Illinois action blog

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Setting the record straight: Illinois NOW's story on Obama has changed over time

A letter from Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area President and CEO, Steve Trombley:

I’m here to set the record straight about Barack Obama’s record on reproductive choice. Barack Obama has always been committed to a woman’s right to choose. He has a 100% pro-choice voting record both in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois Senate.

Barack Obama has NEVER wavered.

You wouldn’t know this from Illinois NOW’s recent statements on Obama’s record. The fact is that it is NOT Obama who has wavered, Illinois NOW is the one who’s changed its mind.

When Obama was an Illinois state senator he worked with Planned Parenthood to develop a strategy combating a series of extreme anti-choice measures designed to paint pro-choice legislators into a corner. Obama and numerous other state senators voted “present” on these bills in order to protest the politicization of the health and safety of Illinois women. Illinois is one of the few states that allows legislators to voice their objections to legislation through a “present” vote. These “present” votes are counted in the official roll call of the bill, and they DO affect the outcome. For all intents and purposes, they are a vote against the bill. As a matter of fact, Senator Obama wanted to vote “no” on these bills. But, he stood with his colleagues in protest against the anti-choice extremists who controlled the Illinois Senate at the time.

During his time as a state senator, no major pro-choice organization questioned Obama’s present votes. Instead, Obama received endorsements from Personal PAC, NARAL of Illinois PAC, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, and, YES, EVEN Illinois NOW.

That’s right! Illinois NOW endorsed Barack Obama in his elections in 1998 and 2002 AFTER he voted “present” on several bills. As Illinois NOW officials have stated, they were aware of the “present” vote strategy, and they still endorsed him. They also endorsed several other prominent Illinois politicians who voted the same way.

It is only after years have past that Illinois NOW has changed its mind. Apparently, these days they don’t agree with the strategy that they originally endorsed. Why didn’t they think that in 1998 or 2002?

I don’t know why Illinois NOW has changed its opinion of Barack Obama since his record has remained the same and since his time as a state senator, he has only demonstrated a full and steady commitment to choice.

I don’t take issue with Illinois NOW having a preference for a woman candidate for President. However, I do take issue with their distortion of Obama’s record.

My organization has not made an endorsement yet because we have two solidly 100% pro-choice candidates running for President. However, we feel it is important to defend Senator Obama (or any candidate) who has stood with us to protect our precious reproductive freedoms.

If we don’t defend people who stand with us, how can we ever expect them to be there when the going gets tough?


Technorati tags: tagname, Barack Obama, Planned Parenthood, elections, pro-choice

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