Obama born alive controversy

From BibleStrength
Obama in 2007. Photo credit Elizabeth Cromwell.

Substantial controversy has surrounded Barack Obama's voting record on abortion since 2004, when Alan Keyes, his opponent for the U.S. Senate, made Obama's record central to his campaign. Since then, Jill Stanek, a central witness before Congress, whose moving testimony led to passage of the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, has been the primary critic of Obama's voting record on the issue.

The votes are especially controversial because they fall outside the typical Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice debate, dealing not with abortion, but children left to die after botched abortions. From 1996-2003, Barack Obama made at least 7 controversial votes against bills mandating medical care for newborn children after late-term, botched abortions known as D&E procedures. In 2002 the Federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act made it a U.S. crime to let children die like this, and the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was passed outlawing the specific D&E procedures making them possible, even declaring this to be "Infanticide" in Section 2, 14(G) and 14(O).[1] The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act had 70% public approval by the time of its passage[2] (a 2011 poll shows 64% support[3]) yet the Born Alive Infant Protection Act was far more popular, to the extent that in Obama's own words, it was "the federal bill that everybody supported."[4]

The Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed the U.S. Senate unanimously. Even normally Pro-Choice Democrats like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Barbara Boxer voted for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act[5] - even as Obama was voting down an identical bill in the Illinois State Senate. Obama has attempted since 2004 to explain away his votes, variously calling critics liars, saying the bills he voted against were dissimilar from the federal bill everybody supported (a lie that was debunked in 2008 by a CNN expose resulting in an Obama campaign admission that he misspoke), and saying the Illinois law was already sufficient to protect newborn infants. Obama's "Fight the Smears" site striving to deny his votes on the bills has since vanished from the web or it would be quoted.

The issue featured prominently in the 2008 presidential election as well, with both Sarah Palin and John McCain raising the issue, and major press coverage by CNN and other news media reporting on the controversy. Obama ultimately voted 'Present' or 'No' on 7 of the 'Born Alive' bills:

  • SB 1082 (2003 Born Alive Infant Defined Act)[6]
  • SB 1661 (2002 Induced Birth Infant Liability Act)[7]
  • SB 1662 (2002 Born Alive Infant Defined Act)[8]
  • SB 1093 (2001 Born Alive Infants Protection Act)[9]
  • SB 1094 (2001 Induced Birth Infant Liability Act)[10]
  • SB 1095 (2001 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act)[11][12]
  • SB 230 (1997 Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act)[13]

1996-2003 Illinois Senate Transcripts

The following are quotes from Barack Obama himself on the controversial bills at the time, that would later cause such controversy, and which have been repeatedly quoted from in the press:

Transcript, Born Alive Infants Protection Act

March 30, 2001. Pages 84-88 of Illinois Senate Transcript at ILGA.gov.[9]


In the above transcript, Obama can be seen clearly acknowledging that babies are being left to die, in his words, "still temporarily alive outside the womb.. they were not being properly cared for during that brief period of time that they were still living." He then proceeds to argue against Born Alive legislation to protect these newborn babies anyway because he doesn't consider the bill "to survive constitutional scrutiny" since the babies are born prematurely instead of "a nine-month-old child that was delivered to term." Thus he considers this unconstitutional since it "would forbid abortions to take place." Ultimately his whole reasoning for the legislation being unconstitutional comes down to this being an "antiabortion statute." He argues that "if we're placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive even a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we're probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality."

Needless to say, such cold-blooded evil in opposing the right to life of newborn children simply because they're born prematurely is despicable. Obama is clearly more concerned with protecting the right to abortion at all costs and keeping abortion doctors free from "burden" if it means that newborn premature babies get left to die.

Transcript, Induced Birth Infants Liability Act

April 4, 2002. Pages 29-35 of Illinois Senate Transcript at ILGA.gov.[7]


Once again Obama acknowledges that newborn children are being left to die. He asks whether the bill requires that if a baby "outside the mother's womb... [has] movement or some indication that, infact, they're not just out limp and dead, 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." He is answered in the affirmative. He then argues against the bill essentially on the grounds that "I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in that room is going to make sure that they're looked after."

