Monday, August 25, 2008

A “Pro-Life” Flowers Fraud Against Obama

I missed some items from the weekly screed by Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News last Friday, so I’d better catch up here.

On this occasion, she took all-but-named Democratic nominee Barack Obama to task, calling him “NARAL’s dreamboat” (in case you hadn’t guessed by now, Flowers is rabidly anti-choice); in so doing, she also provided a plug for "The Case Against Barack Obama" by David Freddoso, one of the smear merchants from the cottage industry of propagandistic assaults against the Illinois senator.

There’s some tricky stuff here, so I’ll try to pick through this carefully. At the outset, though, I should note the lawyerly trick employed by Flowers in implying that (here it comes again…) the Democratic Party did not allow Bob Casey, Sr. to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention because he was pro-life, though Flowers does not say that in so many words.

However, she does tell us this…

A glance at a draft of the Democratic platform reveals just how entrenched pro-abortion sentiment still is in the party of Obama.

Under the section ironically titled "Renewing the American Community" (which is difficult to do if you support killing its prospective members), the party makes the following commitment:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

So, not only must abortion be safe and legal, it should also be free, or at least reasonably priced. Who cares if the Hyde Amendment poses a small stumbling block, prohibiting as it does federal funding of abortions? Those crazy kids can dream, can't they?
Funny that Flowers should mention the Hyde Amendment, since Wikipedia tells us that…

The amendment effectively ended the provision of abortions for low-income women across the United States through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for poor people. As a rider attached to the yearly appropriations bill for Medicaid, it occasioned intense debate in Congress each time that it came up for renewal. The original measure made no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother, provoking an outcry from women's rights advocates. As a result, beginning in 1977 language was added to provide for such circumstances; however, the exact wording has varied from one year to the next, subject to the outcome of Congressional bargaining on the issue.

The cutoff of federal Medicaid funds prompted some states to provide public funding for abortion services from their own coffers. Over time the number of states doing so has gradually expanded, either through legislation or consequent to judicial rulings mandating equal access to health care for low-income women. Nonetheless, as of 2007, only 17 of the 50 states provide such funding, and 13 of these are required by court order to do so.
And the states break down as follows…

States that voluntarily fund abortion for low-income women:

Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Washington

States that are under court order to fund abortions for low-income women on the same terms as other pregnancy-related and general health services are funded:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia
So, as you can see, the Hyde Amendment isn’t as ironclad as Flowers and her ilk would have us believe.


This was most blatantly on display when, as an Illinois State senator, Obama opposed SB 1095, a bill that would have mandated medical care for infants who survived botched abortions.

The legislation, which ultimately died in an Illinois House committee after passing with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority in the Senate, would have required that children who miraculously survived an attempted abortion be treated just like every other premature infant. It posed no threat to Roe since it only applied to children who had been born alive.
Flowers knows full well that SB 1095 did indeed pose a threat to Roe, since it mandated “person-hood,” if you will, to life in any form. That sounds admirable, until you realize that it would now mean that both women seeking abortions and their health-care providers would be committing an act of murder subject to criminal prosecution. And make no mistake; that is exactly what the “pro life” forces want.

However, the real gaffe here by Flowers is her claim that Obama opposed SB 1095 in Illinois, which is not completely true. As noted from this WaPo link, Obama voted “present” instead (on 1095 and previous iterations of the bill - I have no record of him voting "No," but I cannot disprove it either), one of the 13 Illinois senators to do so (I believe WaPo registration is required here, and the 1095 vote total is embedded from the page). His intention was not to kill the bill, but only to try and get rid of the language concerning an infant “born alive” at "any stage of development" (and as you can read here concerning unrelated legislation, a “present” vote is a commonly accepted congressional practice).

(If you don’t mind, I’m going to back up here for a minute and point out, yet again, that abortion is a topic about which I truly do not want to post, but I feel that I have to. First and foremost, it is a health-care issue between the woman, her medical provider, her family and/or support group, and anyone else who she chooses to invite into this situation. Yes, I cannot imagine ever being in a position where that is something I would personally advocate, but catastrophic situations happen in life even with the very best of intentions, and sometimes, this is the least worst option available. And everybody else should stay the hell out of the picture.)

Getting back to Flowers, I noted earlier that her intention is to plug the book by David Freddoso, in which he tells us (in italics, as noted here by Media Matters)…

Obama would speak against the born-alive protection bill once again when it was proposed in 2002, and he would kill the bill when it came before the committee he chaired in 2003, after Democrats had taken control of the Illinois General Assembly. His is a radical position that most abortion-choice advocates do not share.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) does not share his position. In 2001, just three months after Obama inveighed against protecting premature babies in Illinois, the United States Senate voted on the language of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. It contained no significant legal differences from the Illinois bill, but it did contain even more specific and redundant language stating that the bill did not apply to the unborn, only those already born.

In fact, although both bills included language providing that the bills would not impinge on Roe v. Wade, Obama and abortion-rights advocates noted that Illinois law, unlike federal law at the time, includes statutory provisions specifically regulating abortion. Abortion-rights advocates said that in order for the Illinois bill to avoid restricting abortion rights in any way, it would also have to make explicit reference to Illinois law and make clear that it would not affect access to abortion under Illinois law.

Planned Parenthood states of the 2005 "compromise" bill that included legislative language making clear that the bill did not affect state abortion or medical practice law: "The enactment of HB 984 did not negatively impact access to abortion services in Illinois and medical care for pregnant women remains protected."
And that is what Obama was trying to do: enact law protecting the unborn as much as possible without overriding Illinois law to the point where it endangered abortion services for women and health care providers in Illinois.

(And by the way, it should be noted that Obama’s votes against the Illinois bill came in 2001 and 2002; he did not serve in the U.S. Senate at the time the federal act passed, with all leading Dems at the time voting in favor of it, including Joe Biden - my concerns about him remain based on this vote and this Will Bunch post. As stated, though – and contrary to Flowers – the Illinois law was more restrictive than the federal one.)

And again, contrary to what Flowers tells us, we have a case where, like the AUMF vote in 2002 that launched the Iraq war, Obama carefully took the time to truly understand what the legislation was about before he cast his vote.

Would that more of our “leaders” would do the same.

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