Is It Fair to Say Barack Obama Supports Infanticide?

Deal W. Hudson
August 7, 2008

Objections continue to be raised to the charge that Senator Barack Obama supports infanticide, most recently in a Huffington Post column by Seth Colter Walls. I have made this claim myself, as have Sen. Rick Santorum, Terry Jeffreys, Jill Stanek, Bill Donohue, Gary Bauer, and Nat Hentoff.

It’s a dramatic change, but here are the facts.

No one disputes that for three years running, while an Illinois state senator (from 2001 to 2003), Barack Obama was faced with a decision about a bill mandating medical care for children born alive during induced abortions. (The Illinois bill was referred to as “Born-Alive Infant Defined.”)

No one disputes that in 2001 he voted against medical care for these children in committee and voted “present” on the floor; in 2002, against the bill both in committee and on the floor; and in 2003, as chairman of the committee, kept the bill from going to the floor at all.

And yet in spite of the facts, Obama’s backers continue to insist that he should not be considered a supporter of infanticide.

But why shouldn’t his opposition to the Illinois bill earn him that label? After all, in opposing the state legislation, Obama signaled his willingness to allow newborns to die without receiving medical attention after surviving a failed abortion.

Jill Stanek is the nurse who – after witnessing babies being left to die in a Chicago hospital – testified several times before Obama’s committee. She reports that her testimony, including the pictures she displayed, “did not faze [Obama] at all.”

Nonetheless, Obama’s supporters deny the charge. Here are their claims, and the facts:

  • They argue that each year the bill was “bundled” with other measures, and Obama had objections against other parts of the bundle.

The fact is that the three bills were not bundled – each had its own number and was considered separately (in 2001, no. 1095; 2002, no. 1662; and 2003, no. 1082).

  • The Medical Society of Illinois opposed the bill on the basis of an already existing law dating from 1975.

Yes, such a law existed, but babies were being allowed to die in hospitals anyway, as witnessed by Stanek. The bill was introduced to end that practice. It’s like refusing to pass laws against speeding because AAA objects to them. The intention was to force doctors to end a barbaric practice.

  • Obama claims he would have voted for the 2002 federal bill if he had been presented with it.
That's a strange assertion, given the fact that the 2003 state bill was identical to the 2002 federal bill.

It's true that the 2005 Illinois bill passed by the state legislature had two sentences not contained in the 2002 federal bill or the 2003 state bill. But Obama has already claimed that he would have signed the 2002 federal version of the bill, which did not contain the two sentences of the 2005 Illinois bill.

Also, the additional two sentences of the Illinois bill merely reiterate the crucial sentence of the 2002 federal bill that allowed pro-abortion senators like Ted Kennedy to sign it.

Here's the sentence: "(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being 'born alive' as defined in this section."

Even NARAL did not oppose the 2002 federal bill.

When Obama spoke on the floor of the Illinois senate against the protection act – in fact, he was the only senator to do so – he made it clear that his reason for rejecting it was his fear of its overturning Roe v. Wade:

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 – 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 anti-abortion statute (emphasis added).

The 2002 version of the federal bill contained the sentence quoted above, which directly addressed Obama's concern. Every pro-abortion senator in the U.S. Congress voted for the bill – it passed unanimously.

Yet when Obama was presented with an identical bill in committee in 2003, he wouldn't allow it to pass committee and go to the floor. Why did Obama block the 2003 bill when it satisfied his concern about overturning Roe v. Wade?

As Gary Bauer put it, "If abortion stalwarts such as Boxer and Kennedy were satisfied with the federal born alive bill, why wasn't Obama satisfied with an identical state bill?"

Obama's record makes it very difficult to believe anything other than he has been a supporter of infanticide. If he has changed his mind, all he has to do is say so.

Editor's Note: This article originally referred to the Illinois bill in question as the "Induced Birth Infant Liability Act" (SB1094); the bill is actually "Born-Alive Infant Defined" (SB1095). The text has been changed to reflect the correction; we regret the error.

One comment

  1. Induced abortion only legally occurs in early term pregnancy.

    A better question than the one you propose: Is it fair to call an egg that was fertilized a few weeks ago an “infant”?

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