Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told Jon Stewart on the September 3 episode of The Daily Show that Obama voted for "infanticide"a in the Illinois State Senate. Can you help me count what Al Franken would call the "lies and the lying liars who tell them?"
Calling Democrats babykillers is nothing new, but what IS new is that now, the GOP wants Americans to believe Sen. Obama would kill babies AFTER they’re born. He’d even like to kill Sarah Palin’s baby Trig, if Rush Limbaugh can be believed.
Republicans have broken out their same old fear-and-lies playbook. In his Republican Convention speech, Fred Thompson -- that biggest overhyped American disappointment since New Coke -- sounded trotted out the ridiculous and sickening line that Sen. Obama was, in fact, a person who’d be glad to let the unborn, or the newly born, die.
What Thompson referred to is a widely circulated lie that while Sen. Obama was in the Illinois Senate, he voted to let infants born alive in failed abortions die.
Pause for a minute, take a deep breath, and ask yourself this question: would a man who supported the killing of babies born *alive* be one step away from being the president of the United States? Of course he wouldn’t! He wouldn’t be so much as a dog catcher.
The reason Obama opposed the bills with the loaded name “Born Alive Protection Act” in the Illinois Senate is a matter of public record for all who care to look it up. It so happens that I so cared. Reading the transcript of the Illinois Senate on the 20th Legislative Day of the 92nd Illinois General Assembly, March 30, 2001, pages 84-90 -- along with other research -- here is what you would find:
I. Babies are already protected in Illinois.First of all, Illinois criminal law has protected babies born in botched abortions since 1975 – two short years after Roe v. Wade. In Illinois, letting a viable baby die after being born alive in an abortion screw-up is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison, according to 720 ILCS 510/6(2)(b).
Furthermore, even if we didn’t have that law, we already have another, more general law in Illinois that protects infants who are born alive: the murder statute! 720 ILCS 5/9-1.
II. These bills would have said, in effect, that life and full citizenship rights begin at the very instant of conception.
The "born-alive" bills had nothing to do protecting infants who are born alive, a goal that (A) is already accomplished by other law and (B) surely isn’t objectionable to any reasonable person. So if you're like me, once you realize the bills aren't about what they claim to be about, you ask yourself, "Hmmm, what were the bills really about?"
The bills would have amended the Illinois code to say, in effect, that all babies are entitled to full citizenship and personhood rights under the 14th Amendment from the moment of conception. The three companion bills packaged together: one, two, and three.
As you read, keep in mind that only underlined portions or strikethrough portions reflect suggested changes to the law; the language not underlined and not struck through is the law as it already reads, protecting babies born alive. Therefore, the underlined or strikethrough words were the only words being voted on; everything else was already the law. Republicans are trying to make it seem like Obama voted against every word in those bills, which is flatly not the case.
On the surface, these laws don't sound too sinister, and all the GOP surrogates have been making fun of Obama for saying at Saddleback Forum last month that deciding when life began was “above my pay grade.” Unlike Obama, they claim to know exactly how God feels about this issue, and not surprisingly, they claim God agrees with them: life begins at conception.
But Sen. Obama realized that that position, and the bills that would enforce it, would have drastic and far-reaching implications, and so he voted against the bills, even realizing the vote would be tough to explain to constituents, knowing that babies from failed abortions had ALWAYS been protected in Illinois and this bill was just a dangerous political ploy.
Let’s consider the consequences of the bills, which would have given citizenship rights to “infants” at every stage of development, from the moment the sperm meets the egg.
It means that not only would abortion be the same as murder, but so would in vitro fertilization, which creates tons of extra fertilized eggs and then wastes them. Let me say that again: if the Illinois legislature had passed a set of laws saying that life begins at conception, then mothers and fathers who have trouble getting pregnant would be MURDERERS for seeking in vitro fertilization – and multiple murderers at that. In fact, they’d be looking at life sentences for the murder of their embryos. Maybe even the death penalty.
And for that matter, laws saying that even the earliest embryos are fully vested with citizenship rights would mean that mothers who have miscarriages because they drink too much caffeine or exercise too vigorously would have to be prosecuted for reckless homicide, which in Illinois is a Class 3 felony punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. That's what we'd be looking at: putting people in prison for early-stage abortions, for the morning-after pill, for in vitro fertilization, and for miscarriages that their actions caused. Under a law like that, pregnant women would basically have to stay on a nine-month bed rest just to be sure they weren’t prosecuted. Is that the kind of law that passes for sensible judgment to Republicans?
But why stop there? If a sperm plus an egg equals a citizen, then all the embryos that are cryogenically frozen are either prisoners or slaves, and the full force of the criminal law would have to be used against the doctors and fertility clinics that harbored these embryos, either for unlawful restraint or slavery.
And why stop there? Why not ban birth control, too? After all, the decision that said birth control couldn't be banned, Griswold v. Connecticut, is only eight years older than Roe v. Wade, which still isn't settled in some folks’ minds. If we really want to make sure that every embryo is brought to term, banning birth control is the logical next step.
I'm not trying to stretch the facts or make light of this. I'm deadly serious, and if you think this all sounds absolutely crazy, you are right. That’s exactly what Sen. Obama thought when he voted against these bills in the Illinois Senate.
And he wasn’t alone. In fact, seven Illinois senators voted “no,” and 15 senators voted “present,” including Roman Catholic Republican State Senator (and former candidate for State Treasurer) Christine Radogno, who certainly would never have voted for some bill killing babies.
Illinois State Senator (and 2006 GOP candidate for State Treasurer) Christine Radogno. If Sen. Obama is a radical, vicious babykiller, then so is this 56-year-old Roman Catholic graduate of a Jesuit university and married mother of three.
So the idea that somehow Sen. Obama is some wide-eyed liberal babykiller is just sickeningly crazy. Obama said at the time that if that radical language were removed, “we might have compromised and arrived at a bill that dealt with the narrow concerns about how a pre-viable fetus or child was treated by a hospital.” And Obama supported the federal version of the bill which passed with overwhelming support, without any of the crazy language with which the Illinois bills were freighted.
I don’t think the Illinois Republicans really wanted to pass the bills. They would've been disastrous, for their party and for the law. But I don't know what’s more upsetting: the idea that Republicans would dress radical bills in wholesome-sounding names to trick their constituents into an uproar, or the idea that some people – including Sarah Palin and, apparently, John McCain – actually believe that citizenship begins at conception, and that their view should be enforced with the full sanction of criminal and constitutional law.
I guess the Republican Party hasn’t taken to heart God's counsel in the Book of Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” Meanwhile, Sen. Obama has the humility to recognize that only God knows when life begins.
But Obama also has solid plans in place to help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and to help support women who find themselves with those pregnancies. How does the McCain/Palin campaign plan to reduce those pregnancies and provide for the ones that result in babies?
I know that most people reading this now will think, "Who would ever believe such vicious lies?" But mark my words: these attacks will only increase, and you need only Google Barack Obama Born Alive to see I'm right. Take these facts to heart and pass them on so that this campaign can be about truth, not lies.