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The Messiah Miscarries

Senator Barack Obama may have committed an "out of alignment with his values" when discussing his voting record on infanticide. See the stories here and here.

If only these newborns were Alaskan Caribou aborted at Gitmo...... A boy can dream, can't he?

Comments (24)

Didn't Rick Santorum already have an article several months ago in which he pointed this out? I think we had an exchange about it here at W4.

"If only these newborns were Alaskan Caribou aborted at Gitmo...... A boy can dream, can't he?"

It appears that the ability of modern conservatism to deal with human rights, civil rights, and conservation as non-trivial issues is limitless.

Also, since one of the links is to the Weekly Standard and the other is to National Review, a prudent reader would have to do a through fact check on both of them. The problem, of course, is that doing that would take more time then most people have. I have never found an article in an opinion journal (left or right) that attempted to deal with the legislative history of a bill that wasn't error free. Usually the errors are numerous and often difficult to explain as honest.

Fact check away.

You may also want to check NARAL's pre-claims about illegal abortions.


If I am able I will; problem is that getting the complete story on legislation in another state can be problematic.. I trust NARAL on any given matter about as far as I trust the WS and NR. Unfortunately advocacy and accuracy often are strangers.

The articles are pretty straightforward, so the facts ought to be easy enough to check. The NR article even provides a couple of helpful links. But if you think the trustworthiness of NR and WS is on a par with NARAL's, I guess there's no point.

You'd think that a reader would be moved by the plight of these babies, and outraged by Obama's tolerance for bloodshed; but no, it's more important to save our outrage for the questionable conservative credentials of the outlets that bring it to our notice.

All the relevant links can be found over at www.JillStanek.com:

http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2008/08/breaking_news_n_1.html

Maybe somebody here can help me with this. I mean that sincerely: I've looked into the matter for a few hours, but that's all, and maybe Frank or some reader knows more than me. If not, though, there are some pretty irresponsible claims being made.

You can trace back links on this story to certain documents on the Illinois state government web site -- actual bills, votes, and a transcript of Obama's explanation for one of his votes, etc. And you can read all that and what the Obama campaign is putting out now, and everyone can decide for themselves how reasonable his position is/was. But then you hear people saying things like that "it turns out" Obama is lying about or is misrepresenting the facts about what happened in the Illinois Senate, and that stuff, and various other claims making the rounds on conservative blogs, go beyond what we can find on the Illinois web site, and instead turn on things that supposedly happened in committee. And so, curious guy that I am, I wondered: Who's the source for this? And I don't mean which right-wing blogs are being linked to by other right-wing blogs as the latter's source. Presumably, there is somebody who was in Springfield at the committee meetings in question, and who is telling someone what happened. Who is this person? Where is this coming from? Can anyone out there tell me?

The first story Frank links to lists a couple of Illinois state senators as sources, but just for a particular point concerning whether Obama raised the issue of an already enacted Illinois law when the Born Alive bill was being discussed. What we need are similar sources for the crucial claims being made that Obama was offered certain amendments in committee and turned them down, worked against them, or killed them. The second story Frank links to -- the Freddoso piece on the National Review site -- contains this interesting passage:

But in case there is any ambiguity, the federal bill was identical, word for word, to the bill that Obama voted to kill two years later in the Illinois senate health committee, which he chaired. Obama’s work to kill the bill in 2003 has always been attested to by witnesses (committee records are poorly kept in Springfield), but yesterday the National Right to Life Committee found and revealed the document showing definitively that Obama had voted against it in committee — against the exact same bill he is now falsely claiming on his own campaign website that he would have supported.

I'll get to the National Right to Life Committee's "definite showing" in a minute. But let's start with the situation we were in before the NRLC cleared everything up for us so definitively.

So, first there is the issue of the witnesses Freddoso mentions. What I'm trying to find out is: Who are these witnesses? Is that out there and I'm just not finding it? Someone help, please. And again that is sincere: It may well be that that information is available and I just haven't found it yet. But if that information isn't available, shouldn't we be very suspicious? I grew up in Illinois, and have followed Illinois politics closely enough to take outright lying to a strong possibility here -- esp. if nobody is willing to identify the sources. But even short of outright lying, there's all sorts of possibilities for various varieties of spin. For instance, oldest tricks in the political book #14: Offer your opponent Nice+Nasty; when he turns it down (b/c Nasty is so nasty), report, not altogether falsely: "I even offered him Nice, and he even turned that down."

