Abortion, immigration and 'birthers': Do politicians, or voters, have answers?
Planned Parenthood supporters rally last week on Capitol Hill.
April 15th, 2011
12:40 PM ET

Abortion, immigration and 'birthers': Do politicians, or voters, have answers?

With the first 2012 presidential primaries and caucuses less than nine months away, three issues are stoking political fires this week: immigration, abortion and presidential birthplaces.

Immigration and abortion have long been front and center in political debate, but the "birther" issue emerged in the 2008 election, as opponents of President Barack Obama questioned whether he was born in Hawaii. The Constitution stipulates that a president must be a U.S. citizen by birth.

Stoking that debate, Arizona's Legislature on Thursday night passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they meet the birth requirement before their names can be placed on the state's ballot. Thursday's vote was 40-16 in the state House. The bill goes to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.

The "birther" allegations against Obama have been repeatedly discredited in investigations by CNN and other organizations.

The bill's author, GOP state Rep. Carl Seel, says it's not about Obama. "It's about future elections and maintaining the integrity of the Constitution," he says.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2011/04/14/explain.it.to.me.birthers.cnn"%5D

Across the country in Georgia this week, state lawmakers did what their brethren in Arizona did earlier - passed a tough immigration law.

The bill passed by the Republican-dominated Georgia House and Senate authorizes law enforcement to question suspects in certain criminal investigations about their immigration status. It also authorizes long prison terms for those who use fake documents to get a job and punishes people who transport illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime.

Earlier this week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling that blocked certain provisions of the Arizona immigration law.

In a statement, Brewer said the appeals court action "does harm to the safety and well-being of Arizonans who suffer the negative effects of illegal immigration."

It's a little more than a year to the first GOP presidential debate of 2012, and CNN.com contributor Ruben Navarette Jr. says Republican presidential candidates will need to figure out a way to address the immigration issue without alienating Hispanics, who make up 16% of the population.

Along with being at the center of the immigration debate, Arizona is also one of six states that have made changes to abortion laws in 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute. An unprecedented number of bills aimed at restricting abortions are going before state legislatures across the country this year.

"It's pretty much an all-out, anti-abortion free-for-all out there," said Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute.

A spokesman for NARAL Pro-Choice America says that 374 anti-abortion bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year, 200 more than last year.

The rise in anti-abortion measures shows the Christian Right is back, writes CNN.com religion editor Dan Gilgoff.

"At a moment when the Republican Party has reclaimed power in the House, has taken control of most state legislatures, and is set to begin the process of choosing its next presidential nominee, the Christian Right is playing an increasingly influential role in the party," Gilgoff writes.

So as the debates rage, CNN contributor LZ Granderson is asking us to know what we're talking about before we go to the polls in 2012 to vote for the folks who are writing these laws on immigration, abortion and other issues. He is suggesting we might find a tool in immigration regulations to make sure none of us is too "ignorant" to vote. Use the U.S. Naturalization Test given to applicants for U.S. citizenship as part of the voter registration process, he says.

"There simply needs to be more required of us as responsible voters than being born 18 years ago," Granderson says.

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Filed under: Abortion • Barack Obama • Elections • Immigration • Politics
soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Doug

    Rolado most Republicans are Azrizona? Can you tell me what that means.

    As for racists, those would be the people who started the klan, started the great society, and have ran, with complete control, the worst poorest, most dangerious areas of America for the last 40 years, performing what Webster would classify as the word Genocide.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    Mitch Daniels, huh? Well, he has not done a thing for Northwest Indiana. Too far away from Indy, I guess.

    And I'm not even going to discuss abortion. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

    April 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EasyToSolve

    The video does not really explainwhy Obama can't release his birth certifcate. If Hawaii state law allows him to have it (which it does), why can't he release it himself once he has it? That's not against state law. Go to the Hawaii.gov website and you will see that you can request a certified copy of the actual certficate. (http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/vital_records.html) If this is all it takes to settle the issue, then he ought to do it.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbe503

      Oh for Pete's sake. If you have an American Mom and she has you on the moon, you are still an American. Case closed.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      bobbe, uh, that's actually not true. Try to know things before you post.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sleep Cycle

      If you have an American mom and a foreign dad and you're born on the moon as long as the moon is visible from the United States you're born in the United States. Jus soli extends up without limit.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • clarke

      oh stop it already. this is getting so stupid. You prove to us that he was not born in the USA.

