The Obama administration has dispatched domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes to make nice with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. (Brody's blog, by the way, is a great resource for following issues of faith in public life). The interview focused on choice and reproductive health issues, and while Barnes made a lot of friendly statements about outreach and compromise and having "difficult discussions," she was often maddeningly vague. Obama is a pro-choice president. There is nothing wrong with engaging with the opposition, but why would the administration even try to elide the policy implications of that basic truth?
For example, Barnes claimed not to know whether or not the president supports overturning the Hyde Amendment, which prevents public funding of abortion for low-income women. Newsflash: Barack Obama ran on a Democratic Party platform explicitly opposed to Hyde. Barnes also refused to say what part reproductive health care, including abortion, would play in Obama's universal health care plan. Watch for this to become a much bigger story.
On the upside, Barnes did make the very good point that there are plenty of politicians and faith leaders out there who identify as "pro-life," yet who embrace contraception services. In other words, when finding common ground, there is no reason to be in thrall to the most unreasonable abortion opponents.
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