[UPDATE (the 2 updates I'm inserting were written after the rest of this: I've now found E, "More on Obama and Babies Born Alive," by Terence Jeffrey. After admitting that an earlier report he gave on what happened in committee turned out to be wrong(!), Jeffrey writes, "former Sen. Rick Winkel, who sponsored it, and Sen. Dale Righter, then the committee's ranking Republican, both tell me that written records kept by Illinois Senate Republicans indicate Obama did bring the bill up for a vote and then voted against it. The bill, as amended, lost that vote four to six." So, now we may be getting somewhere. Keeping in mind trick #14, what we now need to find out is: Is there some place where Righter, who was in the committee, clearly states that what was voted down in committee is bill 1082 in some version we can view, amended by, and only by, what we have in B? Seems to me, if you really want a story here, people should be talking to Righter, and asking him questions.]

But not to worry: There are those documents on the NRLC site. They clear everything up, right?

When I followed the links to the NRLC site, I really thought I might be finally getting to the bottom of things -- sadly (since I am inclined to think Obama is the best candidate now), in a way that worked against Obama's recent claims. But hello! What's going on there? The documents themselves don't help much. Look at them. I hesitate to put URLs in this comment, because on this blog that seems to make the comments not show up. So I'll refer to web pages by capital letters, and then follow up with a comment giving the URLs. (If that follow-up comment fails to show up, you can find C, the NRLC web site, easily, and then starting there, follow the links to get the other pages.) So A, posted on the NRLC web site (and linked to by Freddoso), looks like a report of a Health and Human Services Committee vote taken on bill 1082 on 3/12/03, and B (which other anti-Obama bloggers are linking to), also posted on the NRLC web site, is a short typewritten "AMENDMENT TO SENATE BILL 1082." Not very impressive documents in themselves, I thought, but presumably somebody is telling us, through the NRLC, that the vote recorded in A is a vote on bill 1082 which is just like the bill we can view on-line, except for containing the amendment typed up in B, and only that amendment. So I went to the NRLC's main page, C. And, sure enough, their top headline breathlessly announces, "New Documents Prove the Obama Cover-up on Born-Alive Infants." So I click on that, and it takes me to D, "Obama Cover-up Revealed On Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Bill," which has the links to A and B. So D is where it's all put together. So who is telling us through the NRLC that A is the report of the vote in Obama's committee on 1082-modified-(only)-by-B? A&B are described in D as "New documents just obtained by NRLC." OK, obtained how, and from whom? [UPDATE: Could Winkel and/or Righter be the sources here? If so, why can't NRLC tell us that? Did somebody else get a hold of these documents, and Winkel and/or Righter are verifying what they are? What's going on?] Now, maybe NRLC tells us these things elsewhere, but I haven't been able to find it. If so, somebody please tell me. But in D, not only are we not given any names of the sources, but not even any descriptions (like "someone who works at the Illinois Senate offices, and who stole the documents" or "a Republican member of the committee who was afraid to be named" or "somebody who heard about this on various blogs and so typed these 'documents' up").

Well, as long as it's all been proven.

Keith, we already got this all cleared up, as far as I can see, beginning here:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2008/02/barack_obama_and_the_culture_o.html#comment-17958

And what it came to was that in the end you acknowledged (or so I understood you) that the Illinois bill _was_ identical to the federal bill and that Obama _still_ opposed it after it was made identical. So if Obama has implied otherwise, then either he has a conveniently poor memory on the subject or he is lying.

Moreover, you defended him for having continued to oppose it, because you appeared to think it quite reasonable for him to think that Roe v. Wade says that children below a certain age--born or unborn--are non-persons. While still supporting Roe. Now, as I pointed out repeatedly in that thread, an interpretation of Roe to apply to born infants is very far out in left field anyway, but if someone sincerely thinks that it does mean this, then he certainly should _oppose_ Roe rather than supporting it. But we went round and round, rather genteelly, with you defending Obama for his deep and serious "constitutional" scruples about declaring born children who are too young to be "persons." That might just be such an unconstitutional thing to do, and what was poor Senator Obama to do in that case?

I'm not feeling terribly genteel today. Perhaps that's why I've drawn attention to the fact that the question of what Obama did or didn't do has, as far as I can tell, already been clarified for you.

