Last week, the constitutionality of an Arizona law banning late-term abortions was upheld by a federal judge, and last night the U.S. House of Representatives voted 220 to 154 to end District of Columbia's abortion-until-birth policy by prohibiting abortions from taking place 20 weeks after conception. Despite the flurry of activity on these bans, President Obama and his administration have remained conspicuously silent.
Asked at Tuesday’s White House Press briefing about Obama’s position on the upcoming vote in the House, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “Well, I haven’t spoken to the President about this particular piece of legislation, but the President’s position on a woman’s reproductive freedom is well known.”
But President Obama's position on late-term abortions has been anything but clear. Obama fought the Born Alive Infants' Protection Act while serving as an Illinois state senator, but he told a Christian magazine in 2008 that he supported late-term abortion bans that contain a "strict" exception for the health of the mother.
"I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother," Obama said in 2008. "Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother."
Obama later modified his position, saying he also supported an exception for "serious clinical mental health diseases." Supreme Court reporter Jan Crawford noted at the time that Obama's position was still "startling" because the exceptions Obama claimed to support were narrower than the Supreme Court's 1973 edict that there must be “emotional, psychological, familial, and ... age" exceptions to late-term abortion bans.
Mitt Romney has expressed support for banning abortions when a child can feel pain. Shouldn't the President Obama have to announce his position on this issue too?