An ad from a Susan B. Anthony List super PAC calls President Obama an “abortion radical” because of his votes on several “Born Alive” bills in the Illinois Senate, his opposition to a law to criminalize adults helping minors circumvent parental notification laws as a U.S. senator, and his support for the Affordable Care Act. The ad’s most egregious falsehood is the suggestion that the health care law expanded “tax-subsidized abortions” and pays for sex-selective abortions, even though there is no federal funding for abortions in the law. Bills addressing sex-selective abortions, much like the Illinois iterations of the “Born Alive” measures, are attempts by anti-abortion activists to increase restrictions on legal abortions, while parental notification laws endanger minors in abusive or troubled homes.
Obama Voted Against “Born Alive” Bills Because They Undermined Roe V. Wade And Increased Doctors’ Liability
Illinois Law Already Protected Viable Fetuses After Abortion. From FactCheck.org:
Illinois law has long stated that if an abortion is performed when the fetus is deemed to be viable, the doctor must:
- Choose the method of abortion least likely to harm the fetus.
- Have in attendance a second doctor who can immediately take over care of the child if it’s born alive.
- Use every available means to keep any born-alive child living and healthy.
To do otherwise constitutes a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison. That’s been the law in Illinois since 1975. […] What Obama voted against was legislation that would have extended the law’s protection to any aborted fetus that shows any sign of life, even if doctors are certain that it cannot survive. [FactCheck.org, 9/24/08]
President Obama Has Repeatedly Stated He Would Have Supported Federal Measure Protecting Infants Born Alive After Abortion. From the New York Times: “In 2002, President Bush signed a federal ‘born alive’ law. The measure passed by sweeping majorities in Congress, with the support of many legislators who usually vote against legislation favored by groups seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Even organizations like the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, now known as Naral Pro-Choice America, did not oppose the bill. Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he would have been willing to vote for such a measure in Illinois had it been identical to the federal statute.” [New York Times, 8/20/08]
Obama Voted Against 2001, 2002, And 2003 “Born Alive” Bills In Illinois Legislature. From FactCheck.org: “At issue is Obama’s opposition to Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a ‘born alive infant’ entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believe it could not survive.” [FactCheck.org, 8/25/08]
Obama: Difference Between Federal And Illinois Bills Is State Bills Could Have Been Used To Undermine Roe V. Wade. From the Chicago Tribune: “Even so, Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, even though he voted against a state version of the proposal. The federal version was approved; the state version was not. Both measures required that if a fetus survived an abortion procedure, it must be considered a person. Backers argued it was necessary to protect a fetus if it showed signs of life after being separated from its mother. […] The difference between the state and federal versions, Obama explained, was that the state measure lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.” [Chicago Tribune, 10/4/04]
2001 And 2002 Bills Did Not Contain Language Preventing Them From Being Used To Undermine Roe V. Wade. From columnist Eric Zorn’s Chicago Tribune blog: “And in 2001, abortion-rights opponent Sen. Patrick O’Malley (R-Palos Park) sponsored Senate Bills 1093, 1094 and 1095 – ‘born-alive’ bills that didn’t have the ‘neutrality’ language and contained additional provisions that would have exposed doctors to greater penalties. Those bills failed. A similar attempt in 2002 — Senate Bills 1661, 1662 and 1663 — also failed. Obama voted both ‘present’ and ‘no’ on these bills — same effect, different optics. Six Republican senators voted ‘present’ or ‘no’ on at least one of these ‘born-alive’ bills as well. One major sticking point was that these bills did not contain the ‘neutrality language’ regarding abortion rights that the federal proposal contained. But it was not the only sticking point. Another was that these proposals were twinned with proposals that would have increased the potential liability of doctors who perform abortions. Another was that they skirted/blurred the key issue of l viability [sic] – ‘sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb’ — in state law, and seemed likely to mandate costly and futile medical care for expelled or aborted fetuses in very early stages of gestation (fetal heartbeat begins in the 5th week of pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic, when the embryo is 1/17th of an inch long).” [ChicagoTribune.com, 8/20/08]
- In 2001 Floor Debate, Obama Suggested Born Alive Bill Would Be Found Unconstitutional Because It Could Be Used To Outlaw Abortions Altogether. During March 30, 2001, Illinois Senate floor discussion of Senate Bill 1093, then-state Sen. Barack Obama stated: “[T]here was some suggestion that we might be able to craft something that might meet constitutional muster with respect to caring for fetuses or children who were delivered in this fashion. Unfortunately, this bill goes a little bit further, and so I just want to suggest … that this is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny. Number one, whenever we define a previable 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 nine-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 antiabortion statute.” [Illinois Senate Floor Debate, 3/30/01]