So, now we may be getting somewhere. Keeping in mind trick #14, what we now need to find out is: Is there some place where Righter, who was in the committee, clearly states that what was voted down in committee is bill 1082 in some version we can view, amended by, and only by, what we have in B? Seems to me, if you really want a story here, people should be talking to Righter, and asking him questions.]

Posted by Keith DeRose | August 15, 2008 10:12 AM
___________________________________________________

You'll find all the relevant information in this article:

http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2008/08/obama_campaign.html#more

complete with the scan of Illinois March 12, 2003 HHS Senate Committee Action Report on Senate Bill SB1082, and an explanation by Jill Stanek, the RN, who not only held the baby, but also looked into the issue herself when she discovered Terence Jeffrey's article.

You can hoof it to the Illinois General Assembly archives and check it out yourself if you want to examine the dangling chits etc. That's the evidence of record. If you don't believe it...

As far as your heart issue - if you're unwilling to be intellectually honest about Obama, then no amount of evidence will convince you. That might be more important to you than the election. Maybe.

Chris: I saw the Stanek thing and the documents on the NRLC web site, including the one Stanek displays. What I am asking in my previous comment is: Who is telling the NRLC that the little paper with the check marks is the vote on the amended bill? As far as I can see, all the NRLC tells us is that they "obtained" these documents. No name, not even a description, of who they obtained that usigned sheet with check marks from and who is the direct witness who is vouching for it.

Lydia: The earlier discussion was helpful, but then, when I was reporting the results of it to another interested person, I discovered (by having it pointedly objected to me) that the Status Report you linked to in that earlier discussion did not report the bill as going to Obama's Health & Human Services committee, but only as getting so far as the Rules committee, and then, after having a couple of co-sponsors added, as dying. (I'd give the URL of that Status Report, but, as I feared, my previous attempt to post a comment with URLs seems not have come through. Hmm, Lydia's comments with URLs seem to work... Maybe that's a contributor exception in the blog set-up? Anyway, one can get to that report by following Lydia's link in the above comment to the earlier WWwtW discussion; then go to her comment in that ealier discussion at March 16, 2008 10:26 PM, and follow the second link she posts in that comment. As you'll see, that brings you to "Bill Status of SB2855," which, if I'm reading it correctly, reports that bill as going to Rules on 2/6/04, and then as dying. I haven't learned how to navigate the Illinois web site very well myself.) As for the fairness of Lydia's characterization of that earlier discussion, well interested readers can just read the comments thread there & decide for themselves.

No contributor exception. If you put up a post with one link, I see no reason at all to think you will have any problem. The spam detector-bot counts the number of links and puts a comment into moderation as possibly spam if it has more than n links. I don't know what n is. Never paid much attention to it, because I don't put up posts with several links. It may be as few as two or three.

So, if I understand correctly, the theory you are concerned about here Keith is that Obama never actually voted against that bill after the amendment was added and that either a) someone is lying to NRLC and has produced a phony document to back up his lie or b) NRLC is lying and is knowingly putting up a phony document on-line for the purpose.

Both of these are logical possibilities. I'm not even a small bit moved by either possibility. That is, I think both of them highly improbable.

Nor should you be much worried, given your own earlier-expressed position. After all, if Obama was _right_ to object even to the amended bill on the grounds that it declared all born children persons (which it did), when he thinks Roe (to which he is forever committed) teaches us that such a declaration is unconstitutional, then the only problem is that he lacked the courage of his convictions to admit that he is farther to the left than Barbara Boxer.

Yes, I am skeptical when documents are produced without word one about where they're coming from, who's vouching for what they are, etc. And I'm a bit worried about those who would accept such things as "proof." This tendency toward skepticism often leads one to be slower than others in accepting something true. On other occasions, it pays off. In this, I'm treating the NRLC no differently than I treated Dan Rather and CBS News some time ago. Skepticism about the "document" in question on that occasion seems to have paid off.

Nor should you be much worried, given your own earlier-expressed position. After all, if Obama was _right_ to object even to the amended bill on the grounds that it declared all born children persons...

OK, now this is going beyond misleading spin, so I feel I must say something. In the previous WWwtW discussion, I was trying to discern what Obama's actions were and what his reasons for those actions were. As I noted, his professed reasons concerned primarily the constitutionality of the bill. In connection with that, I wondered whether worries about constitutionality were sensible enough that they could be plausibly taken to be Obama's real reasons. I never expressed any opinion of my own about whether the bill was or was not constitutional -- At one point, I even said that I was "not in a very good position to judge" even whether the worry was "sensible" (since that judgment depends on the current state of the courts' intepretations that I'm simply not up on). My earlier-expressed position is that the bill actually was unconstitutional and Obama was therefore _right_ to object? That's news to me.

