When the topic turned to contraception and reproductive rights at CNN's debate in Arizona on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich went on the attack, saying that in 2008 "not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide."
It's a striking claim, and he's not the only Republican presidential candidate making it. Speaking at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum last March, Rick Santorum said, "any child born prematurely, according to the president, in his own words, can be killed."
Both Gingrich and Santorum are referring to "born alive" bills that were brought up in the Illinois Legislature in 2001, 2002, and 2003 when Obama was a state senator. The intent of the legislation was to protect any infant who survived a botched abortion by requiring the doctor to give life-saving care. In part, the bill said "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."
Then-state Sen. Obama opposed the legislation because he said it would undermine the legal protections given to abortions under Roe v. Wade.
On the state Senate floor, Obama said he believed courts would eventually overturn the legislation since it would "essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child." He added that Illinois already had a 1975 state law that protected the life of an infant that survived a botched abortion, if doctors determined the infant could survive. When the legislation came up for a vote in 2001 and 2002, Obama once voted "present" -- essentially a non-vote -- and once voted against it.