Obama misleads again on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act

During Wednesday’s debate, Obama said this in an attempt to explain his vote against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that’s because it’s not true. The — here are the facts.
There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

We have been over this. His rationale at the time was that the bill would have violated Roe v. Wade. Factcheck.org noted that the bill he said he would have supported as a federal Senator was identical to the one he voted against as a state senator. Let me add this article recently published at the Catholic Exhange.

Freedom of Choice versus Born Alive: Critical questions for an Obama administration.
In a presidential campaign issues arise and then fade from view. The emergence of new media preoccupations may make it seem as though yesterday’s controversy has been resolved. This is rarely true.
Such is the case with the issue of Barack Obama’s position on legal protections for infants while an Illinois state senator. In a nutshell, the controversy comes down to a claim from Senator Obama that he would have favored the bill in the U.S. Senate that he opposed while he was an Illinois state senator. More specifically, at issue is the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), which gave “human” legal status to infants born alive accidentally following an abortion. The federal version of the bill passed the U.S. Congress easily, with abortion-rights supporters like Hillary Clinton in the Senate and Jerald Nadler in the House voting in favor. After Obama left the Illinois Senate to run for the U.S. Senate, the Illinois version of the bill flew through that body 52-0. The bill, both the federal and state version, passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and Illinois Senate, both in Obama’s absence.
During his term in the Illinois Senate, Obama opposed the bill, saying repeatedly that he did so because the state bill was worded differently than the federal bill. However, as noted by Factcheck.org and other sources, the bills were identical. As a committee chair, Obama did not allow the bill to get to the Senate floor, yet he said he would have voted in favor of the same bill had he been in the U.S. Senate. After Obama’s campaign admitted that Senator Obama was mistaken, it provided another rationale for his opposition, telling the New York Sun:

… that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

Versions of this explanation persist. During the Republican National Convention coverage, Alan Colmes of “Hannity and Colmes” said that the reason Barack Obama voted against the Illinois bill was because it conflicted with an existing Illinois law.
I submit that the Obama campaign’s explanation was a dodge. Look again at the campaign’s explanation: Obama says he would be unconcerned about voting for a federal bill giving human rights to born-alive infants of questionable viability because “the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law” and “there is no federal abortion law.”
First, his campaign claimed there was a state abortion law which influenced his vote. I have asked the campaign to identify the law but have received no clarification.
Second, the campaign’s explanation ignores the fact that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. When he was a state senator, Obama opposed BAIPA on constitutional grounds and claimed the legislation violated Roe v. Wade. Given this rationale, he should not have claimed support for the federal version with the exact same language and intent.
The strongest strike against the campaign’s rationale is this: Obama wants to create federal abortion law in the form of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which would prohibit protection of “previable fetuses.” The Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama says would be a top legislative priority, says the government may not regulate abortion if such regulations contradict the following policy:

It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.

Recall that the Obama Doctrine of infant rights requires viability even if the baby has been born. In 2001, Obama said BAIPA was “an antiabortion statute” in violation of Roe v. Wade. He now says that his support of the federal BAIPA hinged on the absence of federal abortion law. It appears to me that Senator Obama has painted himself into a corner. Obama’s stated support for federal protection of infants who survive abortion is rendered moot by his support for the FOCA. If FOCA becomes law, then the rationale for supporting BAIPA disappears.
What happens in an Obama administration when there is a federal abortion statute in the form of FOCA which prohibits antiabortion statutes?
My pay grade is not as high a U.S. Senator, but I think I know the answer.

Obama's misleading new ad on Born Alive Infant Protection Act

It is hard to know where to start with this one.
Ben Smith at Politico posted this new ad from Barack Obama blasting McCain for another ad by Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor.

First, the Jessen ad is not John McCain’s ad. Second, McCain does support the availability of abortion in cases of rape and incest (Sarah Palin does not). And third, Barack Obama voted against legal recognition to infants of quesionable viability while an Illinois state senator. Obama has yet to clarify his conflicting statements about why he said he would vote for the federal version of the BAIPA but did not vote for it at the state level.
I recently had an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin on this topic: When does a baby get human rights?

