In her memoir, while discussing abortion, Sarah Palin claims that the “real extremism” on abortion comes from people “like Barack Obama, who opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions” -- a reference to Obama's opposition to legislation that would have amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. However, opponents of the legislation noted at the time that the Illinois criminal code already unequivocally prohibited killing children; and the Obama presidential campaign cited specific provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in stating that the “born alive principle was already the law in Illinois.”
Palin: Obama “opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions”
From Page 278 of Palin's memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life, discussing her September 2008 interview with CBS' Katie Couric:
I answered again: I would personally counsel such a girl to choose life, despite these horrific circumstances, but I absolutely didn't think anyone should end up in jail for having an abortion. Katie included that but didn't include another important part of my answer: that we should support women in these difficult circumstances and give them the resources necessary to give their children life. And that the real extremism came from those who supported partial-birth abortion, those who didn't believe parents should have a say in whether their minor daughters underwent abortions, and those, like Barack Obama, who opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions.
Palin during 2008 CBS interview: Obama believes “child being born alive” should “not receive medical help to save that child's life”
Palin: Obama would support measures under which “child being born alive” would not be allowed to “receive medical help to save that child's life.” In the full interview, which CBS posted online, Palin states that Obama “would support measures that would actually allow in a botched abortion, late-term abortion, that child being born alive, to allow it to not receive medical help to save that child's life.” From the interview:
PALIN: The extremism, to me, is those who would support partial-birth abortion. Those who would disallow parental consent when it comes to a minor child who would seek an abortion. I think parents should have a say in that. They should be a part of their child's health care there. And those who, like Barack Obama, would support measures that would actually allow in a botched abortion, late-term abortion, that child being born alive, to allow it to not receive medical help to save that child's life. That's extremism to me. That is so far on the left side of the political spectrum and public sentiment in this country. That's the extremism to me.
Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibited killing children
As Obama and other opponents noted, criminal code already prevented killing of children. In attacking Obama, Palin joined other conservatives in misleadingly referencing Obama's opposition in the Illinois legislature to legislation that amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. Opponents of the bill noted that the legislation was unnecessary, as the Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibits killing children, and said that the bill posed a threat to abortion rights. When tasked by the Illinois attorney general's office with investigating allegations that fetuses born alive at an Illinois hospital were abandoned without treatment -- the alleged incident that inspired the “Born Alive Act” -- the Illinois Department of Public Health reportedly said that it was unable to substantiate the allegations but said that if the allegations had proved true, the conduct alleged would have been a violation of existing Illinois law. The Obama presidential campaign subsequently cited specific provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in stating that the “born alive principle was already the law in Illinois.”
During 2008 campaign, Palin was criticized for “misleading,” “unfair” attacks on Obama's vote
Time's Michael Scherer: Palin's “born alive” attacks “misleading.” In an October 13, 2008, article for Time magazine, Michael Scherer wrote that Palin's attacks during the campaign were “misleading” and that "[s]tate law in Illinois, which Obama supported, has always protected the life of a child born alive after abortions, if doctors believed the child had a reasonable chance of survival":
Late last week, and with little fanfare, Palin began claiming at rallies and in a radio interview that Obama had once opposed providing medical care for certain newborn babies, who later died. Without any clear context, Palin's statements seemed to suggest that Obama supported a form of infanticide.
It is without dispute that Obama is pro-choice; he has a long record of opposing efforts that might limit legal access to abortion. To suggest, however, that Obama supported the death of children born alive after abortions is misleading. State law in Illinois, which Obama supported, has always protected the life of a child born alive after abortions, if doctors believed the child had a reasonable chance of survival.
Wash. Post “fact checker” Dobbs: “unfair to accuse Obama of supporting the withdrawal of medical treatment from babies.” In an October 24, 2008, entry on The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog, Michael Dobbs asked, “Is it true that Obama was ever in favor of withholding medical treatment for babies born alive as a result of a botched abortion?” Dobbs concluded:
Reasonable people can differ on whether the 1975 Illinois state law needed to be strengthened, and the likely effect of the various “Born Alive” bills rejected by the Illinois legislature between 2001 and 2003. But it is unfair to accuse Obama of supporting the withdrawal of medical treatment from babies born as the result of a botched abortion. He has never adopted such an “extreme” position.