      April 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Isn't the moon a U.S. territory? I thought we put the American flag on the moon when we landed on it. lol

      April 16, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. chicago2010

    I will. be 100% pro-life 9whatever that means) when the same groups star demanding that we all pay higher taxes to support these unwanted babies. For now, these groups all want these babies but none of them want to pay for them. None. Moreover, I do not see these groups donating huge amounts to adoption agencies and actually demanding that adoption rules get simplier. They also are always the ones who really like capital punishment. Overall, a bunch of hypocrats holding bibles. Con artists in short.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sagebrush Shorty.

    Federal Courts constantly ignore the will of the people. Therefore they must know what's best for us. Or at least they think they do.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sleep Cycle

      As you may recall from high school government class, when you were probably not as hypnotized by fear, the Supreme Court is the judicial branch, appointed for exactly that reason. They do know better than the common person on matters of law. If the law had to cave in to the 'will of the people' we'd be even more ignorant and hateful than we are now and that's saying a lot.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nodack

    I don't think very many people are qualified to vote intelligently. Even 3/4 the candidates are from another planet. Trump basing his whole campaign on whether Obama is an American when it has been proved without a shade of doubt to anyone with any sense at all that he was born in the US. Palin and her death panels.

    I read these comments and it scares me that these people actually have a say in our future.

    Politics isn't about doing what's best for our country, it's about making the other side look bad using whatever topics are available at the time to turn things against the other party.

    Republicans are all upset over the deficit, but ignored it altogether when Bush was in office. Bush went from 5 trillion to 11.5 trillion and not one Republican mentioned the deficit once. The moment Obama took the oath they screamed "THE DEFICIT!!!!". It is an important issue that needs to be addresses, but I think the GOP/FOX is using it as a weapon more than they actually care about the deficit. I guarantee the moment a Republican President is elected again you won't ever hear the words Deficit mentioned in any conversation.

    Health care? It costs too much and we all agree on that. Obama wanted to reform it I to something similar to other industrialized nations. The Republicans screamed Socialism, death panels, hurting Medicade and Medicare, giveing free health care to everyone and especially illegal aliens, half the doctors will quit, prices will skyrocket Another load of GOP BS to add to the mountain of BS already spoken.

    How about some facts that I would love a Republican to try to dispute. EVERY SINGLE industrialized country on the planet has Universal Health care except the US. They ALL cover every single citizen with some form of health care coverage. They ALL pay half what we pay. EVERY SINGLE one of their citizens pays HALF what US citizens pays for health care. The US is ranked 37th in the world behind Costa Rica. You can believe the load of BS the GOP has spouted or you can believe the facts I just wrote down.

    I don't think the GOP/FOX is even capable of telling any semblance of the truth anymore. It goes against their religion or something.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loren

      As Mark Twain, said, there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics. Nodack, the problem in the world is that there are statistics for everything and few of them are to be believed. What we are left with is philosophy, how do we best live in this crowded world. I agree that universal health care is a laudable goal, but that means that participants need to be honest about it. Do you really think that the health care received in a public plan outside the United States is equivalent to that available in a private health insurance plan in the United States? What skews comparisons is Medicare/Medicaid services where the patients are impoverished, which leads to poor health choices, and failure to address long-term helath issues. The issue is not as simple as either party makes out and really requires a rethinking of how medical services are delivered.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • BD70

      Its just sad that people are so short sighted. They cannot seem to come out of the box they are currently in and connect the dots. Their beliefs stay strong regardless of the fact each belief never connects to the whole big picture. No abortion pro life ....but yet they scream about welfare babies is one example. Makes my head spin.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sleep Cycle

      A lot of money and energy goes into making sure the majority of Americans are kept distracted and vote based on fear.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      AND don't forget all of those countries have HIGHER taxes than us, including higher gas taxes which include several dollars a gallon tax just to pay for this 'free' healthcare. Try learning the facts. Thanks for playing.

      April 15, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Great post Nodack. What I find ironic is that voted leadership such as Cheney plainly said, "deficits don't matter, Regean proved that." Barely a peep out of the Republican party when he said that. History has proven that the Republican approach to fiscal responsibility has not been right as far back as Nixon. Nixon price capped which eventually led to inflation once the cap was removed. And if you have even a remedial understanding of the economy – that will lead to higher interest rates which Carter had to deal with. And although it was painful, it was the right thing to do. Regean's voodoo economics created higher taxes for the middle class, a skyrocketed deficit to GDP rate and his presidency still ended in a recession that carried all the way through Bush Sr.s presidency. Clinton did something tangible to promote a real growth in economy. He envisioned a technological growth which created greater efficiency in America. Gore did not invent the internet (and unfairly the quote was taken out of context), however he initiated the legislation to take the internet out of the military sector and put it in the private sector. This real expansion of business helped create an actual surplus. Bush Jr, squandered all the gains under the guise of helping us (it was really just to give another tax break to the top 2%) but we all ended up with is an even larger deficit to GDP rate and his presidency ended with one of the worst recessions in history.

