Barack Obama said he voted against several Born Alive Protection bills as a state legislator because they didn’t include a provision that made clear they were not meant to affect abortion laws. Pro-life groups argue, with documentation, that one version included the exact provision Obama said he wanted to see.
The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the Illinois state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the “neutrality clause” (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state BAIPA, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.
The bill that Chairman Obama killed, as amended, was virtually identical to the federal law; the only remaining differences were on minor points of bill-drafting style. To see the language of the two bills side by side, click here.
Obama, asked about the issue last night after the Saddleback forum:
Brody: Real quick, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. I gotta tell you that’s the one thing I get a lot of emails about and it’s just not just from Evangelicals, it about Catholics, Protestants, main — they’re trying to understand it because there was some literature put out by the National Right to Life Committee. And they’re basically saying they felt like you misrepresented your position on that bill.
Obama: Let me clarify this right now.
Brody: Because it’s getting a lot of play.
Obama: Well and because they have not been telling the truth. And I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying. I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported – which was to say –that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born – even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade. By the way, we also had a bill, a law already in place in Illinois that insured life saving treatment was given to infants.
So for people to suggest that I and the Illinois medical society, so Illinois doctors were somehow in favor of withholding life saving support from an infant born alive is ridiculous. It defies commonsense and it defies imagination and for people to keep on pushing this is offensive and it’s an example of the kind of politics that we have to get beyond. It’s one thing for people to disagree with me about the issue of choice, it’s another thing for people to out and out misrepresent my positions repeatedly, even after they know that they’re wrong. And that’s what’s been happening.
NRTL says the bill included:
‘‘(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’ [Illinois: no quotes] as defined in this section.’’
That seems pretty definitive, and tough to argue that it would “undermine Roe vs. Wade.” An AP account of the vote at the time offers a completely different objection from bill opponents:
Critics said defining when a fetus as “alive” could require doctors to provide care and might
expose them to legal action if they don It, even if there was no way the fetus could survive outside the womb.
Obama’s story does not match the record. Perhaps he would like to take another shot at that question.