Editor's note: This column was co-authored by Arkansas State Rep. Joe Cloud, M.D.
Life. It’s a common word, one we throw around casually in everyday conversation without giving it much thought. At the same time, it’s a word that conveys deep meaning, and a certain reverence and honor surrounds the four letters. It’s so significant that our Founding Fathers included it in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence as the first unalienable right of mankind.
Yet in recent years, we’ve seen the social climate change so drastically that we now find ourselves debating whether babies born alive after botched abortions should receive equal protection under the law. This shouldn’t even be a question. Life, all life, is precious in the eyes of our Creator. As fathers ourselves, we believe that doctors, Congress and state legislatures must aim to protect the lives of children who cannot defend themselves.
In an effort to safeguard infants who survive abortions, U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise introduced the Born Alive Act, which would require any health care practitioner present at the time a child is born alive to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age” and “ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
Rep. Scalise’s bill builds on a 2002 born-alive law that recognizes infants born during abortions as “persons.” However, this law does not require abortionists or health care professionals to treat those infants with the same degree of care given to babies born under different circumstances. We've seen numerous examples of infants born alive during abortion dying by direct homicide, as in the case of Kermit Gosnell, or by neglect.
The Born Alive Act also gives the mother of an abortion survivor a civil cause of action and protection from prosecution, recognizing that women are the second victims of abortion and promoting the dignity of motherhood.
For whatever reasons, House Democratic leadership has refused to bring this bill to a vote – a bill that would protect living, breathing babies lying helpless on sterile operating tables. That’s why Rep. Scalise began a discharge petition in an effort to force a vote on the House floor. The American people deserve to know exactly where their elected representatives stand on this issue.
Decades ago, Thomas Jefferson said, “the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” His words still ring true to this day.
We must not become a nation so cavalier towards life that we turn a blind eye to injustice and inhumanity happening to our smallest citizens. We stand with life. We hope our friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle will do the same.
Rep. Bruce Westerman is a U.S. Congressman representing the Fourth District of Arkansas. He signed his name on the Born Alive discharge petition on April 2, 2019.
Dr. Joe Cloud was born and raised in Bryant, Ark., graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School with his M.D. and completed his medical residency at the University of Arkansas Medical School in Obstetrics-Gynecology. During his 28 years of private practice, he delivered over 5,000 babies. Dr. Cloud retired from full-time, private practice in September 2014, and currently serves as a state representative for District 71 in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He’s been married to his wife, Cheri, for 35 years, and they have three sons and two grandchildren.