Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life State and Federal PAC

Does Barack Obama support infanticide?

Sen. Obama’s controversial history with the ‘Born Alive’ legislation

The Born Alive Infant Protection Act drew a firm line in the sand—no killing innocent humans after they have been born. It was a line Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama refused to accept.

  • Obama voted four times against legislation to protect and care for infants accidentally born alive during late-term abortions. The carefully worded bill had no effect on abortion rights.
  • A federal version of the bill passed Congress in 2002 without a single dissenting vote.
  • For four years, Obama has said that he would have voted for the federal version because it contained a pre-birth "neutrality clause" the Illinois legislation lacked. When this claim was questioned, he said his critics were "lying."
  • New documents show that Obama voted on a version identical to the federal bill, which included the so-called "neutrality clause. " He voted against it.

Babies left to die

In Illinois, witnesses discovered that living babies were being left to die following a certain abortion procedure. In this procedure, called induced labor abortion, the pregnant woman is given drugs to dilate the cervix and induce contractions, forcing the premature baby out of the uterus. Sometimes the baby is born dead (killed by the force of the contractions) but other times the infant is born alive—a "live-birth abortion."

Nurses Jill Stanek and Allison Baker testified that these born-alive infants were being dumped in "soiled utility rooms" to die— some babies would survive only for minutes, while others lived for hours. This was done routinely at Christ Hospital in Chicago where they worked.

A September 2000 report from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee noted that "physicians at Christ Hospital have used the procedure [induced labor abortion] to abort healthy infants and infants with non-fatal deformities…Many of these babies have lived for hours after birth, with no efforts made to determine if any of them could have survived with appropriate medical assistance."Stanek testified:

"One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down’s syndrome baby who was born alive to our soiled utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about one-half pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end, he was so quiet that I couldn’t tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall. After he was pronounced dead, we folded his little arms across his chest, wrapped him in a tiny shroud, and carried him to the hospital morgue where all of our dead patients are taken."

Stanek also spoke of an aborted baby "left to die on the counter of the soiled utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel," who "was accidentally thrown in the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor."

Baker told how she "happened to walk into a ‘soiled utility room’ and saw, lying on the metal counter, a fetus, naked, exposed and breathing, moving its arms and legs."

Asked to determine the legality of this practice, the Illinois Attorney General (Republican Jim Ryan) and the Illinois Department of Public Health concluded that no law was being violated. Under Illinois law, these premature babies were not protected.

Legislation introduced

Legislation was then introduced to require appropriate care for abortion survivors. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) defined as legal persons "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development." Further, "born alive" was defined as "the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after that expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion."

Clearly, the legislation had no bearing on life before birth or on a woman’s right to end her pregnancy. It applied only to living humans already born and completely outside of their mothers. Such humans must be treated equally, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. As National Right to Life (NRLC) Legislative Director Douglas Johnson explains, BAIPA "clarif[ied] that any baby who is entirely expelled from his or her mother, and who shows any signs of life, is to be regarded as a legal ‘person’ for all federal law purposes, whether or not the baby was born during an attempted abortion."

Enter Obama

Obama opposed BAIPA for three straight legislative sessions—2001, 2002 and 2003. He voted against it four times. In 2001, he was the only state senator to speak on the floor against the bill. He spoke against it again in 2002, and in 2003 led the committee he chaired (Health and Human Services) in killing it. BAIPA finally passed in 2005 after Obama left for the U.S. Senate.

Federal version passed unanimously

Meanwhile, a federal version of BAIPA passed the U.S. Congress without a dissenting vote in 2002 and was signed into law by the president. Pro-choice stalwart Sen. Barbara Boxer even spoke on the Senate floor in support of the bill: "Of course, we believe everyone born should have the protections of this bill…Who could be more vulnerable than a newborn baby? So, of course, we agree with that…We join with an ‘aye’ vote on this. I hope it will, in fact, be unanimous."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who described himself as "as pro-choice as anybody on Earth," explained his support for BAIPA: "If an abortion is performed, or a natural birth occurred, at any age, [even] three months, and the product of that was living outside the mother, and somebody came and shot him, I don’t think there’s any doubt that person would be prosecuted for murder. "

Neutrality clause added

The federal version had been amended with a so-called "neutrality clause." It stated: "Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being born alive, as defined in this Section."

