08 September 2008 Vol. 10 / No. 36
Does Barack Obama Support Infanticide?
“I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade.”
This was Barack Obama’s answer, delivered with much hemming and hawing, to the following question posed to him by Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Forum: “When do babies get human rights?”
Obama’s flippant answer might have elicited chuckles at a Harvard symposium, but the evangelicals in the Saddleback audience were not amused. They knew that Pastor Warren was asking a serious question that deserved a serious answer. They also knew that a man who would sit in the Oval Office is supposed to be able to answer such queries. Previous presidents have understood that no question was above their pay grade. That’s why Harry Truman, for instance, kept a plaque on his desk that read: “The Buck Stops Here.” One imagines that the plaque on Obama’s desk, if he gets that far, will read something like: “The Answer to Your Question May be Above My Pay Grade.”
But we believe that there is more to Obama’s evasiveness than indecision or confusion. It is not that the Illinois Senator can’t answer the question of when babies get human rights; it is that he won’t, primarily because he has already voted to deny any and all rights to some newborns. What we mean is that, while in the Illinois legislature, he voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure. It is impossible not to score this as a vote in favor of infanticide.
The Born Alive infant Protection Act (BAIPA) law was necessary because, especially during late-term abortions, some of those babies slated for execution are instead born alive. In the past these abortion survivors have been callously thrown into trash cans, where they died. Nancy Creger, a former nurse from Atlanta and a longtime friend of PRI’s, was the first to uncover the practice in the early eighties. She discovered that 14 infants had been born alive and subsequently “allowed” to die in Atlanta’s notorious “abortion-only” Midtown Hospital in the early 1980’s. Creger was horrified by the information, writing later that “the Vital Records people and some of the licensing people were anxious to get this information publicized, and so they provided me with enlarged photostats of the death certificates. I took them home and spread them out–all 14 of them–on my bedroom floor. Then I started to weep. I wept in anger, and I wept in grief.”
Later, Nurse Jill Stanek found a similar practice occurring at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where babies born alive were being literally thrown away to die. She worked very hard to get BAIPA passed in Illinois, but came up against the stubborn opposition of a state legislator by the name of Barack Obama. He voted against the passage of the law and it was effectively killed.
In 2000, a similar bill was presented to the United States House and Senate. The BAIPA was not intended to overturn Roe v. Wade; a “neutrality clause” stating as much would be added later to placate radical feminists. The BAIPA’s only purpose was to extend the protection of the law to every infant who was born alive, including those on whom an abortion attempt had been made.
NARAL immediately attacked the bill, warning pro-choice representatives that they must vote against it. Bowing to public pressure, however, nearly all of the pro-choice members of the House instead voted in favor of the bill. No one, even those who had most staunchly supported abortion over the years, wanted to be on record as supporting what was, in effect, infanticide. The bill passed in the House with a 380-15 margin, but later died in the Senate. It was not until 2002, when the “neutrality clause” was added, that the bill would pass without a dissenting vote in the Senate and House and be signed into law by President Bush.
When the issue of his earlier vote in the Illinois legislature came up a couple of months ago, Obama began backing and filling. He insisted that the only reason that he had voted against the state version of BAIPA was that bill lacked the “neutrality clause” of the federal bill. Unfortunately for Obama, this turned out not to be true. In fact, the official record shows that a “neutrality clause” had earlier been added to the bill at his insistence, after which he then turned around and voted against BAIPA anyway. His claim that BAIPA lacked a “neutrality clause” and that he had voted against it for that reason was, at best, a memory lapse, at worse, a complete fabrication.
This has all been exhaustively documented by the National Right to Life Committee, and later verified by FactCheck.org. The full details are available
To make matters worse, when Obama’s distortion of his own record was made public by NRLC, he proceeded to try and shoot the messenger. “[The NRLC] have not been telling the truth,” he blustered in a CNN interview. “I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying.”
“Either accuse us of falsifying documents,” responded NRLC, “or admit that you have misrepresented your record.” To date, Obama has made no further response, perhaps hoping that the issue will simply fade away.
Pro-lifers should not allow this to happen.
If Obama is so beholden to the abortion lobby that he will not lift a finger to help tiny victims of abortion who are fighting for life, then he is even more radical on the abortion issue than any other sitting senator, including Hillary Clinton. This would explain why he didn’t simply vote “present” on the BAIPA bill, as he did on so many other pieces of controversial legislation. He was too busy trying to ingratiate himself with the abortion industry, perhaps with the thought of running for the Senate seat from Illinois that he later won.
But now he is running for president, and must be held to a higher standard. That’s why his behavior when caught lying about his record is so troubling. Not only did he immediately begin to dissemble like any run-of-the-mill politician, he launched an attack on his accusers. Entrusting the highest office in the land–along with control of the FBI and the IRS–to someone who does not believe that all Americans are worthy of protection, and who tends to go after his critics, gives one pause.
Steven W. Mosher is the President of Population Research Institute
Colin Mason is the Director of Media Production at PRI.