Sen. Barack Obama clarified his position today on mental-health exceptions to late-term abortions, saying he supports such exceptions and that comments he made during a recent magazine interview shouldn't be interpreted as opposing them.Well, of course not! Who could interpret, "Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term" as saying that mental-health exceptions shouldn't exist? It's like we were reading English or something!
At any rate, Obama goes on to clarify his position:
Reporter: You said that mental distress shouldn't be a reason for late-term abortion?And all that is true, and all would have been nice for you to say in the first place.
Obama: "My only point is this -- historically I have been a strong believer in a women's right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family. And it is ..I have consistently been saying that you have to have a health exception on many significant restrictions or bans on abortions including late-term abortions.
In the past there has been some fear on the part of people who, not only people who are anti-abortion, but people who may be in the middle, that that means that if a woman just doesn't feel good then that is an exception. That's never been the case.
I don't think that is how it has been interpreted. My only point is that in an area like partial-birth abortion having a mental, having a health exception can be defined rigorously. It can be defined through physical health, It can be defined by serious clinical mental-health diseases. It is not just a matter of feeling blue. I don't think that's how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don't think that's how the courts have interpreted it and I think that's important to emphasize and understand.
I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, Barack, but I'm having trouble with it. You seem to have to clarify and revise and extend on women's issues far too much. And on this, your clarification does boil down to, "Well, I didn't say what I said." But you did say what you said. I guess I'd rather you were clarifying in this direction than the opposite, but frankly, I'd rather clarifications didn't have to be issued at all.