This clause "simply made explicit what had originally been clear if implicit—that this bill dealt only with the rights of babies who had already been born alive," explains NRLC’s Douglas Johnson. Though it added nothing substantive to the bill (it was already clear that BAIPA said nothing about prenatal life), the extra clause served to negate any conceivable remaining objections from abortion-on-demand advocates. Boxer, for example, conceded that the amended BAIPA "certainly does not attack Roe [v. Wade] in any way." She added: "I, being a pro-choice senator on this side, representing my colleagues here, have no problem whatsoever with this amendment."

Prior to adding the clause, BAIPA passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly, 380-15; after it was added, there was no dissent. Even NARAL Pro-Choice America didn’t oppose the amended bill.

Obama’s defense

Since 2004, Obama has stated repeatedly that he would have voted for BAIPA if it had contained the federal version’s "neutrality clause" ensuring that it did not infringe on abortion rights or Roe v. Wade. This has been Obama’s primary response to his critics (see, for example, this June 30, 2008 " Fact Check" released by the Obama campaign).

In a 2004 debate, Obama said: "Now, the bill that was put forward was essentially a way of getting around Roe vs. Wade….At the federal level, there was a similar bill that passed because it had an amendment saying this does not encroach on Roe vs. Wade. I would have voted for that bill."

As recently as August 16, 2008, Obama stated: "I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill…That was not the bill that was presented at the state level."

Either confused or lying

But on August 11, 2008, NRLC unveiled official documents  from the Illinois General Assembly showing that in 2003, Obama voted in the committee he chaired to amend BAIPA with the "neutrality clause" (copied verbatim from the federal bill), making it virtually identical to the federal version. Obama then voted against this amended version.

Presumably before becoming aware of this discovery, Obama on August 16 said NRLC was "lying" by saying he voted on the amended BAIPA. The next day, Obama’s campaign admitted to the New York Sun that the bill he voted against was identical to the federal version.

As the independent group FactCheck.org reported, "We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus…"

What Obama said at the time

When BAIPA was proposed in the Illinois legislature, Obama expressed concern that granting a premature infant the status of personhood would undermine the right to abortion under Roe v. Wade. He claimed that born-alive legislation was "really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion."

Speaking against a related bill (S.B. 1663) in 2002—which would have more strictly defined the circumstances under which the presence of a second physician (to care for a born-alive infant) would be required—Obama said:

"As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child—however way you want to describe it—is now outside the mother’s womb and the doctor continues to think that it’s nonviable but there’s, let’s say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they’re not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved."

For Obama, "mak[ing] sure that this is not a live child that could be saved" was an unacceptable "burden."

Read the Washington Times account: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/11/debate-in-obamas-past/print/

What Obama says now

Apart from his frequent (and recently proven false) claim that the Illinois bill lacked the Roe-neutral language found in the federal version, Obama now says that BAIPA was unnecessary because born-alive infants were already protected under Illinois law.

According to an Obama campaign document, "Illinois law already stated that in the unlikely case that an abortion would cause a live birth, a doctor should ‘provide immediate medical care for any child born alive as a result of the abortion.’" In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama explains that "lifesaving measures for premature babies…were already the law."

But that is false. The old law left the decision to provide care dependent on the abortionist’s personal judgment of the baby’s "viability," a judgment made before the abortion is even performed. (Regardless of whether or not the baby is "viable"—some survivors are—BAIPA proponents wanted to provide the appropriate care to suffering babies.) Moreover, a federal court issued a consent decree in 1993 that prohibits state officials from enforcing the law’s definitions of "born alive," "live born" and "live birth."

