The Corner

Obama, Abortion and Catholics

The New York Times has an article today fretting that Obama’s views on abortion may divide Catholics. The piece is notable for a few reasons, but perhaps the most important is that it’s one of the rare times that the mainstream media has referred to Obama’s 2002 vote against the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act (“IBILA”) while he was in the Illinois state legislature.

IBILA would’ve extended the same medical care to babies born after surviving an abortion attempt, as is enjoyed by all babies born alive. When a similar measure, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (“BAIPA”) was introduced in the U.S. senate not one senator voted against it. Even NARAL didn’t oppose it.

The Times dutifully reports Obama’s claim that he would’ve voted for BAIPA had he been in the U.S. senate because BAIPA wouldn’t have threatened Roe v. Wade. Obama supposedly questioned the constitutionality of IBILA, contending that conferring equal protection/personhood upon a “pre-viable fetus” would render the bill an unlawful anti-abortion measure.

Obama’s rationale for voting against IBILA is questionable at best. What isn’t questionable is that Obama, the constitutional law lecturer at U.of Chicago Law School, offered no amendments to cure IBILA’s purported defect so that it would be just as constitutional as BAIPA, the bill for which he now claims he would have voted. Rather, after voting against IBILA, the bill was referred to a committee he chaired where he killed it by never bringing it up again for a vote. (It’s also worth noting that while Obama voted “present” 100+ times in the Illinois state legislature, in this particular case he bestirred himself to vote “no”.)   Political savants maintain that the candidate who raises the abortion issue hurts himself. I haven’t seen data to confirm the point, but maybe Obama is banking on McCain not raising the issue. Clearly, Obama’s supporters must recognize the issue as a toxic one, not just with Catholics, but with nearly everyone – for it goes beyond abortion. At what point after birth does Obama call a baby a person and not a fetus?  One week?  Six months? Will any reporter ask him?

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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