On the same day that hundreds of thousands of Pro-Life activists marched in Washington, D.C. to advocate against abortion, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712). If it succeeds, this legislation will provide additional protections for infants who are born alive after failed abortion attempts. It would mark a tremendous victory for the Pro-Life movement.
The bill has already received resistance from the Democrats and is expected to be strenuously opposed by the left as it proceeds to the Senate. Nevertheless, the passage of this bill in the House is a significant step towards protecting life.
Children Who Survive Abortions
On Friday, the House passed Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act with a vote of 241 to 183. The bill would require any health care practitioner present at the time of the birth to “exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” Health care practitioners would also be obligated to “ensure that such child is immediately admitted to a hospital.”
The law defines “born alive” as “the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut.”
Violating the law could result in a criminal fine, up to five years in prison, or both. Moreover, an individual who commits an act that kills a child could be prosecuted for murder. The legislation also requires any health care professional with knowledge of a failure to comply with the law to report the incident to the authorities.
Democrat Lawmakers Object To The Bill
Not surprisingly, Democratic lawmakers opposed the bill. While six Democrats voted for the bill, the rest voted against it. Democrats argued that it was not necessary as physicians already required to provide medical care to infants born alive after a botched abortion attempt.
“Of course if a baby is born alive, then everything must be done to protect that life,” conceded Representative Jan Schakowski (D-IL). “No one disagrees with that. And perhaps, more importantly, it is already the law. And to suggest otherwise is just wrong.” Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) stated that the act is “a blatant attempt to intimidate doctors from practicing the medicine that is in the best interest of their patients.”
Republican lawmakers countered by pointing out the instances where babies were left to die on the floor or in a garbage bag. They also brought up the case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider who was convicted of killing numerous infants who were born alive after failed abortion attempts.
How Many Abortion Survivors Are Killed?
Democrats argue that the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act is unnecessary because of the existence of state-level laws already in place, but the facts show that the Republicans are right: Many abortion providers are already violating these laws. Live Action, a non-profit organization that advocates against abortion, conducted undercover investigations that revealed the fact that several abortion providers allow survivors to die
In one case, the group caught a clinic counselor at Family Planning Associate in Arizona on tape admitting that they have refused to provide care to infants who survive abortions. The counselor told Live Action that “they will not resuscitate.”
Students For Life, another Pro-Life advocacy group who trains future leaders, also went undercover to expose the practices of a Planned Parenthood operation in Freehold, New Jersey. Posing as a pregnant woman, a member spoke with a nurse working with the organization. “The Planned Parenthood nurse explained to me that the only abortion procedure they do after 22 weeks involves inducing delivery,” she said. “When I asked what happens if the baby is born alive, I was stunned when she replied simply, ‘It does happen, where it’s still alive…but it wouldn’t be able to survive on its own, so eventually the baby does die.’”
According to Students For Life, allowing abortion survivors to die could be a regular practice for Planned Parenthood. In 2013, an official representing the organization testified before the Florida legislature, arguing that a baby born alive during an abortion should be allowed to die. “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.
State Representative Cary Pigman — also an emergency room doctor — argued that in 2010, 1,270 American infants died after surviving abortions. This number includes only incidents that were reported. It is not known how many of these infants received medical care and how many were left to die, but the investigations conducted by Live Action and Students For Life; indicate that it’s possible that many were killed by abortion providers.
Unfortunately, we do not have definitive numbers that show us exactly how many babies were terminated after they were born alive. This is because many of the incidents are not reported; there is no viable way to determine which infants were killed. However, it is apparent that these types of incidents are happening, and the GOP is right to craft legislation that protects these victims.
On To The Senate
The bill is not expected to pass as it would require 60 votes and the GOP does not have enough of a majority to enact it. While some Democratic Representatives voted in favor of the bill, it is unlikely that any left-leaning senators will stand with the GOP. The Democratic Party has done a thorough job of weeding out Pro-Life Democrats from its ranks.
While the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act might not become law yet, support for the Pro-Life movement is active and growing. However, those who value life have more work to do when it comes to influencing the culture and exposing the ugly truth of abortion to the American public. If we have more organizations like Live Action and Students For Life, perhaps we can bring about a paradigm shift that results in more protection for our nation’s infants.