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Newly discovered documents from the Illinois state archives prove Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has lied about his opposition as an Illinois state senator to legislation requiring health officials to provide care to babies who survived abortion.
Obama has repeatedly claimed he would have voted for Illinois’ version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) had it included language to protect abortion rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, as the federal version of the bill did, which sailed through the U.S. Senate 98-0. Contrary to what Obama has said, forgotten records from the Illinois Senate archives show Obama did vote against a BAIPA bill that included such a neutrality clause virtually identical to the federal bill.
“We have a smoking gun committee report,” said National Right to Life Committee Legislative Counsel Susan Muskett.
Muskett’s “smoking gun” is a 2003 Health and Human Services Committee report recorded by Republican committee staff. It documents a unanimous 10-0 vote by the 2003 Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired at the time, to amend BAIPA to include the exact same language that was added to the federal version to protect Roe v. Wade. The committee report also shows a subsequent “final action” vote to determine if the bill should advance out of committee or be killed. The bill was defeated 6-4. Chairman Obama voted in the majority.
This means that, in essence, Obama voted to successfully amend the bill in a way that Obama has said would have enabled him to support it—before he voted against it. It also puts Obama further to the left of NARAL Pro-Choice America. According to a statement released by the abortion-rights lobby in the run-up to the U.S. Senate’s BAIPA vote in 2002, “NARAL does not oppose passage of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act … floor debate served to clarify the bill’s intent and assure us that it is not targeted at Roe v. Wade or a woman’s right to choose.”
For those who may doubt partisan records, the Republican committee report is backed by an Associated Press article that documented the 6-4 vote on the amended version of the bill.
“The Senate Health and Human Services Committee rejected a bill that declares any fetus with a beating heart or muscle movement outside the womb as ‘born alive,’” reporter Kristy Hessman’s AP story said. Her article was filed from Springfield, Ill., and dated the same day as the Republican committee report, removing any doubt she may have been reporting on any other measure. “The measure is in response to a rare abortion procedure in which labor is induced and the fetus sometimes survives, possibly for hours,” Hessman wrote. “The sponsor, Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Champaign, said the bill is modeled after a recent federal policy that defines a ‘born-alive’ infant. But critics said defining when a fetus is ‘alive’ could require doctors to provide care and might expose them to legal action if they don’t, even if there was no way the fetus could survive outside the womb. Winkel’s bill got four ‘yes’ votes and six ‘no’ votes.”
Conservative journalist David Freddoso said these documents are “absolute proof ” Obama has distorted his position on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.
“Obama said he would have voted for that bill if it had been like the federal bill when, in fact, he voted against it when it was like the federal bill,” Freddoso said. “So he’s been lying about it the whole time.”
Freddoso painstakingly details Obama’s votes and committee work against the bill and recounts the harrowing story of a former Illinois nurse named Jill Stanek, who rocked a Down syndrome baby who survived abortion until he died in her arms, in his best seller “The Case Against Barack Obama.”
Stanek later became pro-life because of this experience and used it to testify before Obama in the Illinois Senate. Stanek told me her testimony “didn’t faze him.” At the end of her testimony, according to official Illinois Senate records, Obama thanked Stanek for being “very clear and forthright” but said his concern was that Stanek had suggested “doctors really don’t care about children who are being born with a reasonable prospect of life because they are so locked into their pro-abortion views that they would watch an infant that is viable die.” He told her, “That may be your assessment, and I don’t see any evidence of that. What we are doing here is to create one more burden on a woman, and I can’t support that.”
Researchers and journalists have had difficulty reporting this committee vote on this bill largely because of the Illinois Senate’s method of marking the bill as “held” in the Health and Human Services Committee. This led most people examining Obama’s voting record to believe the “held” marking meant the bill simply languished in committee and was never called for a vote. As previously mentioned, archived committee staff reports of the bill and an AP story show it was killed by a 6-4 party-line vote. The Senate’s online archives do not show those details.
Furthermore, when Obama’s BAIPA voting record is discussed, commentators often refer to full floor votes on the bill, not his vote on the amended bill as committee chairman. Conveniently enough, the floor votes are the only votes Obama has openly discussed.