On the one hand, Obama just argued in the previous bill for keeping abortion doctors 'unburdened' without, to him, the hassle of making sure newborn children aren't being left to die (which he clearly cares nothing about). Now he wants to say that abortion doctors will make the right decision, even though he himself clearly doesn't think premature babies even merit the attention of abortion doctors to begin with.

2004 General Election

After a number of candidates including former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka declined to run[14], the Illinois GOP finally settled on fiery Alan Keyes, a former Ambassador to the Economic and Social Counsel of the United Nations,[15] with less than 3 months left before the November 2004 election.[16] His sudden entrance into the state for the election was initially attacked in the press as "carpetbagging".[17][18] Keyes repeatedly claimed his primary motivation for entering a race he had seemingly no chance of winning was his disgust at Obama's votes on the popular Born Alive bills. Keyes, from his first day of arriving in Illinois (August 9, 2004)[19], accused Obama of having voted against bills mandating medical care for newborn children, and supporting "infanticide" (the term twice used in the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act[1]) where hospitals left newborn infants to die like garbage.[20]

Obama in a debate on October 13, 2004, defended himself against Keyes' accusations of infanticide, retorting,

Keyes maintained that Jesus Christ would not vote for Obama because of his voting record on the subject[23], a claim that Jill Stanek would repeat years later.[24]

2008 Primary Election

In 2007-08, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed for the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton cleverly resurrected the "Born Alive" controversy surrounding Obama that had lain largely dormant since 2004 (notwithstanding the continuing mentions by Jill Stanek), by accusing Obama of not being pro-choice for voting "Present" on a number of abortion-related bills - including the Born Alive ones,[25] and cowardly ducking the votes.[26] This led to criticism of Obama by two pro-choice organizations, Emily's List, and the National Organization for Women.[27][28][29] The Washington Post Fact-Checker noted that Obama had actually used the 'Present' voting strategy against 7 different abortion related bills, two versions of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act (SB 230 and HB 382), two versions of the parental notice of abortion act (HB 1900 and SB 562), and three of the "Born Alive" bills (SB 1093, 1094, and 1095).[30] However, Pam Sutherland, the long-time head of Illinois Planned Parenthood, came to Obama's aid, criticizing Clinton for making the attack, and stating repeatedly that Obama's present votes were part of a broader strategy used by Planned Parenthood to keep Illinois voters from knowing their state senators were voting against the controversial and popular bills.[31]

This was also reiterated by Steve Trombley, the President of Planned Parenthood Chicago, that it was a strategy to deceive Illinoisans about the controversial bills.[33] Sutherland further praised Obama for the strategy, saying it made him a "leader".[34] It is probable that Clinton actually was being sarcastic when she made the remarks about Obama not being as pro-choice as her for voting 'Present' instead of 'No' on the Born Alive bills, since as Jill Stanek noted, "Clinton is being so audacious trying to claim that Obama is less pro-choice when on the very same bill she voted pro-life. It's just astounding." By forcing him to defend his pro-choice record, she made it evident how extreme he was in voting against the Born Alive bills she and the entire U.S. Senate had voted unanimously in favor of.[25]

2008 General Election

During the 2008 General Election, Obama's voting record on the "Born Alive" bills came once more to the forefront. On June 30, 2008, CNN gave voice to the growing controversy, and revealed the defense Obama had been using since 2004-2008, that the Illinois bills he'd voted against were different from the federal bill, was false, since he'd brought up for a vote a bill word for word identical to the federal bill in the Health and Human Services Committee he chaired, and voted against it, defeating it.

