Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?

This question continues to dog the Obama campaign and now the National Right to Life organization has amassed documentation regarding the claim and the Obama response.

Rather than reproduce it all here, I am going to post the link and comment more a bit later.

Click here to read the NRTL news release.

The Weekly Standard has some reporting on this issue as well.

Jill Stanek, the Illinois nurse who blew the whistle on infants left to die has ongoing coverage of this controversy.

The New York Sun has an article clarifying the issue even more. It seems Obama is now saying that the Illinois bill might have impacted Illinois law but that he would have voted for the federal version since there was no federal abortion law.

Indeed, Mr. Obama appeared to misstate his position in the CBN interview on Saturday when he said the federal version he supported “was not the bill that was presented at the state level.”

His campaign yesterday acknowledged that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

However, he is a prime supporter of the Freedom of Choice Act which would become federal law. Does that mean he would support the repeal of the federal Born Alive Act?

  • Mary

    I thought he had. I’m writing in my vote.

  • Jayhuck

    This smacks so much of a religious/far-right desperate attack on Obama, its almost laughable. When people like World Net Daily and Ann Coulter are towing this line, one HAS to raise at least one eyebrow.

  • Jayhuck

    Here’s a nice article that sheds even more light on this issue from Media Matters:

    Media Matters Article

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    @Jayhuck: Corsi sensationalized the issue but this article does not address Obama’s accusations that the NRTL committee lied about his lack of support for the IL Born Alive act. He said he would have supported the federal version but when he had the chance as an IL legislator, he did not.

    I continue to wonder if their was federal abortion law (FOCA), would he support the repeal of the Boarn Alive Act. When some doctors thing they are “canceling a luckless human soul” in other words, doing the baby a favor, I think it is important to have a Born Alive act in place.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    @Jayhuck: Please address the substance of the issues rather than simply dismissing it or do not bother commenting.

  • Jayhuck

    Warren,

    I addressed the substance with my link to the Media Matters article, that deals with more than just Corsi’s comments. Corsi is also not alone in the far right community when it comes to sensationalizing this matter – one only has to do a quick Google search to see that.

  • Ann

    Jayhuck or anyone else,

    Do you think there should be a law that protects a child who miracleously survives an abortion attempt on it’s life or do you think medical personal should take additional measures to ensure it’s intended death?

  • Jayhuck

    Third time is a charm? :) International Herald Tribune

  • Jayhuck

    Absolutely Ann :)

  • Ann

    My personal opinion is that Barak Obama doesn’t know too much about this issue and has someone who is very interested in women’s rights over human rights whispering into his ear every night.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    From the article Jayhuck linked to:

    But the Illinois proposal always had a companion bill. The accompanying legislation, called the Induced Infant Liability Act, would have allowed legal action “on the child’s behalf for damages, including costs of care to preserve and protect the life, health and safety of the child, punitive damages, and costs and attorney’s fees, against a hospital, health care facility or health care provider who harms or neglects the child or fails to provide medical care to the child after the child’s birth.”

    The answer is easy: Vote for the bill you believe in and vote against the bill you disagree with.

  • Jayhuck

    Paragraphs from AROUND that quote that Warren posted:

    “That has led Obama’s critics to accuse him of playing fast and loose with the truth when he says he “would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported” if it had been offered at the state level.

    “I don’t know whether he is lying or whether he forgot, but with his words, he is condemning himself, ” said Jill Stanek, a Chicago-area nurse who was one of the main proponents of the U.S. measure and writes an anti-abortion blog. “He voted one way and then covered it up, and he has to explain that, not just to me, but to the American people.”

    But the Illinois proposal always had a companion bill. The accompanying legislation, called the Induced Infant Liability Act, would have allowed legal action “on the child’s behalf for damages, including costs of care to preserve and protect the life, health and safety of the child, punitive damages, and costs and attorney’s fees, against a hospital, health care facility or health care provider who harms or neglects the child or fails to provide medical care to the child after the child’s birth.”

    Groups that favor abortion rights say that bill would have introduced the possibility that doctors could be sued for failing to take extraordinary measures to save the lives of pre-viable infants, those born so prematurely that they could not possibly survive. As a result, they argue, it is disingenuous of anti-abortion organizations to claim that Obama was moving to quash only a narrow and innocuous definitional bill identical to U.S. law.”

