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. angela

    Bobbe503 I agree with everything you have said : )

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

    I'm all for the GOP wasting its time on the whole "birther" thing. Every time the GOP wastes political resources, the liberals gain ground. Go for it, idiots!

    April 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roger27

    Doyle, well said! I still don't understand why religion is still Influencing the world of politics and even the medical and scientific fields!! Religions are based on myths while politics, medicine and science are based on FACTS...

    April 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Mmmm.....Politics is based on facts unless your office issues a statement next day that your comments were "not meant to be factual statements ".

      April 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wdrad

    As soon as Republicans learn to forget about the abortion issue the sooner they will dominate in elections. Then in a few decades they will see how much of the democratic base has aborted themselves away. Less poor = less tax payer money being WASTED on social welfare programs. More aboritons = less liberals which in turn = progress.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |

    Ok, get a job with health care or Join the ARMY and get birth control. I have NEVER been to a free clinic or planned parent hood i have always bought my own birth control and i have NEVER been on government assistance I lost my job and Joined our Armed Forces to fight for the right for people to take tax payers for granted. I support cutting funding.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank

    Republicans know that any study on their policies has not been fiscally responsible for AMERICA. So they turn to these issues with symbolic rhetoric to get your support. Abortion was legalized by a Republican appointed Supreme Court and despite Bush having a majority Congress and a more right leaning Supreme Court abortion did not end. And Planned Parenthood has been around since the Bush presidency, why didn't they do anything then? Easy answer, save the topic when it's politically advantageous. For Republicans it's not about life, it's about your vote.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    These "Birthers" who make up these wild stories about how Obama's knew when he was born he was going to be President and they "Fixed" his problem, are the very same people who say Bush Sr, did not intercede on his son's behalf to prevent him from going to Vietnam.

    So here is my take on republicans:
    They Say They Do
    Too much Govt stay out of my life. I want to take control of that womans body and choices
    I'm a good Christian They do nothing to help their fellow man
    America is the land of opportunity But only if your born here
    we need good schools Dont talk about Thomas Jefferson, and we need to teach a fairtale as real

    Face it your a bunch of idiots

    April 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • stormsun

      Thanks for the stereotypes. I have been a registered republican for quite some time. I intensely disliked George W. Bush as president, I am pro-choice, and I support gay rights. I also believe we have a right to own firearms, and I believe strongly that the government should not run our lives and certainly not our healthcare. We don't need to turn our free enterprise system into one more socialistic state. We did not become a great nation based on the State dividing up your earnings and mine and doing whatever "they" think fair or expedient. Quit stereotyping people and talk about the merits of specific issues. The "Liberal" versus "Conservative" partisan bickering is preventing us from solving the country's real problems. We are all Americans...the rest is secondary.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. educatedguess

    stop buying corporate products whenever you can. and watch the parasites shrivel off the planet.

    April 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scottish Mama

    Wikipedia Faith based initiatves- In early 2001, President Bush worked with the republicans in congress to pass legislation changing the way the federal government regulated, taxed, and funded charities and non-profit initiatives run by religious organizations. Although prior to the legislation it was possible for these organization to receive federal assistance, the new legislation removed reporting requirements, which required the organizations to separate their charitable functions from their religious functions.. Bush also created the white house office of faith gased and community initiatives. Days into his first term, Bush announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations. Bush created the office of Faith -Based and community initiatives to assist faith-based service organizations.
    In 2004 into 2005 $2,200,000,000.00 2.2 Billion was funneled into this. Can we cut this? per year 2.2 Billion This sounds like money laundering to me. Because we know the religious right supports the republicans. If they do not have to tell where the money is going, they could be financing the republicans. But the planned parenthood must account for every dime?

    April 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mike kerns

    conservatism is just a tool to keep the commoners down by ingnorence and hate. need proof just read the post of the brainwashed teabagger crowd or watch fox propaganda and indoctrination channel.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    I guess if you cant beat Obama in 2012, try to prove is not a citizen.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • j in cali

      they cant prove a thing. they can only create doubt within the uneducated and paraniod

      April 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    @Bill or if they say it enough it makes it so?

    April 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. eze

    The real problem is that NEITHER party represents the will of the people. They represent the will of the far left and the far right, and the majority has to decide between the lesser of two evils. Even worse, they both take money from large corporations, so it doesn't matter who wins the election...they are all in the pocket of the campaign donors, and the taxpayers get screwed.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Then we have to do the research and out them, you are for the people or against them.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    There were 4 black presidents before Obama, I bet the "birthers" didn't know that.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Snowball Anyone?

    Taking away the means of safe abortions leaves the door wide open and increases the market for under the table abortions. Currently those women who refuse to give birth and cannot afford a clinical abortion are reverting to under the table or the clothes hanger method. Self induced abortions happen all over the world. With the means of internet there are more ways then ever to research these methods. If a woman does not want to have a child they will find a way illegal or not.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
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