Keith,

Since you don't believe the documentation National Right to Life and I have linked to, call the Illinois General Assembly at 217-782-3944 and ask to receive a copy of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee vote for SB1082, Born-Alive Infant Defined.

I wondered whether worries about constitutionality were sensible enough that they could be plausibly taken to be Obama's real reasons.

That's fine, Keith. Let that be the definitive statement of you view, so long as we remember that what you were wondering about the sensibleness of was the "unconstitutionality" of treating born infants as persons, from a person (Obama) who would _go on avidly supporting the court ruling in question_ (Roe) even given that he thought it meant it was "unconstitutional" to treat born infants as persons.

That's fine, Keith. Hmm. I actually didn't find it so fine to have a view falsely attributed to me.

As for Obama, yes, he supports Roe. And, yes, he professed to be worried about whether the (original) bill would pass "constitutional muster" -- presumably because of possible conflicts with Roe. He also expressed willingness (still just going by his own words here) to find a bill that _would_ pass "constitutional muster" -- presumably, I take it, by simply stating how the "born alive" infants must be treated without getting into the business of specifying who is and is not legally a person. (I'm using quotation marks around "born alive" to indicate that what I mean is "born alive" by the criteria set up by the bill.) However sincere or insincere one takes that expression to be (much depends here on things I just don't know, including how open the bill's backers were/would have been to a compromise that just specified treatment), the point here (relevant to how sensible Obama's professed worry + support of Roe was) is that while Obama did think that (or at least fear that) _the bill in question_ ran afoul of Roe, as I'm understanding his remarks, he didn't seem to think Roe _generally_ blocked laws that would specify how the "born alive" are to be treated (one would presume including a mandate that their life be sustained, where possible). As for how sensible his expressed worry about constitutionality was, folks can just read the old WWwtW discussion; no need to re-hash that all here.

presumably, I take it, by simply stating how the "born alive" infants must be treated without getting into the business of specifying who is and is not legally a person.

And on this point, there is no difference between the pre-amendment and the post-amendment bill, so there's no point in distinguishing them, because they both define all born-alive infants as persons.

Look, do I have to spell it out? If Obama is "sensible" (to use your word) in interpreting Roe to prohibit the attribution of personhood to a born infant, then he is not morally "sensible" to continue to support it.

Suppose we stipulate that it is morally monstrous to call born infants non-persons. I think it is morally monstrous to call unborn infants non-persons. But let's set that aside. Then either Obama is not "sensible" in the interpretive sense--that is, he is not "sensible" to take it that either Roe or any of the court decisions applying it forbid the attribution of personhood to born infants--or, if he is interpretively "sensible" on that point, he is supporting a moral monstrosity by continuing to support Roe under that interpretation. It is, of course, possible that he is un-sensible in both of these ways. They are not mutually exclusive.

You didn't seem fazed in the slightest, and still don't seem fazed, by the idea that Roe might mean that and that Obama still supports Roe. For example, you have never once agreed that if Obama is right thus to interpret Roe as mandating that personhood never be attributed to (some) born-alive infants, he is morally obligated to support its overthrow. It seems to me that a reasonable _conjecture_ from this is that you do not believe that he would be thus obligated and that you, along with Obama, do not think it morally monstrous to deny personhood to (at least some) born, living infants.

Hey, Frank, you're an expert. Maybe you can help me here with a question about the federal born alive law? It may seem a frivolous question, but it's my way of seeing how to understand the law, esp. "...In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States.."

Suppose a woman has an early abortion at an abortion clinic, but, as things go, the criteria for being "born alive" are met for a few seconds. (How early this can be, I don't know. The law concerns members of our species "at *any* stage of development," but to be "born alive" requires meeting one or more of several criteria, and I don't know how early that can happen, though my fallible understanding is that it can be quite early indeed.) Can she declare the baby as a dependent on her federal income taxes for that year?
(I guess tax law is relevant here, too, but my understanding is that children who are born and/or who die during a year are exempted from requirements concerning residing with their parents.)

