When does a baby get human rights?
By By Tray Smith
When asked by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren to declare the point at which “a baby gets human rights,” Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama swept the question aside saying, “I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade.” Thus, a candidate likely to ascend into the country’s highest political office refused to confront the country’s most contentious political issue. There are, however, several other determinations that legalized abortion requires our country to make, and those determinations are neither as controversial as abortion nor, hopefully, as trivial as Senator Obama’s “pay grade.”
Chiefly among those questions is what to do with babies who survive abortion attempts. Late term abortions commonly require doctors to induce a pregnancy and perform the abortion as the baby proceeds toward birth. Some babies survive the procedure and are born alive. Most of these infants are so damaged by the failed abortion they die shortly after birth, but a few are fortunate enough to mature into healthy children and fulfill their lives. In order to guarantee all of these young infants a chance to become young toddlers, a nurse named Jill Stanek began campaigning for legislation to protect babies who survive unsuccessful abortions in 1999.
Stanek was motivated by her own experience at Christ Hospital in the Chicago area, where she witnessed doctors discard infants born in the aftermath of failed abortions. The infants were then left in repulsive circumstances and deprived of potentially life-saving medical attention.
Stanek’s first effort was aimed at the Illinois State Legislature, where the Born Alive Infants Protection Act was unveiled in 2001. In March of that year, the bill was brought before the Illinois State Senate, where Barack Obama was serving. There, Obama proved making a determination on the Born Alive Infants Protection Act was also above his pay grade. He voted “present.”
The bill failed to become law and was reintroduced in 2002. When the bill came before the Illinois State Senate again that year, Senator Obama finally took a stand. He voted “no.”
Meanwhile, the United States Senate prepared a federal version of the bill, which was supported by no less a liberal icon then Ted Kennedy. As a result of widespread Democratic acceptance of the legislation, it was passed and signed into law by President Bush in August of 2002.
Federal action did not deter Stanek and her allies in Illinois, who continued to push for a state version of the law in 2003. When the bill came up for a third vote, Obama, still an Illinois State Senator, voted “no.” Obama now says he would have supported the federal version of the legislation, and claims he voted against the bill in the Illinois State Legislature because it would be a violation of the Supreme Court’s nefarious decision to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade. However, the Illinois version of the legislation was identical to the federal version of the legislation, as a result of an amendment Senator Obama himself helped pass.
The bills Obama voted against had no connection to Roe v. Wade. The Born Alive Infants Protection Act was in no way an attempt to outlaw, limit, or discourage abortion. In no way did it limit a woman’s “right to choose” or require women to keep unwanted babies that survived attempted abortions. It would have only required hospitals to provide treatment for infants born in the aftermath of failed abortion attempts, because those infants are entitled to the same rights given to infants born of ordinary procedures. Stanek only hoped to see those children cared for during the often short lives they had. Senator Obama opposed Stanek’s efforts, voting instead to allow doctors to leave these babies to die. Effectively, Senator Obama supported infanticide that allowed for discrepancies in the treatment of children who had been targeted by an abortionist.
That’s the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@ hotmail.com.