Federal Law Contained An Explicit “Neutrality” Provision Protecting Abortion Rights By Assuring It Could Not Be Used To Change The Definition Or Rights Of Fetuses. From PolitiFact.com: “In 2002, two years before Obama was elected to the Senate, the U.S. Congress took up its own version of ‘born alive’ legislation, and passed it with a so-called ‘neutrality clause,’ which said the law would not change the legal status or legal rights of anyone prior to being ‘born alive.’ Abortion rights advocates said the clause was necessary to make sure the bill would not affect current abortion laws. […] The federal born alive legislation has passed and was the law at the time of the 2003 vote. Here’s what its neutrality clause states: ‘Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’ as defined in this section.’” [PolitiFact.com, 10/9/08]
State Laws Were Accompanied By Companion Bills That Could Have Held Physicians Responsible For Not Acting To Save Previable Fetuses With No Survival Chance. From the New York Times: “But the Illinois proposal always had a companion bill. The accompanying legislation, called the Induced Infant Liability Act, would have allowed legal action ‘on the child’s behalf for damages, including costs of care to preserve and protect the life, health and safety of the child, punitive damages, and costs and attorney’s fees, against a hospital, health care facility or health care provider who harms or neglects the child or fails to provide medical care to the child after the child’s birth.’ Groups that favor abortion rights say that bill would have introduced the possibility that doctors could be sued for failing to take extraordinary measures to save the lives of pre-viable infants, those born so prematurely that they could not possibly survive. As a result, they argue, it is disingenuous of anti-abortion organizations to claim that Mr. Obama was moving to quash only a narrow and innocuous definitional bill identical to federal law.” [New York Times, 8/20/08]
- In 2002 Floor Debate, Sen. Obama Said Bill Was Designed To “Burden” Abortion Decision Of Woman And Physician By Requiring A Second Doctor To Determine Viability. From April 4, 2002, discussion on the Illinois State Senate floor over Senate Bill 1663, which, according to Illinois State Sen. Patrick O’Malley, provides “that a child born under any circumstances would receive all reasonable measures consistent with good medical practice” and “requires a second physician to give an opinion of viability and to deliver such reasonable measures of care.” The presiding officer’s recognition of speakers has been removed for brevity.
SENATOR OBAMA: Let me just go to the bill, very quickly. Essentially, I think, as — as this emerged during debate and during committee, the only plausible rationale, to my mind, for this legislation would be if you had a suspicion that a doctor, the attending physician, who has made an assessment that this is a nonviable fetus and that, let’s say for the purposes of the mother’s health, is being – that – that labor is being induced, that that physician (a) is going to make the wrong assessment and (b) if the physician discovered, after the labor had been induced, that, in fact, he made an error, or she made an error, and, in fact, that this was not a nonviable fetus but, in fact, a live child, that that physician, of his own accord or her own accord, would not try to exercise the sort of medical measures and practices that would be involved in saving that child.
Now, if — if you think that there are possibilities that doctors would not do that, then maybe this bill makes sense, but I — I suspect and my impression is, is that the Medical Society suspects as well that doctors feel that they would be under that obligation, that they would already be making these determinations and that, essentially, adding a – an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. Now, if that’s the case – and — and I know that some of us feel very strongly one way or another on that issue – that’s fine, but I think it’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births. Because if these are children who are being born alive, I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in that room is going to make sure that they’re looked after. [Illinois State Senate Floor Debate, 4/4/02, emphasis added]
Obama Voted Against Law Criminalizing Adults Who Help Vulnerable Minors
In 2006, Obama Voted Against Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act. [S. 403, Vote #216, 7/25/06]
Law Would Make Helping A Minor Cross State Lines For An Abortion Punishable By Prison Time. From the Washington Post: “The Senate voted yesterday to make it a crime to take a pregnant minor to another state to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge, handing a long-sought victory to the Bush administration and abortion opponents. The bill would help about three dozen states enforce laws that require minors to notify or obtain the consent of their parents before having an abortion. It would bar people — including clergy members and grandparents — from helping a girl cross state lines to avoid parental-involvement laws. Violations could result in a year in prison.” [WashingtonPost.com, 7/26/06]
Law Could Jeopardize Safety Of Minors From Troubled Families. From the Washington Post: “Opponents said the Senate measure could threaten the safety of girls, saying parents might beat their daughters if they find out about plans for an abortion. The proponents’ approach ‘is not to deal with the reality of young people’ in troubled families, said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). He cited the case of an Idaho man who impregnated his 13-year-old daughter and then killed her when he learned she had scheduled an abortion.” [WashingtonPost.com, 7/26/06]
