8/18/2008- Presumptive Presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama outlined their positions on abortion Saturday night in nationally televised back-to-back appearances. Reverand Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California posed questions to each candidate about a range of issues, including abortion and gay rights.
When asked at what point is a baby entitled to human rights, McCain quickly replied “at the moment of conception.” He went on to say “I have a 25 year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as President of the United States I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies.”
In response to the same question, Obama chose to speak on abortion more generally. Among other comments, he stated: “I am pro-choice, I believe in Roe v. Wade and come to that conclusion not because I am pro-abortion, but because ultimately I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they wrestle with these things in profound ways…and so for me, the goal right now should be…how do we reduce the number of abortions? Because the fact is that although we’ve had a president who is opposed to abortion over the past eight years, abortions have not gone down.”
In relation to gay rights, the candidates were asked to both define marriage and comment on the possibility of amending the Constitution to define marriage. McCain defined marriage as “a union between man and woman, between one man and one woman” and said that he would favor a constitutional amendment “if a federal court decided that my state of Arizona had to observe what the state of Massachusetts decided.”
Obama said that he does not support a constitutional amendment to define marriage “because historically we have not defined marriage in our constitution. It’s been a matter of state law.” He proceeded to comment that he is “not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage but [that he does] believe in civil unions.”
Media Resources: Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency Transcript 8/16/08; LA Times 8/18/08