Today’s Questions for the President

by Peter Kirsanow

A few days ago, a Philadelphia abortion clinic employee pleaded guilty to murdering a baby who was delivered alive into a toilet at the clinic. The employee had removed the live infant from the toilet and, rather than provide care and sustenance, cut the baby’s neck.

As a state legislator a few years ago, you voted several times against the Illinois version of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002. The Illinois version was virtually identical to BAIPA, both providing legal protection to a baby born alive after an unsuccessful attempt to induce abortion. The Illinois bill was introduced after evidence was presented to the state legislature that babies born alive after unsuccessful abortions were left in utility closets — without medical care, comfort, or sustenance — until they died.

You stated you opposed the bill because it conferred equal protection, i.e. personhood, upon a “pre-viable” fetus, thus rendering the bill (in your estimation) an unconstitutional anti-abortion measure. You also stated that the bill “burdened the original decision” of a woman to abort the child. Both BAIPA and the Illinois bill contained, however, identical abortion neutrality clauses to make clear that the measures did not affect abortion rights. In fact, there are no substantive differences between the Illinois bill and BAIPA.

Given your position that it’s unconstitutional to confer personhood status on a pre-viable fetus, do you think the Philadelphia abortion clinic employee should have been subjected to any form of  legal jeopardy under the facts above? What if the employee hadn’t cut the baby’s neck, but rather, had simply left the baby in the toilet to die? Would your answer be different if the employee had removed the baby from the toilet and placed her in a utility closet — without medical care, comfort, or sustenance — until she died?

At what point after birth do you consider a baby a person? An hour? A day? A week? At what point is a living child no longer “pre-viable”?

Given your position that the Illinois bill was unconstitutional, should Attorney General Holder decline to defend the virtually identical federal act against a constitutional challenge? If a constitutional challenge is brought against BAIPA, do you expect your Supreme Court nominees would share your views as to its constitutionality?

At what specific point is a baby entitled to be treated as a human being?

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