Influential conservative writers Robert George and Yuval Levin make the case that Barack Obama is obfuscating on why he opposed the Born Alive Act as an Illinois state legislator:
In Washington, D.C., consensus can be a rare commodity, and never more so than on the issue of abortion. But the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002 was just such a rarity. The bill passed both houses of Congress without a single dissenting vote-it was 98-0 in the Senate-and numerous states then proceeded to enact similar measures. In Illinois, however, a series of efforts to pass ”Born-Alive” legislation from 2001 to 2003 met with stiff resistance from legislators concerned the measure would constrain the right to abortion in the state. Prominent among these opponents, and the only one to actually speak in opposition to the bill when it was debated in 2002, was state Senator Barack Obama.
Obama’s case against the bill did not revolve around existing state law, as he seemed to suggest last night. The law Obama referred to in the debate was the Illinois abortion statute enacted in 1975. But at the time of the debate about the Born Alive Act, the Illinois Attorney General had publicly stated that he could not prosecute incidents such as those reported by nurses at Christ Hospital in Chicago and elsewhere (including a baby left to die in soiled linen closet) because the 1975 law was inadequate. It only protected ”viable” infants-and left the determination of viability up to the ”medical judgment” of the abortionist who had just failed to kill the baby in the womb. This provision of the law weakened the hand of prosecutors to the vanishing point.
Here’s Obama’s explanation from Wednesday’s debate of why he opposed the Born-Alive Bill:
If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that’s because it’s not true. The — here are the facts.
There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.
And the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois, voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to provide care, and there was already a law in the books.
It’s not the first defense Obama has offered for opposing the Born Alive Act. But as far as God-o-Meter can tell, Obama has never specifically responded to the central charge of his pro-life opponents: that the pre-existing Illinois law Obama cited as already protecting babies who survive botched abortions is contingent on the abortion provider declaring those babies “viable”–which many abortion providers would presumably be reluctant to do.
If anyone has seen Obama get specific about “viability,” let GOM know in comments.