A South Carolina state Senate Judiciary subcommittee unanimously passed a version of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act to protect unborn children who are born alive after a failed abortion but may be purposefully left to die afterwards.
The legislation defines an infant born alive as a person even if the baby survives an abortion attempt and makes it so babies who are born alive under any circumstances cannot be treated as medical waste, or deliberately killed because they are unwanted.
The bill now moves to the full 23-member Judiciary Committee. The South Carolina House overwhelmingly passed the BAIPA in 2011 and pro-life groups hope the measure will go further this year.
Members of the subcommittee were Senators Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, chairman; Chip Campsen, R-Charlestion, Phil Shoopman, R-Greenville, Brad Hutto, D-Orangburg; and Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington who was absent but proxied his vote to Senator Hutto.
According to South Carolina Citizens for Life, Columbia pediatrician Dr. Stuart Hamilton testified in favor of the bill framing the issue in terms of compassion for infants who are born alive. Several other physicians opposed the state bill although a born-alive infant protection act has been in effect for 10 years at the federal level.
Ten years ago the U.S. Congress passed the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act after shocking reports that babies who survived induced-labor abortions at Christ Hospital near Chicago were dumped in a closet with soiled linens and left to die. An investigation by the Illinois Health Department determined that it was not illegal to treat a newborn infant like trash. That was the genesis for the National Right to Life Committee to promote the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act and similar state laws.
Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of the National Right to Life Office of State Legislation, commented after the subcommittee hearing. “The South Carolina Senate must recognized children born alive as the result of an abortion should have the same protection of life as any other child born into this world. It is simple humanity.”
Balch said a Feb. 23, 2012, article entitled “After Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” promoting after-birth abortions and published in the international Journal of Medical Ethics shows where medical ethic is headed.
“The fact that they put an article in this kind of a journal means the issue is on the rise,” Balch said. “It used to be whispered. Now it’s out there in black in white.”
In the Journal article, the authors argue that “killing a newborn should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is [permissible], including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”
SCCL says that idea is not new and notes that Professor Peter Singer who holds the DeCamp Chair of Bioethics at Princeton University has long argued that the cold-blooded killing of newborn infants is not wrong.
In a memo to the subcommittee members, Holly Gatling, SCCL executive director wrote that current law “leaves unanswered the question of when precisely a human fetus without legal protection becomes a legal person protected by law. Because South Carolina law has not adequately defined the line between fetus and legal person, newborn infants can be treated with horrific disregard that shocks the conscience.”
One example Gatling cited was a news report on February 5, 2003, in The State newspaper. The article recounted how workers at a Columbia laundry facility found the body of a premature infant with the dirty linens from a Clarendon County hospital.
The Born-Alive infant protection act, she said, “would make it legally impermissible to dispatch infants with a blow of a hammer to their skull, or with the slice of a knife to their spinal cord.” The idea of such actions may seem outrageous, she said, but abortionist Kermit Gosnell faces charges for murdering newborn, living infants in his Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania abortion facility by severing their spinal cords.
In addition to SCCL, the following groups support the bill: The Blessed Clemens von Galen Medical Guild of South Carolina (a guild of the Catholic Medical Association), Catholic Diocese of Charleston , CEO Round Table, Christian World View Center of North Greenville University, Palmetto Family Council, and the South Carolina Baptist Convention.