In July, the National Right to Life Committee began calling attention to Bill Bennett's claim, that Obama had voted against a bill identical to the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act, and accusing the Obama campaign of a "cover-up".[36]

On August 16, 2008, CNN's David Brody confronted Obama about the issue during the Rick Warren-hosted McCain/Obama debates, with Obama providing a number of different defenses, including a new one that laws already existed in Illinois to protect newborn children.

When the NRLC publicly challenged the Obama camp on August 17th, to declare the new documents forgeries, or admit he misrepresented his voting record and apologize for calling critics liars, the Obama campaign admitted the same day he "misspoke" and had voted against an identical bill to the "federal bill that everybody supported" but focused on Obama's new claim, that Illinois law was already sufficient to protect newborn children. The NRLC promptly declared "Senator Barack Obama's four-year effort to cover up his full role in killing legislation to protect born-alive survivors of abortions continues to unravel."[37]


The issue resurfaced in February 2012 when Newt Gingrich said, "If we’re going to have a debate about who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama, who as a state senator voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion."[39]. Rick Santorum likewise repeated this, saying, "any child born prematurely, according to the president, in his own words, can be killed."[40] Newt Gingrich later accused the national media of not covering Obama's controversial history on the Born Alive bills.[41]


  1. 1.0 1.1 United States Congress (2003, March 13). "S.3: Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003." Government Printing Office.
  2. Ray, J. (2003, July 8). "Gallup Brain: Opinions on Partial-Birth Abortions." Gallup.
  3. "Abortion." pg. 1. Gallup
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brody, David (2008, August 16). "McCain/Obama Forum." CNN. Uploaded to YouTube by Jill Stanek.
    David Brody (August 16, 2008). "Obama Gets Heated on Born Alive Infant Protection Act." The Brody File. CBN News.
  5. wpcomimportuser1 (2008, September 23). "Obama Calls Born Alive Ad a 'Despicable Lie'." Real Clear Politics. Time Magazine.
  6. 93rd General Assembly (2005, January 11). "Bill Status of SB 1082." State of Illinois.
  7. 7.0 7.1 92nd General Assembly (2002, April 4). 92nd General Assembly Regular Session Senate Transcript. pp. 29-35. State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly (2003, January 7). "Status of SB 1661." State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly. "SB 1661." State of Illinois.
  8. 92nd General Assembly (2003, January 7). "Status of SB 1662." State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly. "SB 1662." State of Illinois.
  9. 9.0 9.1 92nd General Assembly (2001, March 30). "Regular Session Senate Transcript." pp. 84-88. State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly. "Status of SB 1093. State of Illinois.
  10. 92nd General Assembly. "Status of SB 1094. State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly (2001, March 30). "Regular Session Senate Transcript. pp. 88-89. State of Illinois.
  11. 92nd General Assembly. "Criminal Offenses: 720 ILCS/513/ Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act." State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly. "Status of SB 1095." State of Illinois.
    92nd General Assembly (2001, March 30). "92nd General Assembly Senate Vote: Senate Bill No. 1095." State of Illinois.
  12. 92nd General Assembly (2001, March 30). Regular Session Senate Transcript. pp. 89-90. State of Illinois.
  13. 90th General Assembly (1999, January 12). "Status of SB 0230." State of Illinois.