Yes, well, we couldn't have _that_, could we? Treating newborn babies who subsequently die as persons for purposes of income taxes if they were born very early and if their mothers were trying to have them killed at the time.

Ha, ha. Obviously a reductio ad absurdam of the attempt to call all born-alive infants persons. Most impressive. The argumentum ad IRS is a knock-down.

Keith, I think that may count to a neutral observer as your answer to the question of whether you consider it morally monstrous to treat live, born, infants as non-persons in law.

You didn't seem fazed in the slightest

We may be working at cross-purposes in these threads, Lydia. I was trying to get an accurate idea of what Obama's actions were & what his reasons for them were. You're main purpose seems to be to declare them obama-nations. Given my purpose, it's you who are ultra-fazed, to the point that it causes you to falsely present views of who you take to be your opponents. Look, you can of course have whatever opinions you want about the status of Obama's actions, and I for one don't really care all that much how "genteel" you are in expressing those opinions -- about Obama or about me, for that matter. I do have a fairly strong preference for the (alleged) positions being denounced or otherwise discussed (esp. my own!) to be presented accurately & fairly.

I have no doubt that on the correct understanding of Obama's position, you will find it monstrous. That probably applies to a lot of the readers here, too. To others, the details involved may matter, and I certainly understand how those to whom none of these details can possibly matter can become impatient with those trying to sort through them.

For example, you have never once agreed that if Obama is right thus to interpret Roe as mandating that personhood never be attributed to (some) born-alive infants, he is morally obligated to support its overthrow.

Well, if we're now interested now in my opinions, let's give this a go. But that doesn't seem to really nail how I was understanding Obama's interpretation. As far as I can tell, he would think that some bills that declared *some* "born alive infants" to be persons would "pass constitutional muster." And I think that by passing "constitutional muster," he meant given the current state of the courts' interpretation, not necessarily how Roe should be ideally interpreted. But if you're asking whether I think that Obama is morally obliged to support Roe's overthrow if he thought it blocked laws that declare to be legally persons all members of our species "at any stage of development" who meet any of the criteria of the born alive bill/law for being "born alive," I'd say no. (On this, my opinion would be much better based if I knew more than I do about what's going on with some of the "born alive" criteria, like: when do/can we get "pulsation of the umbilical cord"?, does such pulsation always indicate that the fetus's heart is beating or that something interesting is happening on the fetus's end of the cord? What else is going on with the fetus when the first of these criteria to be met are met?, etc.)

Of course (& maybe this gets closer to the spirit of your question), there are a lot of possible positions in the vicinity that I would take to be *horribly* wrong. If a baby is extracted in an abortion procedure meeting the "born alive" criteria (probably any of them, with the possible [pending further information] exception of the pulsating umbilical cord [can I just change that to a beating heart requirement?, then I could just skip past my ignorance of the mechanics of umbilical cords]), then I think it is horribly wrong to fail to treat the baby as humanely as possible, and to fail to try to sustain its life, if that is possible, and this without regard to any wishes to the contrary that the mother might have. (So, if what I've been hearing has been accurate [Ms. Stanek, if you're still tuning into this: I truly don't mean to be questioning your veracity. I just haven't studied the situation, and don't know any of the people involved, so I'd rather not pronounce on what happened, and so will just speak conditionally], it sounds as if some horribly wrong things were happening at Christ Hospital, which causes me some personal pain, since, as it happens, I worked there as an orderly for a while while I was in high school.) And that leads to various things legislators could do in the vicinity that I'd think were horribly wrong, but that will have to wait, because I've just been summoned home...

But if you're asking whether I think that Obama is morally obliged to support Roe's overthrow if he thought it blocked laws that declare to be legally persons all members of our species "at any stage of development" who meet any of the criteria of the born alive bill/law for being "born alive," I'd say no.

Nor, I would guess--please do correct me if I'm wrong--that your opinion on this subject has a lot to do with cord pulsing vs. heartbeat, but rather to do with stage of development uberhaupt. Thus, at a certain stage of development, as your IRS question makes pretty clear as far as I'm concerned, you think it ludicrous that just any child who survives an abortion, regardless of stage of development, should be considered a person for purposes of law.

