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. ronvan

    EVERYTHING, and EVERY problem this now worthless country is going through is due to the following: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Right, Left, Centrist, Atheist, Christian, Pro life, No life, Get a life, Hawks, Doves, Piegons, Do Do bird – (Extinct like our morals & values), Blue dogs, Red Dogs, Hot dogs, Tea Party, Coffee Party, Lets all have a party,.SO many "Do Gooder" groups that you can't even list them, Wall Street, Main Street, Back Alley deals, Vacation Break, Spring Break, Fall Break, Winter Break, Give me a break! And what do all of these People/Groups have in common? To push thier OWN agenda & beleifs & to put money in their pockets while taking it out of ours!

    April 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhooBar


      April 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. REG in AZ

    It is totally apparent that the ultra-conservatives, the Special Interests, the very wealthy, the influential and the powerful few are aggressively taking their positions against Obama. They are making extreme efforts, including putting a great deal of pressure on the representatives they strongly support, and committing an abundance of capital to defeat him. What they seek is to instal another “puppet”, like GW Bush, whose “strings they will pull” again. Anyone would be totally naive and completely gullible not to understand that what they are doing is strictly in their own limited interests. Like with the manipulation of the Christian block, the Swift-boat propaganda and now with the Tea Party movement they seek to once again use their power, influence and money to buy, con and manipulate just to achieve their ends.

    This country has some very severe problems and challenges and if these people should succeed in preventing addressing those problems, by having the continuation of the status quo that so completely favors them, then we will literally be destined to “more of the same” that has cost us so much. Their creative appeals to fears, self-interests, scare tactics, emotional biases and prejudices are all intended to excite people and to manipulate and control public opinion. The bazaar antics and extremes to which they go clearly demonstrate just how desperate and irresponsible they are. When the facts and the truth are clearly seen, when their emotionally charged propaganda is put aside, when the results of their efforts, always to benefit the few and costing everyone else, are recognized, then the unconscionable, self-serving deception becomes completely apparent.

    Should the people fail to be objective, rational and emotionally mature and fail to recognize the deception, then we are likely to see the few have their way again and the majority, including the total middle-class, just continue to loose. People can allow the manipulation, continue to be emotional and fault the wrong causes, continue accepting the empty rationalizations supporting biased preferences and then suffer with the problems only becoming worse, the deception continuing and once again with the subterfuge faulting the wrong people as the few continue to gain greatly and everyone else is wondering how things got worse. It really isn’t intellectually challenging but it is not easy either. It is up to the people to totally put their biases, prejudices and emotional attachments aside so that they can’t be so easily conned and manipulated against their own best interests. It is not easy but it is critical in order to avoid self-supported abuse.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Russell

    A lie told often enough becomes truth – Lenin

    April 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. stormsun

    Well, I wasn't a "birther" before I saw Shannon Travis, from CNN, explaining why we shouldn't question the issue because CNN has already debunked the issue...and then danced around without saying why Pres. Obama simply doesn't take out his birth certificate and show it to the public, like every other citizen has to do repeatedly for things much less critical than holding the office of president. My thanks to Shannon for demonstrating how flimsy the president's position on this subject really is. NOW I'm skeptical.

    April 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      A birther took it to court, he lost its real.

      April 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike kerns

      obama is a american. If you do not like his policies that is a rational person. But if you are using a completly debunked birther arguement. You are showing that you are crazy or a trouble maker or well... Just a liar.

      April 15, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

      There is no argument (that I know of) about the National origin of President Obama's mother...
      She was A natural born American CITIZEN...
      As long as there is no contest about whether or not she is his birth mother, she could have delivered him on MARS, and he would STILL be an American Citizen, equal to, in every way, every American Citizen physically born within the boundaries of the United States.

      He's a CITIZEN.

      April 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hey You


    April 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brittanicus

    Judge for yourself?

    Remember the TEA PARTY will kill any new amnesties, including so-called Immigration reform, Sanctuary States, Chain Migration, The dream act or any underhand way of passing any more AMNESTIES. By not enforcing restriction illegal immigration laws, should look to examples of the very serious over populations in border States of California, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico that have massive money problems; attributed by the illegal alien invasion. States that are not overrun or have implemented strict laws such as Georgia, can view illegal aliens skipping out, taking their economic families to feed of the generous welfare programs further afield. Learn more about the astronomical costs and Statistics at NumbersUSA or just typing into Google, illegal alien costs.

    It's your America; not the 20 million plus foreigners and not the politicians who cower under the bombardment of open border lunatics. Join a local TEA PARTY and become an activist in the tens of millions other others fighting for jobs, cutting obsolete government agencies, building the real border fence and station permanent National Guardsman. Make E-Verify mandatory to catch criminal businesses hiring illegal aliens and make it an enforced police policy for every jail to use Secure Communities to fingerprint and process all individuals to verify their immigration status. The country is in the worst predicament of owing Chinese and foreign investors over 14 Trillion dollars and now want more taxes from ordinary Americans. So if this is the case, why are we not removing economic illegal immigrants from our shores? Hundreds of billions would be saved and, then would start returning jobs to our own citizens and legitimate residents.

