The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Another anti-abortion stealth bill gets activated

The partial birth abortion (S 3 108thC) and Laci and Connor's Law (HR 1997 108thC) acts - both parts of the anti-abortion industry's legislative campaign of death by a thousand cuts to US abortion provision - I've talked about before - in particular, on November 21 2003.

But the good people at Rachel Maddow's programme have highlighted another [1] - HR 2175 (107thC), which became PL 107-207, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002.

The story from AP [2] is that
The Bush administration said Friday that it would enforce a nearly 3-year-old federal law that requires doctors to attempt to keep alive a fetus that survives an abortion.

In making the announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services Department said it was an attempt to educate the public about the little-known law. Officials said they didn't know how often a fetus survives an abortion and would not say whether there have been any complaints about a lack of enforcement.

The story is jaw-dropping on any number of counts: there's the why in hell's name didn't we know angle, of course - a search on the short title pulls up five items, plus the AP story; on Google News, just the AP story [3].

And why haven't the anti-abortionists been drawing our attention - as only they know how! - to the non-enforcement of this law?

However, most striking to me is the fact that the bill passed both houses of Congress without a roll call vote! The only votes cast against the bill were those of the two Congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee who voted against reporting it out: 25 voted in favour!

What exactly the supporters of a woman's right to choose were doing, I have not researched.

There is one last juicy morsel, from the Chicago Tribune:
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama's communication director Robert Gibbs released a statement shortly before 11 a.m. today reading, "Barack Obama would have voted for H.R. 2175, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that passed the (U.S.) Senate."

Why, you might ask, would a bill from the 107th be a topic in the election for the 109th?

The piece goes on:
This ought to release whatever air there was in the charge that Republican candidate Alan Keyes has been floating -- that Obama's vote against somewhat similar legislation on the state level indicates that Obama would have voted against that Federal bill. And since the Federal bill passed by unanimous voice vote, Obama is more liberal on the issue of abortion than any sitting U.S. senator.


Obama was a shoo-in at that stage, of course; why the abortion contortion? Another Obama puzzle [4].

  1. How many more sleeper laws there may be - already enated, or still in bill form - I know not.

  2. This should be a durable link: the Maddow page links the story on the Times site. There's no gizmo link.

  3. Searching Google on "hr 2175" abortion produces 179 of 329 items. Without Nexis, it's hard to judge how big a story the bill was back in 2002.

  4. Earlier pieces on some odd votes cast by Obama.


There is a CRS Report Abortion Issues in the 107th Congress.

And a comment by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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