When discussing the difficult and polarizing issue of abortion, Democrats are fond of labeling their opponents "extremists," as if the term itself somehow settles the argument. President Obama's campaign has spent millions on ads flatly stating that Mitt Romney opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. This is patently false. The Left has attempted to exploit the Todd Akin saga to toxify other Republicans, even those who have called for Akin to step down. They've claimed that Paul Ryan is an "extremist" on the issue as well, hyping a story about his vote to "redefine rape." (The vote in question involved a bipartisan bill that tightened up the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion in almost all circumstances). Some members of the media are happily playing along with this game; one reporter actually tried to goad Paul Ryan into defining "forcible rape" on camera.
Most Americans consider themselves "pro-life," yet a large majority supports at least some limited forms of legalized abortion. It's a complicated issue that involves balancing the competing rights of a woman's bodily integrity with an unborn child's right to live. A hardcore group on one end of the spectrum believes the practice should be legal -- and subsidized -- in all circumstances, for any reason, while their counterparts at the other end say abortion should be illegal in all cases. Most Americans agree that abortion is undesirable and should be rare, and fall somewhere in between the two aforementioned camps when it comes to the law. The 2012 election will be about the economy, jobs and debt -- but since opportunistic Democrats seem intent on parlaying the Akin debacle into a broader discussion about abortion and extremism, what are President Obama's views on this subject? A super-majority of Americans support laws banning late term abortions. Does Obama agree with the mainstream view? Here he is answering that question in 2003:
Asked specifically if he supports "late term" -- second and third trimester -- abortions, Obama affirms that he is "pro-choice." In other words, yes, if a woman decides to end the life of her child in the ninth month of pregnancy, that should be her "choice." He has also voted against bans on a horrifyingly grisly procedure known as "partial birth abortion." These positions put Obama significantly out of step with prevailing opinion. When he was running for president in 2008, Obama told a Planned Parenthood audience that one of his first acts in office would be to sign the extreme "Freedom of Choice Act," which would invalidate the federal partial birth abortion ban, eliminate parental notification laws, and likely lead to public financing of abortion. This Obama-backed piece of legislation seeks to wipe out most, if not all, of the common-sense restrictions on abortion favored by most Americans. Obama's most stunning abortion-related stance, however, was his repeated opposition to the Illinois "Born Alive Infant Protection Act." Here are the details:
[The] assertion rests on then–State Senator Obama’s opposition, in 2001, 2002, and 2003, to successive versions of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, an Illinois bill that was meant to provide protection for babies born alive after attempted abortions. The bill gave them protection as legal persons and required physicians to provide them with care, rather than allowing doctors to deal with them as they would, literally, with medical waste. In 2008, Obama’s campaign repeatedly claimed that he opposed the bill because it was unnecessary, since Illinois law already provided protection for infants born alive. However, as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out on NRO at the time, this extended only to babies whom physicians deemed to have “sustainable survivability.” Thus infants who were not expected to survive could be killed or left unattended to die. Obama, Ponnuru wrote, “did not want the gap filled.” (The National Right to Life Committee has a report on Obama, Illinois’s legal loophole, and its horrific consequences here.)
Whistleblower nurses at Illinois hospitals had witnessed babies surviving botched abortions, then being left alone in linen closets to die. On three separate occasions, Barack Obama opposed legislative attempts to end this horrific practice of post-birth abortion. As I wrote in 2008, Obama's stated rationale for holding that fanatical position turned out to be a fabrication:
Obama...fired back, assuring voters that he of course opposed infanticide, and would surely have voted for the federal law had he been serving in the US Senate at the time it was passed. What made the federal bill so much better, he explained, was its inclusion of an additional clause that expressly (and redundantly) stated the law would have zero effect whatsoever on abortion policy or the legal status of the unborn. This language convinced the Senate's most reliable pro-abortion members to support the measure unanimously. Even NARAL gave it the green light, and Obama claimed he would have, too ... The National Right to Life Committee last week uncovered documents proving that Obama's..."clarification" is an outright falsehood. According to NRLC spokesman Douglas Johnson, the records "prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion — even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion."
Obama has voted in favor legalized late term abortion, has described babies as "punishment," and opposed an ant-infanticide law three times, then deliberately invented a bogus reason for doing so. By any objective measure of public opinion and public policy, Barack Obama is an abortion zealot of the most extreme order.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography