Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dana Goldstein is trying to defend the indefensible

By claiming that Barack Obama's numerous attempts to derail the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA) were really votes to defend partial-birth abortion. In a post on the RH Reality Check blog entitled "When Obama Voted No", Goldstein (a writing fellow for the American Prospect) displays an almost unbelievable marriage of laziness and ignorance or possibly plain old deceptfulness. She writes,
But BAIPA isn't really about protecting infants; it is anti-abortion rights legislation crafted by the hard right. BAIPA targets the abortion procedure known as dilation and extraction, which anti-choicers have so successfully re-branded as "partial birth abortion."
In her piece, Goldstein never links to any version of the actual legislation. Now I'm not sure if this is because she was too lazy to actually look up the legislation and read it or if she did look it up and then decided to intentionally deceive her readers. Here's the text of the the first version of the Illinois legislation which was introduced in 2001(my emphasis):
(a) In determining the meaning of any statute or of any
9 rule, regulation, or interpretation of the various
10 administrative agencies of this State, the words "person",
11 "human being", "child", and "individual" include every infant
12 member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any
13 stage of development.
14 (b) As used in this Section, the term "born alive", with
15 respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the
16 complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of that
17 member, at any stage of development, who after that expulsion
18 or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of
19 the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary
20 muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been
21 cut and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction
22 occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean
23 section, or induced abortion.
24 (c) A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be
25 fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate
26 protection under the law.
Now if prolifers wanted to use this legislation to ban partial-birth abortion, why would they use the phrase "complete expulsion or extraction?" The partial-birth abortion technique kills the child when she is only partially extracted. If the goal of this legislation was to ban a technique which kills a partially extracted child, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to include the word "complete."

Here's the 2002 bill which Barack Obama also worked to stop. Same "complete explusion or extraction" language. Ditto for the 2003 bill.

If Goldstein had done her homework, she would have discovered that the movement of various states and the federal government (whose legislation passed by a voice vote in the U.S. Senate) to pass Born Alive Infant Protection Acts had nothing to do with partial-birth abortion. That movement started in the mid-90's. The goal of the BAIPA legislation was to prevent infants who survive abortions from being left to die.

Other notes:
1. Goldstein claims without evidence (I wonder why?) that partial-birth abortions are performed "most often to end wanted pregnancies in which expectant parents learn their baby will not be viable outside of the womb."

2. She seems to believe that there are only two different late-term abortion techniques (D and E and partial-birth abortion). Her thinking seems to go like this: "There are only 2 different late-term abortion techniques. Children who get dismembered in the womb certainly aren't born-alive. Therefore, this legislation must be trying to ban partial-birth abortion."

3. Goldstein seems to think partial-birth abortions are rare because they typically aren't performed at hospitals very often. Of course, most hospitals don't perform even one partial-birth abortion a year. Most hospitals don't perform abortions. Most late-term abortions are performed by late-term abortion specialists.

4. The effort to paint Obama as the good guy using the claim that he wasn't in favor of killing infants who survive abortion because he was really just in favor of killing partial-born, late-term fetuses seems somewhat counterproductive.

5. Ann at Feministing embarasses herself and shares in Goldstein's ignorance by linking to Goldstein's post.

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