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Robert Novak
Robert D. Novak
20 Nov 2008
"Pray for Me"

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8 Nov 2008
Newt in 'One-Two'?

In serious conversations among Republicans since their election debacle Tuesday, what name is mentioned most … Read More.

6 Nov 2008
No Mandate for Obama and No Lopsided Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The national election Tuesday was not only historic for the election of the first African-… Read More.

An Illegitimate Baby: A Blessing or a Punishment?

WASHINGTON -- Not until 30 minutes had elapsed in the third and last presidential debate Wednesday night did the national candidates turn their attention to abortion -- the country's most explosive social issue, which divides millions of Americans. What makes this remarkable is that Sen. Barack Obama was vulnerable because of a rare departure during his bitter primary campaign with Sen. Hillary Clinton from the Democratic Party line on abortion -- which takes the position that Democrats cherish human life, even though they are advocates of abortion rights. Implausible though that may seem, it is the formulation successfully used by Democratic campaigners to stave off anti-abortion advocates in their own party.

But Obama went beyond the party line March 29, 2008, when addressing a campaign "town meeting" in a high school in Johnstown, Pa. I was in the audience, packed in as the bitter Pennsylvania primary between Obama and Clinton neared its end.

This central Pennsylvania community is heavily Democratic, represented in the House by the powerful Rep. John Murtha, but tends to be socially conservative. Obama signaled that he was going to take a risk in trying to chart a course that would please both sides on abortion, something that no one has accomplished yet, and Obama certainly failed.

He was cruising along in the question-and-answer format, when a woman asked his view on abortion, but what he said surely did not please his pro-life supporters:

"Look, I've got two daughters -- 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

Obama's formulation raised the hackles of evangelical leaders across the country, including Richard Land, who said, "Pro-lifers don't see a child as punishment." Obama's approach to a hypothetical problem contrasted sharply with the way his Republican vice presidential opponent, Alaska Gov.

Sarah Palin, subsequently handled a "real-life " situation. Shortly after Obama's town hall comments in Pennsylvania, Palin announced that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant, would give birth to the baby and would marry the father.

Outside the evangelical community, however, not many Republicans made much of that contrast, and Obama has not been challenged on whether he views an illegitimate baby as a treasure or a punishment.

In fact, abortion went unmentioned in the debates until scarcely 10 minutes remained in Wednesday night's debate, when moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News finally brought up the subject by asking McCain whether he could appoint a pro-choice Supreme Court justice. McCain replied he would have "no litmus test on judicial appointments." That did not please pro-life Republicans, as little did during the brief exchange on abortion.

While describing himself as a "proud pro-life Republican," McCain did not ask Obama whether he really considered the birth of a baby a punishment.

Neither McCain nor Schieffer asked for Obama's views on extreme pro-abortion legislation pending in Congress that would prohibit states from any limitations on abortion and would begin widespread federal funding of abortions. That failure, along with McCain not pressing Obama on whether he really considered the birth of a baby a "punishment," surely did not raise McCain's standing with suspicious socially conservative Republicans.

To find out more about Robert D. Novak and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at


2 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;...I believe if you looked you would find that liberals are usually liberal with all rights. There is no abortion right. There is a right to privacy. Do you know why we have a right to privacy??? It is to support property rights, so a person might be free of unreasonable search and seizure in person and effects. Now, we know that no person as a person is free from search or seizure. But privacy with a reasonable expectation of privacy in ones business, or in ones doctor's office is essential to any sort of freedom, democracy, or social justice. Now, I personally accept that abortion is a sin. So what??? If people are not free to sin when they are the only likely vicitms of that sin then they have no freedom to consent to the laws by which they are governed. Does life begin at birth, or at conception? Neither... The lives we hand off to our children, if we are fortunate enough to have them, are our own, with our genes. Certainly, government might make an argument of interest, but if so that interest should be a constant, and help the mother before trying to help the child. There is no effort to help the mother, but only a reliance on law to support a failed morality when, if people wanted to, they could make the moral argument and back it up with cold hard cash, as they are free to do in a free society.† Now, this argument of interest might also be made against privacy in general as well. For example, if you want your privacy, the government could demand that you act for a public and not just a private benefit. Since the United States is our union the government would be right to demand that there be no union that does not support THE Union. The same with corporations like your church. If they have no public purpose that they are willing to defend as just, and as contributing to freedom, why are they permitted??? It is assumed, rather than proved that all these extra governmental organizations going about making their own international agreements and treaties by which we will be broke are acting in our interest. They seldom do act in our interest, and so,† privacy should be denied to them. Yet, privacy cannot be denied to individuals without injury to all the people.. I hope you take this in the spirit intended. I have heard you are a good man. We must be good and trust in doing good without the expectation that all people will be good or even agree with us. We may be obliged to offer the word of God and a good example... No one is required to save the world, and if this is so, to curtail freedom is rather against that end, for people accept God out of freedom and not out of slavery. Slavery is immoral and it breeds immorality... The republicans once said of the South that Good roads mean good morals. If you want good roads and many children; Set People Free.... Because that is morality... Then give them God!
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:01 PM
Whether or not pro-lifers see a child as punishment is irrelevant. Whether Barack Obama views an illegitimate baby as a treasure or a punishment is irrelevant. How Sarah Palin's daughter chooses to deal with her pregnancy is irrelevant. When a young woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the only relevant opinion is her own. It's her life, her future, her body and her choice.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Scot Penslar
Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:17 PM
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