    “I can tell you the sponsors always wanted the entire package of bills, which were introduced together and analyzed together,” said Pam Sutherland, who was president of the Illinois branch of Planned Parenthood at the time. “They never wanted them separated, because they wanted to make sure that physicians would be chilled into not performing abortions for fear of going to jail.”

    Another concern mentioned by opponents of the bill, including Obama when he was in the Illinois State Senate, was that the state legislation amounted to an illegal end run around Roe v. Wade.

    “We do not object to a solely definitional bill,” like the one approved at the U.S. level, said Mary Dixon, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “But when you take a definition comparable to the federal one and combine it with other provisions that attempt to give full personhood to a fetus that is pre-viable and try to put fear of criminal and civil liability in the minds of physicians, you have created a much different scenario.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    @Jayhuck: Do not post whole articles in a comment again. People who want to read the article can click the link.

    The rest of the article does not change my criticism. The package of bills defense is absurd. Vote for what you believe in and vote against what you don’t. He apparently voted for what he believed was the right policy.

  • Jayhuck

    I have no doubt I’m not going to change your mind about Obama Warren – that wasn’t my intention – but I think it is fair to show people what is being said around a quote taken out of an entire article. I will not try to post entire articles again.

  • Ann

    He has an opportunity to correct any confusion when he speaks at the convention, or before, like TODAY – think he will?

    Wow – can’t wait for another speech from the moral Bill Clinton (yawn) and then another one from Hillary (my hair is already hurting) and then we get treated to one from the govenor of N.Y. (wonder if he is going to parade his wife out again).

    Barak Obama is going to look good no matter what he says after these three.

  • Ann

    Come to think of it, sounds like a good strategy on the part of the DNC to line up the speakers like that – it can only make B.O. look and sound good.

  • ken

    Ann asked in post 121498:

    Do you think there should be a law that protects a child who miracleously survives an abortion attempt on it’s life or do you think medical personal should take additional measures to ensure it’s intended death?

    Depends on what the specific wording is and whether it applies to viable fetuses or includes those that aren’t viable.

    Further, in most cases of an abortion where the fetus comes out alive, I doubt there are any “additional measures” that need to be taken to cause the fetus to die.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    @ken: There would however, need to be additional measures needed to keep the baby alive. This is the issue. If a woman did not want to have the baby but the baby frustrates that intention by remaining alive, then what is to be done? Of course, the baby will die without medical attention, as will all infants born alive.

  • Ann

    Depends on what the specific wording is and whether it applies to viable fetuses or includes those that aren’t viable.

    Do you think a baby born alive justifies viability?

  • ken

    Warren said in post 121531:

    There would however, need to be additional measures needed to keep the baby alive.

    And what additional measures would you recommend for keeping a fetus 16 weeks into gestation alive, Warren?

  • ken

    Ann asked in post 121534:

    Do you think a baby born alive justifies viability?

    No, viability means the fetus has developed enough to survive outside the womb. Simply because a fetus is alive when it comes out of a womb, doesn’t make it viable.

  • Evan

    Ken,

    I remember you calling a foetus a parasite on another topic. You must have a really good reason to put down emerging human life on any occasion. It’s OK, it’s your opinion, but it shows something.

  • Ann

    And what additional measures would you recommend for keeping a fetus 16 weeks into gestation alive

    Neo natal intensive care

  • Ann

    No, viability means the fetus has developed enough to survive outside the womb. Simply because a fetus is alive when it comes out of a womb, doesn’t make it viable.

    Ken,

    You have the right to feel and say what you think, however, I must say that you have successfully passed the test for the most unconscionable comment I have ever heard – how would you like it if your life was in jeopardy and a doctor said “just because Ken is alive doesn’t make him a viable candidate to continue living”? Really, your insensitivity is not only staggering but also sobering.

  • David Blakeslee

    I thought this kind of decision was above Obama’s paygrade

  • Ann

    I thought this kind of decision was above Obama’s paygrade

    Funny! :-)

  • ken

    Ann,

    I would suggest that you get a better understanding of the term ‘viable’ as it pertains to human gestation, before continuing this conversation.

  • Ann

    Thanks Ken – I feel very comfortable with my knowledge of the term and the way I have used it in this conversation.

  • Mary

    If a human fetus comes out alive – then it is alive. My God!! Should someone decide that my life is not developed enugh – do they then have the right to stare blankly into my eyes and end my life? Sounds a lot like another time and another place – except they were called social deviants.

