For Right to Life
On Jan. 10, 2005, newly elected U.S. Sen. Barack Obama visited former colleagues and staffers at the Illinois state Capitol, where he had served seven years as state senator. I happened to be at the Capitol that day, too, and a friend and I took the opportunity to speak to Obama, who had not yet achieved rock-star status and was still approachable.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Obama Blocked Born Alive Infant Protection Act
He often stood alone as an Illinois lawmaker in opposition to protections for babies who survived abortion.
We were in Springfield to lobby for passage of the state Born Alive Infant Protection Act, legislation that would require hospitals to care for infants who survive an abortion. Obama spoke against the legislation in 2001 and 2002 and single-handedly defeated it in committee in 2003.
My friend stood in Obama’s path and said, “Senator, we are going to pass Born Alive here in Illinois this year.”
Obama smiled smoothly and agreed, “I think you will,” adding, “I would have voted for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois had it been worded the same as the federal bill. I think that’s the position the Democrats should take.”
There’s just one thing he forgot to mention: Obama had stopped his committee from adding the federal wording.
With Obama no longer in the state Senate, the Born Alive legislation passed in 2005.
An Illinois lawmaker offered the first draft of the state’s Born Alive Infant Protection Act in 2001 after I revealed publicly that Christ Hospital left babies who survived abortion — viable babies whose delivery was induced, and whom the abortionist intended to kill but somehow survived — in a utility room to die.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Patrick O’Malley of Oak Lawn defined “born alive” using language identical to that of federal legislation introduced in 2000 by Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., who in turn drafted wording developed by the World Health Organization in 1950 and adopted by the United Nations in 1955:
The term “born alive,” with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut, and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.
I first encountered Barack Obama on March 27, 2001, when I testified before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he was a member. My testimony included my description of holding a premature aborted baby until he died:
One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down’s syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about ˝ pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end, he was so quiet that I couldn’t tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken.
Obama questioned whether the born alive legislation would impede the right to abort and doctor/patient decision-making. He and an American Civil Liberties Union attorney speculated Born Alive would force doctors to resuscitate nonviable aborted babies.
Obama opposed Born Alive in committee, but voted “present” — neither “yes” nor “no,” but merely “present” — on the state Senate floor, one of many “present” votes that Hillary Clinton has cited as evidence that Obama lacks leadership skills. Clinton voted for the federal Born Alive bill, putting her on record as more pro-life than Obama.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for 10 years. Both schools are listed in the top 10 law schools in the country.
But Obama revealed his constitutional blind spot in his book The Audacity of Hope:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created [emphasis added] equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
… (T)he essential idea behind the Declaration — that we are born [emphasis added] into this world free, all of us; that each of us arrives with a bundle of rights that can’t be taken away by any person or any state without just cause; that through our own agency we can, and must, make of our lives what we will — is one that every American understands.
Note Obama’s choice of the word “born” over the word “created.” Perhaps that helps explain his support for unrestricted abortion. Also note that our "bundle of rights” can be “taken away” with “just cause.”
Obama clearly considers abortion a “just cause.” Here is how he argued against Born Alive during Illinois Senate debate in 2001:
… I just want to suggest … that this (legislation) is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny.
Number one, whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — child, a 9-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place.
I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.
The legislation passed the Senate but did not survive in the House.
When Rep. O’Malley reintroduced Born Alive and its companion bills in 2002, they headed again to the same committee, where Obama rewrote history:
"Ms. Stanek, your initial testimony last year showed your dismay at the lack of regard for human life. I agreed with you last year, and we suggested that there be a Comfort Room or something of that nature be done. The hospital acknowledged that and changes were made and you are still unimpressed. It sounds to me like you are really not interested in how these fetuses are treated, but rather not providing absolutely any medical care or life to them."
Of course, Obama had not agreed with me the year before, and I was the one who had told him about the Comfort Room, which the hospital created in response to my testimony: "We now have this prettily wallpapered room. … There is even a nice wooden rocker in the room to rock live aborted babies to death."
The hospital made live birth abortions look nicer, but the end result was still dead babies.
“What we are doing here is to create one more burden on women, and I can’t support that,” Obama concluded, and voted “no” in committee again.
The bill went again to the Senate floor, where Obama was the sole speaker against it, claiming that it would impose a “burden” on physicians:
[T]his [legislation] puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they are performing this procedure, that in fact, this is a nonviable fetus.
Democrats won control of the state Senate in November 2002, and when Born Alive was reintroduced for the third time in 2003, it was directed to the Obama-chaired, infamously liberal Health and Human Services Committee, where he simply refused to call it for a vote.
By this time Obama was running for U.S. Senate. He won his primary in March 2004, and Republicans recruited former U.N. Ambassador Alan Keyes, who lived in Maryland, to oppose him. It was Obama’s position against Born Alive that persuaded Keyes to run, as he stated in his announcement speech:
"When I was first approached about this possibility… I have to say that my reaction was negative…. What finally caught my eye, however… what finally arrested my attention and forced me to consider whether I not only had the opportunity to oppose him, but the obligation… was when I learned that (Obama) had actually, in April 2002, apparently cast a vote that would continue to allow live birth abortions in the state of Illinois … .
"We are talking about a situation in which, in the course of an abortion procedure, a child has been born alive — is out of the womb, breathing and living on its own — and he cast a vote against the idea that we should not stand by and let that child die!"
This was why Keyes alleged during their campaign that Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama, as he explained in an interview with an NBC affiliate:
Christ would not stand idly by while an infant child in that situation died. … Christ would not vote for Barack Obama, because Barack Obama has voted to behave in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.
Obama later admitted Keyes’ comment “nagged” him and has written or spoke about it several times, although he always misrepresents Keyes’ rationale as being about abortion support when it was specifically about infanticide support. In a July 2006 opinion piece in USA Today, restated later in The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote:
If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons but seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.
Obama’s faith has come into question on the campaign trail. Accused of being a Muslim, he’s insisted that he’s “rooted in the Christian tradition” and has a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” In fact, Obama has attended the largest church in one of America’s most stridently pro-abortion denominations — the United Church of Christ — for 20 years. His church, Trinity, is located just five miles from Christ Hospital. Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, served on the board of Christ Hospital’s health care system.
It’s ironic in the extreme that the most determined opponents of preborn life — and even those who are born — embrace the name of the One who caused John the Baptist to leap in his mother’s womb.
Contact: Jill Stanek
Source URL: http://www.citizenlink.org
The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.