Barack Obama Misled in Debate on Born Alive Infants Protection Act, Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 2, 2011   |   1:42PM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barack Obama Misled in Debate on Born Alive Infants Protection Act, Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 16
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Barack Obama claimed during Wednesday night’s debate that there were legitimate reasons for him voting against a bill in the Illinois legislature that required medical care for newborns who survive abortions. However, a leading pro-life advocate says the rationale is misleading and not factual.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee told, "On partial-birth abortion and on the rights of infants who survive abortions, Barack Obama’s answers in the third presidential debate were highly misleading."

Johnson says the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was a simple three-sentence bill to establish that every baby who achieved "complete expulsion or extraction" from the mother, and who showed defined signs of life, was to enjoy the legal protections of a "person."

As a state senator, Obama led the opposition to this bill in 2001, 2002, and 2003, with Obama voting against the final version at a committee meeting he chaired.

During the presidential debate, Obama said, "The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment."

Johnson calls that claim "misleading" and says the law already on the books, 720 ILCS 510.6, applies only when an abortion practitioner declares before the abortion that there was "a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb."

"But humans are often born alive a month or more before they reach the point where such ‘sustained survival’ – that is, long-term survival – is likely or possible (which is often called the point of ‘viability.’")

Johnson also noted that when Obama spoke out on the Illinois Senate floor against the 2001 version of the bill he did not note the presence of any previous law addressing the issue.

"Rather, he objected to defining what he called a ‘previable fetus’ as a legal ‘person’ — even though the bill clearly applied only to fully born infants," Johnson said.

Johnson explained that a 1993 consent decree issued by a federal court nullified key provisions of the prior law and that it was "so riddled with loopholes as to be virtually unenforceable even with respect to babies who had clearly achieved the capacity for long-term survival."

He added: "During Obama’s time in the state Senate there were other bills to close some of these loopholes in order to provide more effective protections for post-viable abortion survivors. Obama opposed those bills, too."

Also during the presidential debate, Obama said the Born Alive bill "would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade."

Johnson pointed out that, at the March 13, 2003 committee meeting over which Obama presided, a neutrality clause was inserted into the bill from the federal version which remedied any concerns the bill would violate Roe. Obama then led the committee Democrats in voting down the bill, anyway.

For years afterwards, Obama claimed the bill had lacked the neutrality clause and on August 16, 2008, Obama said National Right to Life was lying when it said otherwise.

"This dispute was reviewed by both and, both of which came down on NRLC’s side," Johnson concluded.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –

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