Friday, October 17, 2008

GOP Pushing Total Lies About Partial Birth: Obama **Supports** Late-Term Abortion Bans

This is a long post, so let me give you the gist of it up front: Barack Obama is not pro-abortion, he is not pro-partial-birth abortion, and he is not pro-infanticide. Barack Obama supports bans on post-viability abortions, unless those abortions are required to protect the woman’s life and health.

To see why this is the truth, keep reading.

I have mentioned that Republicans are claiming and will continue to claim, falsely, that Barack Obama supports infanticide, that is, the killing of babies born alive in botched abortions. It should come as no surprise, then, that if Republicans will lie to say Obama supports killing live babies, they’ll also lie to say he supports partial-birth abortion. You hear this even from mainstream Republicans and conservatives, let alone all the extreme wack-jobs.

Sen. Obama has “endorsed partial-birth abortion,” writes columnist Michael Gerson of The Washington Post. He’s “the most pro-abortion candidate ever,” writes the super-sleazy Terence Jeffrey of, a cry that has been echoed by the equally sleazy, the Christian Coalition, and the truth-stretching National Right to Life Committee.

Jesus wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama, claims kookie World Net Daily. (This, by the way, is a line of attack that Obama’s opponent for the Senate seat, Alan Keyes, used against him in 2004 to no avail. In fact, it was to less than no avail, as Obama garnered seven out of every 10 votes cast in the State.)

Republican robocalls going on right now under the radar in battleground states are regurgitating the babykiller charges and suggesting that Obama supports partial-birth abortion and is “pro-abortion.” McCain even – finally – signaled that he was willing to enter the fray by charging that Obama’s insistence on providing exceptions for women’s health emergencies was a ruse of the “pro-abortion movement.”

This is the last best hope of the McCain/Palin campaign, to force upon voters the false dilemma between solving their economic problems on one hand and stopping terrorist babykillers on the other hand. What the Republicans are saying is, “Sure, you don’t like President Bush and you’re terrified that you won’t be able to retire, send your kids to college, pay your mortgage, or keep your job. But what kind of a sick, unpatriotic excuse for an American are you if you vote for a black terrorist babykiller??? How can you sleep at night???”

This would be an unsettling moral dilemma if it weren’t based on false premises. Thankfully for those of us who love our jobs, our country, and our souls, the Republicans are lying again.

Sen. Obama’s position on late-term abortions couldn’t be clearer: “I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”

Guess what, Republicans? We Democrats love babies, too, and we’re tired of the dirty lie that we don’t.

How do we know he means it? Because since 1975, the State of Illinois has had in place a ban on ALL late-term abortions, regardless of the method, except in cases where the mother’s life or health demands it. And not once in his seven years in the Illinois Senate did Barack Obama try to change that law, to roll back the consensus of moderate people that late-term abortions should be curbed.

Per 720 ILCS 510/5, which is part of the Illinois Criminal Code:

“(1) When the fetus is viable no abortion shall be performed unless in the medical judgment of the attending or referring physician, based on the particular facts of the case before him, it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. Intentional, knowing, or reckless failure to conform to the requirements of subsection (1) of Section 5 is a Class 2 felony.

“(2) When the fetus is viable the physician shall certify in writing, on a form prescribed by the Department under Section 10 of this Law, the medical indications which, in his medical judgment based on the particular facts of the case before him, warrant performance of the abortion to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

Just so you know, a Class 2 felony is very serious, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

Republicans make a big deal about a ban on one kind of procedure – “partial-birth abortion.” Obama’s position is even broader than the Republicans’, and says, “I don’t care how the abortion is done, partial-birth or otherwise, because if the fetus is viable, we’re not going to do it.”

So why is this such a big deal? Why do Republicans persistently paint not just Barack Obama, but all Democrats as extremist? Because Republicans always refuse to include exceptions to the bans for a mother’s health. According to them, “pro-abortion” doctors will lie and claim that late-term abortions are necessary for the mother’s health, and they’ll just be ripping babies out of wombs willy-nilly at eight-and-three-fourths months.

That’s ridiculous, for three reasons. One, as you can see in the Illinois law above, those medical judgments have to be written down, verified, and turned into the State Health Department for review. The whole system would have to be corrupt and derelict in its duties in order for doctors to be able to skirt this law.

Two, as Sen. Obama and the Democrats have said repeatedly, the “health exception” is not meant to entail mental distress or some kind of airy-fairy imagined complaint. It’s meant to be a strict but necessary exception. How do we know that it’ll come out that way? Because courts and regulatory agencies are bound by law to consider Congress’ intent in construing statutes.

But third and most importantly, if the Republicans seriously think that doctors would lie about an abortion being necessary to preserve a mother’s health, what makes them think the same doctors wouldn’t lie about an abortion being necessary to protect a mother’s life? Why are the Republicans presuming that doctors are going to defy the law? Aren’t these the same doctors – OB/GYNs – whom Republicans love to describe as good, hardworking, innocent professionals who are the victims of too many frivolous lawsuits? Where did their faith go?

So which is it? Good, honest doctors, or nefarious babykillers looking for technicalities and loopholes to keep aborting full-term fetuses? Republicans can’t have it both ways.
I believe that the real reason Republicans for years have refused to include exceptions for health emergencies in partial-birth abortion bans is that they know Democrats won’t support the measures without such exceptions.

So, Republicans push a bill the Democrats can’t support, Dems oppose it, and Republicans get to paint the Democrats as extremist, when the reality is exactly the opposite: Republicans would rather kill good, moderate legislation to reduce or eliminate late-term abortions than to give up the political advantage of the “health of the mother” straw man. After all, if they compromised and actually passed good laws on which everyone could agree, what would they have to robocall and debate about two weeks before Election Day?

I remember as a boy during the Clinton Administration, sitting in my living room with my family and some of our fellow church members one stormy afternoon. We were listening to James Dobson’s program on Christian radio as there was a live report from Congress.

The Republican-led Congress was trying to get together enough votes to override President Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban Congress had passed with no mother’s-health exception. The override failed, and it was a dark time for our family. I remember all the tearful prayers in the room, all of the bitterness and feeling of failure.

I still look back on that time as a tragedy, but for a different reason. If Republicans who purported to be pro-life had merely admitted, to themselves and to the American people, that doctors were not going to sneak around and kill babies on the sly, then those Republicans could have included a reasonable exception for the mother’s health in the ban. Most Democrats would have supported it, President Clinton would have signed it, and it would have passed constitutional muster. They could've saved hundreds of thousands of babies over the past 15 years. Instead, they decided they’d rather win elections.

They’re still at it today.


syates21 said...

The real dirty little secret here is that "health of the mother" has no objective meaning since it was defined by the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton to include "all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age--relevant to the wellbeing of the patient".

It's just another case of Obama being disingenuous in saying that health of the mother concerns don't just mean any little thing someone wants to bring up when he knows full well SCOTUS has defined to mean pretty much exactly that.

The consequence of this definition is that the "judgement call" of whether an unborn (or in Obama's case even accidentally born) child at any stage of development is up to the very same doctor willing to kill it.

Imminent threat to the life of the mother is a whole different story, and I doubt you would find very many people willing to say abortion is wrong in those cases. Even if you do, as you seem fond of pointing out, we already have laws covering such cases (justifiable homicide, self defense, etc etc).

Matthew said...

This is from a man who said "I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." This makes me believe that he really DOES support abortion. It's his actions that speak the loudest.

RainGirlLori said...

Obama is president! With this particular election over, what are your plans for the blog?