Obama Justified in Votes Against Born Alive Infant Protection Bill, Say Democrats

By Nicholas Ballasy | October 23, 2008 | 7:54 PM EDT

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. climbs the stairs to the plane as he leaves for Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008, in Indianapolis, Ind. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CNSNews.com) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was justified in opposing legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would have ensured that a child who survives a failed abortion was treated as a "person" and received medical attention, two Democratic leaders said.

While in the Illinois Senate, Obama opposed three bills that proposed protecting babies that survived abortions, including one that defined a baby who had survived an abortion as a "person."  Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Obama's vote on this bill was wrong in the last presidential debate.
After the debate, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean if they thought Obama was morally justified in this vote.  They defended Obama's position.  

Watch the Video.“If you looked at those little meters, McCain lost that debate,” Schumer told CNSNews.com.  “Most Americans are pro-choice. Most Americans don’t want to repeal Roe v. Wade, and I thought Obama was great there. He had his views but he was very respectful of the other side. Sometimes the left is a little too condescending to the other side.”

Earlier this month, CNSNews.com Editor-in-Chief Terry Jeffrey reported that, in 2001, Illinois State Senator Patrick O’Malley introduced three bills to the legislature. One said that if a doctor performing an abortion believed there was a likelihood the baby would survive, another physician must be present “to assess the child’s viability and provide medical care.”
Another bill gave the parents, or a state-appointed guardian, the right to sue to protect the child’s rights. A third bill said that a baby alive after “complete expulsion or extraction from its mother” would be considered a “person, ‘human being,’ ‘child’ and ‘individual.’” 
On all three Obama voted present, which in the Illinois senate has the same effect as a "no" vote.  In 2002 and 2003, Obama again opposed the bill defining a baby who survived an abortion as a "person."

During the last presidential debate, Obama responded to McCain’s allegation that his votes aligned him with the most “extreme aspect of the pro-abortion movement in America.”

“There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade,” said Obama. “The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.”

Obama went on to say that Americans “should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred, and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity -- and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."

After the debate, DNC Chairman Howard Dean told CNSNews.com that Obama explained his situation “very clearly.” Like Obama, Dean said there was already a law in Illinois providing medical attention to infants who were born as a result of a botched abortion procedure.

“I think Senator Obama made it very clear where he stands on the issue of abortion,” said Dean.  “This is a personal decision that the government does not have the right to make but, on the other hand, we need to end this war in this country about abortion. What we need to do is bring pro-life and pro-choice people together and try to reduce the number of abortions. You know the Republicans talk about abortion every four years and then if they win abortions never go down.”

In an interview with CNSNews.com earlier this month, Illinois State Senator O’Malley said he drafted the legislation after he was told by the state attorney general's office that existing law did not protect a baby who survived an abortion as a citizen of Illinois or the United States.

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