Eminentoes

The Audacity of Death

Barack Obama, meet Gianna Jessen.

By 6.4.08

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According to Barack Obama, Gianna Jessen shouldn't exist.

Miss Jessen is an exquisite example of what anti-abortion advocates call a "survivor." Well into her third trimester of pregnancy, Gianna's biological mother was injected with a saline solution intended to induce a chemical abortion at a Los Angeles County abortion center. Eighteen hours later, and precious minutes before the abortionist's arrival, Gianna emerged. Premature and with severe injuries that resulted in cerebral palsy. But alive.

Had the abortionist been present at her birth, Gianna would have been killed, perhaps by suffocation. As it was, a startled nurse called an ambulance, and Gianna was rushed to a nearby hospital, where, weighing just two pounds, she was placed in an incubator, then, months later, in foster care.

Gianna survived then, and thrives now (see for yourself here), because, as she told me recently with a laugh, "I guess I don't die easy." Which is what the abortionist may have thought as he signed his victim's birth certificate. Gianna's medical records state that she was "born during saline abortion."

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama twice opposed legislation to define as "persons" babies who survive late-term abortions. Babies like Gianna. Obama said in a speech on the Illinois Senate floor that he could not accept that babies wholly emerged from their mother's wombs are "persons," and thus deserving of equal protection under the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

A federal version on the same legislation passed the Senate unanimously and with the support of all but 15 members of the House of Representatives. Gianna was present when President Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002.

When I asked Gianna to reflect on Obama's candidacy, she paused, then said, "I really hope the American people will have their eyes wide open and choose to be discerning....He is extreme, extreme, extreme."

"Extreme" may not be the impression the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have bought Obama's autobiography have been left with. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama's presidential manifesto, he calls abortion "undeniably difficult," "a very difficult issue," "never a good thing" and "a wrenching moral issue."

He laments his party's "litmus test" for "orthodoxy" on abortion and other issues, and even admits, "I do not presume to know the answer to that question." That question being the moral status of the fetus, who he nonetheless concedes has "moral weight."

THOSE STATEMENTS ARE seriously made but, alas, cannot be taken at all seriously. Obama has compiled a 100 percent lifetime "pro-choice" voting record, including votes against any and all restrictions on late-term abortions and parental involvement in teenagers' abortions.

To Obama, abortion, or "reproductive justice," is "one of the most fundamental rights we possess." And he promises, "the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," which would over-turn hundreds of federal and state laws limiting abortion, including the federal ban on partial-birth abortion and bans on public funding of abortion.

Then there's Obama's aforementioned opposition to laws that protect babies born-alive during botched abortions. If partial-birth abortion is, as Democratic icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan labeled it, "too close to infanticide," then what is killing fully-birthed babies?

On the campaign trail, Obama seldom speaks about abortion and its related issues. But his few moments of candor are illuminative. When speaking extemporaneously, Obama will admit things like "I don't want [my daughters] punished with a baby." Or he'll say that voting for legislation allowing Terri Schiavo's family to take its case from state courts to federal courts in an effort to stop her euthanasia was his "biggest mistake" in the Senate. Biggest mistake?

Worst of all are Obama's accusations against anti-abortion advocates. He recently compared his relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers, a member of a group responsible for bombing government buildings, to his friendship with stalwart pro-life doctor and Senator Tom Coburn.

In his campaign book, Obama accuses "most anti-abortion activists" of secretly desiring more partial-birth abortions "because the image the procedure evokes in the mind of the public has helped them win converts to their position."

All this explains why the National Abortion Rights Action League voted unanimously to endorse Obama over Hillary Clinton, as did abortion activist Frances Kissling, who called Hillary "not radical enough on abortion."

It's surprising that 18 to 30 year olds, the most pro-life demographic in a generation, is the same voting bloc from which Barack Obama, the most anti-life presidential candidate ever, draws his most ardent supporters.

What's not surprising is that Gianna Jessen, who turned 31 last month, plans not to support Obama.

In The Audacity of Hope, Obama denounces abortion absolutism on both ends of the ideological spectrum. That is audacious indeed considering Obama's record, which epitomizes the very radicalism and extremism he denounces.

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About the Author

Daniel Allott is a writer in Washington, D.C.