U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, faces further criticism concerning the former Illinois state senator’s explanations of his opposition to an Illinois bill that would have protected infants who survive an abortion. While he has claimed that his opposition derived from concern that the law would be used to undermine Roe v. Wade and Illinois state law concerning abortion, a 2002 transcript from the Illinois Senate shows that Obama also opposed the bill because he believed requiring a second doctor to evaluate and care for a potential survivor of a botched abortion would be too burdensome on the abortionist and on the woman who decided to have the abortion.
The Illinois version of the Born Alive Infants’ Protection Act (BAIPA) was supported by Jill Stanek, a nurse who discovered that infants who survived abortions in an Illinois hospital were being left to die in soiled utility rooms.
Erick Erickson, writing on RedState.com, reported his discovery of an April 4, 2002 exchange between Obama and state Senator Patrick O’Malley, a sponsor of BAIPA. The exchange reveals Obama’s contemporary motives for opposing the bill.
The transcript of the State of Illinois’ 92nd General Assembly regular session records Obama criticizing BAIPA:
“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.”
According to the transcript, Obama also claimed the bill was based on the suspicion that, in the event the doctor performing an abortion discovers he or she has wrongly assessed the viability of the unborn child, the physician abortionist “would not try to exercise the sort of medical measures and practices that would be involved in saving that child.”
Further, Obama voiced his suspicion that the bill is “really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion.”
Erickson, giving his own polemical summary of Obama’s criticism, writes on RedState.com “Let's trust the guy who just botched the abortion to determine whether or not he actually did botch the abortion.”
Obama opposed the bill all three times it was proposed in the Illinois Senate and was the only state senator to speak against the bill in 2002. It passed in 2005, after he left the legislature.
He had repeatedly claimed that his opposition to BAIPA was driven by legal concerns about whether the bill would be used to challenge abortion law, especially the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. According to an October 4, 2004 article in the Chicago Tribune, Obama said that, were he a U.S. Senator at the time, he would have voted for the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even though he voted against a state version of the proposal.
He claimed the difference between the state and federal versions “was that the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade.”
Records from the Illinois Senate showed that in 2003 Obama had voted in committee for an amendment adding such clarifying language to the state bill shortly before he voted to shelf the amended bill. When the records were revealed, the Obama campaign then claimed that the current presidential candidate opposed the BAIPA act because he felt it would be used to overturn state abortion laws.
In a recent candidates’ forum at Saddleback Church in California, Sen. Obama said determining when a baby gets human rights is “above my pay grade.”