Covered in my latest letter to the Fond du Lac Reporter:
After an Illinois hospital left a newborn who survived an abortion to starve to death in a closet, the state senate considered legislation protecting the rights of babies born alive during attempted abortions (SB1082) in 2001. Barack Obama opposed it. Now he says he would have voted yes if the bill included language guaranteeing it wouldn’t be used someday to undermine Roe v. Wade.
He’s essentially saying that newborns dying of starvation matters less than the legal standing of Roe, which is horrible enough (remember, reversing Roe would NOT ban abortion—it would just restore the people’s right to vote on abortion policy). But incredibly, the story gets even worse: we now know Obama is lying about his motivations.
In 2003, Illinois lawmakers tried again, now with the very language Obama claims was the original dealbreaker (Senate Amendment 001). At the time, Obama chaired the health committee, which unanimously added the language—only for Obama to vote no anyway, killing it before it reached the senate floor [PDF link]. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that he recently told Pastor Rick Warren that figuring out when people have human rights was “above his pay grade.”
This is every bit as evil as slavery. It’s shocking that a United States Senator could so callously disregard both his first duty (“to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men”), and basic human decency and compassion—and appalling that a mainstream political party could nominate such a man for the presidency. All Americans—liberal, conservative, and independent—who have any sort of conscience should be utterly disgusted by this man. Obama doesn’t want to heal the sins of the past—he just wants to trade them for brand-new ones in the future.
Aside from his above lie, Obama and his apologists have deployed a full-blown revolving door of excuses for his vote.
They claim Illinois law already had sufficient protections in place for born-alive infants. But that’s not true; the law in question, as Ramesh Ponnuru notes, said only fetuses of “sustainable survivability” would be protected, so any fetus deemed “pre-viable” would not be protected—SB1082 was intended to clear up any ambiguity.
They have argued that there was no evidence what Jill Stanek alleged actually happened. But according to a US House Judiciary Committee report, another Christ Hospital nurse, Allison Baker, gave consistent testimony, and the committee found:
When allegations such as these were first made against Christ Hospital, the hospital claimed that this procedure* was only used ‘‘when doctors determine the fetus has serious problems, such as lack of a brain, that would prevent long-term survival.” Later, however, the hospital changed its position, announcing that although it had performed abortions on infants with non-fatal birth defects, it was changing its policy and would henceforth use the procedure to abort only fatally-deformed infants.
* meaning, as described by the report: ‘‘induced labor’’ or ‘‘live-birth’’ abortions, a procedure in which physicians use drugs to induce premature labor and deliver unborn children, many of whom are sometimes still alive, and then simply allow those who are born alive to die.”
The Illinois Department of Health and Human Services failed to act on the charges not because they thought they weren’t happening, but merely because “abortion procedures” and “the rights of newborns” were beyond the scope of their office.
According to the National Right to Life Committee:
Obama’s defenders now (August 19, 2008) insist that the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was not needed because, they claim, Illinois already had a 1975 law “that requires doctors to provide medical care in the very rare case that babies are born alive during abortions.” They fail to mention that the law covered only situations where an abortionist decided before the abortion that there was “a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb.” Humans are often born alive a month or more before they reach the point where such “sustained survival” — that is, long-term survival — is possible or likely (which is often called the point of “viability”). Moreover, this already-weak law was further weakened by a consent decree issued by a federal court in 1993, which among other things permanently prohibits state officials from enforcing the law’s definitions of “born alive,” “live born,” and “live birth.” To read or download the consent decree, click here.
Obama has also expressed indignation at the implication inherent in the legislation that doctors would ever do such a thing to a newborn. This is an idiotic reason to oppose a law—society makes laws precisely because some people will do wrong; one might as well be offended at speed limits in school zones because they imply a driver would ever drive irresponsibly with children present. But it’s also meaningless because, again, Christ Hospital admitted it, and the Committee report also found evidence of similar incidents elsewhere in the US and in other nations. Clearly, not everyone licensed to practice medicine is a saint.
They say bills Obama opposed had language “clearly threatening Roe.” That language? “A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law” (emphasis added). Come on, nobody with any self-respect can parrot this one with a straight face. It specifically refers to children who have already been born, which is exactly where most pro-choicers tell us they draw the line anyway.
They have also said that “even if the federal and state versions had identical language, they would have very different consequences. The federal government doesn’t have a law regulating abortion, so Congress could pass a ‘born alive’ measure without actually affecting anything. But Illinois has an abortion law that would be muddled by changing the definition of a person with full rights.” Please, do we really have to go over how transparent and stupid this one is?
They claim the bill was part of a package deal which went further, but as NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson notes, “Obama confuses these bills, which were entirely separate. They had sequential numbers, but they were not in any way linked. To call them a package is a tactic to try to reach out and grab issues in an attempt to divert attention from this one.”
And then, of course, it’s kinda hard to get past what Obama said at the time.
Jill Stanek’s blog
“Life with Obama” and “Life Lies” by David Freddoso
“Why Obama Really Voted for Infanticide” by Andrew McCarthy
“Dead Weight” by the National Review Editors
FactCheck.org: Obama and ‘Infanticide’ (though it should be noted that Fact Check does not devote the same level of detail to the claim Illinois already protected newborns as it does to Obama’s dishonesty, which they have confirmed is false)
These will be ignored or decried by the shameless propagandists whose ideological bias is so deep that not even infanticide can reawaken their consciences, but cries of “right-winger” or “theocon fundie” are no substitute for providing and refuting facts.
Facts are stubborn things. The evidence is clear, and the bottom line is this: Barack Obama was presented with the scenario of live, newborn, babies being starved to death by the very doctors who delivered them—and decided the continued possibility of this happening was preferable to a nonexistent threat to the logic of Roe v. Wade.