At Tonight’s Address, What Obama Should Say About Abortion

With just a few words, President Obama can convey his support and his respect for each member of his audience who has personally experienced abortion.

In Sunday’s issue of the New York Times, William Saletan confirms
that "President Obama wants to end the culture wars" and reminds us that his
"joint address to Congress this week could be an opportunity to change that
debate."  I couldn’t agree more.  

But, I disagree with Saletan about what President Obama
should say.  Saletan argues that Obama should defuse the
culture war by telling pro-choice pragmatists to get a sense of morals and
telling pro-life moralists to get realistic. 
I think that President Obama should acknowledge the unique and
legitimate moral and emotional experiences of women who have had abortions –
instead of focusing on the opinions and convictions of those who haven’t
stopped to listen. 

In his Address, President Obama is expected to emphasize the
many challenges facing our nation and the world, and lay out his vision for how
to move forward.  The economy – the loss
of jobs, homes, credit and effective regulation – and the need to improve
health care for American families will undoubtedly be at the top of his agenda,
and bipartisan strategies will most likely be the overarching theme of his
speech.  It is in this very spirit of
bipartisanship that President Obama should address one of the most divisive
issues of our times: abortion. 

In a speech of this magnitude, a speech that the whole world
will watch, all it takes is one sentence to change the course of world
events.  In one sentence, President Obama
can reframe the whole debate and finally address abortion as a matter of the
heart.  With just a few words, the
President can convey his support and his respect for each member of his audience
who has personally experienced abortion. 
He can – and he should – show that he cares.  A post-partisan world needs a
message that will speak to women post-abortion.

In our election-season campaign, Pro-Voice
in ’08
, Exhale and Rewire asked women who have had abortions what
they wanted to hear from the next President when he gave his first State of the
Union speech.  Today, we publish their
voices and ask President Obama to speak directly to us – the millions of
American women, and our loved ones, who have personally experienced abortion –
in his first Presidential Address.   

Here is what we would like to hear:

"I know it was
really hard for you and you were very unhappy for a while afterwards, and I
also know that you did the right thing, because nobody else knows what you need
as well as you do." 

"I can only
imagine how difficult a position you must have been in, and I respect and honor
the thought and care that you used in making your decision." 

"I believe that
you were thoughtful and compassionate as you considered the heart-wrenching,
life-altering and soul-splintering place that you were in regarding the
potential for life within you. I respect your choice and the strength required
to choose, and the courage to live, truly live alongside your choice each

"I’m sorry you were in
such a difficult time in your life, and I will do my best to protect other
women who face similar issues." 

"I know it was
not an easy choice, but I trust you with the choice you made. And I respect
your right to make the choice." 

"I trust that you
have made the most responsible, intelligent and moral decision for yourself and
your family."

Are you a woman who has had an abortion and know what you’d
like to hear from President Obama?  How
can he convey – in one sentence – support and respect for your unique
experience?  Add your voice and be a part
of creating a pro-voice dialogue by contributing a comment or uploading your
own video here.

Watch videos women have already uploaded: