As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called The Audacity of Hope. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that's not what was preventing him from voting for me.
What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website - an entry that said I would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose." The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."
After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn't change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that - when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do - that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.This year for the first time ever, a sitting President addressed Planned Parenthood. When speaking to a Catholic audience, known for its pro-life views, he encouraged conciliation and common ground. Does he encourage abortion supporters to do the same? Of course not. That is, the President want's his political opponents to be conciliatory to his view, but wants to rouse his ideological friends with the rhetoric he so recently condemned.
...there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century...
That’s absurd. It’s wrong. It’s an assault on women’s rights.
Mississippi is a conservative state, but they wanted to make clear there’s nothing conservative about the government injecting itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor. And folks are trying to do this all across the country.
When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar; you want to make sure you’re still living in 2013.Mr. President, can you honestly say that these are "fair-minded words"?