(CNSNews.com) - Three times over the last several days, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has focused her attention on what she described as Sen. Barack Obama’s “appalling” and “absolutely atrocious” refusal to support legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would have required medical care for a baby who survived an abortion and would have defined such a baby—alive and fully outside its mother’s womb—as a person.
Palin’s focus on the issue began with her appearance Thursday on Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated talk radio show. It then continued later Thursday at a joint rally with Republican presidential candidate John McCain in Wisconsin, and culminated in Johnstown, Pa., on Saturday, with a sustained and personalized defense of the right to life.
On Thursday morning, Ingraham presented Palin with a quote from a speech Obama gave on the Illinois Senate floor on March 30, 2001.
As reported by CNSNews.com last Wednesday, Obama was the only member of the Illinois Senate who rose that day in 2001 to speak against a package of three bills designed to protect babies who survived late-term abortions.
“Back in March of 2001, when he was an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama was one of--actually the only--senator to speak against legislation to protect infants who were born alive after an abortion,” Ingraham said to Palin. “He called them ‘pre-viable fetuses’ because if you call them people, he said directly, ‘I mean, it would essentially bar abortions because the equal protection clause doesn’t allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.’ Governor, what is your reaction to that?”
“It is absolutely atrocious,” said Palin. “And, you know, as we go around in our rallies and when I talk about John McCain and me and our desire for, and our commitment to, a culture of life and we are interrupted with huge applause, I think, you know, I wish I had more time to explain to people what Barack Obama’s position has been on this. Because I think, Laura, it has been missing out there in the discussion, in the debate, about the choices that they have in candidates on November 4th.
Noting first that Obama has said abortion is “a fundamental right” and that he “opposes banning partial-birth abortion,” Palin said that “more telling … has been his vote against legislation--three times voting against legislation--that would provide medical care to a baby born having been a survivor of a abortion. It is very appalling. And I think that if more Americans could understand how absolutely extreme that position is, there would be a heck of a lot more outrage than we already see.”
A moment later on the Laura Ingraham show, Palin returned to the issue.
“Again, let me go back to this Born Alive legislation that Barack Obama could not support,” said Palin. “It is appalling enough, I think, even for those who are pro-abortion to understand that Barack Obama opposes banning partial-birth abortion--because that is quite extreme. But for him to have had an opportunity to vote to allow a child born as a result of a botched abortion to receive the medical care that he or she deserves--born with that inalienable right to life--and yet, he has sided on the wrong side three times, voting against legislation that would provide that medical care to the baby -- is the extreme position on abortion. Americans need to know that.”
In 2001, then-Illinois state Sen. Patrick O’Malley proposed three bills in the Illinois Senate to protect babies who survived abortions.
O’Malley’s legislation was inspired by nurse Jill Stanek, who went public about the “induced-labor abortions” that were taking place at the Chicago-area hospital where she worked. These abortions, often done on babies with Down syndrome, involved a mother who was medicated to induce premature labor. At Stanek’s hospital, when a baby was born alive as a result of this induced premature labor, Stanek testified before the U.S. Congress, the baby was often placed in a laundry room to die without care.
When O’Malley was told by the state attorney general’s office that no existing state laws protected these babies as citizens of the State of Illinois and the United States, he drafted a set of bills. One mandated that any time a doctor performing an abortion believed there was a reasonable likelihood that a baby might be born alive as a result of the abortion, a second physician had to be present to assess the viability of the baby and provide medical care for him or her.
A second bill gave the parents of the baby or a state-appointed guardian the right to sue to protect the baby’s interests.
The third bill defined any baby who had fully emerged alive from his mother’s womb as a “person,” “child,” “human being,” and “individual.”
Obama voted present--which in the Illinois senate has the same effect as a “no” vote--on all three bills in 2001. In 2002, he opposed them again. In 2003, the bill defining a baby born alive as a “person” came up in the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama then chaired. The year before, an identical bill had been enacted into federal law along with an amendment that pro-abortion members of the U.S. Senate, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), said protected Roe v. Wade from being abridged in any way because of the bill.
In his Illinois committee, Obama first voted to add the language of this Roe-v-Wade-protecting amendment to the Illinois bill. Then he voted against the amended bill, which was defeated 6-4.
After appearing on Laura Ingraham’s show last Thursday, Palin appeared with Republican presidential candidate John McCain in Waukesha, Wisconsin. An audience member at this town hall gathering brought up the fact that NBC’s Tom Brokaw had asked no questions about abortion in last Tuesday’s debate.
