Deal W. Hudson
July 7, 2008
A few days ago, Sen. Barack Obama was asked to clarify his position on late-term abortion by Cameron Strang of Relevant magazine. The senator used this as an opportunity to deny the “email rumors floating around that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-giving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion.”
Obama’s answer is quoted at length in a July 4 e-mail sent by Mark Linton, National Catholic Outreach leader of Obama for America. Linton’s e-mail contains my July 2 column titled “Obama and Infanticide,” with a series of purported “TRUTH” comments attached.
I am, indeed, one source of the rumor that Senator Obama calls “just false,” but Jill Stanek and Terry Jeffreys have been writing about this for many months, and Bill Donohue has devoted a section of the Catholic League Web site to Obama and infanticide. As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) three years running in committee, voting “no” on it twice and “present” once. It shouldn’t be any great mystery to him, or anyone, how such a “rumor” got started.
Obama calls the charge of infanticide an “unfair characterization.” Obama and his Catholic supporters have three arguments that they hope will supply enough smoke to obscure both his voting record and his pointed advocacy of abortion rights:
Obama claims there was no need for the BAIPA since there were already laws in place requiring doctors to treat those infants. But as Obama well knows, the BAIPA law was introduced precisely because infants were being allowed to die in Illinois hospitals for lack of treatment, as witnessed personally by Stanek, an Illinois nurse. He claims that the BAIPA was “actually designed to overturn Roe v. Wade” and wasn’t going “to pass constitutional muster.” He also denies that the actual intention of those who drafted the bill was to protect these children. But when the Senate passed BAIPA unanimously in 2002, it contained language expressly stating that it could not be used to overthrow Roe. If that was their intention, why would its sponsors – including Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) – specifically add this language? The answer is simple: to prevent any further acts of barbarism such as those witnessed by Stanek. He claims he would not have opposed the bill had it contained the language of the federal legislation. But as Terry Jeffreys at Human Events has shown, Obama voted “no” on a version of the bill that had the same language as that in the federal bill. Stanek, who was lobbying for the bill at the time, attests that Obama explicitly rejected the language of the bill he now says would have enabled him to vote for it.
In his e-mail in support of Obama, Linton writes, “Partisan operatives know why Obama voted against BAIPA but continue to spread lies – that’s shameful.” He goes on to quote Sen. Obama in an interview from Christianity Today:
I don’t know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think it’s very important to start with that premise. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is. I do think that those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren’t expressing the full reality of it.
This strains credulity. Obama has spoken at NARAL conventions, and he doesn’t know anyone who is pro-abortion? In addition to opposing BAIPA consistently as an Illinois state senator, Obama is already a sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act. At a Planned Parenthood meeting a year ago, Obama said, “The first thing I’d do as president signs the Freedom of Choice Act.” I’m sure he didn’t meet anyone who was “pro-abortion” at that meeting, either.
Linton thinks the use of that phrase is reprehensible and says it is “false and disrespectful” to call Obama “pro-abortion.” But it’s not false by any standard of common sense: Obama’s record of abortion advocacy has been praised as absolutely perfect by NARAL standards – 100 percent for all three years in the Senate.
Linton’s accusation of my being “disrespectful” – along with Nat Hentoff, Michael Gerson, Terry Jeffreys, William McGurn, Bill Donohue, Rick Santorum, and Jill Stanek – is telling. Obama’s supporters, like Linton, consider their candidate above criticism; he is Obama Inviolate.
But in reality, Obama is just another politician, and what makes him so is his unwillingness to be candid about his own record, about his own first principles, and about where he will lead this country. There is no doubt that the dramatic progress made in reducing abortions over the last 30 years – now at their lowest number since 1974 – will be rapidly reversed under a President Obama.