John Leo
Defenders of abortion rights think the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act is just another tactical ploy in the abortion wars. In part it is. Opponents of abortion want to see if the abortion lobby is really going to come out against a proposed law that simply says babies born alive are persons.

Sure enough it did, thus fulfilling the safe prediction that the abortion lobby will always adopt the most extreme position available. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) put out a hot statement announcing that "this bill attempts to inject Congress into what should be personal and private decisions about medical treatment." Translation: Killing babies born accidentally as a result of botched abortions has to be legal because we want it to be.

Anti-abortion people simply said: We told you so. We predicted that court approval of those grisly partial-birth abortions would lead to demands that infanticide should be legal, too.

The "Born-Alive" bill (coming soon to your local newspaper as "the so-called Born-Alive Act, known medically as, etc., etc.) was introduced by Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., and approved 22-1 by the House Judiciary Committee. It defines born alive as meaning "complete expulsion or extraction from its mother" of "a member of the species homo sapiens ... who after such expulsion or extraction, breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles ..."

Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., an abortion-rights supporter, voted in favor but seemed mystified by the bill. Though he thinks it is part of an effort to undermine Roe vs. Wade, "As far as I can tell, this bill does nothing except restate current law."

Canady says the bill recapitulates existing law in 40 states and will bring their standard to the federal level. In effect, the bill says that babies born during abortions must be put on the same plane and extended the same care and constitutional protections as other babies. Once born, they cannot be discriminated against, killed, or allowed to die simply because they are unwanted.

Nurses testified before the Judiciary Committee about how medical personnel deal with the results of "induced labor abortion" at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. Under this technique, a drug forces the woman's cervix open and the woman expels a premature baby who dies during the process or soon afterward. Most are disabled and too small to survive.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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