The Corner

FactCheck.Org’s Opinions basically sides with the National Right to Life Committee and against Obama on every factual question that has come up in the controversy over Obama’s opposition to the born-alive bill in Illinois.

Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 “born alive” bills as backdoor attacks on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been “fully in support” of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade.

We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported.

But then takes up an argument on Obama’s behalf that his own people have not even tried to make: that the “infants” the bill aimed to protect were not really infants, and so what the bill was prohibiting was not really “infanticide.”

Those who believe that human life begins at conception or soon after can argue that even a fetus with no chance of surviving outside the womb is an “infant.” We won’t try to settle that one.

What we can say is that many other people – perhaps most – think of “infanticide” as the killing of an infant that would otherwise live.

So if you had a premature baby who died, it turns out you may not have had a baby at all! I don’t think that it is remotely plausible that most people think this way. Still less do I think that most people think that premature infants should be left in a soiled utility closet to die. Which is perhaps why Obama is not pressing similar arguments.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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