CNN’s Costello Omits Part of the Story About Obama’s Radical Abortion Votes

Carol Costello, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgIn a report on Monday’s "The Situation Room" purporting to clarify how Barack Obama "really voted on abortion" (as the graphic on-screen at right stated), CNN correspondent Carol Costello misconstrued the Democrat’s stance on legislation during his time in the Illinois state senate that would have protected infants that survived abortions. Besides the two votes specifically mentioned by Costello in the report, Obama also voted against it at the committee level, and when he was committee chair, denied a simple up or down vote on the legislation. The CNN correspondent also misrepresented the apparent pro-life stance of pro-abortion senators like "liberal Ted Kennedy" when the U.S. Senate voted on similar legislation. The bill passed by unanimous consent, so none of the senators actually voted yes or no on it.

Substitute host John Roberts introduced the segment, and asked Costello, "what are the allegations and what's the truth about Obama's abortion record?" Though the CNN correspondent did present both sides of the debate on the issue, she left out key details about Obama’s voting record.

First, Costello presented how the "charge" that Obama opposed a bill that would have protected unborn babies that survive abortion has been "circulating online for months," as if it’s just another one of those Internet rumors about the senator, like the one that claims that Obama is a Muslim. She then mentioned the criticism of "[a]nti-abortion conservatives like Former Senator Rick Santorum," and Bill Bennett, who have taken Obama to task for the vote.

The CNN correspondent then gave the following outline of Obama’s apparent record on the bill:

COSTELLO: What about that vote? In 2001, when Obama was an Illinois state senator, he and his colleagues considered a bill called the 'Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,' which provided 'that a live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.' The bill caused an uproar in Illinois, fueled by dramatic testimony by a former Chicago nurse, Jill Stanek.

JILL STANEK: I held this little baby who had Down's syndrome, between 21 and 22 weeks until he died, for 45 minutes, and that instantly catapulted me into being a pro-life activist to stand passionate on this issue.

COSTELLO: Stanek, who was working at an Illinois hospital at that time, became so passionate she said she lost her job. A hospital spokesman, the Reverend Wendall Ulman, would not confirm this, but said Stanek did 'not represent (their) hospital in a credible way.' Still, Stanek's testimony fueled passion for the Illinois bill. It came up for a vote twice in the state legislature. The first time Obama voted present. The second time, he voted no. He said at the time the Illinois Born-Alive Infant Protection Act 'would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child.' In other words, Obama says now it 'lacked the federal language clarifying the act would not be used to undermine Roe v. Wade.' Planned Parenthood of Chicago told us Obama felt the true goal of the Illinois bill was to make sure all abortion was illegal. Stanek denies that, saying the bill was almost identical to the federal Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill that was approved by every legislator from liberal Ted Kennedy to conservative Rick Santorum. It was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

That’s not the complete story, Carol. As Stanek herself detailed on her blog, Obama had more than two opportunities to vote on the legislation. On March 28, 2001, when the bill was before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee, Obama voted ‘no.’ He then voted ‘present’ two days later. When the bill came up again in 2002, the then-state senator voted ‘no’ twice, both at the committee level and on the floor of the state senate.

The sponsor introduced it for a third time in 2003. By this point, the Democrats took control of the state senate, and sent the bill to the state Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired that year. There, he held the legislation up, not allowing it even to be voted on. When the sponsor tried to amend the bill to add language that would have made it identical to the federal legislation passed in 2002 and signed into law by President Bush, Obama held it up as well.

At the end of her outline, Costello misrepresented how the federal Born-Alive Infant Protection Act "was approved by every legislator from liberal Ted Kennedy to conservative Rick Santorum." In reality, when the Senate took up the legislation, it passed by unanimous consent, thus not putting any senator on record as to whether they supported it or not.

'harsh idealogue' screencap from CNN Coverage - NewsBusters.orgEarlier, when Costello mentioned how Santorum called Obama a "harsh ideologue" in an op-ed for his opposition to the legislation, a graphic misspelled the term as "harsh idealogue." This happened despite the fact that a screen capture of the online text of the op-ed appeared behind the graphic, giving the correct spelling of the term Santorum used. The graphic, together with the screen capture, appeared for only two seconds, so unless the viewer was paying close attention, it might give the false impression that Santorum spelled it wrong, when it was actually CNN’s fault.

So a segment purporting to present "the truth about Obama's abortion record" actually clouded the reality of Obama’s support for the barbarism of letting abortion-surviving babies die of neglect, an atrocity nurses like Jill Stanek have had to deal with.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center