Obama Picks a Catholic Running Mate with Long Pro-Abortion Record

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 23, 2008 | 11:58 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Barack Obama’s choice for his vice presidential running mate, is a Roman Catholic with a long record of supporting pro-abortion causes and legislation.

Biden did repeatedly support enactment of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, but when the ban came up for a Senate vote in 1999 he voted for an amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that said the Supreme Court had acted correctly in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that declared abortion a constitutional right.

Biden has never wavered in defending Roe.

At a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas last November, he said that if he were elected president he would impose a pro-Roe test on anyone he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I would not appoint anyone who did not understand that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and the Liberty Clause of the 14th Amendment provided a right to privacy,” Biden said.  “That's the question I'd ask them.  If that is answered correctly, that that is the case, then it answers the question, which means they would support Roe v. Wade."

On August 27, 2007, the Christian Science Monitor published a profile of Biden that focused on how his Roman Catholic faith influenced his views on public policy, including abortion.

“As a freshman Democrat, he was approached by all sides,” the Christian Science Monitor reported. “He told them that while he personally opposes abortion, he would not vote to overthrow the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that gave women the right to terminate a pregnancy."

The paper reported that Biden wrote in his autobiography: "I don't think I have the right to impose my view--on something I accept as a matter of faith - on the rest of society."

In picking a pro-abortion Catholic as his running mate, Obama may be calculating that Biden’s denomination will help the Democratic ticket more with Catholic voters than Biden’s pro-abortion voting record will hurt him.

Exit polls taken during the Democratic primaries in key swing states suggest that Obama needs help with Catholic voters.

In the February 5 primary in New Mexico, for example, Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Obama, 49% to 48%.  Catholic voters, who accounted for 31% of the vote in that state, made the difference.

Among New Mexico Catholic Democratic primary voters who said they went to Mass every week, Clinton defeated Obama 64% to 32%.  Among those who said they went to Mass less often, she defeated him 53% to 45%.

A month later, in the March 4 primary in Ohio, a major swing state that President Bush needed to win an electoral vote majority in 2004, Catholics who said they went to Mass weekly picked Clinton over Obama 62% to 35%.  Catholics who said they went to Mass less often picked Clinton over Obama, 64% to 36%.

In the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania, Clinton scored a massive victory over Obama among the 36 percent of Democratic primary voters who said they were Catholic.  She defeated him 74% to 36% among those who said they went to Mass every week and 65% to 35% among Catholics who said they went to mass less often.

The Pennsylvania primary came three weeks after Obama told a crowd at a San Francisco fundraiser that people in economically distressed small towns in Pennsylvania “cling to guns and religion."

In 2003 and 2007, Biden voted against the Mexico City Policy that forbids the federal government from giving U.S. tax dollars to foreign organizations that provide or promote abortion overseas.

The policy, originally instituted by President Reagan, is based on the assumption that money is fungible and that therefore it does not matter if the foreign organization seeking U.S. tax dollars says it will use only other funds--not its U.S. aid dollars--to provide or promote abortions.

"In my view, the Mexico City policy is anti-democratic, because it attempts to silence foreign recipients of U.S. funds,” Biden said in a Senate floor speech when the policy came up for a vote on July 9, 2003.  “It is the policy of the United States to advance the cause of democracy by promoting the values which we hold dear—such as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of the press.

“The Mexico City policy flies in the face of these fundamental values by attempting to restrict the speech of recipients of U.S. funds,” said Biden.  “This is a gag rule, pure and simple. It restricts speech. And for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone—Republican or Democrat—would support a provision that would violate the First Amendment if applied to U.S.-based organizations.

"Of course, foreign citizens and organizations do not have constitutional rights,” Biden said. “But just because we can legally apply this restriction does not mean that it is good policy. And I do not believe that it is."

On June 21, 2002, Biden voted for a provision to repeal a prohibition on U.S. military facilities overseas being used to perform abortions.

In 2004, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., where Biden resides, published a statement on “Catholics in Political Life.”  It especially focused on the issue of abortion.

"No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena,’” Bishop Saltarelli wrote.  “Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’"

Saltarelli said the church would not invite pro-abortion politicians to speak at Catholic schools or functions.

“Our Catholic institutions will not honor Catholic politicians who take pro-abortion legislative positions or invite them to speak at our functions or schools,” the bishop wrote. “While they are to be treated civilly, respectfully and with gospel charity, they should never be put forward as a model of a Catholic in public life.”

Obama's choice of Biden won praise from leading Democrats.

"In naming my colleague and friend Sen. Joe Biden to be the vice presidential nominee, Sen. Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant," Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "Sen. Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president who will help Sen. Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country."

"Today is a great day for Democrats," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to the Associated Press. "We now have the ticket that's going to bring the change we've all been hoping for. I join all of the members of the Senate Democratic caucus in congratulating Joe Biden a great friend, a great Democrat, and now our party's nominee for vice president. This campaign is going to make history."

"In choosing Joe Biden to join him on the ticket, Barack has struck Olympic gold," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to the Associated Press. "I competed against Biden in the '88 campaign. He is a bona fide expert on the judiciary and foreign policy. He is always extremely well prepared, is very smart, a top level debater, gutsy, strong and has great personal integrity."

Some Republicans also had praise for the choice.

"Joe Biden is the right partner for Barack Obama. His many years of distinguished service to America, his seasoned judgment and his vast experience in foreign policy and national security will match up well with the unique challenges of the 21st Century," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), according to the Associated Press.  "An Obama-Biden ticket is a very impressive and strong team. Biden's selection is good news for Obama and America.: