When Obama was an Illinois state senator he worked with Planned Parenthood to develop a strategy combating a series of extreme anti-choice measures designed to paint pro-choice legislators into a corner. Obama and numerous other state senators voted “present” on these bills in order to protest the politicization of the health and safety of Illinois women. Illinois is one of the few states that allows legislators to voice their objections to legislation through a “present” vote. These “present” votes are counted in the official roll call of the bill, and they DO affect the outcome. For all intents and purposes, they are a vote against the bill. As a matter of fact, Senator Obama wanted to vote “no” on these bills. But, he stood with his colleagues in protest against the anti-choice extremists who controlled the Illinois Senate at the time.
During his time as a state senator, no major pro-choice organization questioned Obama’s present votes. Instead, Obama received endorsements from Personal PAC, NARAL of Illinois PAC, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, and, YES, EVEN Illinois NOW.
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