5.21.2008

Obama And Abortion, Or, Where Intellectual Consistency Takes You

I’m not a Barack Obama fan.

I do like some things about him: I think he makes good speeches; the fact that his middle name is Hussein doesn’t really bother me, and I think the name Obama actually sounds pretty cool; the way he talks about hope and change (always rather vaguely) is enticing; I think it would be really cool to have a black president.

On the other hand, I don’t like how he pretends to be a moderate. I don’t like how he claims to be shocked by the recent statements of a religious figure who he’s known well for twenty years. Cool posters aside, I don’t like how he talks about change and doing things differently, and then seems eerily similar to any other politician trying to win a campaign.

Most of all, I don’t like his stance on abortion.

I’ve known that Obama was Pro-Choice for a long time, but got a better idea of his views after reading this article, which describes Obama’s opposition (as an Illinois State Senator) to the Born Alive Infants Bill:

State and federal versions of this bill became an issue earlier this decade because of “induced labor abortion.” This is usually performed on a baby with Down’s Syndrome or another problem discovered on the cusp of viability. A doctor medicates the mother to cause premature labor. Babies surviving labor are left untreated to die.

Jill Stanek, who was a nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., testified in the U.S. Congress in 2000 and 2001 about how “induced labor abortions” were handled at her hospital. “One night,” she said in testimony entered into the Congressional Record, “a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down's Syndrome baby who was born alive to our Soiled Utility Room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have the time to hold him. I couldn't bear the thought of this suffering child lying alone in a Soiled Utility Room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived.”

In 2001, Illinois state Sen. Patrick O’Malley introduced three bills to help such babies. One required a second physician to be present at the abortion to determine if a surviving baby was viable. Another gave the parents or a public guardian the right to sue to protect the baby’s rights. A third, almost identical to the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act President Bush signed in 2002, simply said a “homo sapiens” wholly emerged from his mother with a “beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles” should be treated as a “‘person,’ ‘human being,’ ‘child’ and ‘individual.’”


Stanek testified about these bills in the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee, where Obama served. She told me this week he was “unfazed” by her story of holding the baby who survived an induced labor abortion.
The article goes on to describe how Obama was the only Illinois State Senator to oppose the legislation, an opposition he explained by saying:
“Whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a—a child, a 9-month old—child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it—it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”
One thing I can respect about Obama is that he is at least intellectually consistent. He realizes that if it’s okay to kill a fetus in the womb, it must also be okay to kill that same fetus if it survives birth.

The problem with that consistency is where it takes you. It took Jill Stanek to a Soiled Utility Room where she cradled a living, breathing human child until it died.

Of course, that seems appalling, but as long as you define human life in terms of viability, or in terms of whether or not it is wanted, that’s where you end up.

4 comments:

ecarson 5/27/08, 5:57 PM  

I never thought he came across as moderate; I am a Clinton man, but will support Obama %100 come the general election. Read his book The Audacity of Hope and you will see that he is very much a liberal.

Luke 5/28/08, 3:30 PM  

Eddie,

While he may not call himself a moderate, he has clearly tried to court the moderate vote (you can see that even in his strong reactions in the Rev. Wright issue).

For what it's worth, I think John McCain is (generally) a moderate who is trying to court conservatives. I don't like that much either.

I'm considering a write-in for general election: I can't decide whether to go with Hank Aaron or Dale Murphy though.

shooting star 5/29/08, 3:47 AM  

i havent followed the US presidential campaign ..but on abortion..i have very strong views as a woman...
i think its pathetic how the church opposes it!!.....alongwith a huge number of things...sometimes i truly thikk it is anti-women!!

Luke 5/29/08, 10:16 AM  

Shooting Star,

Welcome to the blog, and thanks for the comment.

Not following the Presidential Election is probably a wise course of action. It hasn't exactly been an uplifting experience for me.

Regarding abortion, I don't think the policy of the church (and myself, for that matter), is anti-woman so much as it is pro-human.

If a fetus is a human being, and I believe that's the only logical conclusion (which was my point with the article on Obama), then a woman's right to choose is trumped by an infant's right to live.

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