“I wanted to ask you about the issue of abortion and specifically about the debate a couple of nights ago,” the audience member said to McCain. “The moderator cleverly never brought this--the question up. And with the debate coming up again, I would ask if you're going to find a way to bring the subject up, even if it's not asked about, because I firmly believe it's an issue which you have the advantage.”
“I am proud of my pro-life record for many years. I believe that life begins at conception. And I don't know if you heard Senator Obama when Rick Warren asked him and he said, quote, ‘It's above my pay grade.’ It's above Senator Obama's pay grade, the issue of the rights of the unborn. Remarkable,” said McCain.
“So I believe that the most noble words ever written are that all of us are ‘created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life’--and that means the unborn child as well as the born child,” McCain continued. “Now Senator Obama has a clear, radical, far-left pro-abortion record--and you should examine it and his votes.”
McCain then talked about how he and his wife had adopted their daughter Bridget from Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
When McCain was done, Palin added her own comments on the issue.
“And John, may I add also, too, as someone who believes that the most promising and precious ingredient in this sometimes mixed-up world of ours is a child. And I appreciate your reminder of the compassion needed in this issue,” said Palin. “What I don't find compassionate is Barack Obama's vote, as an Illinois senator, when three times he had the chance to vote to be able to provide health care for a child who was born alive as a result of a botched abortion.
I would just ask you, sir, to go online and look at his record on that one, also,” said Palin. “Thank you for the question.”
In Johnstown, Pa., on Saturday, Palin again brought up Obama’s unwillingness to support legislation that would protect babies who were born alive after botched abortions.
This time, she went on at length, framing the issue in terms of her personal experience with her baby son, Trig, who has Down syndrome.
“When I learned that my son Trig would have special needs, to be honest with you, I had to pray that my heart would be prepared for the challenges to come. It was a shock, I wasn't ready for this. I had to ask for that strength. And at first I was very scared, and Todd and I we did have to ask for that strength and understanding. But let me tell you a few things that I’ve learned already,” said Palin.
“Yes, every innocent life does matters. And everyone belongs in the circle of protection. And every child has something to contribute to our world if we give them that chance,” she said. “Now, there are the world’s standards of perfection, and then there are God’s standards, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake.
“And as for our beautiful baby boy, for Todd and for me, he is only more precious because he is vulnerable,” said Palin. “And in some ways, you know I think we stand to learn more from him than he does from us. So, when we hold Trig and when we care for him, we don’t feel scared anymore, we feel blessed.
“It’s hard to think of many issues that could possibly be more important than who is protected in law and who isn’t, who is granted life and who is denied it. So, when our opponent speaks about questions of life, I listen very carefully,” she said.
After discussing Obama's position on partial-birth abortion, and citing his remark that a woman should not be "punished" with a baby, she moved back to his opposition to the Illinois born-alive legislation.
“Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, had described partial-birth abortion as ‘too close to infanticide.’ Senator Obama thinks it’s a constitutional right, but he is wrong,” said Palin.
“Most troubling even is as a state senator, Barack Obama wouldn’t even stand up for the rights of infants born alive during an abortion. These infants, these infants, often babies with special needs, they're simply left to die,” said Palin.
“In 2002, Congress unanimously passed a federal law to require medical care--imagine that, requiring a law to require medical care for those babies who survive an abortion. They’re living, breathing babies, but Senator Obama describes them as ‘pre-viable.’ Now, this merciful law was called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, and Illinois had a version of the same law. And Obama voted against it,” said Palin.
“Asked about his vote, he assured a reporter that he’d have voted yes on that bill if it had contained language similar to the federal version of the Born Alive Act. There’s just one little problem with that story though: the language of both the state and federal bills was identical,” said Palin.
“So, in short, Senator Obama is a politician who has long since left behind even the middle ground on the issue of life. He's sided with those who won’t protect a child born alive. And this exposes the emptiness of his promise to move beyond the old politics,” said Palin.
“So, ladies and gentlemen in both parties, Americans have many concerns to be weighed in the votes they cast on November fourth. In times like these, with wars and financial crisis, I know that it may be easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life. And it seems that our opponent kind of hopes that you will forget that. Like so much else in his agenda, he hopes that you won’t notice how radical--how absolutely radical--his ideas on this and record is until it’s too late,” said Palin.