When he ran for president, his campaign and his apologists claimed, as they do even today, that he opposed the law because it duplicated existing law, or because it required doctors to make extraordinary efforts to save the affected infants, or because it did not include language clarifying that it should be read so as to pose no conflict with Roe v. Wade. None of these excuses were valid: One of the versions of the law Obama opposed included that no-threat-to-Roe language, for example. He explained the real reason for his opposition: He did not believe that the law should recognize human beings before “viability” as having a right to life, even if they were entirely outside their mothers’ bodies.
Like Clinton before him, Obama said that he would nominate only Supreme Court justices who favored maintaining Roe. He led many observers to believe, during the campaign, that he was open to narrowing it so that late-term abortions would be allowed only in cases of serious threats to a woman’s health. He then clarified that he had meant only that the Supreme Court already took this view, which is false. He wasn’t actually in favor of moderating existing abortion policy, in other words. He was in favor of spinning it to sound more moderate than it is.