History shows Obama voted on different versions of BAIPA at three different times—including the time as committee chairman—as an Illinois state senator. The first two times Obama voted on the bill, it did not contain the neutrality clause.
On the very first vote, he voted “present” in accordance to a strategy Planned Parenthood takes credit for orchestrating. “We worked on the ‘present’ vote strategy with Obama” Pam Sutherland, chief lobbyist of the Illinois branch of Planned Parenthood told Washington Post “fact checker” Michael Dobbs earlier this year. Sutherland said Obama would have preferred to vote “no,” but she pressured him to vote “present” because other liberal senators “were worried about direct-mail pieces against them. The more senators voted present, the harder it was to mount an issues campaign against the senator.”
The second time BAIPA came up for a floor vote, he voted “no” because, according to Obama, “it would essentially bar abortions.”
In a speech delivered on the Illinois state Senate floor before that second vote, Obama said: “Whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a child, a 9-month-old child, that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it, it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”
Obama mentioned his votes against BAIPA in his best-selling book “Audacity of Hope.” The way Obama describes it, the reader is led to believe Obama never voted on a “neutral” version of the bill. On page 132 of the book, Obama wrote he expected the GOP to attack him during his 2004 race for the U.S. Senate because of his opposition to “a bill sponsored by anti-abortion activists” that “extended ‘personhood’ to pre-viable fetuses, thereby effectively overturning Roe v. Wade.”
He lamented the fact “I was said to have ‘voted to deny life-saving treatment to babies born alive.’”
Not only has Obama distorted his record, but his campaign has also viciously tried to discredit critics who accurately described Obama’s votes in the Illinois State Senate on abortion.
Last June, CNN aired a segment about Obama’s abortion votes in Illinois. Conservative radio host and CNN contributor Bill Bennett said: “The 2003 bill had exactly the same language as the federal bill, and Barack Obama voted against it. This [bill] was not about Roe v. Wade, this was not about abortion, it was about protecting these babies when they are alive, after seven months, five months, six months, whether it be an abortion or through birth or through any other means. Barack Obama, what he’s saying is just false. Check the record. The more you dig into it, the worse it looks. He should just say whatever he wants, something else—‘I was naïve;’ ‘I didn’t realize how close it was to the federal act.’ He cannot say it was different from the federal act: It was the same.”
Obama went a step further against the NRLC. When confronted by the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody over his record on “born alive,” Obama called members of the NRLC “liars.”
“There was some literature put out by the National Right to Life Committee,” Brody told Obama in an August interview. “And they’re basically saying they felt like you misrepresented your position on that bill.”
Obama said the NRLC “have not been telling the truth” and launched into some of the harshest language he’s ever used against his opponents. “And I hate to say that people are lying,” he lectured, “but here’s a situation where folks are lying.” Once again, Obama pretended his committee vote against a “neutral” “born alive” bill never occurred and referred only to his previous floor votes against the unamended version of the bill.
“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,” Obama said. “That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe v. 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.”
“It defies common sense 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,” Obama charged. “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.”
After Brody’s interview aired, a mid-level Obama spokeswoman, Hari Sevugan, grudgingly admitted to the New York Sun that Obama had indeed voted against the bill in committee. She said Obama voted against it because he wasn’t convinced the bill would not be used to undermine abortion rights in the state of Illinois.
NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson brushed off Sevugan’s explanation. He said it “is not consistent with Obama’s oft-stated excuse for opposing the state legislation, and fails to explain his four years of misrepresentation,” he said. “Nor does the Sun story indicate that the Obama campaign has issued any apology to NRLC, Bill Bennett or the others who Senator Obama and his campaign have been calling liars for saying what they now admit was the truth.”
The NRLC and other members of the pro-life movement believe Obama’s 2003 vote will surely hurt him among social conservatives and evangelicals who are considering voting for Obama in November. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said he hopes Obama will be asked about his committee vote during the presidential debates.
“This is infanticide,” Perkins said. “There’s no question in my mind.”