In 2001, Senator Barack Obama was the only member of the Illinois senate to speak against a bill that would have recognized premature abortion survivors as “persons.” The bill was in response to a Chicago-area hospital that was leaving such babies to die. Obama voted “present” on the bill after denouncing it. It passed the state Senate but died in a state house committee.
In 2003, a similar bill came before Obama’s health committee. He voted against it. But this time, the legislation was slightly different. This latter version was identical to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which by then had already passed the U.S. Senate unanimously (with a hearty endorsement even from abortion advocate Sen. Barbara Boxer) and had been signed into law by President Bush.
Sen. Obama is currently misleading people about what he voted against, specifically claiming that the bill he voted against in his committee lacked “neutrality” language on Roe
. The bill did contain this language. He even participated in the unanimous vote to put it in.
Obama’s work against the bill to protect premature babies represents one of two times in his political career, along with his speech against the Iraq war, that he really stuck out his neck for something that might hurt him politically. Unlike his Iraq speech, Obama is deeply embarrassed about this one — so embarrassed that he is offering a demonstrable falsehood in explanation for his actions. Fortunately, the documents showing the truth are now available.
At the end of last week, Obama gave an interview to CBN’s David Brody in which he repeated the false claim that the born-alive bills he worked, spoke, and voted against on this topic between 2001 and 2003 would have negatively affected Roe v. Wade. This has always been untrue, but, until last week, it appeared to be a debatable point that depended on one’s interpretation of the bill language. Every single version of the bill was neutral on Roe. Each one affected only babies already born, not ones in the womb.
But in 2003, in the health committee which he chaired, Obama voted against a version of the bill that contained the specific “neutrality” language — redundant language affirming that the bill only applied to infants already born and granted no rights to the unborn. You can visit the Illinois legislature’s website here to see the language of the “Senate Amendment 1,” which was added in a unanimous 10-0 vote in the committee before Obama helped kill it. This is the so-called “neutrality clause” on Roe that everyone is talking about:
1 AMENDMENT TO SENATE BILL 1082
2 AMENDMENT NO. . Amend Senate Bill 1082 on page 1, by
3 replacing lines 24 through 26 with the following:
4 “(c) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to
5 affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal
6 right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at
7 any point prior to being born alive as defined in this
The addition of this amendment made the bill identical to the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. This
Committee Action Report, dug up in Springfield by the National Right to Life Committee and revealed last week, shows two different votes. In the left column, under the heading “DP#1”(or “Do Pass” Amendment 1), we see that Obama’s committee voted 10-0 to add this neutrality language to the bill. In the right column, we see that the committee then voted 6-4 to kill the bill. Obama was among the six “No” votes.