Personhood

Infanticide?

Deal W. Hudson
July 1, 2008

Infanticide is becoming a touchy subject for Barack Obama. So much so that his supporters either deny that their candidate ever voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, or they describe his votes as “procedural,” as if Obama never really opposed providing medical treatment for infants who survived an abortion.

The facts show otherwise.

The Born Alive Infant Protection Act was first introduced in the Illinois legislature in 2001 after nurse Jill Stanek revealed that babies born alive in Christ Hospital in botched abortion procedures were left to die, unattended by medical personnel.

That same year Stanek testified before the Judiciary Committee, where Obama asked whether the bill would subvert a woman’s right to abortion. Obama voted against the bill in committee but “present” on the Senate floor.

When the bill was reintroduced in 2002, Obama again voted against it in committee and was the only state senator to speak against it on the Senate floor. Again the bill was defeated with Obama voting “no” and leading the opposition.

Here is what he said:

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.

2002 was the year the U. S. Congress passed and President Bush signed the federal version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Unlike Obama in Illinois, Sen. Hillary Clinton voted to support the bill. In fact, the bill passed the Senate 98 to 0 with pro-abortion senators like Boxer (D-CA) and Reid (D-NV) supporting it.

In 2003, the bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature for the third time and directed to a committee chaired by Obama, Health, and Human Services. They refused to bring the bill to a vote.

Only when Obama left for Washington in 2005 did the Born Alive Infant Protection Act pass the Illinois legislature. It’s for good reason Barack Obama has been called“the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever.”

The Roman Catholics for Obama Web site has no mention of his opposition to the Born Alive Infant’s Protection Act. Look under its section “Life and Dignity of the Human Person,” and you will find statements on the death penalty, the Iraq War, gun control, and the promise to nurture “a socio-economic environment” that will provide “a safety net that will make abortion increasingly unnecessary and rare.”

Some of Obama’s infanticide apologists argue that since the declared intention of Obama in voting against the BAIP Act was to uphold Roe v. Wade then it was not evidence of “support for infanticide.” Such poor logic completely detaches Obama’s act of voting against the bill from its consequences. Without the passage of the bill, infants born in Illinois remained vulnerable to the lack of treatment witnessed first-hand in Christ Hospital by Jill Stanek.

It would be like a senator arguing that his vote to approve Iraq War funding was just to “support the troops” but not the war. How can you put a gun in a soldier’s hand without taking responsibility for what happens when he shoots it?

Democratic pundits don’t want to talk about Obama on abortion or infanticide, either. On a recent CNN broadcast, Wolf Blitzer asked Bill Bennett what he would ask Obama if given the chance.

Bennett said he would ask Obama about his abortion extremism and why he “doesn’t see a problem with killing a baby after it’s been born after eight months.” Donna Brazile, the well-known Democratic consultant, reacted strongly: “You want to have a conversation about narrow issues, but the American people want to talk about gas prices.”

Brazile can be sure that $4.oo per gallon gasoline isn’t going to divest the millions of religious conservatives who care about the dignity of human life of their repugnance for infanticide. The last thing the Democrats want to hear are questions raised about Obama’s “moral judgment,” as Bill Bennett did on CNN.

Obama’s attempt to move to the middle of the political spectrum will have to overcome two major obstacles: the memory of Rev. Wright at the National Press Club and Obama’s voting record on the BAIP Act.

Obama does seem to have distanced himself successfully from his old pastor, but once Americans start asking why he would allow doctors to deny medical treatment to a newborn child, it may raise larger questions about moral judgment.

A Warning to the GOP

Deal W. Hudson
November 24, 2008

In an op-ed published after the election, former Governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman wrote, “Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness.”

And who are these “social fundamentalists?” In Whitman’s political lexicon, they are “the people who base their votes on such social issues as abortion, gay rights, and stem cell research.”

When I read Whitman’s column I had three thoughts:

  1. Why is she putting the label “fundamentalist” on fellow Republican voters?
  2. Does she know she’s also talking about Catholic voters who consider non-negotiable issues before casting their ballot?
  3. Is she asking Catholic and Evangelical voters who care deeply about these issues to leave the party and declare themselves independent?

It’s remarkable that someone who considers herself a leader in the GOP would go out of her way to antagonize millions of voters who have been dependable Republicans for over three decades.

Whitman and the other GOP leaders who have made post-election stabs at social and religious conservatives had better start minding their manners. Whatever happened to the “Big Tent”? The Republican Party may find itself hemorrhaging its most zealous constituency.

Did Gov. Whitman not hear the roar that went through St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center the night Sarah Palin walked out on stage? Here is Whitman’s take on Palin: “Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party’s consent.”

Gov. Whitman knows very well that the pro-life, anti-gay marriage conservatives don’t “control” the party – such a claim will bring laughs from anyone familiar with the inner workings of the RNC.

Really, Whitman isn’t worried about control; she wants an end to the pro-life plank of the party platform. She wants to take the pro-life pressure off GOP candidates, especially on the national ticket. If the GOP abandons its public stance against abortion and gay marriage, she thinks the “moderates” lost to Obama will return.

Whitman’s numbers are telling, but they don’t actually support her argument. She notes that Kerry won 9% more moderate voters than Bush while Obama stretched that number to 21% against McCain. But if moderates are turned off by “social fundamentalists,” why would they have cast 6.4 million more votes for the evangelical George W. Bush? Kerry was just as liberal as Obama on social issues, and mainline Protestant McCain was more reticent than Bush in discussing them.

Whitman doesn’t mention what is widely recognized as the major cause of the moderate swing to Obama: the economy. In exit polls, Obama led by nine points among the two-thirds of voters who said the economy was the most serious challenge facing the country. Add to that the increased voter registration and turnout among Democrats, deep discontent with the GOP, Democrats’ targeted appeals to sections of the Republican coalition, and you have the reasons for Obama’s victory.

The moderates were not casting ballots against Sarah Palin or the social and religious conservatives she represents – this election was not a referendum on abortion or gay marriage. How could they be when John McCain almost never brought them up?

In reality, McCain’s reticence on social issues contributed to the fact that 4.1 million religiously active voters did not go to the polls on Nov. 4. If there is a warning for the GOP from the presidential election results it is this. As Karl Rove noted, “Americans aren’t suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.”

If Whitman has her way, something will soon be missing from the entire Republican Party that will keep religious conservatives – or should I say “social fundamentalists”? – from serious engagement in GOP politics. Whitman is calling out a potential voting group of 30,000,000 Catholic, Evangelical, Mormon, and Mainline Protestants.

In the final chapter of my recent book, Onward, Christian Soldiers, I posted this question for the future, “Will the Democrats Get Religion, Will the Republicans Keep It?” Obama won, in part, because he successfully courted religious voters – the Democrats successfully found religion, at least for one election cycle.

Did the GOP lose religion? No. But when over four million religiously active voters stay home there was certainly what Evangelicals call “backsliding.” If Gov. Whitman has her way, the GOP will offer voters nothing different from the Democrats on abortion and marriage. If that happens, the Republican Party can wave goodbye to religious conservatives.