But both laws do that. Both laws declare all born-alive children, regardless of stage of development, to be persons under the law. So really, why should you care if Obama voted against both of them? I mean, seriously. Is it just the lying bit? That if he really did vote against it after it was made identical to the federal law, then he's lying? Or what? This is what I was trying to get at before: If you think there _should not be a law_ making all born-alive infants persons for purposes of law, then Obama was _right_ (even aside from the interpretation of Roe, for that matter) to oppose such a law. And _both_ versions of the law did that, so why should you waste any time trying to figure out whether he really voted against the amended one?

there are a lot of possible positions in the vicinity that I would take to be *horribly* wrong. If a baby is extracted in an abortion procedure meeting the "born alive" criteria (probably any of them, with the possible [pending further information] exception of the pulsating umbilical cord [can I just change that to a beating heart requirement?, then I could just skip past my ignorance of the mechanics of umbilical cords]), then I think it is horribly wrong to fail to treat the baby as humanely as possible, and to fail to try to sustain its life, if that is possible, and this without regard to any wishes to the contrary that the mother might have.

I notice no mention of personhood. The baby should be treated humanely, etc., but you have expressly and repeatedly, even emphatically, distinguished statements about how such a child should be treated from statements about whether such a child should be a person for purposes of law. I'm glad to hear, as far as it goes, that you think a child who survives an abortion should be treated humanely. But my very strong guess, given what I know about pro-choice academics, personhood theory, the high popularity of personhood theory (to the point that it's considered pretty much the default position), and your other comments, is that you balk at saying that all such children are persons and that it would be "horribly wrong" to declare them non-persons in law.

So really, why should you care if Obama voted against both of them?

There are circumstances (where I'm including in "circumstances" both Obama's reasons and certain facts about fetal development that I'm not up on) in which I wouldn't care, and those in which I'd care a lot. For an extreme example of the latter, if babies displaying all the characteristics appealed to in the "born alive" criteria were being mistreated and killed after being removed from their mothers, and Obama voted against the bills because he just didn't think that should be stopped, I'd be very worried indeed.

Extreme, yes. But it's worth noting just that scenario is exactly the picture Santorum seemed to be trying to suggest in the piece Frank quoted at length in the previous post:

That bill was the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. During the partial-birth abortion debate, Congress heard testimony about babies that had survived attempted late-term abortions. Nurses testified that these preterm living, breathing babies were being thrown into medical waste bins to die or being "terminated" outside the womb. With the baby now completely separated from the mother, it was impossible to argue that the health or life of the mother was in jeopardy by giving her baby appropriate medical treatment.

The act simply prohibited the killing of a baby born alive.

Note all the talk about late-term abortions, transitioning immediately into a statement about what the act "simply" does. Does Santorum anywhere in the article mention the part about the act applying to members of our species "at *any* stage of development"? Get real! He wants everyone to be thinking in terms of late term cases. (And what's with "simply prohibited the killing"? Wasn't this bill/law always about the baby being a person in *all* legal respects?) Does Frank clarify those matters? Yeah, right. If people wanted to vent about how horrible Obama's actual position was, that would have been fine by me. I was mainly interested in Obama's view being presented fairly.

None of this matters to some -- especially to those who think you have a person of full moral standing from the moment of conception on. But the desire is to paint Obama as extreme, even by the standards of liberal democrats, as going way beyond the likes of even Kennedy, Boxer, and Clinton. Of course, that's silly. At least I think so. They're all pretty much on the same page on abortion, and to the extent there are differences, I certainly wouldn't count Obama as the most pro-abortion of the four of them. Recall that though Clinton was happy enough to run to the right of Obama on many issues, when it came to abortion, her complaint about him was that he was "weak on choice." Well, that was also pretty silly. There isn't that much difference between them -- if he was "weak on choice," then she was at least "almost weak on choice." But to the extent that there was a bit of difference, Clinton seems to me to have the comparison right: she seems to me more consistently opposed to the criminalization and restriction of abortion. It may be that Obama voted in committee against a version of born alive essentially the same as what these other dems voted for. But that's clearly just a matter of them having made a certain political calculation that that differed from the one made by Illinois dems. All seem to have voted with their respective packs (whatever that might say about their courage). Look, serious pro-choice people know better than to think that Obama is way beyond, or even beyond in any significant way, Clinton or Kennedy on abortion. (Boxer I know less about.)

As for my views (that seem to interest you a lot)... On these born alive bills much really does turn on just when the developing fetuses start to satisfy any of the criteria listed for being "born alive," and what else is the case about the fetus at that time. But even if you can get a pulsating umbilical cord very early in development, then, while I wouldn't then think this a good law, it also wouldn't seem to me to do all that much harm. The actions it mandates I imagine are largely actions I'd want to have performed, anyway.