  • ken

    Warren, do you intend to respond to the question I asked in post 121580

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    @ken: Yes, what would I recommend with such an infant? Anything possible. No infant can survive outside the womb without intervention.

  • ken

    Warren said in post 121846 :

    @ken: Yes, what would I recommend with such an infant? Anything possible. No infant can survive outside the womb without intervention.

    Except there is nothing possible that can be done to save that fetus, because it is not viable. And one reason it is not viable is that prior to 20-22 weeks gestation, the lungs haven’t sufficiently formed to be able to oxygenate blood, which means the fetus is going to die And no neo-natal unit (even if you could get the fetus to one before it died) in the world could change that. Doctor’s aren’t arrogantly playing god saying “thou shalt live and thou shalt die” when they talk about viability. They are talking about the facts of human gestation. Facts few people on this blog seem to understand.

  • Drowssap

    If the same thing was done to a 5 year old wouldn’t it be called Infanticide?

  • Patrick

    Drowssap:

    There is a difference between killing someone (infanticide) and allowing someone to die (as in the case Ken referenced). Certainly, if there is basically no chance of survival – I don’t see the point of typing up medical resource that would be better utilized elsewhere.

    That is NOT to say the nothing should be done – all efforts to minimize suffering and pain should be employed. In this sense the treatment is similiar to palliative care.

  • ken

    Drowssap asked in post 121855:

    If the same thing was done to a 5 year old wouldn’t it be called Infanticide?

    What “same thing” are you referring to?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Here is the text of the Born Alive bill:

    AN ACT concerning infants who are born alive.

    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:

    Section 5. The Statute on Statutes is amended by adding Section 1.36 as follows: (5 ILCS 70/1.36 new)

    Sec. 1.36. Born-alive infant.

    (a) In determining the meaning of any statute or of any rule, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative agencies of this State, the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual” include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

    (b) As used in this Section, 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 that 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.

    (c) Nothing in this Section [the bill] 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.

    The bill defines viability without using a gestation age. The youngest infant that I have found an account for is 21 weeks. Why would anyone vote against this?

  • ken

    Warren asked in post 121918:

    Why would anyone vote against this?

    Because it doesn’t correctly define viability and does apply to the example of a 16 week old fetus that I gave. That fetus is likely to have a beating heart, thus the law will apply (those conditions are disjunctive not conjunctive).

    Additionally, this bill is about legal status, not medical care. It could cause unintended legal problems (which I doubt congress even bothered to consider) even if the fetus doesn’t survive more than a few minutes.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Ken – In your example, the baby would not live long if at all, even with attempts to revive it for reasons you cited. If you were in the legislature and you wanted to add an amendment to the bill to specify a gestation age, then you could. In all my reading on this, I do not see where Obama or anyone did that. No one did so with the federal bill. If Obama had raised your concern, then we would be discussing that but he did not.

    If your narrow point is that the bill would require attention be given to infants who are not able to breath then you have made that point. However, as far as I can determine, this was not at issue for either the state of IL or the federal debate. If you have evidence that your thinking was what was in Obama’s mind, then I would like to see it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    Ken – PS – I believe at issue here is the status of an aborted baby versus one who might have been wanted and prematurely delivered. I would advocate that the law owe the same duty to an aborted baby as one who was prematurely delivered at whatever age.

  • ken

    I have no idea why Obama didn’t vote for this bill and I don’t really care. I was asked what I saw wrong with the bill and I stated it.

    However, I would point at that you are making misleading insinuations about Obama not voting for this bill. Your title for this post implies he wants to deny medical treatment. However, the bill you cite says nothing about medical care. This bill is about conferring legal rights and that encompasses a lot more than medical treatment.

    If the reasons for this bill were truly about keeping abortion survivors alive, it could be as simple as:

    “if a fetus is extracted from the womb alive, then all reasonable medical care to keep it alive shall be given.”

    Now if Obama voted against a bill like this, then your insinuations would be appropriate. However, this isn’t even close to what he voted against is it Warren?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/ Warren

    The bill defines a term (born alive infant) which designates an entity with certain rights, one of which is medical care.

    The point of the legislation was to define who was entitled to care. Even widow or widower is defined in IL law. In law, entities are defined so that courts can judge complaints based on law.

    Once a born alive infant is defined then medical care follows. Obama once said in an interview that of course he would not withhold care from an infant. But one has to BE an infant first and this law defined a circumstance which was not clearly covered.