    90th General Assembly (1997, March 18). "Regular Session Senate Transcript. pp. 59-66. State of Illinois.
  14. America Votes 2004 (2004, August 9). "Keyes Challenges Obama for Illinois Senate Seat." CNN
  15. "Ambassador Alan Keyes." Ambassador Speakers Bureau.
  16. 'Kellman, Jerry (2008, February 20). "Obama Becomes Rising Star Among Democrats." MSNBC.
  17. Chicago Tribune Editorial Staff (2004, August 6). "The GOP's Rent-A-Senator." Chicago Tribune.
    Washington Post Editorial Staff (2004, August 9). "Mr. Keyes the Carpetbagger." Washington Post
  18. Pearson, Rick (2004, September 5). "Keyes, State GOP Gearing Up Blame Campaign." Chicago Tribune.
  19. Associated Press (2004, August 9). "Keyes Assails Obama's Abortion Views." MSNBC.
  20. Smiley, Tavis (2004, August 31). "Alan Keyes on the Tavis Smiley Show." NPR.
    CBS2 Chicago (2004, August 30). "Alan Keyes on CBS2 Chicago This Morning." CBS2 Chicago.
  21. Keyes, Alan (2004, August 18). "How You Can Help Alan Keyes for Senate!." Keyes2004 Inc.
  22. Chicago Tribune Editorial Staff (2004, October 13). "Debate or Discussion?" Chicago Tribune.
  23. Thomas, Scott (2004, September 7). "Alan Keyes on the Scott Thomas Show (AM1160 - WYLL)." Scott Thomas Show. Chicago, Illinois.
  24. Stanek, Jill (2006, June 19). "Why Jesus Would Not Vote for Barack Obama." WorldNetDaily.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Berman, Russell (2008, January 17). "Clinton: Obama Should Vote 'No' On Abortion Issue She Backed." New York Sun.
    Hernandez, Raymond & Drew, Christopher (2007, December 20). "It's Not Just 'Ayes' and 'Nays': Obama's Votes in Illinois Echo." New York Times.
  26. Benton, Nell & Bloom, Rachel (2008, February 13). "Response to Hillary Clinton Comment for January 21st, 2008." PolitiFact.
  27. Dorning, Mike (2008, January 14). "The Swamp: Obama Campaign Defends His Abortion-Rights Record." Chicago Tribune.
  28. Dorn, Michael (2008, February 6). "Obama's Voting Record on Abortion." Washington Post.
  29. Newton-Small, Jay (2008, January 14). "Obama Campaign Defends 'Present' Abortion Votes." Time Magazine.
  30. Dorning, Mike (2007, December 20). "Clinton Camp Criticizes Obama 'Present' Votes." Chicago Tribune.
  31. Hernandez, Raymond & Drew, Christopher (2007, December 20). "Obama's Vote in Illinois Was Often Just 'Present'." New York Times.
    Zorn, Eric (2007, December 4). "Change of Subject: Disparagement of Obama Votes Doesn't Hold Up." Chicago Tribune.
  32. Davis, Teddy (2007, July 17). "Obama Abortion Dodges Blessed by Planned Parenthood." ABC News.
  33. Follmer, Max (2008, March 28). "Obama Emphasizes Pro-Choice Voting Record as Clinton Questions 'Present' Votes." Huffington Post.
  34. Bettelheim, Adriel (2008, February 13). "Obama's 'Present' Tension." PolitiFact.
  35. King, John (2008, June 30). "How He Really Voted on Abortion: Obama's Record Under Attack." The Situation Room. Uploaded to YouTube by Jill Stanek.
    King, John (2008, June 30). "Transcripts: June 30, 2008." CNN.
  36. NRL News (2008, July). "Obama Cover-up Revealed on Born-Alive Abortion Survivor's Bill." NRL News, Vol. 35, Issue 7-8, pg. 5. NRLC.
  37. Johnson, Douglas (2008, August 18). "Obama Cover-up on Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Continues to Unravel After Sen. Obama Says NRLC is 'Lying.'" National Right to Life Committee.
  38. Berman, Russell (2008, August 18). "Obama Facing Attacks From All Sides Over Abortion Record." New York Sun.
  39. Woodward, C. & Raum, T. (2012, February 23). "FACT CHECK: Candidates make errant claims during GOP debate." Associated Press.
  40. Yellin, J. & Metzger, T. (2012, February 24). "Fact-checking Gingrich's charge Obama voted in favor of 'infanticide.'" CNN Politics.
  41. Brennan, P. (2012, February 29). "Obama's Infanticide Votes." National Review.
    Farley, R. (2012, February 23). "Did Elite Media Ignore Infanticide?" FactCheck.org.