By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 20, 2009 ( – Standing before a cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands, Barack Obama was sworn in as 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, ushering in a new era of trepidation for pro-life and pro-family advocates nationwide, who have described Obama as the “most pro-abortion” president in history. 

Obama’s inaugural address stressed themes of optimism and continuing progress into a “new age” as the country faces a moment of crisis. 

“We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations, and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics,” he said.  Quoting Scripture, Obama said, “‘The time has come to set aside childish things,’ the time has come to … choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea … that God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

In what may have been in part a nod to his plans to remove the ban on federal funding of embryo-destroying stem cell research (ESCr), Obama said, “we will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost.”
“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments no longer apply,” said Obama.  “The world has changed, and we must change with it.”

Obama is expected to work immediately to reverse federal-level pro-life policies by executive order, such as the federal ban on funding for overseas abortion providers, and possibly the ban on funding for ESCr.  In the long term, he has vowed his support for contraception and unlimited abortion via the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would wipe-out all legal protections of the unborn, including the partial-birth abortion ban. 

The new president has also announced a host of policy changes to normalize homosexuality, including homosexual “affirmative action,” equal status for homosexual and heterosexual couples, and equal adoption rights. (

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has long spearheaded the pro-life cause in Congress, told (LSN) after attending the inauguration that, while the new president’s words were eloquent, the true nature of his administration will be revealed with his actions.

“I’m a great believer in ‘by your fruits you will know them’ – by their deeds,” said Smith.  “The rhetoric is nice,” but Obama’s plan of action “suggests another course for America and for the world.” 
“On issues related to the family, he espouses and embraces fully the culture of death, so my main concern is that while he can project a wonderful vision, details can be quite ugly,” said Smith.

The congressman said there are “huge risks” that are unappreciated by Americans who have “bought into a persona that is very attractive,” and said Americans ought to pay more attention to his policy and where that will actually take the country.

“People talk about ‘hope’ – I think it has to be, ‘hope, to do what?’” he said.  “The mantra of change we can believe in, and all the slogans – there’s a surface appeal quality to them, when you look beyond it you say, what does it mean? It means reversing all the pro-life gains,” said Smith, referring to the Freedom of Choice Act.  “It’s a very uphill fight for the pro-life movement during these next 2 years.  Enormous damage is likely going to be done during these years.”

Judie Brown of the American Life League stressed that the outcome of the pro-life movement in America still depends solely on its own members.

“It’s up to us in the pro-life movement to … do everything we possibly can to strengthen our resolve to defend the babies regardless of what Obama does or doesn’t do,” she told LSN.

Referring to Obama’s statement that “stale political arguments no longer apply,” Brown responded: “I hope that’s true. For the last 35 years, pro-lifers have bent over backwards to make abortion a political issue, and in the process they have denied the reality of what abortion does to a child.

“So I would hope the ‘stale political arguments’ that some pro-lifers have been using would change, that they’d fall away like scales from the eyes of a blind man, that they see they have to focus on the reality of a baby, they have to focus on what abortion is, and they have to stop pandering to politicians,” she said.

Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League said that he, as an active member of the civil rights movement of the 60s, felt “mixed emotions” about Obama’s inauguration.

“I was a civil rights guy – marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery; I went to King’s talks here in Chicago; I’ve worked with blacks a lot in the city of Chicago, so I’ve always felt our black brethren have not been fully accepted,” said Scheidler.  “Almost all the blacks I knew were good, moral, religious people, and it would never cross their mind to be pro-abortion.

“Now we get the guy who’s tied in to the abortion mob … and it just takes the wind out of the whole civil rights thing that I adhered to, and which got me active in pro-life, because I saw the same mistreatment of a class of people,” he said.  “It’s a happy day for people who can dismiss abortion, but when you can’t do that, it’s a very frightening day.”

Ultimately, Scheidler said, he would respond with “very ardent prayer” for Obama’s conversion.

“It could even happen with Obama, if he really prays himself for guidance, and we pray for him,” said Scheidler.  “Otherwise, we just fight like tigers, which we have to do anyway.”

Referring to the theme of unity stressed by Obama at the event, Rep. Chris Smith said, “It’s almost Orwellian, that there’ all this talk about unity and bringing Americans together while simultaneously excluding … the unborn child.  The unborn child is being left behind.

“You talk about ‘hope’ – the hope for the unborn child has been dimmed – not extinguished, because we will never quit in the pro-life movement – but it has been dimmed today as he took office, because of his much-stated antagonism toward the lives of unborn children.”