Infanticide, revisited

Barack Obama wants to move closer to Catholics, or more accurately, wants Catholics to move closer to him. Despite a track record of abandoning all limits for on-demand abortion, Obama plans to argue that he actually is a moderate on the topic. He has repudiated criticism for his vote on an Illinois bill that would have required practitioners to give normal medical attention to infants born alive during an attempted abortion by claiming that it lacked a pre-birth neutrality clause that was included in a bill adopted unanimously by the US Congress in 2002.

The National Right to Life Committee now claims that Obama lied about the bill in order to provide cover for his support of infanticide:

When Obama was running for the U.S. Senate in 2004, his Republican opponent criticized him for supporting “infanticide.” Obama countered this charge by claiming that he had opposed the state BAIPA because it lacked the pre-birth neutrality clause that had been added to the federal bill. As the Chicago Tribune reported on October 4, 2004, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even though he voted against a state version of the proposal. The federal version was approved; the state version was not. . . . The difference between the state and federal versions, Obama explained, was that the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.”

During Obama’s 2008 run for President, his campaign and his defenders have asserted repeatedly and forcefully that it is a distortion, or even a smear, to suggest that Obama opposed a state born-alive bill that was the same as the federal bill. See, for example, this June 30, 2008 “factcheck” issued by the Obama campaign, in the form that it still appeared on the Obama website on August 7, 2008. The Obama “cover story” has often been repeated as fact, or at least without challenge, in major organs of the news media. (Two recent examples: CNN reported on June 30, 2008, “Senator Obama says if he had been in the U.S. Senate in 2002, he, too, would have voted in favor of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act because unlike the Illinois bill, it included language protecting Roe v. Wade.” The New York Times reported in a story on August 7, 2008 that Obama “said he had opposed the bill because it was poorly drafted and would have threatened the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established abortion as a constitutional right. He said he would have voted for a similar bill that passed the United States Senate because it did not have the same constitutional flaw as the Illinois bill.”)

Never mind that the bill itself expressly limited its reach to infants born alive during abortions, of course. David Freddoso makes this point in his new book, The Case Against Barack Obama. On page 195, Freddoso gives the full text of the bill, which clearly limited its concern to affixing personhood to any child born alive during an abortion.

However, the NRLC discovered in working through the Illinois bill’s path that their version of the BAIPA bill did have the neutrality codicil attached — and it got attached in Obama’s committee:

For the moment we can set that debate aside, however, for this reason: Documents obtained by NRLC now demonstrate conclusively that Obama’s entire defense is based on a brazen factual misrepresentation.

The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the Illinois state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the “neutrality clause” (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state BAIPA, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.

The amendment with the neutrality language identical to that in the federal law is here. In the record of the vote taking on March 12, 2003, the amendment was adopted unanimously by Chairman Obama’s HHS subcommittee. That added the neutrality clause to the bill — which then went down to defeat on a party-line 6-4 vote, with Obama voting against protecting infants born alive during abortions.

This was no academic debate.  The issue arose when, as Freddoso notes. Christ Hospital in the Chicago area got outed for leaving these infants to die after a nurse blew the whistle on the hospital.  An investigation determined the truth of the allegations, and the Illinois legislature debated on whether infants born alive during abortions should be considered persons and require practitioners to provide care for them.  Obama, even with the redundant “neutrality clause” attached to the bill, said no.

Clearly, Obama lied about his position.  It’s no small rhetorical matter, either.  His vote puts him on the extreme of the pro-abortion camp, so extreme in fact that not a single member of Congress would follow his example.  Obama voted to allow Christ Hospital and other facilities performing abortions to allow live children to die.

Update: Jill Stanek was the nurse that blew the whistle on this horrid practice.

Update II: Yes, the action that day first added the neutrality clause and the second action defeated the bill, as shown above.  The staff analysis written at the time by the Republicans (linked at the NRLC) shows the sequence:

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COMMITTEE ACTION: On 3/13/03, SB 1082 failed on a “Do Pass As Amended” motion (Righter/Syverson) by a vote of 4-6-0.

CA #1 was adopted on a “Be Adopted” motion (Righter/Syverson) by an attendance roll call (10-0-0).

CA #1 (Winkel) to SB 1082 (Winkel) adds to the underlying bill.

Deletes language, which states that 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.

Inserts language, which states that nothing in the bill shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or right applicable to any member of the homo sapien species at any point prior to being born alive as defined under this legislation.

That is the neutrality clause that Obama claimed wasn’t in the bill when he voted against it, and kept infanticide as an option for Christ Hospital.

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 7:21 PM ET