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Obama's anger management on abortion

His task force to reduce the number of abortions could alter American politics.

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As if Barack Obama didn't already have enough on his plate, he is now attempting to do the impossible in American politics.

He has formed a White House task force of advocates on both sides of the abortion divide and asked them to agree on ways that government can help reduce the number of abortions.

The group's proposals are due this fall, possibly coinciding with the Senate's vote on Mr. Obama's nominee for a new Supreme Court justice. Congress is also weighing a bill aimed at making it easier for a pregnant woman to choose to go to term and to put her baby up for adoption.

Even if the task force's efforts fall short, the president has done a service by trying to alter the angry tone of a debate that still polarizes Americans some 35 years after the high court defined a right to abortion.

His timing is good. A new Gallup poll shows a slight majority of Americans now identify their political stance on abortion as "pro-life." This shift may be due in part to advances in medical science that have enabled premature babies to be kept alive at earlier and earlier stages. (The point of prenatal "viability" was a big factor in the court's Roe v. Wade decision outlining when government can regulate abortion.)

While some experts dispute the Gallup poll's results, Obama nonetheless has picked up on the uneasy feeling that many Americans still have toward abortion, even if they agree with its legality.


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