      Obama is looking to change a broken health care system that has skyrocketed in costs during the last 20 years with Bush doing essentially nothing for it even when he had a Republican controlled congress. Obama's plan will lower our costs, and guess what – it improves our bottom line. May not be a "tax" but it's coming out of our pockets nonetheless.

      The whole idea that the private sector always gets it "right" is plainly wrong. There is no real choice by the consumers by the health insurance companies (oligarchy) and all power given to the insurance companies who's primary purpose is to maximize their bottom line, not to provide a superior product.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. She

    I feel sorry for Obama all the problems he has to face with, I wonder if he cares about them?

    April 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    I don't care if a president is white. I don't care if a president is black. I don't care if a president is half-black or half-white. What concerns me is when a president IS HALF ASS. 😉

    April 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sleep Cycle

      Seriously then, which candidate do you believe would not be a half-ass?

      April 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • j in cali

      so your point is that the potus needs half an ass or that only people w/ a R next to thir names are a full on ass?

      April 15, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AZ Dem

    Obama needs to do NOTHING to prove he was born in the US. He gave up the live birth announcement and the governor of HI has said that he is an American citizen that should be all that is needed. His mother was a citizen so regardless what people think he is a citizen as well. End of story move on to fixing this nations problems.

    April 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    Russ, you said Bobbe503's statement was not true, to know the facts before posting, and then never said *why* it wasn't true
    Can you tell me the truth? I'd like to know...

    April 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lead Baron

    Sad that the feeble minded – those that feel Earth is only 6000 yrs old, that evolution is 'just a theory' (when it's already deemed FACT by REAL science), that although Obama's mother was born in Kansas he's not a citizen, that Obama's a Muslim, etc are allowed to vote. he ignorant hordes who buy this BS should NOT vote- the ones who scream abortion is wrong are the same hypocrites who rally for the death penalty. news flash! we are SICK Of your crybaby, junior high hate and fear tactics- get over yourselves too, creation is a myth and will NEVER Be taught in schools. your GOP Candidates look like the next cast for 'celebrity rehab' and will ensure Obama another 4 yrs- by a landslide

    April 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      And the first to send our young boys off to fight wars. Now that is late abortion.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doyle

    Republicans tell us that government should not tell us how to live our lives, but they want to tell women what they can do with their bodies. Religion should be kept out of politics

    April 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roger27

    So, there are millions of people with no job, no money, no house, living in cars and so on... AND these idiots main concern is abortion, immigration and Obama birth's certificate??? Seriously, if people would start thinking and maybe do something about helping all the unwanted babies that are already in this world then maybe later they can start bit#### about bringing new ones in!!! These people are the first ones to complain about welfare and bit### about helping families with too many kids! Pick a side, giving more money to help support unwanted kids or just shut up and let people decide whether they want an abortion or not! And Obama birth certificate??? Are people racist of what!! So just because he is black he is either a muslim or born somewhere else? I really wish Palin or Trump run and win because the USA really needs more idiots as leader, like the good old Bush...he sure was something...

    April 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • EasyToSolve

      I voted for Alan Keyes, so race is not an issue for me. MLK said it best, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." I live by this. And I think Obama is showing a character flaw. He is acting like an elitist. Since he can release the birth certificate, there should be no reason not to.

      April 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Greg

    People that identify with party rather than individual issues cause much problem. Hot button issues should be on the ballot. People that do not register as Independent are casting a vote to keep this political malfunction going; sounds treasonous siding with a political party agenda rather than looking at what best interests the country.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ann

    You can believe life starts at conception, you can believe life starts at birth-believe whatever but respect others opinions. It is not our right to mandate our moral/religious beliefs over others who may not feel the same and the governemt should not tell a woman if she can have an abortion or not. Woman have individual rights. making abortion illegal is not going to stop abortion it will just take it underground. Until you walk in the shoes of a woman who has to have an abortion/choose to have an abortion do not judge, do not try to understand and do not tell them what is the right/wrong answer. Do not place your own religious beliefs and judgement on them-only one will judge in the end and it is certainly not any of you. Finally, I most certainly do not want politicians mandating women's health issues. this is a dangerous road to go down...

    Our country is going to go no where with people who are so close minded and unwilling to compromise on anything-we have always struggled with accepting differences, religions, race, etc but have always worked through it-priding ourselves on working together and compromising. Now-ugh-we have become a bunch of self centered, my way or the high way thinkers...it will get us nowhere fast. Stop, listen and take the time to understand that there are many views/thoughts/opinions-respect them and work with them so we can actually move forward.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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