In his Oct. 8 CNSNews.com column, Terrence Jeffrey repeated questionable right-wing claims regarding Barack Obama and the issue of abortion.
Jeffrey began by stating the "background" of the fight over the controversial "born alive" act in Illinois: "Eight years ago, nurse Jill Stanek went public about the 'induced-labor abortions' performed at the Illinois hospital where she worked. Often done on Down syndrome babies, the procedure involved medicating the mother to cause premature labor. Babies who survived this, Stanek testified in the U.S. Congress, were brought to a soiled linen room and left alone to die without care or comforting." In fact, Stanek's allegations were never substantiated.
Jeffrey also wrote: "Then-Illinois state Sen. Patrick O’Malley, whom I interviewed this week, contacted the state attorney general’s office to see whether existing laws protected a newborn abortion-survivor’s rights as a U.S. citizen. He was told they did not." But both Obama and other opponents of the bill said that existing law did prohibit it.
Jeffrey then tries to play semantics with Obama's use of the term "pre-viable fetus":
To explain his position, Obama came up with yet another term to describe the human being who would be protected by O’Malley’s bills. The abortion survivor became a “pre-viable fetus.”
By definition, however, a born baby cannot be a “fetus.” Merriam-Webster Online defines “fetus” as an “unborn or unhatched vertebrate” or “a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth.” Obama had already conceded these human beings were “alive outside the womb.”
“No. 1,” said Obama, “whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or other elements of the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a—a child, a nine-month-old—child that was delivered to term.”
Yes. In other words, a baby born alive at 37 weeks is just as much a human “person” as a baby born alive at 22 weeks.
But Jeffrey fails to explain his, or medical science's, definition of "viable." In fact, 22 weeks is considered to be the absolute lower limit for viability of a fetus outside the womb. Jeffrey does not explain why, say, a 12-week-old fetus who "survives" an abortion should be considered "born" if it cannot survive outside the womb. Nor does Jeffrey mention the fact that third-trimester abortions are relatively rare.