Bush Admin Will Enforce Compliance With Abortion Survival Law
by Steven Ertelt
April 25, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration is planning to check nationwide compliance with a federal law that requires health care professionals to provide proper medical care for newborns who survive botched abortion attempts. Reports have surfaced that some hospitals are not following the law.
In 2002, President Bush signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act after a Chicago-area nurse discovered staff at her hospital were allowing newborns to die after a failed abortion.
In May 2004, LifeNews.com reported on allegations that babies are being left to die in Florida hospitals, and others. The nurse, Jill Stanek, indicated that some medical facilities may not be aware of the new law, the first pro-life bill approved since the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions.
In addressing the problem, Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, said he would "vigorously" uphold the law.
"We took the first of these educational steps today by notifying relevant entities that we aggressively enforce federal laws that protect born-alive infants," Leavitt explained. "We issued clear guidance that withholding medical care from an infant born alive may constitute a violation [of federal law.]"
Leavitt vowed to "investigate all circumstances where individuals and entities are reported to be withholding medical care from an infant born alive in potential violation of federal statutes."
Pro-life groups hailed Leavitt’s actions to enforce the measure.
"The 2002 law and today’s actions by the agency were both badly needed, because there are those in our society who have convinced themselves that some newborn infants — particularly those born alive during abortions, or with handicaps — are not really legal persons," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson said.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a representative of the nation’s Catholic bishops, agreed.
"Roe v. Wade may currently leave our country helpless to defend infants moments before birth, but even now we can and must protect those struggling for their lives outside the womb," she said.
Stanek also praised the decision, saying, "Those who withhold medical care from a newborn baby are now on notice – this is a violation of federal law and you will face a penalty."
After uncovering the situation in Illinois, Stanek said babies were born alive and then left to die, sometimes in soiled utility closets, including infants with non-fatal disabilities as old as 23 weeks’ gestation.
When he signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act on August 5, 2002, President Bush said, "This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive — including an infant who survives an abortion procedure — is considered a person under federal law."
"Today, through sonograms and other technology, we can see clearly that unborn children are members of the human family, as well," he added.
The measure passed 98-0 in the Senate and 380-15 in the House of Representatives.