WASHINGTON - One week from the Democratic convention and Barack Obama finds himself answering for a vote he made back in the Illinois state Senate.
It centers on a bill called the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. The National Right to Life committee says Obama is misleading Americans over he opposed the bill and Obama told CBN News the pro-life group is lying.
This back and forth is heating up on the Internet and even getting the presidential candidate a little hot under the collar.
Click play to hear analysis from CBN News Sr. National Correspondent David Brody along with comments from Pat Robertson following this report.
It's an issue that has dogged Obama since his days in the Illinois state Senate.
The Born Alive Infant Protection Act would have required medical attention for infants born alive during an attempted abortion.
Obama voted against it more than once. Why? Obama says to protect Roe v. Wade and keep abortion legal. But even most abortion rights supporters say Roe wasn't at risk.
The National Right to Life Committee says Obama keeps changing his reasons for opposing the bill.
"We believe that he should come clean and admit that he has misrepresented his vote in the past on this Born Alive Infant Protection Act and that he should apologize to those that he has called liars," said Susan T. Muskett of the National Right to Life Committee.
Indeed, in an exclusive interview with CBN News this past weekend, Obama had harsh words for those questioning his position and vote.
"I hate to say that people are lying, but here's a situation where folks are lying," Obama said.
Let's Rewind to 2000
Back in 2000 a federal version of the Born Alive bill was introduced but defeated.
Two years later, pro-choice lawmakers finally supported the bill because wording was added that protected the legality of Roe v. Wade.
The same fight was going on in Illinois at the state level. There Obama, a state senator at the time, voted against all Illinois versions saying they were different than the law passed by Congress - because they didn't protect Roe sufficiently under Illinois law.
"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," Obama said.
That is where National Right to Life makes its case. It has produced a document showing that the same language protecting Roe was indeed in a 2003 version of the Illinois bill. Yet Obama, the chairman of the committee responsible for the bill, still voted against it. The Right to Life Committee believes this discrepancy is part of a bigger issue.
"I think the American people need to know how extreme he is and the role that he played on this," Muskett said.
In a statement to CBN News, the Obama campaign wouldn't address the charge that he has misrepresented his position on this bill. They don't believe it's necessary since there were multiple versions of the bill at different times.
Instead they told CBN News "The suggestion that Obama - the proud father of two little girls - and others who opposed these bills supported infanticide is deeply offensive and insulting. The bills Senator Obama voted against in Illinois were crafted to undermine Roe v. Wade or pre-existing Illinois state law."
The Bottom Line
So what's the takeaway from all of this? Pro-life groups say Obama is an extremist when it comes to abortion.
They point to the Born Alive vote plus an 2007 appearance before The Planned Parenthood Action Fund where Obama indicated the Freedom Of Choice Act would be the first piece of legislation he would sign as President.
They say that act would effectively wipe out all current federal, state and local restrictions on abortion.
Meanwhile, while the Obama campaign concedes that the language of the federal bill and the Illinois bill are the same, the implications would have been far different in each case. And so they say this is not so cut and dried. Plus they say Illinois state law already had language in place protecting infants born alive.
*Original broadcast August 20, 2008.