Monday, October 13, 2008

Gov. Palin Tells The Truth?

That would certainly be a newsworthy headline if it were, in fact, true. As it turns out, as is always the case with Palin and her curmudgeonly supporters, news of Palin's truthfulness have been greatly exaggerated. How? (Continued below the fold.)
The myth is:
In the Illinois Senate, Obama opposed legislative efforts in 2001, 2002 and 2003 to give legal protections to any aborted fetus that showed signs of life. The 2003 measure was virtually identical to a bill President Bush signed into law in 2002 that unanimously passed the U.S. Senate.

The reality is deconstructed in great detail on Obama's website and by the independent Fact Check site. Here's an excerpt:
In discussions of abortion rights, definitions are critically important. The main bills under discussion, SB 1082 and the federal BAIPA, are both definition bills. They are not about what can and should be done to babies; they are about how one defines "baby" in the first place. Those who believe that human life begins at conception or soon after can argue that even a fetus with no chance of surviving outside the womb is an "infant." We won't try to settle that one.

What we can say is that many other people – perhaps most – think of "infanticide" as the killing of an infant that would otherwise live. And there are already laws in Illinois, which Obama has said he supports, that protect these children even when they are born as the result of an abortion. [Emphasis mine.] Illinois compiled statute 720 ILCS 510/6 states that physicians performing abortions when the fetus is viable must use the procedure most likely to preserve the fetus' life; must be attended by another physician who can care for a born-alive infant; and must "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would be required of a physician providing immediate medical care to a child born alive in the course of a pregnancy termination which was not an abortion." Failure to do any of the above is considered a felony. NRLC calls this law "loophole-ridden."

So, are Obama's pro-abortion views extreme? It is safe to say that, at least for Palin, any view that allows abortion is extreme, considering the fact that she would not even allow abortions in cases of rape and incest (one might call her views "extreme anti-abortion views", by the same token.) But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so the burden is on those who believe that Obama's views on the subject are extreme to prove that his views go beyond those of other congress members who support a woman's legal right to an abortion and beyond those of the general public.

That Obama sees abortion as a woman's legal right is no mystery, as he himself has stated. But for his views to be extreme, they would have to be out of the mainstream. The case that Palin and her curmudgeonly supporters make is far from conclusive. In fact, it seems highly dubious and tainted by extreme views of the opposite kind.

As is often the case, the truth should be evaluated in one-degree increments. Absolute statements rarely tell the whole picture.

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