    He now has said that he would have voted for the BAIPA at the federal level because there was no federal abortion law. However, he wants to enact one – FOCA. The logical conclusion is that if FOCA was in place, he would have opposed the federal BAIPA.

  • ken

    Warren said in post 121965:

    The bill defines a term (born alive infant) which designates an entity with certain rights, one of which is medical care.

    Correct one of many rights. How have you ascertained it was this one right that Obama had a problem with?

    The point of the legislation was to define who was entitled to care.

    If medical care were the only concern of the legislation, there were other ways to word it without having to deal with the all the other issues that would be brought up. This bill does far more than simply define who was entitled to medical care.

    But one has to BE an infant first and this law defined a circumstance which was not clearly covered.

    It also defined circumstances that should not be covered (ex. non-viable fetuses)

  • minty

    The youngest infant that I have found an account for is 21 weeks. Why would anyone vote against this

    “Saving” a five-month old, mutilated fetus from an abortion sounds horrifying. I can only imagine the life of pain and disability the unwanted baby would face, should the effort succeed. As well as the astronomical cost – for every fetus saved this way, how many fully-developed persons could have been treated and cared for?

    However, if I were still religious, the bill would make sense. Then the ideas that only God must choose who lives or dies, and that God works in mysterious ways, take precedence.

  • Ann

    for every fetus saved this way, how many fully-developed persons could have been treated and cared for?

    Minty,

    Someting to consider is that this baby would probably not have to be saved if the decision was made to deliver it normally and naturally rather than through a failed abortion attempt on it’s life. I think every fetus deserves this same right. What distinguishes one fetus from another when it comes to the right to life? We support bills that protect individuals from hate crimes – what makes this any different? In both scenarios, someone feels they have the right to “get rid of” those who are an inconvenience or make them uncomfortable in some way. Should that be a random choice?

  • minty

    Something to consider is that this baby would probably not have to be saved if the decision was made to deliver it normally and naturally rather than through a failed abortion attempt on it’s life. I think every fetus deserves this same right.

    I think your argument is with abortion itself then. If abortion is wrong, then of course every effort must be made to resuscitate the victims.

    For myself, I support a woman’s right to have an abortion. And I think the proposed resuscitation of unformed, crippled fetuses is just awful.

    The dividing factor, imho, is religion.

    We support bills that protect individuals from hate crimes – what makes this any different?

    I don’t think hate crimes legislation has anything to do with this. For the record, I am not a fan of hate-crimes legislation, but that’s another subject (lol).

  • Ann

    Minty,

    Thanks for your response. Religion does not enter the equasion for me when it comes to saving a life – I just think it is the right things to do in a civilized world. Fetuses who survive abortion deserve the right to life IMHO just as I deserve the right to life if a doctor can save me from a horrible, life threatening car accident.

    Regarding abortion – choice is paramount and elevates a way of thinking to look at all different options, be completely informed of the emotional impact that could last a lifetime or have no effect, and finally be fully aware of what they are doing rather than consider it a trivial matter that has no meaning. Either choice will have it’s own set of consequences and the woman should be well aware of that.

  • irishgrl

    Ken, I agree with you. Completely.

    Ann, I firmly believe that the ONLY person who has the right to decide what to do with their own offspring is the MOTHER. Not you, not me, not the State.

  • Ann

    I firmly believe that the ONLY person who has the right to decide what to do with their own offspring is the MOTHER. Not you, not me, not the State.

    irishgrl,

    The woman who aborts her own offspring is hardly entitled to be called a “mother”. Mothers innately protect their children. I believe I mentioned in my last post that choice was paramount for the woman who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy. My personal hope is that the choice would be for life, however, it is not my choice to make. Women are going to have abortions regardless if they are legal or not, regardless of your opinion or mine, or the state. As to a child surviving an abortion attempt, I firmly believe every medical measure should be taken to sustain the life of the baby.

  • irishgrl

    Pfft. you are discussing semantics, and “mother” has more than one meaning. Not all mothers innately protect their children either. As to your belief re: medical measures to sustain the “life of the baby” who pays for these measures? you? I didnt think so. There is a HUGE difference between a choice and an opinion.

    You’re welcome to your opinion, but fortunately, nobody is bound by it.

  • Ann

    Anyone,

    Is the Hippocratic Oath still taken by all doctors practicing medicine? If so, are there any ethical exceptions to the oath?

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