In a Sunday interview, pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama defended his opposition to a ban on partial-birth abortions. Though he wasn't in Congress at the time it voted on the ban, he said he would have supported it had it contained a health exception.
However, doctors and medical groups readily acknowledge that the three-day-long abortion procedure -- involving the killing of an unborn baby halfway through the birthing process - never helps women medically.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Obama said, "On an issue like partial-birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. All I've said is we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn't have that."
In addition to providing no medical benefit for women, pro-life groups oppose a health exception because they typically allow virtually all abortions to remain legal.
In this case, the health exception, which the Supreme Court ruled was not required in the federal partial-birth abortion ban, would have gutted the legislation.
Obama also claimed pro-life advocates only brought the partial-birth abortion ban forward to "polarize" the abortion debate.
"Now, part of the reason they didn't have [the health exception] was purposeful, because those who are opposed to abortion — and I don't begrudge that at all. They have a moral calling to try to oppose what they think is immoral," he said.
"Oftentimes what they were trying to do was to polarize the debate and make it more difficult for people, so that they could try to bring an end to abortions overall," Obama contended.
In a speech before Planned Parenthood in July 2007, Obama decried the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban.
"There’s a lot at stake in this election, especially for our daughters. To appreciate that all you have to do is review the recent decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States," he said.
"For the first time in Gonzales versus Carhart, the Supreme Court held—upheld a federal ban on abortions with criminal penalties for doctors," he complained.
"Some people argue that the federal ban on abortion was just an isolated effort aimed at one medical procedure—that it’s not part of a concerted effort to roll back the hard-won rights of American women. That presumption is also wrong," he concluded.