Douglas Kmiec Defends Barack Obama’s Vote Against Abortion-Infanticide Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Douglas Kmiec Defends Barack Obama’s Vote Against Abortion-Infanticide Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 17
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Catholic attorney Douglas Kmiec, who claims to be pro-life, is continuing his defense of presidential candidate Barack Obama’s pro-abortion position. In a new piece, Kmiec says he would have voted for a bill to protect newborns who survive botched abortions, but he can understand why Obama didn’t.

The debate comes on the heels of a new television ad running in battleground states that features a woman who survived a late-term abortion criticizing Obama for opposing the bill for medical care for infants who survive like her.

In the article, Kmiec says he would have voted for the Illinois bill to protect born-alive infants had he been in the legislature, but he does not fault Obama for voting against it.

Kmiec’s root defense of Obama is that the bill would have required doctors to take heroic measures to save pre-viable infants who had been delivered.

"Medical ethics does not require so called ‘heroic’ care at either end of life, and neither does Catholic teaching," Kmiec writes.

Since most of the babies protected under the law would be before viability in age, Kmiec agrees with Obama that the bill would be "very likely unconstitutional in most of its applications."

Ramesh Ponnuru, a writer with National Review Online, says, "None of this is true."

"First of all, it bears repeating that the Illinois bill was always very similar to the federal born-alive statute and, when Obama killed it in committee, nearly identical to it," he explains. "That law has never been held unconstitutional. I am not aware of any pro-abortion groups that have even tried to advance the claim."

He also says the bill does not work the way Kmiec describes.

"The House Judiciary Committee’s report on the federal bill took some pains to address this very point," he says. "Medical care could be refused to a pre-viable infant, as it could be to a viable infant or, indeed, to anyone at all, if in the judgment of a doctor that care would not achieve anything. It could simply not be withheld from the pre-viable infant on the ground that this being is not a person recognized by the law."

Kmiec argues, further, that it is somehow novel for the law to define live birth in a way that includes pre-viable infants.

"Not true," Ponnuru writes. "Many states define born-alive infants in the same way and provides the same protections to them."

"Kmiec, in the linked piece, repeatedly accuses Obama’s critics of dishonesty and bad faith," Ponnuru concludes. "I will not respond in kind. I will say only that Kmiec gets nearly everything wrong, and in a way that makes Obama (and himself) look better."

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