Obama Obfuscation Tests Supporters

In March of 2003, Barack Obama was state senator in Illinois dealing with the Illinois Born Alive Infact Protection Act (BAIPA). The key goal of the act was to make it an affirmative obligation to render conventional medical treatment to all children born, even if the birth was a consequence of an induced abortion. The act brushed against the ragged, politically dangerous edges of the pro-choice and pro-life movements.

One aim of pro-life advocates was to ensure that children born alive and completely separate from their mothers are not treated as medical waste, but accorded appropriate medical attention. Pro-lifers may want to prevent abortions, but there is a much broader constituency who would want to protect children already born. Testimony before Congress has reported cases where live children, the product of unsuccessful abortions, were unceremoniously disposed of rather than treated. The concern was clearly not just a theoretical one.

Pro-choice advocates were concerned that about the legal assertion of rights for babies that were theoretically pre-viable; though one might  expect viability to change as a function of medical technology. Specifically, the  Illinois BAIPA declared, “A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.” The pro-choice community is perhaps rightly concerned that someone sometime in the future might ask the embarrassing question: How is a being a fully recognized human only moments after being excess tissue?

The legislative dilemma is how to reconcile the humanity of treating with medical respect babies born alive versus the concerns of the pro-choice community to avoid the legislative precedent of declaring babies born alive as persons. Obama and his Democratic colleagues implemented a compromise by adding a clause to the  law that would effectively prevent the law’s use a precedent against abortion. Specifically they added:

“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.”

Curiously, the record shows that Obama voted only for the amendment, but still voted against the bill. The problem is that Obama’s district was still sufficiently to the Left, that deviation from pro-choice purity, even at the cost of the maltreatment of born-live infants, would have had political costs. Either Obama believed that such infants do not deserve such protection or that the political costs of approving the bill were too high. The whole episode was hardly  a “profile in courage.”

If this story became widely acknowledged, it would make Obama appear far out of the national mainstream on the issue of abortion. When asked about the vote in 2004, Obama claimed, according to the Chicago Tribune, that  he voted against the state legislation but would have supported a similar federal bill because “the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.” However, contrary to Obama’s assertion, the two bills are nearly identical. Obama knew they were nearly identical because he was chairman of the committee that amended the bill so that it would resemble its federal counterpart.

Rather that conceding the issue, Obama accused his pro-life critics of “lying” about his record. Finally, Obama’s campaign’s has conceded that the federal and state bills were near identical. The only way to reconcile his vote in Illinois against the BAIPA and his later claim that would have voted for the nearly identical federal act, is that in both cases he was acting in immediate political self-interest.

There is certainly room to argue about Obama’s first vote in Illinois, though it does depict him as part of the extreme pro-choice wing of the spectrum. However, there is no excuse to misrepresent his vote and worst to call others liars for disputing what turns out to be the facts of this case.

It is not surprising that this story has not been discussed much in the pro-Obama press, but the story is slowly emerging. One character test for Obama supporters is how do they deal with this report. The reactions can involve either be honesty, dishonesty, or deliberate self-deception

One honest reaction is to concede Obama’s serious mistake and consequent dishonesty, but still maintain their support given his overall record and ideology. However, this would tend to undermine the serious messiah complex of some Obama supporters.

The dishonest way is to continue to obfuscate the issue and to attack the veracity of opponents. This will undoubtedly be the reaction of political partisans.

Perhaps the most common way for Obama supporters to deal with the issue is denial. Rather than examine carefully the details of this serious vote and related dishonesty, they will just to avert their gaze. They will not take the time an effort to determine out the truth. It easier to believe that political enemies are after your candidate than to face an unpleasant truth.

A pro-life advocate, Jill Stanek, performed the difficult task of digging up many of the original documents some of which are linked to in this post.

One Response to “Obama Obfuscation Tests Supporters”

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