Defenders of senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) have come out of the woodwork in the week following his assertion that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” Among those who have rushed to Akin’s defense are former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both using the conversation as a launching pad to argue that President Obama supports infanticide.
Both Gingrich and Huckabee have made misleading statements about President Obama’s abortion rights record, particularly on his votes in the Illinois state senate against the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act,” to try to frame him as a supporter of killing viable fetuses. On Fox News, Huckabee claimed that President Obama believes “you can still take the life of a baby even after abortion”:
HUCKABEE: [Obama] voted three times against a bill that would say that you had to give medical treatment to a baby that was born as a result of a botched abortion but it was a living child outside of a mother’s womb. This is an after-birth abortion. He said no, you can still take the life of the baby even after abortion.”
That bill, which Obama did vote against, would have required doctors to resuscitate an aborted fetus if legislators felt it had any chance of viability. But Obama’s reasoning for voting against the bill was nothing like how Gingrich and Huckabee represent it. In interviews with a range of media outlets, Obama expressed that he feared the bill would undermine Roe v Wade by defining any fetus as a human with human rights and claimed it could be used to take down any abortion rights legislation that anti-choice activists didn’t like.
Obama was, however, “fully in support” of a federal bill that provided the same protection viable fetuses while also including protections for Roe v Wade :
OBAMA: I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported – which was to say – that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born – even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade.
Obama also felt that the legislation would have taken decision-making out of the hands of doctors, giving anti-abortion activists an opening to sue abortion providers by alleging that they chose to terminate the life of a viable fetus on purpose. He did not, however, express any support for “infanticide” or for ending the life of a viable fetus, as Huckabee and Gingrich claim.