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Reality Check: Ad Seeks To Manipulate Obama's Stance On Abortion Rights

Published On: Oct 10 2008 07:33:56 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 13 2008 07:13:47 AM CDT

The election is just weeks away and political ads are flooding the airwaves in Wisconsin.

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But not all the ads are from the candidates. Some are third-party ads taking aim at an issue to sway votes.

An ad by the Committee for Truth in Politics seeks to manipulate Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's stance on abortion rights.

But first, viewers should know some background about the organization that put out the ad.

The Committee for Truth in Politics was started in North Carolina just a few weeks ago, on Sept. 26.

The committee has no members. Its director and incorporator is William Peaslee, the former chief of staff and legal counsel for North Carolina's Republican Party.

And Peaslee is working to hide the source of the group's money. It has filed suit with the federal election commission to prevent the government from investigating or enforcing any laws related to "electioneering communication," WISC-TV found.

The ad says: "Sen. Obama, why did you vote against protecting infants that survived late term abortions, not once but four times?"

This needs clarification, a WISC-TV analysis found. First, people need to know what he was actually voting on.

In 2001 and 2003, the Illinois state Senate debated a so-called "born alive" bill three times. The measure was meant to provide extra protection to babies who survived a rare type of abortion.

The bill defined infants born at any stage of development as humans if they could breathe or had a heart beat and said a doctor would be required to make efforts to save them. Obama voted against the bill twice in committee, twice on the floor, on a total of three bills.

He explained to senators he believed the wording of the bill could undermine Roe v. Wade, "essentially barring abortions."

Next, the ad states: "Even Congress unanimously supported protections identical to those you blocked in Illinois."

A WISC-TV analysis also found this claim misleading.

The bill passed by Congress in 2002 had some of the same definitions of "born alive" as were in the Illinois bills.

The difference is a clause clarifying that the law wouldn't change the rights of babies prior to their birth. The first two bills debated in Illinois didn't have that wording. The third had identical language to the federal bill.

But abortion rights groups argue the implications in Illinois could have increased liability for doctors.

In 2005, after Obama had gone to the U.S. Senate, Illinois passed a born alive bill but with an additional provision that the law would not affect "existing federal or state law regarding abortion."

"The Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortions and yet today you keep working to roll back this law," the ad says.

A WISC-TV analysis found that this needs clarification. Obama did sign on to what was called the Freedom of Choice Act. The bill was introduced and was left in committee in 2007. Its aim was not to completely roll back the ban on partial birth abortions but to allow them only if the health of the mother was in jeopardy.

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