Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has as a top adviser the former Bush HHS Secretary who put in place a federal version of a state law President Barack Obama opposed in Illinois to protect unborn children who survived botched abortions.
Jill Stanek has noticed what may become one of the biggest ironies of the 2012 election season.
Politico reported yesterday that former Utah governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt “is the most important figure in Mitt Romney’s campaign you may have never heard of,” adding Leavitt “has been tapped to head Romney’s transition process” and is being buzzed about by insider Republicans as Romney’s potential chief-of-staff.
My eyes lit up when seeing Leavitt’s name. Leavitt gave me the best birthday present ever when on April 22, 2005, as President George W. Bush’s HHS secretary, he issued a memo ordering that the Born Alive Infants Protection Act be “aggressively enforce[d]“:
The Act reaffirms the legal principle that all infants born alive are entitled to the full protection of the law. That is a principle I will vigorously uphold as Secretary. As a matter of law and policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate all circumstances where individuals and entities are reported to be withholding medical care from an infant born alive in potential violation of federal statutes for which we are responsible. We will also take proactive steps to educate state officials, health care providers, hospitals and child protection agencies about their obligations to born-alive infants under federal law.
We took the first of these educational steps today by notifying relevant entities that we aggressively enforce federal laws that protect born-alive infants….
Ours is a society that values and defends life. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to seek ways to revere and protect the dignity of life.
What good news it is that Leavitt is already one of Romney’s top advisers.
Reading Leavitt’s memo also reminded me how dark and deadly the position of HHS secretary has become.
When Barack Obama opposed a bill to stop infanticide as a member of the Illinois legislature — he failed to support it on four separate occasions, he said he did so because it reportedly contained language that would have contravened the Roe v. Wade decision. However, legislative documents released in 2008 showed Obama has misrepresented his position
Obama, as a member of the Illinois Senate, opposed a state version of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a measure that would make sure babies who survive abortions are given proper medical care. It also protected babies who were “aborted” through a purposeful premature birth and left to die afterwards.
On the federal level, pro-abortion groups withdrew their opposition to the bill after a section was added making sure it did not affect the status of legal abortions in the United States. Ultimately, the bill was approved on a unanimous voice vote with even leading pro-abortion lawmakers like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry backing it.
When Obama was running for the U.S. Senate in 2004, his opponent criticized him for supporting infanticide by voting against the Illinois version of the bill. Obama countered this charge by claiming that he had opposed the state bill because it lacked the neutrality clause found in the federal version.
As the Chicago Tribune reported on October 4, 2004, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even though he voted against a state version of the proposal.”
During Obama’s 2008 run for President, he repeated those claims. However, the National Right to Life Committee obtained legislative documents from Illinois showing Obama’s claim that he would have voted for the bill had it been Roe-neutral is a false argument.
According to the documents from the Illinois legislature, Obama, as the chairman of the Illinois state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting concerning neutrality language that was an exact duplicate of the clause in the federal bill.
During the March 2003 committee meeting, Obama voted in support of adding the neutrality clause, but then led his colleagues on the panel in voting down the anti-infanticide bill on a 6-4 vote.
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“Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion,” NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson told LifeNews.com at that time.
Johnson said Obama did so “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’s legislative actions in 2003 — denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions — were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress,” Johnson continued.
“The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose,” he concluded.
FactCheck.org agreed with NRLC’s assertions about the language of the bill, and NRLC asked President Obama for an apology for calling the organization liars.