Freddoso misrepresents IL government findings to accuse Obama of lying about "born alive" legislation

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In The Case Against Barack Obama, David Freddoso misrepresents findings by the Illinois state government to claim that a statement by Sen. Barack Obama explaining his opposition to a bill that amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 was "not true." Obama asserted that "measures mandat[ing] lifesaving measures for premature babies" were "already the law" in Illinois. Freddoso falsely asserts that the Illinois Department of Public Health and a letter from the Illinois attorney general's office refute Obama's statement. They do not; indeed, a reported statement by the Public Health Department supports it.

In his book The Case Against Barack Obama, author David Freddoso misrepresents findings by the Illinois state government to claim that a statement by Sen. Barack Obama explaining his opposition to a bill that amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975 was "not true." Claiming that Obama's assertion -- that "measures mandat[ing] lifesaving measures for premature babies" were "already the law" in Illinois -- was false, Freddoso falsely asserts that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and a July 2000 letter from Illinois' then-Attorney General Jim Ryan's office refute Obama's statement. They do not; indeed, a reported statement by IDPH supports it.

The July 2000 letter was a response from Ryan's office to Concerned Women for America regarding a complaint by nurse Jill Stanek, who claimed that fetuses that were born alive at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, were abandoned without treatment, including in a soiled utility room. In a letter on Ryan's letterhead, chief deputy attorney general Carole R. Doris wrote in part:

On December 6, IDPH provided this office with its investigative report and advised us that IDPH's internal review did not indicate [emphasis added] a violation of the Hospital Licensing Act or the Vital Records Act.

No other allegations or medical evidence to support any statutory violation (including the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act about which you inquired) were referred to our office by the Department for prosecution.

[...]

While we are deeply respectful of your serious concerns about the practices and methods of abortions at this hospital, we have concluded that there is no basis for legal action by this office against the Hospital or its employees, agents or staff at this time.

From that letter, Freddoso concludes that the state found that "[i]n leaving born babies to die without treatment, Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal under the laws of Illinois." But the state's conclusions regarding the law were reportedly the opposite of what Freddoso claims -- IDPH reportedly concluded that if the hospital had done what Stanek alleged, its actions would have been illegal under existing law. (The word "indicate" is in italics above because in his quotation of the letter, Freddoso substitutes the word "include" for the word "indicate.")

In an August 2004 email discussion with Stanek, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn quoted IDPH spokesman Tom Shafer stating, apparently in reference to Stanek and another nurse, Allison Baker: "[W]hat they were alleging were violations of existing law. ... We took (the allegations) very seriously." Zorn wrote further: "Shafer told me that the 1999 investigation reviewed logs, personnel files and medical records. It concluded, 'The allegation that infants were allowed to expire in a utility room could not be substantiated (and) all staff interviewed denied that any infant was ever left alone.' "

From Zorn's 2004 blog post:

As you well know, Jill, the Illinois Atty. General's office, then under abortion foe Jim Ryan, was quite concerned about your allegations and directed the Illinois Dept. of Public Health to conduct a thorough investigation of the claims made by you and Allison Baker.

Why?

"Because what they were alleging were violations of existing law," IDPH spokesman Tom Shafer told me yesterday. "We took (the allegations) very seriously."

Shafer told me that the 1999 investigation reviewed logs, personnel files and medical records. It concluded, "The allegation that infants were allowed to expire in a utility room could not be substantiated (and) all staff interviewed denied that any infant was ever left alone."

Shafer was quick to add that neither he nor the IDPH report concluded that your testimony was untruthful or exaggerated to help advance your anti-abortion views -- simply that their investigation did not substantiate the allegations.

In other words, contrary to Freddoso's claim, the IDPH's reported position supported Obama's explanation: Current law already "mandated lifesaving measures for premature babies." Freddoso writes of Obama's assertion: "This is not true. Such measures were not already the law in Illinois. Not according to the Department of Public Health. Not according to Attorney General Ryan" [emphasis in original].But the letter does not, as Freddoso claims, assert that "[s]uch measures were not already the law in Illinois." Nor does the IDPH; indeed, Zorn quoted the IDPH spokesman saying that the actions alleged by Stanek would have violated the law at the time.

Echoing his book, Freddoso made similar statements in writing in an August 13 National Review article: "Hospital officials dismissed Stanek's concerns. She then approached the Republican attorney general of Illinois, Jim Ryan, who issued a finding several months later that Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal under the laws of Illinois. Doctors had no ethical or legal obligation to treat these premature babies. They had passed the bright line of birth that had effectively limited the right to life since the Roe v. Wade decision, but under the law they were non-persons." The letter from Ryan's office did not say that "[d]octors had no ethical or legal obligation to treat these premature babies"; IDPH, tasked by Ryan with investigating the allegations, reportedly said the opposite -- if what Stanek was alleging were true, the hospital would have violated existing law.

From Pages 192-199 of The Case Against Barack Obama:

A nurse, Stanek's friend, had helped in the abortion. She had been told to take this baby and leave him in a soiled utility closet. (The hospital would later deny that such things happened, stating that they had already set up "comfort rooms" in which to leave the babies to die.2)

[...]

Could it even be legal to take a living person of any size, already outside his mother's womb, and leave him to die -- to die amid medial waste?

Stanek began talking to hospital officials, who were dismissive of her concerns. She then sought out help from a pro-life group, the Concerned Women for America, and approached the Republican attorney general of Illinois, Jim Ryan. Ryan made inquiries with the state Department of Public health, to determine whether this practice was legal.

[...]

On July 17, 2000, Attorney General Ryan reported back on the investigation of Christ Hospital by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH):

On December 6, IDPH provided this office with its investigative report and advised us that IDPH's internal review did not include [sic] a violation of the Hospital Licensing Act or the Vital Records Act. No other allegations or medical evidence to support any statutory violation (including the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act about which you inquired) were referred to our office by the Department for prosecution ... While we are deeply respectful of your serious concerns about the practices and methods of abortions at this hospital, we have concluded that there is no basis for legal action by this office against the Hospital or its employees, agents or staff at this time.5

In leaving born babies to die without treatment, Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal under the laws of Illinois. Doctors had no ethical obligation to treat them. Under the law, they were non-persons.

Stanek had found a cause -- a real injustice she wanted to right.

[...]

[In 2006], he [Obama] would offer this explanation for his opposition to the Illinois legislation in The Audacity of Hope:

It mandated lifesaving measures for premature babies (the bill didn't mention that such measures were already the law) -- but also extended "personhood" to pre-viable fetuses, thereby effectively overturning Roe. v. Wade.14

This is not true. Such measures were not already the law in Illinois. Not according to the Department of Public Health. Not according to Attorney General Ryan. They had said Christ Hospital was doing nothing illegal. [emphasis in original]

Posted In
Health Care, Reproductive Rights
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National Review
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David Freddoso
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Freddoso's "The Case Against Obama"
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