NARAL: Some Minors Cannot Involve Parents In Decisions On Abortion Because Of Abuse Or Incest. From NARAL Pro-Choice America: “Ideally, a teen facing a crisis will seek the advice and counsel of those who care for her most and know her best. In fact, even in the absence of laws mandating parental involvement, many young women do turn to their parents when they are considering abortion. Unfortunately, some young women cannot involve their parents because physical violence or emotional abuse is present in their homes, because their pregnancies are the result of incest, or because they fear parental anger and disappointment. Mandatory parental-involvement (consent and notice) laws do not solve the problem of inadequate family communication; they only exacerbate a potentially dangerous situation.” [ProChoiceAmerica.org, 1/1/12]
NARAL: CIANA Would “Threaten Young Women’s Health And Deny Them The Support And Guidance They Need From Responsible And Caring Adults.” From NARAL Pro-Choice America: “In some circumstances, teens facing an unintended pregnancy feel compelled to travel to another state where there is a less stringent parental-involvement law or no such law at all to avoid involving their parents and maintain their privacy. In the most dire of circumstances, some pregnant young women who fear telling their parents may resort to illegal or self-induced abortions that may result in death. […] In recent years, anti-choice legislators in Congress have attempted to pass two pieces of federal legislation that would impose draconian criminal parental-involvement laws on every state in the country. The first, called the ‘Child Custody Protection Act,’ criminalizes caring and loving adults—including grandparents, adult siblings, and religious counselors—who accompany a teen out of state for abortion care if the home state parental-involvement law has not been met. The second, called the “Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act,” in addition to the restrictive provisions in the CCPA, also would impose a convoluted patchwork of parental-involvement laws on women and doctors across the country, making it virtually impossible for young women to access abortion services in another state. Both measures would threaten young women’s health and deny them the support and guidance they need from responsible and caring adults.” [ProChoiceAmerica.org, 1/1/12, internal citations removed]
AMA And American Academy Of Pediatrics Oppose Parental Notification Laws. From NARAL Pro-Choice America: “The American Medical Association takes the position that: ‘Physicians should not feel or be compelled to require minors to involve their parents before deciding whether to undergo an abortion. . . . [M]inors should ultimately be allowed to decide whether parental involvement is appropriate.’ The American Academy of Pediatrics also opposes parental-involvement laws: ‘Legislation mandating parental involvement does not achieve the intended benefit of promoting family communication but it does increase the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to appropriate medical care. . . . [M]inors should not be compelled or required to involve their parents in their decisions to obtain abortions, although they should be encouraged to discuss their pregnancies with their parents and other responsible adults.’” [ProChoiceAmerica.org, 1/1/12, internal citations removed]
Affordable Care Act Does Not Allow Taxpayer-Subsidized Abortions
Abortion Coverage In Subsidized Health Plans Must Be Paid For From A Separate Account That Does Not Include Federal Tax Money. From PolitiFact: “The federal health care law — if it withstands court challenges — will create state-run health insurance exchanges in which private companies will compete for the business of people who do not get insurance through their employers. The idea is that it will allow individuals to get group rates enjoyed by those in big employer plans. People who cannot afford insurance will get government subsidies to offset the cost of purchasing a plan in the exchange — a group of about 19 million people, the government estimates. The subsidy for their coverage would go directly from the government to the insurer, and look like a discount to the policy holder. […] The final language signed into law, crafted by abortion opponent Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., allows insurance companies in the exchange to offer abortion services, even to people who get federal subsidies. But with a big caveat. Nelson’s provision specifically prohibits the use of federal dollars to fund abortions, except in the case of rape, incest or when the mother’s life in peril. Rather, insurance companies would be required to pay for abortion services from a segregated pool of money funded through patient premiums.” [PolitiFact.com, 3/17/11]
Longstanding Hyde Amendment Prohibiting Use Of Federal Funds For Abortion Stands Under Affordable Care Act. From the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Hyde Amendment, which is attached annually to the HHS appropriations bill, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services, with the exception of pregnancies that endanger the life of the woman or result from rape or incest. The Hyde Amendment prohibits coverage of abortions for those covered by federally-funded health programs, including Medicaid, Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), military plans, Indian Health Service (IHS). […] [The Affordable Care Act] prohibits affordability credits under the ACA from being used for abortion coverage, subject to the Hyde Amendment [and] [e]stablishes new segregation rules to ensure that federal funds are not used to pay for abortion beyond those exemptions permitted by the Hyde Amendment.” [KFF.org, March 2011]
