True Lives
An abortion survivor takes on Barack Obama.


Barack Obama, meet your nightmare? On Monday night,, a new 527 released an ad starring Gianna Jessen, a 31-year-old woman who survived a saline abortion.

“I’m a survivor, as are many others . . . but if Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn’t be here,” Jessen says in the ad. “Four times, Barack Obama voted to oppose a law to protect babies left to die after a failed abortion. Senator Obama, please support born alive infant protections. I’m living proof these babies have a right to live.”

The ad is meant to highlight Obama’s opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act while he was in the Illinois legislature. An extreme position – for which he argued passionately; he argued that a child surviving an abortion should not be protected because that would be akin to saying that “they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – a child, a nine-month-old – child that was delivered to term.” Well, exactly.

Jill Stanek is a former nurse at Christ Hospital in Illinois, where this all started. There she witnessed children being left to die after surviving botched abortions. Her testimony was the catalyst for the legislation in the Illinois statehouse. Stanek talked to National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez about the ad and Obama.

Kathryn Jean Lopez:
Who is Gianna Jessen and why do you want Americans to hear her story?

Jill Stanek:
Gianna Jessen is a 31-year-old saline abortion survivor. I’m attaching her unbelievable birth certificate and medical information. Also note on second document her “physician” is listed as infamous abortionist Edward Allred.

Where will your ads be running?

Stanek: The first-phase media buy includes Ohio and New Mexico.

Lopez: Who is paying for your ads?

Stanek: is a 527 nonprofit political organization. Pro-Life philanthropists, including Ray Ruddy, are financially supporting the effort as well as other pro-life folks.

Lopez: Have you coordinated with the McCain campaign at all?

No, absolutely not. We are purely an educational group wanting to educate the public on Barack Obama’s opposition as state senator to the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

Lopez: Is this just about an election for you? A job at HHS in a McCain-Palin administration perhaps? When was it that you first spoke out the Born Alive Act and Obama?

Stanek: My husband wouldn’t be happy if I moved to D.C., because he’s sure not going to!

I first spoke out against late-term abortions that sometimes resulted in babies being abortion alive in 1999. In 2001 I testified before an Illinois state senate committee and a no-name state senator named Barack Obama. The focus during the early days was on the abortion procedure itself (induced-labor abortion) — previously unknown to the public — and Christ Hospital’s involvement, where I worked — blasphemy to many, including me.

Barack Obama’s opposition to Born Alive became a focus during his 2004 U.S. Senate race against Alan Keyes. I’ve been writing about his involvement ever since. But four weeks ago his opposition to Born Alive exploded on the national scene when the National Right to Life Committee discovered Obama had actually voted against an identical version of Born Alive in Illinois as passed on the federal level overwhelmingly (98-0 in U.S. Senate; NARAL went neutral). For four years he had been misrepresenting his vote, saying the two bills were not identical and had they been he would have voted for the Illinois version.

In an interview following the Saddleback Forum on August 16, Barack Obama told CBN’s David Brody that NRLC and the rest of us were lying. By August 18 his staff had to admit to the New York Sun that NRLC was telling the truth. That false indignation coupled with Obama’s “above my pay grade” statement, got Obama/Born Alive tons of negative PR.

(P.S. Note that Warren asked when does a “baby” get human rights? Not “fetus” or “embryo.”)

Lopez: Why should we believe you about Christ Hospital?

Stanek: I couldn’t answer this any better than Doug Johnson (from the National Right to Life Committee) did yesterday on a blog:

More than one nurse collaborated the accounts of how babies born alive during induced-labor abortions were being treated. Two nurses, Jill Stanek and Allison Baker, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee at the first hearing on the federal bill. Their testimony was found credible by the Judiciary Committee and is referred to as such in the official committee report, which was issued when the committee approved the bill on a vote of 22-1, transcript here.

The House Judiciary Committee reports on the federal legislation also explained other compelling justifications for clearly establishing the “personhood” of all live both humans, including those born alive during abortions. The 2001 report is here.

The purpose of the legislation was not to spell out exactly how babies are to be treated in this or that situation, but to make it clear that all live-born humans are to be treated as human persons, and treated the same, regardless of whether they achieved live-born status during the abortion.

There have been many reports over the years, in diverse, locations, of babies being alive during abortions and being treated in ways very different from babies who are spontaneously born prematurely.

Lopez: Why should Barack Obama be held responsible for what you experienced at the hospital? Is it really fair to put Gianna’s story up against his campaign?

Stanek: Here we have a man who voted four times against Born Alive and was the sole senator to speak on the senate floor two years in a row. He took a leadership role opposing Born Alive. How disturbing is that? Furthermore, he includes a quote on his website by Pam Sutherland, the CEO of Planned Parenthood in Illinois at the time, who bragged Obama “approached her” to strategize to defeat the Born Alive and PBA bans. He approached her! How disturbing is that?

Isn’t this all just a rarity? Isn’t it ridiculous to make this a presidential-campaign issue?

Call Gianna Jessen and tell her that abortion survivors are rare and insignificant. Furthermore, Christ Hospital told the Chicago Sun-Times on March 31, 2001, that 10 to 20 percent of babies aborted by the induced-labor abortion procedure survive for a time. That’s a significant percentage.

Is it your position that Barack Obama is pro-infanticide?

An audio clip of Obama’s 2002 state senate floor speech was recently released. In it he admits babies may be aborted alive but a second physician shouldn’t be called to assess and treat abortion survivors because it would be a “burden” to the mother’s “original decision.” In other words, he thought babies marked for abortion but surviving should be allowed to die. What do you call that?

Lopez: Of Obama’s record, what would you like all Americans to know?

Stanek: Barack Obama is to the left of all of his Senate colleagues and even NARAL on the abortion issue, and he misrepresented his vote on Born Alive for four years.

Lopez: Why does this really matter? Will the president really be able to save the lives of future Giannas?

As president, Obama could greatly influence this issue. Born Alive needs enforcement measures added. It is just a definitions bill now.

Lopez: What do you make of Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin offers such a contrast to Obama on this issue. She carried her Down Syndrome baby to term despite a medical recommendation otherwise and declared him “perfect” at birth. Obama heard testimony three years running of at least one baby with Down Syndrome who was set to languish alone in a soiled utility room to die, and that was acceptable to him — Culture of Life vs. the Culture of Death in a nutshell.