The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama: on Abortion


Barack Obama: Constitution is a living document; no strict constructionism

When we get in a tussle, we appeal to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution’s ratifiers to give direction. Some, like Justice Scalia, conclude that the original understanding must be followed and if we obey this rule, democracy is respected.

Others, like Justice Breyer, insist that sometimes the original understanding can take you only so far--that on the truly big arguments, we have to take context, history, and the practical outcomes of a decision into account.

I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution--that it is not a static but rather a living document and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.

I see democracy as a conversation to be had. According to this conception, the genius of Madison’s design is not that it provides a fixed blueprint for action. It provides us with a framework and rules, but all its machinery are designed to force us into a conversation.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 89-92 Oct 1, 2006

Barack Obama: Extend presumption of good faith to abortion protesters

[An abortion protester at a campaign event] handed me a pamphlet. “Mr. Obama, I know you’re a Christian, with a family of your own. So how can you support murdering babies?”

I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved when making that decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.

“I will pray for you,” the protester said. “I pray that you have a change of heart.” Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own-that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.197-8 Oct 1, 2006

Stephen Breyer: Apply context & history to original Constitution

When we get in a tussle, we appeal to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution’s ratifiers to give direction. Some, like Justice Scalia, conclude that the original understanding must be followed and if we obey this rule, democracy is respected.

Others, like Justice Breyer, insist that sometimes the original understanding can take you only so far--that on the truly big arguments, we have to take context, history, and the practical outcomes of a decision into account.

I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution--that it is not a static but rather a living document and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.

I see democracy as a conversation to be had. According to this conception, the genius of Madison’s design is not that it provides a fixed blueprint for action. It provides us with a framework and rules, but all its machinery are designed to force us into a conversation.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 89-92 Oct 1, 2006

  • The above quotations are from The Audacity of Hope
    Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
    , by Barack Obama.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Abortion.
  • Click here for other issues (main summary page).
  • Click here for more quotes by Barack Obama on Abortion.
2012 Presidential contenders on Abortion:
  Democrats:
Pres.Barack Obama(IL)
V.P.Joe Biden(DE)

Republicans:
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Third Parties:
Green: Dr.Jill Stein(MA)
Libertarian: Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Justice: Mayor Rocky Anderson(UT)
Constitution: Rep.Virgil Goode(VA)
Peace+Freedom: Roseanne Barr(HI)
Reform Party: André Barnett(NY)
AmericansElect: Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
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Page last updated: Mar 08, 2013