A fairly big chunk of text, but not much compared to the whole thing which you should go read.
You’d think the March, 2003 Senate committee action by Obama and five other Democrats to deep-six the most recent versions of the “born-alive” bills even after the federal language was added would have played a big role in the debates on this issue during the 2004 campaign.
And you would be wrong.
Stanek didn’t bring it up during an extensive online debate with me on this issue in 2004 (some of which survives here) and my search for contemporary news articles or blog entries on the SB 1083 amendment issue has so far come up empty.
Indeed, when he left a comment on my blog last Thursday, Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington D.C. referred to the March, 2003 committee records as “new documents that came to light this week” and “newly released Obama documents.”
Not quite. The committee meeting and the votes were held in public, and the records were there all along for anyone who cared to ask for them. The Associated Press even reported the story briefly the following day and the Illinois Senate staff documented the vote.
But to get get back to the narrative: In 2005, after Obama was in the U.S. Senate, yet another “born-alive” bill was introduced in the Illinois House– HB 984, sponsored by Harrisburg Democrat Brandon Phelps.
It was assigned to the House Civil Judiciary Civil Law Committee, chaired by Chicago Democrat John Fritchey.
“I told the proponents that the bill simply wasn’t ever going to get through as long as there was suspicion that it was a back-door way to get at Roe v. Wade or criminalize abortion in Illinois,” Fritchey told me today.
Why wasn’t the Federal “neutrality language” good enough?
Because the Federal bill was widely seen as window dressing; a proclamation more than a law with almost no potential impact on abortion law in the states. At the state level, particularly with the companion bills for punishing doctors, the proposal looked significantly more fraught.
“I told the proponents, `Just give us some extra language that will establish a comfort level for the pro-choice community,'” said Fritchey.
Here were two provisions Fritchey added:
(d) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affect existing federal or State law regarding abortion.
(e) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to alter generally accepted medical standards.
“They fought me on that language,” Fritchey said. “They said it wasn’t acceptable. They said the feds didn’t need those kinds of words, why did we need it?”
The question, of course, is why would the language be a problem if the point of the legislation wasn’t to intimidate doctors from performing abortions? Look–over there!