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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

More Robo-Calls

Yesterday we wrote about a robo-call attack from the McCain campaign making much of Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers. Today, we’ll look at another robo-call (posted by Talking Points Memo late last week) that’s covering well-trodden ground. The subject is Obama’s record on born-alive legislation, which we’ve written about twice before.

The audio posted at TPM says that “Barack Obama and his Democrat allies in the Illinois Senate opposed a bill requiring doctors to care for babies born alive after surviving attempted abortions.” Actually, they could have said Obama opposed three such bills, as the bill he voted against in 2001 was revived on the floor in 2002 and in committee in 2003.

But the call fails to mention that these bills would have offered new protection only to infants who were deemed pre-viable — that is, unable to survive outside the womb. Infants considered viable were already protected in Illinois by a state law that had been in place since 1975. Obama opposed the new bills on the grounds that granting legal personhood to a pre-viable infant could potentially encroach on abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade.

The call also says that Obama’s vote on Illinois born-alive legislation is “at odds even with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.” These two U.S. senators had no stance on the Illinois bill that we could find. It’s true that they supported a similar federal version (unless they were absent — the bill passed by unanimous consent, so there’s no record of individual votes). But Obama says he also would have supported that bill if he were in the Senate at the time. We can’t say for sure that that’s true, but the McCain campaign can’t say for sure that it’s false.