Obama Friend Wants Abortion Reduction Plank

By Greg Wallace

Jun 25, 2008 11:07am

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace Report: Before the Democrats convene in Denver, the Rev. Jim Wallis plans to urge Barack Obama to go along with adding an “abortion reduction” plank to the party platform.

“Abortion reduction should be a central Democratic Party plank in this election,” Wallis told ABC News. “I’ll just say that flat out.”

Wallis, who hosted a Democratic candidates’ forum on CNN last year, discussed his plans after defending Obama against Dr. James Dobson’s charge that the Illinois Democrat distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible when he spoke to Wallis’s Sojourners group in 2006.

Beyond his plans to make a personal plea to Obama, Wallis said that he pitched the idea last week to DNC Chairman Howard Dean. The Rev. Tony Campolo, who sits on the party’s platform committee, also supports the plank and plans to push it, according to Wallis.

“This is going to be a big Denver conversation,” said Wallis. “You don’t have to call for criminalizing anyone. You don’t have to take a different stance about a woman’s right to choose. But you begin with the need for reducing abortion dramatically.”

The abortion reduction plank that Wallis envisions would call for making adoption easier, supporting low-income women, and stepping up pregnancy prevention efforts.

Without calling for restrictions such as parental consent laws, Wallis believes that if the Democrats were to alter their abortion platform, it could help them make inroads among young evangelicals and Catholics.

“Taking abortion seriously as a moral issue would help Democrats a great deal with a constituency that is already leaning in their direction on poverty and the environment,” said Wallis. “There are literally millions of votes at stake.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton reacted to the concept of an abortion reduction plank by saying, "Sen. Obama has said repeatedly he wants to reduce unintended pregnancies, and has
sponsored legislation to do just that.  We welcome and listen to all voices in
our platform process."

Obama backs two bills pertaining to preventing unintended pregnancies, according to Burton.

The Prevention First Act would increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe-sex methods. The Act would also expand insurance coverage of contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide assistance to rape victims.

To combat unintended pregnancies in communities of color, Obama supports the Communities of Color Teach Prevention Act of 2007. The bill would provide grants to promote community-based services regarding teen pregnancy. It also would support research on teen pregnancy in communities of color.


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