Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The weirdness of US politics: Obama and abortion

One of the charges that came out early in the US Democratic Primaries was that Barack Obama was insufficiently pro-choice. The issue just resurfaced on the eve of Super Tuesday. It's based on votes made in the Illinois Senate where Obama took advantage of a voting rule which allows a person to vote "present" rather than "yes" or "no" on something, and voting "present" rather than "no" on several bills put forward in the Senate that were pro-life rather than pro-choice.

As explained in the article linked above, other people have defended this voting record on the basis that it was part of a specific strategy requested by pro-choice advocates in the state. Nevertheless it seems that this still gets brought up as a way of trying to show that Obama is more pro-choice than pro-life.

So it was a bit weird to see people on the other side of US politics trying to tell me that Obama is gung ho in favour of baby killing. And they're doing it based on his voting record in the Illinois senate, too.

Here is the location of one of several almost identical screeds online saying that his opposition to something called the "Induced Infant Liability Act" means "his radical stance on abortion puts him even further left on that issue than even NARAL Pro-Choice America" (what NARAL stands for I have no idea, but I'm guessing that they're like the Gold Standard of pro-choice activism).

I've been entertaining myself chasing down the Senate Bill they're talking about (it was actually called the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act and far be it from me to suggest that someone's making it harder to Google the full text of the Bill) and checking for other factual inaccuracies besides the name. The most obvious one is that the author is conflating this Bill with a federal Bill called (supposedly) the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, and trying to pass off support for one as automatic support for the other. But that's just garden-variety hyperpartisanism.

What really amazes me is that it's possible for one person to find himself attacked by partisans on both sides of the same issue for supposedly being too far in the other side's camp. How does that work?

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