On my IRS question, I really was interested in the answer, to see if the bill really is so broad-ranging in its implications as it seemed to me. So far as I had something of a "wise guy" ulterior motive, it wasn't to show up views about when personhood begins as "ludicrous" [views on which full moral standing occurs already at the moment of conception do strike me as fairly clearly false, but I've heard somewhat decent rationales for such views, so I wouldn't call them ludicrous], as to point out that there are legal benefits as well as restrictions that come to abortion-seeking parents from the personhood of the "born alive," to see how the laws' backers feel about that.

All right, now I'm going to be frank with you about what, in practice, the law was intended to do by people like me who support it, though in fact it does not do so.

The reasons it doesn't do so, or at least the federal version doesn't, are two-fold (actually, there are probably more reasons). Most pressingly, it contains no enforcement provisions. So it's completely toothless. Second, what people like me would like to see such a law do would be to require the full-court press care of born-alive infants, which would involve, usually, some form of breathing assistance, probably a ventilator, until they could breathe on their own, just as one would usually do for a wanted preemie. The reason this will probably _always_ be unenforceable is because even in the case of a wanted preemie the parents get to say how long or whether to do that stuff, and since in these cases the parents were trying to have the kid killed, they obviously are going to nix the ventilator, and it's going to be pretty much impossible to override that decision, because of the presumption that parents get to decide on that sort of treatment for their own children.

So I guess I've already said part of what it's intended to do: To make sure the child is fed, kept warm, and receives breathing assistance. Now, what you don't seem to know (since it matters to you) is that this stuff is going to be totally irrelevant prior to 18 weeks or so, and for some practices, 24 weeks' gestation. I believe 18 weeks' gestation is the earliest any child has survived after being born early, even without any trauma from an attempted abortion. So it's not like you could put a ventilator on an 8-weeks' gestation aborted baby. It wouldn't even breathe. Not at all. The lungs simply wouldn't be developed far enough. It would just die. There wouldn't be anything you could do. So the point would be moot. Moreover, many hospitals have it established as a practice rule that they will not attempt to ventilate any child prior to 24 weeks, wanted or unwanted. Surviving an abortion has nothing to do with it. This is because of the low chance of survival. So you'd run into that rule. So the only place this would even be pertinent would be at the earliest at 18 weeks but more likely at 24 weeks; there might be a few hospitals that would make a try in between there, but probably precious few. Note that conferring personhood would make no difference here. The aborted and non-aborted children could be treated exactly the same and still the doctors wouldn't try any earlier than that, and at a certain age it really would not even apply as our technology currently stands.

If artificial wombs ever start to work, this might be different, but they probably won't. Obviously the law was worded as it was, practically speaking, so that changing technology would not require a newly-written law, and also because, yes, some of those who sponsored it no doubt would agree with me that the child is a personhood from conception on.

So in practice, yes, its application really would be to late-term children, which is the only place that a hospital would put a ventilator on any child, wanted or not. Moreover, if you really could succeed in mandating full care for such preemies who had survived abortion, you could effectively deter labor-induction abortions, because it wouldn't be worth it. They'd just be saddling themselves with an expensive preemie to care for, so of course they wouldn't induce.

The saddest thing about the law from my perspective is the difficulty enforcing it.

Oh, and by the way, the effect that I have heard it has had is that hospitals now issue death certificates for such children, and so yes, potentially the mother could make whatever income tax one makes for a child for whom one has a death certificate.

Sorry, typing too fast--"child is a person..."

Oh, yes, I did think of one more point: There was a case in Hialeah a few years ago where the abortionist took a late-term child who has survived an abortion and was breathing and zipped him into a bag, where he smothered. This should have already been illegal under existing laws, as it was obviously active killing of a child breathing on its own, but as far as I know there was no prosecution, and the records of what the prosecutor said indicated that he was trying to figure out what chances teh child had of surviving later before deciding to prosecute. A born-alive law would, if effective and enforceable, add an extra indication that such active killings should be prosecuted regardless of the child's longer-term chances of survival. Unfortunately, there you run into the fact that prosecutors can't be forced to prosecute, not even (for that matter) the murder of much older people. Selective law enforcement, selective prosecution, is always a possibility and a problem.

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