Canadian doctor warns that Palin's decision could lead to fewer abortions

I had to read this several times to understand that this doctor did not mean this in a good way.
I am at a loss for words (for now…)
UPDATE: The above link has been removed but this article mentions the same doctor. The LA Times then ran an explanation here

A September 11 post on this blog based on a September 9 story in the Globe and Mail in Toronto mischaracterized executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Ottawa Dr. Andre Lalonde’s sentiments as expressed in the Globe and Mail story. The headline for the post read “Canadian doctor warns Sarah Palin’s decision to have Down baby could reduce abortions.” And the second paragraph said, “But a senior Canadian doctor is now expressing concerns that such a prominent public role model as the governor of Alaska and potential vice president of the United States completing a Down syndrome pregnancy may prompt other women to make the same decision against abortion because of that genetic abnormality. And thereby reduce the number of abortions”. Doctor Lalonde’s point of view should not have been portrayed as a concern that the number of abortions would decline but rather, as expressed in the Globe and Mail, that women would be influenced by Gov. Palin’s decision to keep Down syndrome children that they were neither emotionally nor financially prepared to care for. Here’s a link to the article on which the post, since removed was based.

(h/t: sheepcat).

Psychiatric Bulletin publishes David Fergusson editorial on mental health and abortion

I posted extensively on the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion in August, including comments from New Zealand researcher David Fergusson. This month, the Psychiatric Bulletin published an editorial by Dr. Fergusson.
The editorial supports the recent Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement regarding abortion and mental health.
Fergusson’s editorial notes the contrast between a RCP statements in 1994 and 2008. The 1994 view was that no relationship existed between abortion and mental health. Currently, the RCP cautions about the possible effects and suggests post-abortion counseling.
Fergusson notes that such debates are important, especially in the UK since mental health concerns are offered as the major reason a woman is granted an abortion. If mental health status is not improved, or may be worsened, the effects of abortion have major relevance to policy.
He concludes:

It is unlikely that these problems of evidence, uncertainty and the law will be resolved by further medicolegal debates between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. What is required is a well-designed, well-funded and, above all, impartial programme of research into the mental health risks, benefits and consequences of abortion. The recent Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement makes an important contribution to this process by highlighting the real uncertainties that exist in the current evidence on abortion and mental health.

It is hard for me to read this in any other way but as a critical contrast to the recent APA report.

Lancet: Women should be offered post-abortion psychological care

The British medical journal, The Lancet, published an editorial in their August 23 issue regarding appropriate care for women after an abortion. Although the editorial could have taken a stronger stance on the APA report, I believe they have issued an important caution to those reviewing literature on mental health and abortion.

More than a third of American women will have an abortion by the age of 45 years, if current rates continue. A study published in The Lancet last year showed that 1·5 million abortions were done in the USA and Canada in 2003, compared with 42 million abortions worldwide.
Much attention has been given to the ethical considerations of terminating a pregnancy, but little effort has been directed at the long-term mental health effects of abortion on women. In 1989, the American Psychological Association (APA) undertook a systematic review of the literature and concluded that a single elective abortion did not result in long-term mental health problems. However, in 2006, a study published in the Journal of Youth & Adolescence concluded that abortion had a greater risk of adverse mental health outcomes compared with childbirth. This review was used in a South Dakota court to support a proposal to have abortion made illegal. The proposal failed, but doctors in the state must now inform women having a termination that they will be at risk of future mental health problems.
Recognising the need for a definitive decision on the issue, the APA commissioned the Mental Health and Abortion report, released on Aug 13. The authors systematically reviewed 50 studies, published in peer-reviewed journals since their last report in 1989, and concluded that, among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.
Although this report shows that there is no causal link between abortion and mental ill-health, the fact that some women do experience psychological problems after a termination should not be trivialised. The APA report concludes that such cases are often the result of confounding issues, such as a history of mental ill-health. Abortion is an important part of comprehensive reproductive health services. Women choosing to terminate must be offered an appropriate package of follow-up care, which includes psychological counselling when needed.

Factcheck.org on Obama's opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act

Abortion may be the most troubling issue Barack Obama has faced in his bid to lure Evangelical voters to his campaign. Extremely controversial is Obama’s handling of questions surrounding the federal and IL state versions of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA).
This Newsweek article excerpts Factcheck.org’s examination of the controversy. Here is the thumbnail version:

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.

