Swift Boat Watch: Does Obama Support Infanticide?

A campaign blog.
Sept. 23 2008 12:59 PM

Swift Boat Watch: Does Obama Support Infanticide?

Every campaign season, independent groups on both sides drop huge sums on attack ads targeting the presidential candidates. Sometimes, people even notice. (See: Boat Veterans for Truth, Swift.) But, for the most part, they sail under the radar.

So in case you’re not living in a swing neighborhood of a swing district of a swing state, where these ads air constantly, Trailhead will be tracking the latest ads from these 527 s—so named for their tax-code status—and other independent groups, such as 501(c)4s, that are diving into the fray. We’ll tell you who’s behind them, what they want, and just how sneaky their claims are. Depending on this last part, we assign between one and four Swift Boats.


Founder: Jill Stanek, former nurse and anti-abortion activist.

Funding: Raymond Ruddy, pro-life philanthropist from Massachusetts, donated $350,000 for the ad after Stanek contacted him.

Cost of the Ad: $350,000


Where it ran: Ohio and New Mexico

Claims: Barack Obama voted "no" on the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois, which would have provided legal protection to infants born alive during abortions and unlikely to survive.

Accuracy: Obama opposed the bill in 2001 and 2002 as a backdoor attack on abortion. He said, though, that he would vote for it if it included a "neutrality clause" that would prevent it from affecting Roe v. Wade . But when a version with a neutrality clause came to the floor in 2003, Obama again voted "no." The ad is correct about Obama’s voting record, but the group takes some liberties with the reasoning behind his votes. (Check out Factcheck.org’s analysis here .)

Background: Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor, narrates the short spot. Her story is corroborated with her birth certificate, which says she was born during an unsuccessful third-trimester saline abortion . Jill Stanek, the group’s founder, worked as a registered nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. After discovering that the hospital performed "partial birth abortions," she began publicly advertising the fact. Stanek and Jessen both testified before Congress in 2000 and lobbied heavily to get the 2002 federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act passed.

The group originally listed its purpose on IRS forms "informing the public of Barack Obama's support of infanticide," but after talking to lawyers this summer, Stanek says, they changed their description to "inform the public about issues related to laws concerning infants who are born alive after unsuccessful abortions." Stanek says the group’s core goal is still the same. (See the group’s original filing here and the amended filing here .)

Swift Boat Rating:


While in the Illinois State Senate, Obama did vote "no" four times to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, even when the bill contained the neutrality clause. The ad’s claims are accurate even if the logic is a bit off.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?