Federal Judge: “The Express Language Of The PPACA Does Not Provide For Taxpayer Funded Abortion. That Is A Fact And It Is Clear On Its Face.” From Politico: “A federal judge in Ohio said Monday that the Affordable Care Act does not provide for taxpayer funding for abortion. The statement was the cornerstone of the judge’s ruling to allow a defamation lawsuit brought against the Susan B. Anthony List by a former congressman to move forward. Former Ohio Representative Steve Driehaus sued the SBA List for defamation of character during the 2010 election cycle, when the anti-abortion group ran an ad campaign on the premise that Driehaus had voted for a bill ‘that includes taxpayer funding for abortion,’ in reference to Driehaus’s vote in favor of the ACA. […] Driehaus lost the election but Judge Timothy Black stated in a decision that the defamation lawsuit could move forward because ‘the express language of the PPACA does not provide for taxpayer funded abortion. That is a fact and it is clear on its face.’” [Politico, 8/2/11]
Attempts To Outlaw Sex-Selective Abortions Are A Ruse
RH Reality Check: There Is “No Federal Policy That Encourages Sex Selection Abortion.” From RH Reality Check: “[Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser] says Obama’s actions ‘fly in the face of mainstream American women,’ and that their ad campaign is necessary to ‘amplify’ the voices of women opposed to his record on abortion. A record where, among other lies and dubious claims, they say ‘As President, he signed Obamacare, the biggest ever expansion of tax-subsidized abortions, even for abortions just because the baby is a girl.’ There is no funding for safe abortion care in the Affordable Care Act, and certainly no federal policy that encourages sex selection abortion.” [RHRealityCheck.org, 10/3/12]
Anti-Abortion Legislators Seek To Leverage Preference For Sons In Other Countries To Restrict Abortions In The U.S. From the Guttmacher Institute: “While governments in Asia grapple with the serious consequences of entrenched son preference and lopsided sex ratios, antiabortion lawmakers in the United States are working overtime to capitalize on the issue for their own ends. In February, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation to ban sex-selective abortions. Among other actions, the bill would allow criminal prosecution of health care providers who perform such abortions, and of medical and mental health professionals who do not report suspected violations of the law. It would make no exceptions to save the life or health of the mother, or to allow for medical, sex-linked reasons for an abortion. (The bill also bans so-called race-selective abortions, citing disproportionately high abortion rates among communities of color as evidence that abortion providers are ‘targeting’ them, while ignoring the underlying racial disparities in unintended pregnancy rates.” [Guttmacher.org, Spring 2012]
Sex-Selective Abortion Bans Open Women’s Reproductive Health Decisions To Legal Scrutiny. From Jezebel: “The real-life issue with the bill is that, should it advance to law, it would require women to justify or explain their reasons for terminating a pregnancy, and seek the approval of some outside body to do so.” [Jezebel.com, 2/22/11]
While Son Preference Is A Problem In Other Countries, There’s No Evidence It’s An Issue In The U.S. From the Guttmacher Institute: “Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) originally introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) in 2008, and reintroduced it in 2011, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. In the interim, bills to outlaw sex-selective abortion were introduced in 13 states and enacted in two: Oklahoma and Arizona. The ‘findings’ included by Rep. Franks in the preamble of his bill rely on international evidence of sex selection because U.S. data on the subject are both limited and inconclusive. What is conclusively known is that the U.S. sex ratio at birth in 2005 stood at 105 boys to 100 girls, squarely within biologically normal parameters.12 Beyond that salient fact, two studies using 2000 U.S. census data to examine sex ratios among Chinese-, Indian- and Korean-American families found that although the ratio for first-born children in such families was normal, there was evidence of son preference in second- and third-order births, if the older children were daughters.13,14 Notably, the authors do not pinpoint the cause of the disparate ratios—whether prepregnancy techniques involving fertility treatments or sex-selective abortions. In addition, they comment that these three ethnic communities constitute a very small proportion—less than 2%—of the U.S. population.” [Guttmacher.org, Spring 2012]
Advocacy Groups Stress That Banning Sex-Selective Abortions In The U.S. Is Not A Viable Way To Address Preference For Sons. From the Guttmacher Institute: “Advocacy organizations, such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), that work in these communities readily acknowledge that son preference is an important global concern that needs attention wherever it continues to exist. But they also emphasize that ‘son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender’ and that ‘gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion. The real solution is to change the values that create the preference for sons.’ Reproductive justice and Asian women’s rights groups, in fact, cite myriad problems that sex-selective abortion bans could create. At the most practical level, such restrictions are neither enforceable nor effective, as already demonstrated internationally. And various attempts to enforce them, they stress, would only perpetuate further discrimination in their communities through stereotyping and racial profiling of Asian women whose motivations for an abortion would be under suspicion.” [Guttmacher.org, Spring 2012]
[NARRATOR:] Barack Obama: abortion radical. As a state senator, Obama opposed a law to provide equal treatment for children born alive after a failed abortion. In Congress, Obama supported a law to block parental notice. As president, he signed Obamacare, the biggest-ever expansion of tax-subsidized abortions, even for abortions just because the baby is a girl. Barack Obama: radical on abortion, wrong for America. Women Speak Out PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising. [Women Speak Out PAC via YouTube.com, 10/2/12]