A baby was born alive during a botched saline abortion on April 6, 1977. Weighing just two lbs and severely injured by the abortion solution which had burned her skin, the child was premature and had cerebral palsy.  Her parents, two young teenagers, released her to the foster care system of the state, and she was later adopted at the age of four. Gianna Jessen is now a recording artist, public speaker and pro-life activist who seeks to raise awareness regarding the rights of abortion survivors. She understands, in a way many of us cannot, the brutal nature of abortion and the value of laws that protect infants born alive. She knows that if someone at the hospital where she was accidentally born had not intervened on her behalf, she could have been left to die in a utility room on a heap of soiled linens.


In 2008, nurse Jill Stanek explained in a riveting and shocking video that many abortion survivors have not fared as well as Gianna. Many have been denied medical care and simply abandoned. As 2012 Presidential Candidate Ron Paul shared in his ad, “Life,”  during his time as a ob/gyn doctor in Texas, he witnessed viable and breathing babies that were delivered after botched abortion procedures who were left to die, while premature babies born to expectant parents were given every consideration and surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to prolong their lives.

Fortunately, the Born Alive Protection Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush in August 2002, now provides legal protection to any and all babies born alive at any stage of development that has a heartbeat, pulsation of the umbilical cord, breath, or voluntary muscle movement, no matter if the umbilical cord has been cut or if the expulsion of the infant was natural, induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.”

The Born Alive Protection Act requires medical personnel to provide care to living babies and bars them from killing children who have survived birth. It doesn’t seem like it should be a controversial issue. And, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t really. Pro-abortion groups as strident as the NARAL backed the bill and Democrats like Barbara Boxer and Sen. Edward Kennedy supported it and even urged its passage. The act passed the Senate unanimously.

Oddly enough, and a bit horrifically, when a similar bill came up for vote in Illinois in 2001, 2002, and 2003, then-Senator Barack Obama opposed all three versions of it.  When his opposition of the bill came back to haunt him in the 2008 Presidential elections, he accused the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) of “lying” about his stances, and claimed that although he did not support the Illinois bill, he would have voted for the federal bill that was eventually signed into law. He opposed the Illinois bill, he claimed, because he saw it as a back-door attack on a woman’s legal right to abortion, whereas the federal bill included a neutrality clause that protected Roe v. Wade.

As it turns out, that’s not true. Richard Land has put together a report debunking Obama’s claims against the NRLC, and Jill Stanek has also compiled a list of sources for those interested in finding out about the President’s real actions with regard to the Born Alive legislation. FactCheck.org, a site which has been frequently accused of unfair liberal bias, weighed in on the NRLC controversy with this surprising statement:

“We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee’s 2003 mark-up session…”

Interestingly enough, Obama was not only a member of the committee that added the neutrality clause to Illinois’ Born Alive legislation – he was the chairman of that committee. And after taking great pains to get the bill to include the clause which would have upheld Roe v. Wade, he voted against it.

The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the IL state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the “neutrality clause” (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state Born Alive Protection Act, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.

In light of this shocking evidence against Barack Obama, and suggestions that his claims about the Born Alive legislation were calculated to deceive the public, it’s not surprising that critics have expressed dismay over the former senator’s “infanticide” vote. Political voices from Alan Keyes to Newt Gingrich have spoken with horror of the President’s refusal to uphold the legal rights of human babies, and radio host Rush Limbaugh pulled the issue out again this week, referring yet again to the President’s vote as an “infanticide vote.”

Media Matters, the George Soros-funded liberal think tank, paraded their outrage in a piece titled, Limbaugh Revives Bogus Attack That Obama Supports “Infanticide.”

Born Alive legislation aside, there are other reasons to accuse Obama of supporting infanticide, two of the most infamous being his “present” votes for Partial Birth Abortion bans, (in Illinois, a “present” vote carries the same weight as a “no” vote) the second of which passed overwhelmingly and was signed into law. Partial birth abortion, a truly horrible form of late-term abortion which involves the abortionist inducing labor and then severing the skull of an often fully-viable child, is largely seen as inhumane, even among pro-choice activists. If that isn’t infanticide, it’s hard to say what is.

But the good folks over at Media Matters still aren’t convinced. In order to make our discussion more accessible to them, let’s use a simple, real-life example. Suppose the legislature were to decide that if someone really, really hacks me off, and I go into their home in the middle of the night and shoot them, I haven’t committed murder. They decide that I can walk away from the scene completely scot-free. Does their verdict mean that what I have done isn’t a homicide? Of course not! Because a homicide is the act of killing a homo sapiens, whether the act is legal or not.  While the definition of murder varies according to legislation, any time I end the life of a human being, I have committed a homicide. Thus, when I end the life of an infant, I have committed infanticide, even if the government doesn’t think I have committed murder. In the words of ethicist G.K. Chesterton, “to have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

The question remains: what is an infant? I bet Gianna Jessen is pretty sure she was one in 1977 when medical personnel scrambled to save what was left of her life.

Bryana Johnson :: Texas A&M University :: Dallas, Texas :: @HighTideJournal