two brothers who are Notre Dame grads and feel very close to that community. I’m very happy that they’ve invited the president and that they are honoring him with a degree today because I think that his career merits it, and I think most Catholics agree," Kaine contended.

Although he put forward the Obama rhetoric about reducing abortions, Kaine confirmed that abortions should remain legal, with more than 50 million occurring since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

"The issue on abortion is really this, the president has really made it pretty plain: Our party stands for let’s reduce unintended pregnancies, let’s reduce abortions, but we don’t have to criminalize the choices that women make or that their doctors make to do so," Kaine said.

"You just don’t have to criminalize women’s health care choices," Kaine reiterated later, adopting the pro-abortion view on legalized abortions.

When the Meet the Press host noted how some have labeled Obama as "the most pro-abortion of any American president," Steele agreed.

"True," he said. "I absolutely see it that way."

He said Obama is pro-abortion and that it started in the Illinois legislature when he opposed a bill to provide adequate medical care for babies who survive botched abortions.

Steele said Obama’s pro-abortion record has continued through his presidential administration.

"The first steps of his administration were to undo the executive order that would ban federal funding of abortion and abortion-related information overseas. I mean, this president is really talking out both sides of his mouth on this issue," he said.

"The reality of it is the majority of Americans now–and a lot of those numbers are reflected by young people who are coming around on this issue. The science is now proving that life has greater value than, than the Supreme Court thought it did in 1973," Steele added.

Kaine attempted to defend Obama’s pro-abortion record by saying Obama worked with a pro-life Democrats group crafting the Democratic platform.

"A great group in the Democratic Party, Dems For Life, has been very happy with the way this president has included them both in the platform drafting process," he said.

However, the Democratic Party platform adopted under Obama’s direction promoted abortion on demand and called for forcing taxpayers to fund abortions and to defeat any attempts to limit abortions. The platform also removed language calling for including pro-life Democrats and making them feel welcome in the party.

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