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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Following the sweeping turnover in Congress resulting from the mid-term elections of 2006, newly elected Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), was touted for his right-to-life record. Even conservatives sensed he would be a strong pro-life voice in the Democratic Party and the Senate. Now, however, pro-life supporters in both parties must be scratching their heads following Casey's recent endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
His decision to back Obama against rival Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) reversed his previous position of neutrality he hoped would allow him to broker peace between his two fellow Democrats following the presidential primary race.
Do not get me wrong: It is not unreasonable for him to support a candidate from his own party. Despite his pro-life orientation, he apparently already has reconciled himself with the pro-abortion plank in the Democrats' national platform. Also, it does not matter that he chose to support Obama over Clinton.
But the convoluted justification he gave for his decision -- saying in essence Obama was the best pro-life choice among the two -- is inexplicable.
"He has the unique skills to try to lower the temperature and foster a sense of common ground, and try to figure out ways that people can agree," Casey said, according to The Washington Post. "On this issue, it's particularly hard."
Given Obama's extreme pro-abortion views, I cannot grasp how Casey could ever perceive Obama in the role of peacemaker between the pro-abortion and pro-life camps -- even if limited to within the Democratic Party.
Simply put, Obama has staked out hard-line pro-abortion positions:
-- As an Illinois legislator, he opposed a bill that would have required medical treatment be given a newborn baby that survived an abortion attempt.
-- In 1997, Obama would not support an Illinois bill banning the heinous partial-birth abortion procedure even though it included an exception to save the life of the mother.
-- He did not support parental notification in the case of young girls being taken out of state for abortions (often by the adult who impregnated them) even with an exception for the life of the minor.
-- Last July he gave a speech to Planned Parenthood -– the nation's largest abortion provider -– where he said, "There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield."
The National Right to Life Committee has given Obama a rating of 0 percent -- the lowest pro-life rating possible. Although Casey only garners a 57 percent rating, Obama's pro-abortion views could not be more opposed to Casey's stated pro-life positions. Casey has said he favors the overturn of Roe v. Wade; opposes tax-funded abortions; and rejects stem cell research that harms a human embryo. Yet, Casey said Obama offers "to chart a new course" for America.
Unfortunately, nowhere is the potential harm of Obama's new direction more evident than in how Obama would change the makeup of the Supreme Court; and Casey knows Obama's apparent differences with him in this area threatens to imperil the unborn in November and for decades to follow.
In his race against Rick Santorum, a staunch pro-life supporter whom Casey defeated for his Senate seat, Casey voiced his support for the then-nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Obama criticized Alito and Roberts, saying the role of a justice is to favor the weak over the strong and that Roberts' and Alito's hearts "weren't in the right place."
Obama's interpretation of the justices' role is a far cry from "equal justice under the law," which is etched above the entrance to the Supreme Court Building. Moreover, his definition of the weak does not include the most vulnerable in our nation, the unborn.
Casey's endorsement of Obama on the basis of Obama's ability to be a moderating voice on the issue of abortion reminds me of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." Shakespeare immortalized Caesar's murder by close friend and ally, Marcus Junius Brutus, a Roman senator.
Roughly summarized: Caesar was attacked by a group of senators who -- motivated by ambition -- conspired against Caesar by rumoring he was moving toward establishing Rome as a monarchy under his own rule. Brutus was cajoled to join them. Caesar initially resisted their attack when they came upon him, until he spied Brutus, who in Shakespeare's account stabbed Caesar last, and Caesar spoke the famous line, "Et tu, Brute?
"Julius Caesar" is a complex tale that is difficult to generalize to most situations. However, it exemplifies the saying that politics makes strange bedfellows -- a trusted friend was turned from loyal ally to assassin by partisan politics; and this point does translate to the present situation.
Given Bob Casey's contorted 'abortion debate' rationale for endorsing Obama, the pro-life movement might ask, "Et tu, Bob Casey?"
Will Hall is executive editor of Baptist Press.