    A dirty business that attributes profits from illegal labor must be dealt with in the harshest way. No slaps on the wrist or mediocre fines, but judged on its incorrigible merits. With Fines from $50.000 up; confiscations of all business assets to fund ICE. Businesses with large ratio's of illegal labor, a term of at least a year in prison on first offense. This should not be home incarceration, but in a federal correction facility. That should determine that hiring foreigners carry a nasty risk of committing a felony. Same with people, who scorn our laws to enter America illegally, should carry a penalty of not a worthless civil infraction, but a justifiable felony conviction. Shouldn’t prudent Americans wonder why this has never been the case? It makes sense that this was intentional to allow illegal immigrants to enter our lands with impunity? Janet Napolitano can gesture all she wants about the border being better secure? Then perhaps she would like to buy London Bridge from me.


    Read about illegal alien widespread Tax fraud at http://www.thesocialcontract.com/ the Pdf file "Illegal Aliens and American Medicine." http://tinyurl.com/o6r27 and the report "DRAINING AMERICA INTO POVERTY" at http://tinyurl.com/3mv3vzm These are reports that the Leftists, US Government Czars and radical open border zealots or lobbyists prefer you didn’t see.

    IN 2012 budget we must enforce the Grand old party with new injection of TEA PARTY candidates, otherwise the future for our families are at financial risk. NOT FOR ONE MINUTE THINK THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU? IT COULD BE YOUR JOB NEXT?

    Today, Tennessee to stop illegal aliens voting passed a law to demand picture ID at registration. Low income Americans who are verified through birth records can apply for a free Identification card.

    Attn: Gaining momentum is Billionaire potential President Donald trump, who has already spoken out about the Chinese Free trade treaty that is a rip-off, the same as Nafta and Cafta that must be negotiated. He also views Saudi Arabia as unfriendly to America, after everything we have accomplished for them, such as the Gulf War, when Iraq invaded. Now Opec that Saudi Arabia is associated with is cutting back on its oil supplies and our nation is being gouged by speculators in Wall street. Open up Alaska and anywhere we have oil reserves and a pox on the environmentalists. Other budget lowering legislation must include a reduction or closing obsolete government agencies and returning them to State jurisdiction. Even the defense monopoly should be examined, to see if a we can cut back on overseas military reservation and demand those countries attribute to their own protection.

    April 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Floyd

      Just a note: Small agribusinesses are the ones most likely to suffer from the depredations of the Tea Party. Who's going to hand pick vegetables if the pickers from Mexico can't do that work? Oh, yeah: it's going to be the Tea Partiers. (yeah, that's the ticket).

      April 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rita

    You couldn't "Like" "you know" find a "You know what" more articulate speaker for that birther video?

    April 15, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nur amabo nur

    Looks like obomba is not going to be on Arizona s ballot, SWEET !!!

    April 15, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pete

    Pro-life? Then stop funding the bombs we drop on innocent people in other countries. Stop putting our troops in situations where they must shoot everyone in sight to protect themselves. We don’t want to kill these people, but create the conditions that make it happen. A life is a life, born or unborn. Why should a fetus have more right to life than a five year old kid in a war zone that we created? Do you really think that blowing up a persons house and killing their kids makes them free?

    April 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ray

    It's simple: Dumbed-down voters elect dumbed-down politicians.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. manuallabor

    Its quite evident that congress, both parties, don't have a clue about doing anything for the best interests of "We the People". If they did, why are the fingerprints of BOTH parties on every single problem this country faces, BAR NONE.Every single bit of legislation that has been passed to get to where we are, was done by the parties, NOT the citizens. Just what HAVE the two parties of crooks done for the people? They ruined Social Security, refuse to fix it, and sit back and collect their own cushy retirement, which they have NOT paid a penny into.I think the citizens of this country know MUCH better at WHAT is and isn't good for us, than a government that is owned by the great lobby dollar.

    April 15, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Truthwillsetyoufree

    The ones who know the answers better are those that actually take the time to research a bit and read both sides. To much nowadays is just dumb emotion with no knowledge of what they are talking about. Too much! They get their opinions from hard line tv shows. Not a good idea...

    April 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Larry L

    This article makes it look like voters and politicians are the factors influencing our decisions. What about the power-brokers rich enough to get the religious-right and social conservatives fired up enough to vote on the side of the elite class? These folks don't need pragmatic solutions to critical problems – they simply need to scream at cars on the freeway about sound bites they heard on Fox News. I'm scared that America's future is controlled by dishonorable politicians, religious wackos, and under-educated right-wingers.

    April 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stopthemadness

    Can someone tell me why it is only republicans making these fight? I can but I don't think you want to hear the truth so I will leave it at that.

    April 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    The blogging entrance test – ♫♫♫ getting to know you... getting to know all about you... getting to like you...hoping you'll like me too♫♫♫

    1. What is your favorite word?
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    10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

    April 15, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
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