Indeed, the problem of leaving abortion survivors to die was brought to the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois Department of Public Health. They concluded that no law was being violated. This was the rationale for BAIPA in the first place—to provide legal protection for newborns who didn’t have it.

For more—including refutations of other claims the Obama campaign is now making—see NRLC’s Aug. 28 White Paper  and their index of documents relating to BAIPA and Obama.

A right to abortion above all else

As Erick Erickson writes in Human Events, Obama "did not think that a child who was alive and outside the mother’s womb should be considered a child for the purposes of giving the child equal protection rights if it was the mother and doctor’s intention that the child be killed. That is not a stretch or inference of Barack Obama’s record. That is Barack Obama’s record. The facts make that uncomfortably clear."

Douglas Johnson, NRLC legislative director, says that Obama’s "pro-abortion commitment runs deep, and…his vision of 'abortion rights' is more extreme than that embraced by any member of Congress in 2002, extending even beyond the womb under certain circumstances."

Dennis Byrne in the Chicago Tribune writes, "By arguing against the born-alive legislation because it might in some distant and ambiguous way obstruct abortion, Obama implies that the right to an abortion trumps an infant's right to life, even after he is born. "

"Such logic is breathtaking," he continues. "It says that even after birth, a mother's right to rid herself of the baby supersedes any right that a child, now independent of the mother's body and domain, has to live. Where America stands on this issue truly is a measure of its sense of justice and compassion. On this score, Obama fails."

Investigative journalist David Freddoso explains:

"[Obama] does not necessarily want to make [born-alive infants] suffer or even die—one might even conclude…that he actually does think they are persons. But, he argues, we cannot legally recognize them as ‘persons.’ Because if we do, then somewhere down the road it might threaten someone’s right to an abortion.

"Most people, whatever their view on abortion, agree that the Constitution exists at least to guarantee the rights of born and living human beings. Barack Obama’s actions indicate he thinks that before any other rights are granted to ‘persons,’ the Constitution exists in order to guarantee abortion rights."

Freddosso thus concludes: "Beginning with abortion rights as his premise, [Obama] draws as his conclusion the unfortunate but necessary legality of infanticide."

Indeed, NRLC shows how Obama takes an alarmingly expansive view of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade: Roe doesn’t just "confer a right to terminate the lives of unborn humans inside the womb," as most think, but rather it "requires that a ‘previable fetus’ (Obama’s term) who is the subject of an abortion must remain classified as a non-person no matter where that ‘previable fetus’ is located." On Obama’s view, "the so-called ‘previable fetus’ who happens to be outside the mother is still in the process of being aborted, and that entire process (which Obama regards as constitutionally protected) will end only with the death of the newborn."

This view separates Obama from Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and almost every other committed advocate of abortion on demand. Because it "does not appeal to a wide audience, …since 2004 [Obama] has actively misrepresented his record on this issue, and attacked those who try to draw attention to it."


So does Barack Obama support infanticide? "True, it would be less inflammatory to say that Obama merely acquiesced to the continued practice of infanticide at Christ Hospital," observes a National Review editorial. "But the language of his critics does not change the facts of his record…

"Perhaps it is misleading to say that Obama supports infanticide. It is certainly accurate to say that it concerns him less than indirect, hypothetical threats to the abortion license."

Columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez is more blunt. She writes, "How else can you honestly describe the fact that Obama spoke out against an Illinois bill to protect children who survive abortions from being left to die? How else are we to describe a candidate who didn’t want to see a newborn have the same rights as a nine-month-old?"

As Lopez puts it, "What Obama supported with his tortured logic and misrepresentations is infanticide, something a step beyond abortion, down a slippery slope, deeper into a culture of death."

Perhaps a new term is more appropriate. Obamacide, writes attorney Matt Barber, has two definitions:

1: Killing the newborn survivor of a botched abortion through a deliberate act of omission;

2: That which a nation commits upon itself by electing one who would allow such a thing.

Further resources:

Read and distribute a two sided handout concerning Obama's abominable record on life.

Barack Obama: The most pro-abortion president ever!

Paid for by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Federal  PAC
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.