It appears that Obama did not believe living, possibly pre-viable infants had legal status as persons. It is unclear to me what he believes now. His campaign’s most recent explanation involves an argument that suggests a vote against BAIPA at the state level was necessary to protect Roe v. Wade but a vote in favor at the federal level would have no bearing on RvW. I do not understand this reasoning.
I suppose another way to frame the issue is to ask when is an abortion complete? If the fetus is delivered and is alive but of questionable viability, how do we regard this life? The Obama doctrine appears to be that an infant born alive but of questionable viability is not a legal person – or at least this was his view while an IL Senator. Here is a speech on the 2001 Senate floor:

Obama, Senate floor, 2001: 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.

Rick Warren at the Saddleback Civil Forum asked Sen. Obama when a baby is entitled to human rights and Obama said such answers are above his pay grade. From a reading of this material, making these determinations was at his pay grade at one time not long ago. Simply saying he favors the federal bill now really does not address what protection he now believes should be afforded these infants.

Washington Times: Is abortion a mental health risk?

This morning, the Washington Times published my article on the American Psychological Association Mental Health and Abortion Task Force.
In it, I call for the APA to start over on this topic. One study formed the essential basis for the Task Force conclusions. I do not agree that the Gilchrist study is better than the 2005 Fergusson study which did demonstrate a reason to be cautious. However, even if one concludes Gilchrist is best, that does not mean it is sufficient or adequate to make a dogmatic conclusion. By calling one study, the 1995 Gilchrist study, “the best scientific evidence,” the task force has misled the public by portraying the best evidence as being good enough evidence.

Royal College of Psychiatrists statement on abortion and mental health

Regular readers will no doubt note the number of posts on abortion, mental health and related topics. I am doing some research and writing on this topic and want to get some of the information I am finding into view. Here is one interesting statement from another mental health association regarding abortion and mental health effects. This from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Great Britain.

Position Statement on Women’s Mental Health in Relation to Induced Abortion
14th March, 2008
In the Government Response to the Report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the Scientific Developments Relating to the Abortion Act 1967, the following request was made:
“In view of the controversy on the risk to mental health of induced abortion we recommend that the Royal College of Psychiatrists update their 1994 report on this issue”
The College has undertaken a literature review to inform the following position statement, which includes the recommendation that a full systematic review around abortion and mental health is required.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is concerned to ensure that women’s mental health is protected whether they seek abortion or continue with a pregnancy.
Mental disorders can occur for some woman during pregnancy and after birth.
The specific issue of whether or not induced abortion has harmful effects on women’s mental health remains to be fully resolved. The current research evidence base is inconclusive – some studies indicate no evidence of harm, whilst other studies identify a range of mental disorders following abortion.
Women with pre-existing psychiatric disorders who continue with their pregnancy, as well as those with psychiatric disorders who undergo abortion, will need appropriate support and care. Liaison between services, and, where relevant, with carers and advocates, is advisable.
Healthcare professionals who assess or refer women who are requesting an abortion should assess for mental disorder and for risk factors that may be associated with its subsequent development. If a mental disorder or risk factors are identified, there should be a clearly identified care pathway whereby the mental health needs of the woman and her significant others may be met.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognises that good practice in relation to abortion will include informed consent. Consent cannot be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information regarding the possible risks and benefits to physical and mental health. This may require the updating of patient information leaflets approved by the relevant Royal Colleges, and education and training to relevant health care professionals, in order to develop a good practice pathway.
These difficult and complex issues should be addressed through additional systematic reviews led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists into the relationship between abortion and mental health. These reviews should consider whether there is evidence for psychiatric indications for abortion.

In my opinion, this is where the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion should have stopped.

Did Barack Obama vote to withhold treatment to infants surviving abortion?

This question continues to dog the Obama campaign and now the National Right to Life organization has amassed documentation regarding the claim and the Obama response.
Rather than reproduce it all here, I am going to post the link and comment more a bit later.
Click here to read the NRTL news release.
The Weekly Standard has some reporting on this issue as well.
Jill Stanek, the Illinois nurse who blew the whistle on infants left to die has ongoing coverage of this controversy.
The New York Sun has an article clarifying the issue even more. It seems Obama is now saying that the Illinois bill might have impacted Illinois law but that he would have voted for the federal version since there was no federal abortion law.

Indeed, Mr. Obama appeared to misstate his position in the CBN interview on Saturday when he said the federal version he supported “was not the bill that was presented at the state level.”
His campaign yesterday acknowledged that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

However, he is a prime supporter of the Freedom of Choice Act which would become federal law. Does that mean he would support the repeal of the federal Born Alive Act?