PJ Media

Obama Slips, Slides, and Squirms on Abortion

A sizeable brouhaha began last week over nurse Jill Stanek’s full compilation of documents showing Barack Obama’s Illinois Senate votes and floor statements regarding the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, personally reviewed the records (as have I) and went to the trouble of linking every one of them, demonstrating Obama’s incredible denials on the matter. Ms. Lopez concluded that “Obama has for the past four years blatantly misrepresented his actions on the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Bill.”

The federal version of the same bill passed both houses of the U.S. Congress in 2002 — unanimously — and was signed into law by President Bush. The law has no effect whatsoever on women’s access to abortion and was carefully crafted to specifically do nothing but guarantee that if a baby somehow, miraculously or otherwise, survives an abortion or any other accident or medical procedure, then that breathing, living baby becomes automatically a person, entitled to full protection and available medical care as provided by the Constitution.

The Illinois Senate records show irrefutably that Barack Obama twice voted “present” on the bill and voted against it in 2003, even after the bill was fully qualified to include language making it clear that this bill would have no effect on Roe protections of legal abortion.

I’m no lawyer, but this seems like a no-brainer to me.

If the baby is breathing, you don’t throw it out with the other medical waste. Even if you don’t want to, you must take care of him or her.

Not all that complicated.

Obama’s slipping, sliding, and squirming over his votes on this bill are beginning to closely resemble Bill Clinton’s problem with the meaning of the word “is.”

Interestingly enough, a diligent Washington Post Fact Checker shed a good bit of light on this during the primaries, due to NOW’s endorsement of Clinton and questions raised over Obama’s voting record on abortion. The National Organization for Women was pushing hard for a Clinton victory then and was making quite an issue of Obama’s “present” votes in the Illinois Senate, especially those on abortion-related bills.

Planned Parenthood, which had endorsed Senator Obama in his presidential bid, came to their candidate’s rescue on the matter of his “present” votes and explained to the Washington Post Fact Checker how this was a privately agreed-upon strategy between their Illinois branch and state Senator Obama.

“Under the rules of the Illinois legislature, a present vote effectively functions as a no vote because only yes votes count toward passage of a bill. Legislators vote ‘present’ rather than ‘no’ for a variety of tactical reasons, including making it more difficult for their political opponents to use their votes against them in campaign advertisements.”

“We worked on the ‘present’ vote strategy with Obama,” said Pam Sutherland, chief lobbyist for the Illinois branch of Planned Parenthood, an abortion rights group. “He was willing to vote ‘no,’ and was always going to be a ‘no’ vote for us.”

Among those “present votes,” of course, were the votes Obama cast concerning the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, while a senator in Illinois (March 2001).

But then the Illinois state Senate changed majority hands to the Democrats in the 2002 election, and Barack Obama took over the chairmanship of the Health and Human Services Committee, which had authority over the bill that would protect those babies that survived induced abortions or accidents or other medical procedures. He held the bill in committee for over a year and then voted against it.

As summarized by NRLC spokesman Douglas Johnson:

Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion — even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion.

Obama’s legislative actions in 2003 — denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions — were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress. The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose.

Senator Obama has stated numerous times that if the Illinois bill had been the same as the federal bill that passed unanimously, he would have voted for it. He has claimed that the Illinois bill “would not have passed Constitutional muster.”

When he attempted to explain away his Illinois votes that effectively approved infanticide on survivors of induced abortions to Relevant Magazine, July 1, 2008, this was the exact spin Obama attempted to put on these votes:

The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false.

There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born-Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass Constitutional muster.

Unfortunately, as revealed by Ms. Stanek’s thorough compilation of the Illinois records, and the NRLC review, and the NRO review above, Senator Obama’s assertion to Relevant Magazine in July was blatantly false.

Saturday evening, at Saddleback Church, Senator Obama repeated the same “explanation” of his Illinois vote against protections for babies born despite abortionists’ attempts to kill them. He even went further. He said that those of us who are pointing out his falsehoods are “lying.”

In an interview immediately following the Saddleback forum, Obama reiterated this charge to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Well and because they have not been telling the truth. And I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying. I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported — which was to say — that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born, even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe v. Wade. By the way, we also had a bill, a law already in place in Illinois that insured life-saving treatment was given to infants.

Fortunately, David Freddoso was equally quick with his detailed rebuttal to Obama’s charges. Freddoso is the author of the newly released The Case Against Barack Obama and he does not like being called a liar.

This says it all, I believe:

In 2003, a similar bill came before Obama’s health committee. He voted against it. But this time, the legislation was slightly different. This latter version was identical to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which by then had already passed the U.S. Senate unanimously (with a hearty endorsement even from abortion advocate Sen. Barbara Boxer) and had been signed into law by President Bush.

If simple things like alive or dead, or how you voted on a specific bill, were multiple choice questions, Obama might be holding onto a shred of credibility here. However, sometimes there is just no way to have it both ways. Even for a lawyer. Even for a politician.

The fact that Obama, in fact, voted against the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, in its identical form to the one that was passed unanimously by the Congress, is one of these times.

If Barack Obama wants to follow in the steps of George Washington, then he ought to have the courage to just tell the truth and take the consequences like a man.