Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act up for consideration in the Senate; meanwhile, over 80 times in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked efforts to bring up for a vote this bill that will simply require life-saving medical care to be given to infants who survive abortion.
Democrats have tried to argue that the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is unnecessary because we already have protections in place and that doctors will be convicted under state homicide laws. They have even gone so far as to say born-alive infants do not exist.
Here are the facts.
Current Law Is Not Enough
Congress did pass the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, but that was only a definitional change stating that all infants who survive abortion are full persons under the law. It neither required any medical care for infants born-alive nor included a provision for prosecuting anyone who failed to provide care.
Infants Who Survive Abortion Do Exist
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 2003-2014 at least 143 infants died after being born alive during an abortion procedure (not stillbirths), and the report admits that this is almost certainly an underestimate. Only eight states report data on infants who survive abortion, and, of those eight states, at least 170 additional cases of infants being born alive have been documented. These state reports do not tell us whether these born-alive infants survived and are alive today.
That’s over 300 publicly documented cases of infants surviving abortion, and this is most certainly an underestimate since there is no mandatory reporting on abortion for all states, and since any data collected by the CDC is given voluntarily by the state.
According to the CDC report, those 143 infants that met the legal definition of a live birth—which includes “any sign of life, e.g., breath, heartbeat, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles”—clung on to life for hours! Nearly 50 percent held on to life for at least four hours, and six infants for more than 24 hours. At this point, we are no longer talking about the issue of abortion or a woman’s body—we are talking about a living child who has clearly become the patient. This is ample time for a child to receive care from a physician, yet no care was reported or required.
The question then becomes, what happens to infants who survive abortion? Are they given care, are they simply left to die, or does infanticide take place?
Homicide Laws Are Not Enough
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, whose background is in pediatric neurology, was confident in his response, stating that a conversation would take place between the mother and the physician while the child lay clinging to life on the delivery table! State homicide laws would not protect this child.
Under current homicide law, there is a distinction between active and passive killing. Active killing is what happened with Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell, when he snipped the necks and spines of infants who were, according to him, “big enough to walk him to the bus stop.” Eyewitnesses who worked with Texas abortionist Douglas Karpen testified that he regularly killed babies born alive by snipping their spinal cords, fatally injuring them with blows to the soft spot on their heads, and twisting their necks.
Gosnell was convicted on three counts of murder under Pennsylvania homicide statue that included prosecutions for infanticide.
But what about an abortionist that simply leaves the infant to die? The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require an active duty physician to treat a child that needs help when he or she is born alive after an abortion. If you kill that child you will have committed murder. At present, if you leave the child to die, you’re not guilty of anything.
To date, there have been no prosecutions under the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act for those 143 infants who clung on to life for hours. The 2002 law lacks adequate enforcement mechanisms. This is why we need the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This act would require health care practitioners to exercise the same degree of skill, care, and diligence that would be offered to any other child born at the same gestational age and ensure that the child be transported and admitted to a hospital.
Under the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act abortionists would be held accountable with fines and up to five years imprisonment for failing to do their humane due diligence.
This bill reflects even the opinions of pro-choice Americans on this issue; it should receive overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill asks Democrats: do you really want to fight over whether an infant should get care or not? The Democratic Party should know that fighting over this issue makes them look totally out of touch with Americans, their base, and their consciences.
Simply put, to oppose this bill would be barbaric, to support this bill is humane.
Patrina Mosley is FRC’s Director of Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy.